SCOOP 2013: gaucho47 outguns Joe "ender555" Ebanks in Event #44-H, $2,100 NL Hold'em (8-Max)

The 2013 installment of the PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker entered today with just a few two-day events left to close out, but the final numbers for the series were complete yesterday. PokerStars players made this year's SCOOP the richest tournament series in online poker history, awarding more than $75.58 million in prize money in 132 events across three buy-in levels. It's been an amazing 15 days, and the final day was capped off with an aptly well-played final table in the final high buy-in event of the series.

Event #42-H, a $2,100 eight-max no-limit hold'em tournament, kicked off at 11 a.m. ET yesterday with a $1,000,000 guarantee. The 30-minute levels and 10,000-chip starting stacks drew a total of 905 players to the tables, building a $1,810,000 prize pool to be split up among the top 104 finishers. The top prize was set at $339,375, but it would take more than 34 hours to get there.

Day 1 lasted for 20 levels, with the blinds rising during that time from 25/50 to 1.5K/3K with antes of 375. By the end only 51 starters remained in action, led by these 10 players:

Sk2ll_m0dR (Germany) 543,598 chips
Greenstone25 (Sweden) 342,289
salamandryko (Peru) 331,474
szusza84 (Hungary) 317,355
psyhoagromor (Ukraine) 312,349
Joe "ender555" Ebanks (United Kingdom) 297,391
HealTheWorld (Germany) 296,918
KidCardiff6 (United Kingdom) 270,629
J_nufc_V (United Kingdom) 258,375
b8chatz (United Kingdom) 250,251

Only two of those players would survive the six hours and 42 minutes it took to reach the final table, which started with blinds and antes at 10K/20K/2.5K and these eight players facing off for the final SCOOP High-level title of this series:

SCOOP Event 44-H final table.jpg

Seat 1: MAMOHT_T (678,366 in chips)
Seat 2: MilanRabsz (1,727,655 in chips)
Seat 3: blaaaaaah666 (501,892 in chips)
Seat 4: HealTheWorld (1,315,181 in chips)
Seat 5: gaucho47 (791,373 in chips)
Seat 6: ender555 (2,811,407 in chips)
Seat 7: H.Oussalé (810,555 in chips)
Seat 8: thnkpositive (413,571 in chips)

Leading the way was Joe "ender555" Ebanks, a WSOP bracelet winner in the 2011 $10,000 Six-Max NLHE Championship and a WCOOP winner that same year in six-max limit hold'em. With just over 140 big blinds his game plan was limited only by his creativity. But even the shortest stack, belonging to Thailand's thnkpositive, was worth more than 20 big blinds at this point. That much room to play gave the action a bit more of a freewheeling feel than final tables with a quicker structure.

joe_ebanks_mohegan_sun_2011_Main Event_Joe Giron_JGP5353.jpg

Joe Ebanks was at his third career SCOOP final table

The first four orbits saw plenty of movement in the chip stacks as the blinds increased to 12.5K/25K/3.125K. Both thnkpositive and Switzerland's gaucho47 made up some ground, tripling and doubling their stacks, respectively. Russia's MAMOHT_T lost nearly half of what had been a 34-big-blind stack. But the biggest loser was Ireland's blaaaaah666, who was crippled to just under four big blinds on Hand #33. thnkpositive opened before the flop with an all-in bet of 473K, holding K♥ 9♥, and blaaaaah666 made the call from the big blind with A♣ K♣. The first card to fall was the 9♠, leaving the Irish player in need of an ace, but the rest of the board came 2♣ Q♥ 6♠ 9♣ and blaaaaah666 was left with just 90K. Four hands later HealTheWorld's A♣ J♦ held up against K♥ 6♥ and blaaaaah666 was ousted in 9th place ($27,150).

Joe Ebanks still had the chip lead with 2.56M, but the rest of the field had begun to catch up a bit. Germany's HealTheWorld (1.39M), gaucho47 (1.36M), and Poland's MilanRabsz (1.34M) were all within one double-up of the chip lead, and thnkpositive (1.11M) still held more than 44 big blinds. But Ebanks used his chip lead in a few key spots to maintain his advantage. He stole one three-way pot worth 704K on a 5♦ 4♥ J♥ flop with an all-in check raise. Two hands later he won another worth 693K at showdown:

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With 3.25M chips after that pot and nobody else with even half as much, Ebanks was firmly in the lead as the blinds and antes went up to 15K/30K/3,125. That entire level passed without an all-in confrontation and Ebanks increased his stack to 3.86M. On Hand #96, with blinds and antes now 17.5K/35K/4,375 the field would shrink to six after HealTheWorld move all-in under the gun for just under 11 big blinds, holding J♣ 9♣. gaucho47 called the bet with Q♠ Q♦ but couldn't get any more customers; the board ran out 4♠ K♣ 7♠ 7♦ J♥ and HealTheWorld was out in 7th place ($40,725).

That pot gave gaucho47 the clear second-place stack at 2.58M. Meanwhile MilanObsz, Russia's MAMOHT_T, Germany's H.Oussalé, and thnkpositive were all working with 21 big blinds or less. The question was which one would be the next to bust. It wasn't H.Oussalé; within a few hands the German player won four out of five pots to climb to 1.17M. Instead it was MilanRabsz, who ran into a cooler on Hand #108. gaucho47 opened the betting with a raise to 70K under the gun before Joe Ebanks raised to 205K in second position. MilanRabsz jammed for 463K with J♥ J♦, which got rid of gaucho47, but Ebanks snap-called with K♦ K♠. The 3♥ 4♥ T♣ Q♠ 9♦ board never threatened and MilanRabsz took 6th place ($63,350).

Five hands later the short-stacked player who ran into a cooler was MAMOHT_T, who picked up 9♣ 9♠ in the small blind on Hand #113 and jammed for 571K after H.Oussalé's opening bet of 70K and thnkpositive's three-bet to 155K. H.Oussalé went away, but thnkpositive snapped with A♦ A♠. This time the underdog found a way to win, though; the board came 7♠ J♠ K♠ 9♥ T♣ and MAMOHT_T won the 1.26M-chip pot. thnkpositive was left with just 169K, all of which went in the middle on the very next hand with Q♠ 7♦. Both Joe Ebanks and gaucho47 called, and Ebanks won the pot with A♣ 7♠ when the board came A♠ 3♦ A♥ K♣ T♦. That made thnkpositive the 5th-place finisher ($90,500).

A four-handed standoff

With the blinds and antes on the cusp of going up to 20K/40K/5K, the last four players were now stacked like so:

Seat 1: MAMOHT_T (1,265,032 in chips)
Seat 5: gaucho47 (2,268,209 in chips)
Seat 6: Joe "ender555" Ebanks (4,562,374 in chips)
Seat 7: H.Oussalé (954,385 in chips)

Joe Ebanks quickly jumped out to a commanding lead with this heads-up win on Hand #126 against gaucho47:

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That gave Ebanks 4.57M chips and he ran with them over the next 33 hands, stacking up to a high point of 6.53M. gaucho47 trended downward over that stretch but picked up J♥ J♦ to double through H.Oussalé's A♠ 8♣, chipping back up to 951K. On Hand #168 MAMOHT_T finally cut into Ebanks' advantage, winning a pre-flop coin flip with A♥ 8♠ against 2♠ 2♦ with not one but two eights on the board by the turn. That 1.47M-chip pot was redistributed seven hands later when gaucho47 three-bet all-in for 710K with A♣ 6♦ and original raiser MAMOHT_T called with K♦ Q♠.

With blinds and antes now up to 25K/50K/6.25K, Ebanks still had 110 big blinds with his 5.52M. Everybody else's stack was back over 25 big blinds, but it was gaucho47 who moved back into clear ownership of second place with this 1.13M-chip win:

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H.Oussalé fell behind the pack and was looking for a chance to get off the bubble. The German player managed to get all-in with A♥ J♥ against Joe Ebanks' A♠ 7♣ on Hand #188, but the pot was split after the board came K♥ Q♣ A♣ 9♣ K♦. On the very next hand H.Oussalé jammed again, this time for 755K from the button with A♣ 8♦, but that hand was dominated when MAMOHT_T called in the small blind with A♦ Q♥. The board came 4♦ 2♣ A♥ Q♦ 9♦, MAMOHT_T won the 1.57M chips in the pot, and H.Oussalé was eliminated in 4th place ($135,750).

gaucho47 vs. MOMOHT_T

The spread between the last three stacks was a bit narrower than in the earlier stages of the final table:

Seat 1: MAMOHT_T (1,741,652 in chips)
Seat 5: gaucho47 (2,404,891 in chips)
Seat 6: Joe "ender555" Ebanks (4,903,457 in chips)

It narrowed further on Hand #203 when MAMOHT_T made a nice call on the river for this 1.49M-chip pot:

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Both MAMOHT_T and gaucho47 were within one double-up of the chip lead now. Rather than chip away at the leader, though, they ended up clashing just after the blinds and antes went up to 30K/60K/7.5K. MAMOHT_T opened on the button for a minimum raise of 120K; after gaucho47 made it three bets for 240K, MAMOHT_T put in a fourth bet of 378K. gaucho47 thought for a bit before calling, building a 839K-chip pot before the J♥ 6♥ 6♠ flop; the Swiss player check-called 275K there and then both players checked the 8♣ turn. gaucho47 thought for a while again before betting 480K into 1.39M on the river; MAMOHT_T considered the call for a long time before finally making it, only to see gaucho47 turn up K♦ 6♦ for sixes full of eights.

gaucho47 was within four big blinds of the lead now, while MAMOHT_T was left with just 600K. But the Russian player soon doubled back through gaucho47 with A♦ 2♠ against K♣ 2♦ to get back above 20 big blinds. Joe Ebanks continued to apply pressure to maintain his lead, leaving the other two players to fight over who would get to advance to heads-up play. Finally, on Hand #258, MAMOHT_T jammed for 726K from the small blind with 3♦ 3♣ and gaucho47 called with Q♣ 9♠. The board ran out 2♦ 6♦ 8♠ 9♦ J♥, sending MAMOHT_T to the rail in 3rd place ($181,000).

An epic heads-up match

gaucho47 faced an uphill battle as heads-up play began with the blinds and antes still at 30K/60K/7.5K:

Seat 5: gaucho47 (3,849,893 in chips)
Seat 6: Joe "ender555" Ebanks (5,200,107 in chips)

Ebanks, who had finished 4th and 6th at two previous SCOOP final tables, had his first title in the series within his sights. But his Swiss opponent won 11 of the first 14 pots to move ever so slightly ahead of Joe Ebanks. Then a bet on the river of a board reading A♥ 3♦ J♠ 2♣ 2♠ was good for 1.11M chips, opening gaucho47's lead up to more than 25 big blinds. Ebanks moved back ahead less than 10 hands later and held that lead for less than 20 hands before surrendering it to gaucho47 once again.

SCOOP Event 44-H final table heads-up.jpg

With blinds and antes still just at 40K/80K/10K and both players battling hard, the potential for an epic heads-up match was clear. That was exactly what evolved as Joe Ebanks and gaucho47 slugged it out. The latter took control after a few dozen hands, at one point winning 16 out of 18 pots to whittle Ebanks down to just 1.39M on the 50K/100K/12.5K level. But less than 15 hands later Ebanks had stormed back to within two big blinds again, holding 4.42M to gaucho47's 4.62M.

As it happened that was close as the former past WSOP and WCOOP bracelet winner would get to his first SCOOP victory in this event. gaucho47 dominated the last 39 hands of play, winning 27 of them and losing only one pot worth more than 10 big blinds. That one came when Ebanks was all-in with 4♠ 5♠ and hit the river to beat gaucho47's A♣ K♥ on a board of J♥ Q♦ 9♠ 6♣ 4♥.

In the end, as so often happens, it came down to a coin flip. On the 152nd hand of heads-up play and the 410th of the final table, Joe Ebanks' run came to a close:

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Both of the final two players earned fine paydays for their efforts at this final table. For Joe "emder555" Ebanks, the third SCOOP final table wasn't the charm - at least not for winning a title. But the $244,350 prize topped his previous best at PokerStars by nearly $170K, and his WCOOP victory back in 2011 by nearly $182K. As for gaucho47, the Swiss player's first SCOOP title also came with career-defining cash - at $339,375 the win was worth nearly $315K more than gaucho47's previous best, a 36th-place finish in the 2011 SCOOP High Main Event. It was a fittingly rewarding end to what has been another record-breaking installment of SCOOP.

SCOOP 2013 Event #42-H: $2,100 NL Hold'em (8-Max)
905 entrants
$1,810,000 prize pool
104 places paid

1st place: gaucho47 (Switzerland) $339,375
2nd place: Joe "ender555" Ebanks (United Kingdom) $244,350
3rd place: MAMOHT_T (Russia) $181,000
4th place: H.Oussalé (Germany) $135,750
5th place: thnkpositive (Thailand) $90,500
6th place: MilanRabsz (Poland) $63,350
7th place: HealTheWorld (Germany) $40,725
8th place: blaaaaaah666 (Ireland) $27,150

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in SCOOP