SCOOP: AJacejackAJ runs roughshod over Event 21-M ($215 NLHE)

Thumbnail image for SCOOP logo.gifChip leads are funny, fickle things. Everybody wants the chip lead and the power to boss the table that comes with it. But once you get a lead it can sometimes prove difficult to hold on to, especially if you're unwilling to back off your aggression in certain key spots. Then again, if you can walk the tightrope between being aggressive and knowing when to say when, a chip lead is the best weapon you can have in your arsenal. As with so many things in poker, "It depends."

Day 2 of this event began at 2:30pm ET today. Of the 7,383 players who had originally bought in, building a $1,476,600 prize pool that smashed the $1 million guarantee, just 83 still had chips. They were led by these 10 players:

1. Michail1111 (Russia) 3,894,733 chips
2. griske1 (Denmark) 2,998,998 chips
3. diemaus36o (Germany) 2,211,466 chips
4. Pendos90 (Russia) 2,136,291 chips
5. puan29 (Argentina) 2,060,413 chips
6. AJacejackAJ (Canada) 1,925,513 chips
7. hustla16 (Canada) 1,890,520 chips
8. Bohni16 (Germany) 1,790,007 chips
9. DOCTORB911 (Canada) 1,720,075 chips
10. Dragonwarrior (Canada) 1,717,914 chips

The incoming chip leader, Russia's Michail1111, looked as if his starting advantage might be enough to help him make the final table, but he fell short in 15th place. The next four highest-stacked players to start the day also failed to survive to the final nine, finishing in 17th, 20th, 23rd, and 11th places, respectively. But the player right below them when the day began - Canada's AJacejackAJ - managed to make his stack work for him throughout Day 2. When the final table arrived, he held a significant lead that he would never relinquish.

With 100K/200K blinds and 25K antes, these nine players took their seats at the final table:

Seat 1: ConeSnail9 (2,158,807 in chips)
Seat 2: Bohni16 (10,383,873 in chips)
Seat 3: Pressure777 (14,102,995 in chips)
Seat 4: AJacejackAJ (26,530,258 in chips)
Seat 5: Killer_ooooo (4,326,883 in chips)
Seat 6: Gigacide (2,297,650 in chips)
Seat 7: hustla16 (7,122,854 in chips)
Seat 8: JonnyBigSlic (2,166,210 in chips)
Seat 9: dragonwarior (4,740,470 in chips)

2012 SCOOP-21-M final table.jpg

AJacejackAJ's resume was already impressive enough, sporting as it did two $80K victories in the Sunday Rebuy and Daily $100, a runner-up finish in the 2010 WCOOP $215 heads-up NLHE event, and 11 medium-stakes MTT victories this year alone. A SCOOP title would be the biggest win yet for the Canadian player, and he was in excellent position to make it happen. In fact, with nearly twice the chips of his nearest opponent and well over three times the average stack, he was in as good a position when the final table began as he could have hoped for. The first two orbits saw the chip leader remain as active as he had been leading up to the final table, winning seven pots uncontested and taking two stabs at knocking out short-stacked players. Though the shorties managed to win both of those pots, the message was clear: the player with the big stack was inclined to use it without prejudice.

Though AJacejackAJ was the table's most active player in the early going, he did have some competition from hustla16, a former WCOOP event winner making his second SCOOP final table appearance of this series. With several big pots in the early going, hustla16 had moved up from 7.12M chips at the start of the final table to 11.3M chips by the end of the second orbit.

And they're off!

On the 18th hand of the final table, JonnyBigSlic opened under the gun for 400K and the action folded around to the big blind, where hustla16 called for another 200K to build a pot worth 1.12M. The flop came Q♠ 9♦ T♠ and both players checked. After the 3♥ came on the turn, hustla16 thought for a moment before leading out for 765K. JonnyBigSlic didn't waste much time moving all-in for 2.53M, and hustla16 called just as fast; hustla16's two pair with Q♥ T♥ was in the lead, but JonnyBigSlic's J♦ J♠ had outs to a straight, three of a kind, and a back door flush. The Q♣ came on the river, though, giving hustla16 a full house and the 6.18M-chip pot and sending JonnyBigSlic to the rail in 9th place ($11,443.65).

The field would shrink again on the very next hand. Acting first, ConeSnail9 opened the betting for 900K, leaving himself 292K behind. Killer_ooooo called from the cutoff to see a flop of A♣ 7♦ 3♥ and then called when ConeSnail9 moved the rest of his stack in. Killer_ooooo's 9♠ 9♣ was ahead of ConeSnail9's 6♥ 6♠, and it stayed ahead through the 8♣ turn and K♣ river; Killer_ooooo won the 2.88M-chip pot, and ConeSnail9 finished in 8th place ($17,719.20).

One orbit later another short stack would find himself at risk. This time it was Gigacide, who had been watching his stack erode 25K at a time since the last player was eliminated, taking him down to 807K. When AJacejackAJ opened under the gun for 400K, Gigacide shoved; Pressure777 called from the big blind, and AJacejackAJ called as well. Pressure777 folded to a small bet on the T♦ 2♦ 7♣ flop, though, and AJacejackAJ turned up T♠ 8♣ for top pair. That left Gigacide, who held A♠ K♦, with three aces, three kings, and some backdoor flush outs to stay alive. The 6♦ on the turn kept all those outs live, but the 9♠ fell on the river to send Gigacide out in 7th place ($32,485.20).

AJacejackAJ now had 28.87M chips and continued to stay active as the blinds advanced to 125K/250K with a 31.25K ante, often winning pots uncontested before the flop with either an open raise or, on occasion, a three-bet. It was one of those standard open raises to 500K that prompted dragonwarrior to move all-in for 2.63M with A♦ J♣, but AJacejackAJ made a quick call when the action folded back to him, showing A♠ K♣. Big Slick stayed ahead through the 2♦ Q♥ 8♠ 7♦ K♥ board, AJacejackAJ chipped up to 34.15M, and dragonwarrior finished in 6th place ($47,251.20).

Pressure drop

The chip leader continued to apply pressure to his opponents at every opportunity, none more so than Pressure777. The Lithuanian player had come to the final table second in chips with 14.1M but events had conspired to take away more than 4.3M of them as the table became shorthanded. So when hustla16 opened under the gun for 500K, Pressure777 three-bet to 1.25M on the button. Then AJacejackAJ, sitting in the small blind, made it four bets and 3M straight to go. That cleared out hustla16, but Pressure777 called after dipping into the time bank. With 6.77M left in Pressure777's stack and 6.9M in the pot, AJacejackAJ led out for an even 2M on the Q♦ J♣ 4♣ flop - and that was enough to take it down, boosting him to 37.53M chips.

Just nine hands later, still trying to recover the chips that had slowly escaped throughout the final table, Pressure777 ended up all-in before the flop with A♥ K♣ against Killer_ooooo's Q♠ Q♣; the Q♦ 4♠ K♦ gave Killer_ooooo a set of queens, and when the board ran out 9♠-8♣ Pressure777 became the 5th-place finisher ($62,017.20).

The other three remaining players - hustla16, Killer_ooooo, and Bohni16 - began pushing back a bit more now with the biggest pay jumps behind them and the blinds up to 150K/300K with 37.5K antes. But the benefit of being the big stack is that you have the luxury of choosing your battles, and AJacejackAJ did precisely that; even after having having to let go of a few hands, he climbed up to 42.18M chips and increased the pressure on the shorter stacks to begin stacking up if any of them hoped to challenge his dominance.

The shortest of them all, Germany's Bohni16, would become the next to exit after picking up K♠ Q♦ on the button and moving all-in before the flop. AJacejackAJ folded in the small blind but Killer_ooooo snap-called from the big blind with A♠ Q♠. The 2♣ 7♥ 6♥ Q♥ 6♣ board never came close to help, and Bohni16 finished in 4th place ($81,213).

Will it ever stop? Yo, I don't know

AJacejackAJ won 10 of the next 14 pots through sheer aggression but gave up the next one, worth 8.66M, when two barrels of bluff couldn't shake Killer_ooooo's J♣ 9♦ and top pair; six hands later he would get all those chips back and more after leading out of position on an A♠ Q♣ 6♦ flop, calling a raise, checking the 4♣ turn, and firing again at the A♥ river. The next two pots, worth more than 10M chips combined, also went to AJacejackAJ to take him over 52.15M; Killer_ooooo held 17.67M chips and hustla16 just 4M.

The next 26 hands saw Killer_ooooo slowly slide backward as AJacejackAJ continued to lean on his opponents and hustla16 picked good spots to steal the blinds and antes. Still, the Israeli player looked to be in good shape to get back in the match when this hand came along:

RSS readers, please click through for replay

That cruel board hand made Killer_ooooo the 3rd place finisher ($118,128) and set up a rather lopsided heads-up match.

One last thing

With AJacejackAJ holding 67.5M chips to hustla16's 6.32M for better than a 10-to-1 lead, a comeback victory would require some serious uphill climbing on hustla16's part. The former WCOOP event winner actually started off on the right foot, too, climbing to 9.49M in the early going before a hand where AJacejackAJ flopped second pair and rivered two pair.

2012 SCOOP-21-M heads-up.jpg

That left hustla16 with only 2.82M, or just over seven big blinds on the 200K/400K/50K level, but he found his way back into the match once again when A♦ 7♣ held up against his opponent's K♣ T♦. Again, though, he found himself being ground back down as AJacejackAJ applied maximum pressure. But to hustla16's credit, he didn't lose his sense of humor; he typed into the chat box, "even chop, last chance?" AJacejackAJ responded with a winking smiley emoticon before doubling hustla16 back up to 7.5M with K♦ T♦ against K♥ J♣.

One hand later, though, it was all over when two big heads-up hands collided. On the button, hustla16 opened for 800K with A♥ 6♥. AJacejackAJ put in a third bet to 2.1M, holding T♠ T♥, and then called when hustla16 moved all-in. The 4♥ Q♣ 9♠ didn't provide a lot of hope, but the 8♥ on the turn did open up some new flush outs. With the 2♠ on the river, however, the tournament was over.

For his second runner-up finish of this SCOOP series, hustla16 earned $166,117.50. As for AJacejackAJ, a strong resume got even stronger thanks to this SCOOP win and its attendant $224,595 prize. Now the only question is whether he'll apply that prize money to winning more SCOOP events the way a few other players have done so far this series.

SCOOP Event 21-M: $215 NL Hold'em
$1,000,000 guaranteed prize pool
7,383 entrants, $1,476,600 prize pool
990 places paid

1st place: AJacejackAJ (Canada) $224,595
2nd place: hustla16 (Canada) $166,117.50
3rd place: Killer_ooooo (Israel) $118,128
4th place: Bohni16 (Germany) $81,213
5th place: Pressure777 (Lithuania) $62,017.20
6th place: dragonwarrior (Canada) $47,251.20
7th place: Gigacide (Canada) $32,485.20
8th place: ConeSnail9 (Canada) $17,719.20
9th place: JonnyBigSlic (Canada) $11,443.65

Both of the top two finishers from this event are now in the top 100 on the SCOOP Player of the Series leaderboard, keeping company with some of online poker's most celebrated players. They'll have a tough road ahead to catch up with the likes of Shaun Deeb and Viktor "Isildur1" Blom, but with another week of tourneys on the schedule anything is still possible.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in SCOOP