SCOOP: bleu329 knocks out Event 30-H ($2,100 NLHE 6-max SuperKO)

Thumbnail image for SCOOP logo.gifThere aren't many complex tasks in this world that you can accomplish in less than four hours. Thankfully for busy PokerStars players, winning a turbo SCOOP tournament is perfectly achievable in that timeframe. All you need is some serious poker skills and a little more card luck than all of your opponents - no big deal, right?

Today's top-dollar SCOOP event played out just like any other turbo bounty event, with a twist: instead of awarding a small percentage of each player's buy-in as a bounty to the player who knocked him out, half of the buy-in was up for grabs as a bounty. In this case that meant $1,025 reward for each knockout, giving everyone plenty of motivation to play their best poker.

Late registration stayed open for an hour, yielding a 661-player field and $677,525 prize pool with an additional $677,525 in bounties up for grabs. As you might expect, it took just an hour and 40 minutes of turbo poker to reach the money at 78th place. Team PokerStars Pro was represented in the money by George Danzer, who finished in 60th place ($2,303.58), while Team Online also sported a lone casher, Randy "nanonoko" Lew, in 47th place ($2,710.10).

A black belt in Kung FU_15

By the time the second break arrived there were just 53 players remaining. Nick "FU_15" Maimone, winner of more than $3.25 million lifetime in online poker tournaments, led the way with 224K. Over the course of the next hour he would employ that stack in service of a highly aggressive game of poker. He just missed a final table in this year's SCOOP Event 1-H, finishing in 7th place, but this time around Maimone couldn't be stopped from earning a shot at the title. He maintained his chip lead all the way through to the final table, which began just before the third break with this lineup:

2012 SCOOP-30-H final table.jpg

Seat 1: G1a1u1s1s (556,121 in chips)
Seat 2: FU_15 (862,367 in chips)
Seat 3: bleu329 (515,416 in chips)
Seat 4: pmahoney22 (453,973 in chips)
Seat 5: OBVAMENTS (521,847 in chips)
Seat 6: Gonzalez259 (395,276 in chips)

Two of the last six players were sitting at their second career SCOOP final tables. In Seat 3, bleu329 was returning after a 4th-place finish in the 2009 SCOOP Event 2-H ($1,050 PLO/8). Meanwhile, over in Seat 4, pmahoney22 was looking to improve on a 6th-place finish in the 2010 SCOOP $109 Main Event. OBVAMENTS was at a first career SCOOP final table but had previously scored wins in the Daily $100 with Rebuys, the Nightly Hundred Grand, and the Sunday $80K, not to mention two Sunday Million final tables. G1a1u1s1s was at a first SCOOP final table, but had some previous big tourney endgame experience with a runner-up finish in The Bigger $109 last year. Only Gonzalez259 was in unprecedented territory; the German player was set to earn a career-best score regardless of how the tournament ended.

With blinds at 7K/14K and antes at 1.75K as the final table began, Nick Maimone got right to work. He won the first pot of the final table, a 582K-chip monster that saw him call G1a1u1s1s' min-raise in the big blind, check behind on the 2♠ T♠ 9♥ flop, hit a king-high straight on the Q♦ turn, and get two streets of value from his opponent. That moved Maimone up to 1.15M chips just as the break began.

Short-stack roulette

With Maimone's big stack to worry and only about 15 big blinds separating second-placed OBVAMENTS from the now-short-stacked G1a1u1s1s, the action stayed relatively sedate over the next two blind levels. Then Gonzalez259 and G1a1u1s1s broke up the pattern with a big clash toward the end of the 12.5K/25K/3,125 level. Looking to steal, Gonzalez259 moved in for 208K with T♣ 8♣ and only G1a1u1s1s was willing to show down. The Brazilian player's A♠ K♣ was ahead, but the 8♥ J♠ 4♦ J♥ 9♥ board gave Gonzalez259 a reprieve (and the 467K-chip pot).

From there, the encroaching blinds and antes forced the action as all the short stacks looked for a way to stay in the game. As it turned out, most of them did in fact find that way. G1a1u1s1s turned 79K in chips and J♣ 9♠ into a 323K stack at the expense of OBVAMENTS, and followed it up by doubling through pmahoney22 with A♦ J♦ against T♠ T♣. Two hands later pmahoney22, who was left with just 55K in chips, triumphed in a 167K blind-versus-blind showdown with 7♠ 5♣ against bleu329's 8♠ 4♠ and then hit paydirt with 9♦ 2♠ against OBVAMENTS' K♣ Q♣ in another blind-versus-blind hand for a 349K-chip pot. Two hands after that OBVAMENTS kept the trend going, turning the 109K short stack into a 249K contender by winning with A♠ T♥ against G1a1u1s1s' A♣ 9♣. The end result of all this back-and-forth was an increase in the blinds and antes to 17.5K/35K/4,375 without any eliminations.

The floodgates open

The player who had been the least active through that stretch was Maimone, who nevertheless held on to the lead throughout. Once he got active, though, he headed in the wrong direction, losing pots against two different all-in bets opponents. But then he scored the first knockout of the final table on this hand when G1a1u1s1s moved all-in from the small blind for 331K with J♥ 9♥ and Maimone woke up with K♦ K♥. The T♥ 3♣ 7♥ flop looked like all sorts of trouble , and the Q♠ turn only added to the danger, but the A♦ on the river sent G1a1u1s1s to the rail in 6th place ($21,071.02).

Seven hands later, on the 20K/40K/5K level, blind-versus-blind play would lead another player to the exit. This time around the action folded to pmahoney22 in the small blind; holding K♠ Q♠, and with OBVAMENTS in the big blind holding a 230J stack, pmahoney22 shoved for 625K. OBVAMENTS made the call with Q♥ 5♠, only to watch the board run out 3♦ A♦ J♣ 8♠ 7♣. With that OBVAMENTS became the 5th-place finisher, earning $33,876.25.

A deal and a reveal

At that point the last four players quickly agreed to take a look at the numbers for a potential deal. While they waited they got to talking about how many bounties each had claimed so far:

FU_15 said, "pm how many bounties u got?"
pmahoney22 said, "i think 9"
bleu329 said, "i got 4 :)"
U_15 said, "i got 20"
FU_15 said, "lol"
Gonzalez259 said, "we have 3"
pmahoney22 said, "wow"
pmahoney22 said, "i only got one after $"
pmahoney22 said, "on FT"
pmahoney22 said, "had 8 before $"

Within minutes the four had agreed to leave $8,000 on the table for the winner and chop the remaining prize pool based on ICM, so play resumed quickly. And once it did, pmahoney22 seized the chip lead thanks to a little bit of good fortune, picking up A♠ K♣ in the big blind after Gonzalez259 had moved all-in for 828K under the gun with A♦ J♠. The 5♠ 9♣ 8♠ 8♦ 7♦ board gave pmahoney22 the 1.69M-chip pot but no bounty, since Gonzalez259 entered the hand with an extra 1,884 chips. Gonzalez259 survived the next three hands before getting all-in on the button with K♠ 2♥ and losing to Maimone's 3♠ 3♣ to finish in 4th place ($75,584.78).

Just two hands later Nick "FU_15" Maimone would hit a stumbling block for seemingly the first time of the tournament. He called with A♦ 9♦ after bleu329 moved all-in for 810K on the button but couldn't win the coin flip against bleu329's 8♠ 8♥ when the board came 3♠ J♣ J♦ 5♥ K♣. The 1.66M-chip pot went to bleu329 and Maimone was left with 73K with the blinds and antes at 25K/50K/6.25K. He managed to double to 153K two hands later, flopping two pair with Q♣ 2♥ to outrun bleu329's K♣ 7♥, but the second time around things didn't go so well. Maimone made the call in the big blind with T♦ 9♠ after bleu329 moved all-in on the button with 3♣ 3♥, and even though he held an open-ended straight draw by the turn on a 5♠ 4♠ 8♥ 7♦ board, he couldn't double up again when the K♥ fell on the river. With that, the player who had led almost the entire tournament walked away from the table in 3rd place ($85,615.51).

A quick finish

The two remaining players were both former SCOOP final tablists, and both were fairly evenly stacked, with bleu329 holding a 1.73M stack to pmahoney22's 1.56M. Their stacks had been nearly even when the deal had been agreed upon earlier, so it was assured that one player would be walking away with $85K and the other with $93K, a SCOOP champion's watch, and a first career SCOOP title in two tries. The only question was which player would fill which role, and the answer came on just the second hand of their final battle. As is so often the case, the hand started off quietly enough but quickly got loud thanks to a little help from the deck:

RSS readers, please click through for replay

The win by bleu329 was the first for Thailand in this series' history, making the win worth an extra-large celebration - and there was plenty of time for the celebration, too, since the tournament had only lasted three hours and 41 minutes. As for pmahoney22, $85,817.71 for second place was a fine consolation prize - and if past performance is any indication, there will likely be more SCOOP championship chances in this player's future.

SCOOP Event 30-H: $2,100 NL Hold'em (6-max, SuperKnockout)
$400,000 guaranteed
661 entrants, $677,525 prize pool, $677,525 bounty pool
78 places paid

1st place: bleu329 (Thailand) $93,438.50*
2nd place: pmahoney22 (Mexico) $85,817.71*
3rd place: Nick "FU_15" Maimone (Honduras) $85,615.51*
4th place: Gonzalez259 (Germany) $75,584.78*
5th place: OBVAMENTS (Mexico) $33,876.25
6th place: G1a1u1s1s (Brazil) $21,071.02
* - denotes results of a four-way deal

Looking for more SCOOP reporting? Visit our special SCOOP 2012 coverage section.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in SCOOP