SCOOP 2013: mrGR33N13 does the talking, Ben86 does the winning in Event #40-H ($21,000 heads-up high roller)
Heads-up poker for high stakes is intense. It's a relentless test of skill and endurance among players who, in the case of event 40-H, don't flinch at paying $21,000 to be one of 32 taking part in the Series' most exclusive tournament. To watch it is to see poker at its most ruthless. And yet despite all that pressure mrGR33N13 managed to type through the bulk of it. For the most part anyway.
mrGR33N13, also known as Dan Colman, likes to talk, undeterred even by the almost total lack of reply. He also has a sense of humour. Which is good because he crashed out in second place, after leading for much of the final rubber. Instead the title and the Movado watch went to Ben86, who also earned the small matter of $200,401.
The field of 32 had been rich in both talent wise and financially. Among the starters were Team PokerStars Pros Daniel Negreanu and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, as well as Team Online's Isaac Haxton. Familiar handles such as Justin "ZeeJustin" Bonomo, Olivier "Adonis112" Busquet and Scott "gunning4you" Seiver, also featured. All, however, fell short of the money.
Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu among those falling short of the money
Just four of the 32 returned for the second day of play. It was esteemed company.
Ben86, a celebrated nosebleed cash player, had eliminated n0dlceb4by, raidalot, Event 38-M winner ninototoroko and theNERDguy on his way to the final. mrGR33N13 meanwhile had worked past Trueteller, gunning4you, HelioTYF and 2011 SCOOP main event winner Sami "LrsLzk" Kelopuro to reach the last match which, one arrived at was immediately subject to a deal.
"Pause dis chit yo," said mrGR33N13, for some reason channelling the patois of modern street youth. "u wanna save some?"
The high roller heads-up final begins
Ben86 agreed. And so, like responsible children, they "saved some". Team Online's Isaac Haxton, who has previous with mrGR33N13, hosted the arrangement which seemed simple - $160,400 each with $40,000 in the middle to play for. They both agreed. Well Ben86 agreed. mrGR33N13 wanted a dollar less.
"I believe Ben is better than me at this format," said mrGR33N13. "I want the deal to reflect that."
Was he joking?
He was serious.
"160,399 and we have a deal."
Ben86 agreed with an emoticon grin, and Haxton was only too happy to accommodate them. These were fellow high rollers after all.
This little vignette was not the first time mrGR33N13 had been keen to express himself. In his semi-final against LrsLzk he had typed up a storm, calling the Finn "dumb", "a really dumb old school player", and daring him to four-bet bluff him. "End well it will not," he warned.
If it was serious, it was something out of high school. But it was more likely a bonus feature of a player known as one of the game's best heads-up specialists, with Alpine profit graphs that are the envy of cyber space. It was easy to see why as mrGR33N13 quickly established an early lead in the final.
mrGR33N13 held that lead for the next ten minutes or so, seeming to have Ben86 on the ropes, even after Ben86 doubled up with a craftily played turned full house. But the respite was brief, in part owing to mrGR33N13 's voracious appetite for pots.
Success heads-up, particularly high stakes, is increasingly a sign of a superior player. It's a format most are unfamiliar with, requiring an altogether different discipline. The concentration required even if difficult enough when you're watching, as you watch how few hands are folded pre-flop and that the strategy involved exceeds the realm most of us inhabit. When they reached the break mrGR33N13 wanted to play through, a good-spirited tantrum but perhaps fearful that he'd lose momentum. It prompted Ben86 to break his silence with a curt "no."
The break did Ben86 good. Almost immediately he took the lead.
For once mrGR33N13 remained silent. Instead he got to work regaining the lead, which he did, a big lead, moving in on the river on a board full of draws, forcing Ben86 to fold. But even that advantage was pegged back to all square by Ben86.
For all the talk of mrGR33N13's talk, Ben86 was hardly a dazzled bunny in the headlights. Ben "Ben86" Tollerene, is a cash game player if undoubted renown, the type to play single hands worth more than $300,000. So this was hardly a David and goliath comeback story. And so an hour and a half after they started their final match Ben86 snuck narrowly ahead with kings and queens. It was all the edge he needed when the chips went in minutes later.
That was that. No more chat. With high rollers it's easy to suspect that even after winning $200,000 they're already double clicking on another event. There are games to be played and money to be won. This one was already old news.
Regardless, it's sometimes a treat to marvel at the odd prodigy clicking some buttons for a couple of hours, and high rollers rarely disappoint. Thanks to mrGR33N13 for the laughs, even if some were inadvertent, and congratulations to Ben86 on a remarkable win.
PokerStars 2013 SCOOP Event #40-H ($21,000 heads-up high roller) results
Places paid: 8
1. Ben86 (Canada), $200,401.00*
2. mrGR33N13 (Canada), $160,399.00*
3. Lrslzk (Finland), $65,600.00
4. theNERDguy (Brazil), $65,600.00
5. Helio TYF (Canada), $41,000.00
6. Sauce123 (Canada), $41,000.00
7. ninototoroko (Brazil), $41,000.00
8. kotkis (Finland), $41,000.00
* denotes two-way deal
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.