SCOOP: HelKingPin rolls a strike in Event 10-L ($27 Stud)

Thumbnail image for SCOOP logo.gifIn limit tournaments, the shortest stacks have a much rougher road to get back in the game than they would in big-bet games. There they can protect their hands and get their entire stacks in the middle whenever they pick up a hand worth making move over. But in the realm of the fixed limit, where you can see another card for just one bet and most losses don't sting too badly, the action favors the well-stacked.

The final table of this SCOOP event was no exception as the shortest-stacked players repeatedly found themselves facing an uphill battle - with a single exception. Despite beginning the final table just three big bets ahead of the table's shortest stack, stuck in the middle of a pack of five competitors who would need a big push just to have a chance at winning, one player was able to overcome the odds and join the roll of SCOOP winners.

Of course, before there can be a final table there must be lots of other tables of players who don't get to taste the glory of being there at the end - and in this event there were indeed lots of them. A total of 2,416 players paid up to take a seat at the table, smashing the $25,000 guarantee by building a $60,400 prize pool. For just over eight hours they fought to keep those seats, until, with stakes at 50K/100K, eight players were seated like so as the final table began at 11:03pm ET:

2012 SCOOP-10-L final table.jpg

Seat 1: Ajoin5 (2384052 in chips)
Seat 2: 61_saint (1025693 in chips)
Seat 3: VinceVegaMFR (1019598 in chips)
Seat 4: Mt.Spewmore (578280 in chips)
Seat 5: HelKingPin (1163196 in chips)
Seat 6: fladnag11 (1281249 in chips)
Seat 7: staknchips83 (2538632 in chips)
Seat 8: Lee27015 (2089300 in chips)

The ball gets rolling

The United Kingdom's Mt.Spewmore started the final table with a pot won uncontested on fifth street, good enough to climb from 578K to 763K, but that's the only uptick that was in the cards for the final table's incoming short stack. After folding on fifth street in a pot against Lee27015, Mt.Spewmore was left with 278K and got to see a cheap fourth-street card on the next hand. Holding (7♦-K♠) / 3♠ Q♥ 3♥ 5♠, Mt.Spewmore got all-in against HelKingPin's (4♣-8♣) / 3♣ 5♣ 2♥ A♠. The pair of treys was in the lead, but the 9♣ on the river gave HelKingPin a nine-high club flush and sent Mt.Spewmore to the rail in 8th place ($604).

Oooooh, what a rush

From there Finland's HelKingPin caught a rush like most players dream about and rode it to a very comfortable chip lead over the course of the first seven orbits. No less than five pots worth more than 1 million chips were pushed to the Finn during that stretch, coming at the expense of Ajoin5, fladnag11, and staknchips83. The most significant of them led to the second bustout of the final table:

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With that, 61_saint was out in 7th place ($1,208) and HelKingPin stacked up to just over 4.8 million chips, nearly two and a half times the stack of his nearest competitor.

Royale with cheese

The last remaining player with a stack of less than 1 million now was Brazil's VinceVegaMFR. Already riding a wave of success for 2012 with 15 wins here at PokerStars, including a $13,790 win in an $11 NLHE event last month and a $22,244 score just a few days ago in a $162 NLHE tournament, VinceVegaMFR was making his first SCOOP final table appearance. With stakes up to 80K/160K, though, the pressure was on for the Brazilian to find a way to chip up soon if he wanted to match his recent successes.

It looked like he had found it when he picked up a split pair of aces and Lee27015 raised in front of him; VinceVegaMFR reraised and Lee27015 continued to call his bets through sixth street, when he opted to raise holding for two pair. VinceVegaMFR's hand of (A♣-3♦) / A♦ 2♦ Q♦ 6♣ hadn't improved in strength, but he did hold a flush draw and plenty of two-pair outs to go with his pair of aces, so he got the rest of his chips in the middle. The 9♥ on seventh street didn't improve his hand, though, so VinceVegaMFR was out in 6th place ($1,812).

None shall pass

With the biggest pay jump yet coming up for 5th place, HelKingPin was the clear leader of the group. But nobody was overly short-stacked. Austria's fladnag11 had been coasting along in a virtual tie for second place with two others, but that all changed after getting involved in a multiway pot with Ajoin5 and HelKingPin worth 3 million chips:

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After that pot fladnag11's 901K stack was only worth four and a half big bets. Once again a short-stacked player was left with a big uphill climb to stay in the game. One 1.6M-chip pot at Ajoin5's expense with a pair of kings on seventh street helped to chip back up, but a missed flush draw three hands later left the Austrian player with just 531K. A few hands later, looking at a pair of threes and another flush draw by 5th street in another pot against Ajoin5, fladnag11 opted to go for it. By the river, though, the flush hadn't come home and Ajoin5 held two pair, jacks and tens. That sent fladnag11 out in 5th place ($3,020).

'Stakn' up

The latest player to fill the role of short stack, holding just 1.2 million chips with stakes at 100K/200K, was staknchips83, but that situation didn't last for long. After starting with a split pair of nines, he improved to three of a kind by fourth street. With Lee27015 holding (Q♣ J♥) / A♣ J♣ 6♣ Q♠, the two players butted heads on sixth street and got the rest of staknchips83's stack in the middle. Lee27015 bricked, catching the 6♦ on the river and shipping the 2.5-million-chip pot to the former shorty.

Behind the eight-ball now was Ajoin5, whose stack was worth just over 1.5 million. Almost immediately upon assuming the role of table shorty, the Belgian began trending downward. Most of the losses were small, but after dropping a 1.5-million-chip pot to HelKingPin, showing down (X-X) / 4♠ K♦ T♦ 3♣ / (X) against the Finn's king-high club flush, Ajoin5 was down to 167K - less than one big bet. There was an opportunity to triple up on the next hand and managed to hit two pair by the river, but Lee27015's full house, tens full of aces, meant it was the end of the line for Ajoin5 in 4th place ($4,228).

Three, the magic number

Down to three players with stakes still at 100K/200K, the field was clearly stratified; in the lead was HelKingPin with 5.95M chips (30 big bets), followed by Lee27015 with 4.07M (20 big bets) and closed out by staknchips83 with 2.04M (10 big bets). The two shorter stacks closed in at first, but three multi-way pots put HelKingPin back into the lead - and he would stay there for the rest of the tournament.

Applying the relentless aggression his lead called for against two shorter stacks looking at a $1,500 pay jump for moving up one more spot, HelKingPin slowly moved up over the next 50 hands or so until his stack stood at 9.5M chips with the stakes up to 160K/320K. Neither staknchips83, with 1.67M, nor Lee27015, with 904K, could afford to sit back and wait; it was imperative for each to seize every opportunity to pick up chips.

So when staknchips83 picked up (A♠-T♠) / 4♠ to start a hand where his opponents were showing the 3♣ and the 5♥, he naturally opted for a reraise of HelKingPin's bet. Lee27015 folded but HelKingPin came along and both players picked up a pair on fourth street: staknchips83 with the A♣, and HelKingPin with the J♥ to match up with his (J♣-6♣) / 5♥. But on fifth street HelKingPin picked up the 6♠, giving him two pair, so when staknchips83 got his last 1.16M chips in the middle he found himself drawing for his tournament life. Unable to improve on sixth or seventh, staknchips83 left the tournament in 3rd place ($5,716.25). It was the fourth big score of the year for the American ex-pat, who won both a $60K Guarantee $11 rebuy ($18,722) and The Bigger $22 ($16,469) as well as taking 3rd for $32,930 in the $109 Sunday Rebuy just a few weeks ago.

Not so fast

As heads-up play began with stakes of 160K/320K, HelKingPin held a significant advantage in the chip counts with 11.25M to Lee27015's 824K. In most cases that sort of advantage translates to a speedy victory, but that wouldn't be the case as Lee27015 proved to be a dogged heads-up player - and one with excellent timing, too.

Over the course of the next 55 hands, Lee27015 survived all-in confrontations five different times and won another pot that, if lost, would have crippled the UK player to a stack worth less than one big bet. Yet HelKingPin managed to keep his opponent from getting back to even and really turning the match into a dogfight, always managing to pull out a win in critical situations.

Finally, on Hand 56 of their battle, Lee27015 would lose an elimination hand despite starting out strong:

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With that the tournament was complete. For a fine final table performance, including a hard-fought duel against an opponent with a significant chip advantage, Lee27015 earned $7,248 - a pretty good ROI on a $27 entry. And for catching a rush in the early going and playing it well enough to ride out the rough spots through the rest of the final table, HelKingPin earned the top prize of $10,268 and change.

SCOOP Event 10-L: $27 Seven-Card Stud
$25,000 guaranteed prize pool
2,416 entrants, $60,400 prize pool
304 places paid

1st place: HelKingPin (Finland) $10,268.55
2nd place: Lee27015 (United Kingdom) $7,248
3rd place: staknchips83 (Mexico) $5,716.25
4th place: Ajoin5 (Belgium) $4,228
5th place: fladnag11 (Austria) $3,020
6th place: VinceVegaMFR (Brazil) $1,812
7th place: 61_saint (Russia) $1,208
8th place: Mt.Spewmore (United Kingdom) $604

HelKingPin's SCOOP victory wasn't just a personal first. It was also the first win of this year's SCOOP, and just the sixth of all time, for the poker-loving nation of Finland. Pretty select company! Check out stats for both this year's SCOOP and the series all-time over at the SCOOP homepage.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in SCOOP