SCOOP 2014: Julian "MrCoco" Gardner is Top Cat in Event #35-M $215 PL Omaha Hi/Lo

Sweating a Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo tournament is something like how one would imagine a Braveheart reenactment, as played by cats of the nine-lived variety. Halves, quarters, eighths even. No one ever dies!

Somehow though, on this day the medium tier of SCOOP 2014's thirty-fifth event (speaking of cheating death, does this tournament series ever expire?) a field of 938 players was dispensed with, slowly, one half-life at a time. It took 13 hours in fact, for the UK's Julian "MrCoco" Gardner to sit atop the feline hierarchy and capture his second SCOOP title, the previous one also having been in the black four-card arts, for $28,093.88.

Before all that there was the journey to the final table, and it was littered with many a good player. Scott "BigRiskky" Clements continues to pack the SCOOP volume in, though he could only manage 700th on this day. Team PokerStars Pro Jose "Nacho" Barbero took the sagest course of action, busting first out of the blocks. David Williams, sirfreddy83, Angel Guillen, Andre Aakkari, Adrienne Rowsome, George Danzer, Jason Mercier, nkenyo, and chrisdm -- there were a lot of Red Spades contributing to the big prize pool without recompense.

Poland's Goral did them all proud, though, actually cashing in 25th, for $844.20. Kevin "ImaLuckSac" McPhee also continued his scoop success, finishing 40th for $656.60.

With just ten players left, Ptiz29 was ripe to bubble. Fellow Russian ymnik1970 raised the button to 32k and they moved all-in.

It was the German Liquid_PLO behind in the big blind who woke up with the monster, three-betting all-in with A♥ A♣ 8♥ 6♠. Ptiz29 was in trouble, their A♦ 7♦ Q♥ 8♣ dominated in all things but diamonds.

A four outer presented itself on the K♥ K♣ 4♠ 6♣ board, but the K♠ made the deeper stack kings full of aces and Ptiz29 received $1,876 for 10th. An interesting final table formed, as if through the magic of software engineering.

Final Table Chip Counts

Seat 1: ymnik1970 (712,541)
Seat 2: Marble Blast (239,410)
Seat 3: FU_15 (405,955)
Seat 4: SirWatts (386,404)
Seat 5: Ovchinka8 (635,050)
Seat 6: Liquid_PLO (448,839)
Seat 7: robc1978 (494,242)
Seat 8: MrCoco (733,031)
Seat 9: pads1161 (634,528)


It is hard to bust in Pot-Limit Omaha Hi/Lo, particularly at the final table when heady players are reticent to risk elimination in the first few spots. When considering the lack of antes in the pot, the orbits without the final table's first elimination were quite understandable, if they didn't make for the most rail-able (entertaining that is) poker.

NIck "FU_15" Maimone had been sitting out on the button, missing a few hands which may or may not have also affected other players willingness to get their stack in. In any case, they reconnected to play an interesting pot. Marble Blast had opened for a pot-sized raise of 70k at the 10k-20k level, and FU_15 called. A flop would be seen heads-up between early position opponents, as rare as untouched catnip, one might say, were they constructing ill-advised, out of place analogies. That flop was A♣ 9♥ 5♠. Marble Blast bet pot, 170k, committing themselves and leaving Maimone with just 140k more to move all-in.

The time ticked awayas Maimone went deep into the tank. The man who dubbed himself FU_15 finally decided to move all-in.


It was A♥ K♦ 3♣ T♣ for the Finn, while Nick Maimone's two pair was vulnerable to a lot of runouts, he had A♠ 2♠ 7♣ 5♥ for aces up and a decent low draw. One of those dangerous runouts came, the J♣ turn gave Marble Blast both a gutshot and a flush draw, to go with their draw to any ten or king for the better aces up. It was the T♠ and it was ninth for Nick "FU_15" Mamoine, who cashed for $2,251.

Mike "SirWatts" Watson was down to two big blinds during eight-handed play. He has risen to nearly ten after that having shown outstanding patience and a knack for being invulnerable. When robc1978 opened under the gun for 60k, SirWatts was on the button with 210k, and he moved all-in. Robc1979 had little choice but to call with A♠ 2♠ 6♠ 9♦, dominating the low but dominated up high by Watson's A♥ Q♦ 9♥ 3♣.

The K♦ T♥ 7♠ 6♣ flop gave SirWatts a broadway draw to the nuts and his dominated low looked safe. The 6♣ paired his opponent however and reopened that door. Not a good card for the underdog. The 8♦ river meant the nut low was tabled and the pair of sixes was best up top, SirWatts had been scooped out in eighth, valiant though his efforts had been. $3,752 should be able to purchase another of those cigars that occupy his mouth in his PokerStars avatar.

Marble Blast had not shied away from seeing flops and playing pots at the final table, which may or may not have been their undoing. In their ultimate hand they potted A♣ K♥ 9♣ 8♥ from early position and called a three-bet all-in from chip-leader Liquid_PLO's A♠ 2♠ 3♦ 4♠. The short stack was a small favourite at this point, 52% to 48%, but not when the board came low, the equities in those cases were another story.

It was J♦ 8♣ 2♥ on the flop meaning Liquid_PLO would make the nut low anytime a low was possible. Marble Blast had paired their eight in the meantime. The killer card was the turn 2♣ Marble Blast added a club draw, but was now behind on all counts. The T♦ usually is a brick on the river in this game and it meant Liquid PLO extended their chip-lead towards 2M, while the Finn Marble Blast was out in seventh for $5,628.

Four-Cards, Five-Foes

Shortly thereafter, ymnik1970 raised under the gun to 140k and Ovchinka8 moved all-in next to act for 264k, after which the field thinned out. There was no fold equity in sight for the shortest stack, so they must have had something unfoldable.

It was a call and A♦ Q♣ 5♣ 2♠ from the initial raiser, the A♣ 2♣ 6♦ J♣ for the at-risk player. A greenless high flop would have them in trouble and indeed the K♦ K♥ 8♥ flop fit the bill. On the 6♠ turn they took the lead in the high with a pair, but ymnik1970 was freerolling on the low. The K♣ river brought about a cruel kind of counterfeight, Ovchinka8 would have to play three-kings on the board and two cards in the hole -- their pair of sixes were nullified.

Trips ace-queen versus trips ace-jack as second kickers were being considered for the role of grim reaper on this high-only board. Ovchinka8 was out sixth, receiving $7,504.

With blinds up to 25k-50k, ymnik1970 was running on fumes. They were in the big blind with 180k back after MrCoco made it 100k to go on the button. They elected for the stop and go option, something more often seen in Omaha Hi/Lo, calling to see the A♣ 5♣ 9♥ flop before moving all in for 130k into 225k, with 4♣ 2♦ 5♥ 8♠, a pair, a gutshot, and a decent low draw.

MrCoco could not turn down the price after flopping aces up with A♥ 5♠ 8♥ Q♠. If no low came to fruition it would be tough for the short-stacked Russian to survive. The turn was the T♣ and the river was the 9♠, a perfect runout for the button and the rich got richer. For fifth place ymnik1970 received $9,455.

There was a brief interlude for deal talk, but the three big stacks were all giving robc1978's dwindling empire sideways glances. So play continued.

Said interlude was well and truly brief. Liquid_PLO raised first in to 104k at 25k-50k and robc1978 committed a mere 80k on top of that with a shove. They were called, naturally, with cat-like reflexes.

robc1978: A♣ T♦ 2♠ 8♠
Liquid_PLO: A♥ 5♥ 6♦ 7♦

When the flop fell 6♣ 4♥ 4♦, in other words smack dab in the middle of Liquid_PLO's wheelhouse, a scoop seemed unlikely for robc1978. The 2♦ turn meant their nut-low draw was usurped and the A♦ river added insult to injury, they had been scooped, insert your own litter box pun here. For fourth they received $13,601.

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Three-Way Consultation

The deal talk got down to business thereafter. Players looked at the numbers for an ICM chop as well as a chip-chop. Liquid_PLO had a slim chip-lead over MrCoco, while previously taciturn pads1161 had one third of their stacks, and had to wake up his flatmate for some impromptu financial advice. The deal-making process was in good nature, three cool cats lounging in the shade, bellies soon full, one might imagine. After no eternity they settled on the ICM numbers, with a juicy $2,000 extra to fight over.

Well Germany's Liquid_PLO will have been glad they did. Because they did not win a single pot it seemed once the accord was sealed with everyone's paw of approval. They doubled pads1161 not three hands later. Perhaps seven after that they four-bet all-in in a blind versus blind battle with countryman MrCoco, while holding A♦ T♥ K♣ 6♣. MrCoco was in possession of A♠ Q♦ 9♦ 5♣, which was preferable on the 9♣ 8♥ 6♥ flop, to say nothing of the 4♣ turn and the J♠ river. Liquid_PLO had gone from first to third in a blink, but the earlier friendly wranglings meant they could feast on $26,738.17 for the achievement.

The United Kingdom was now guaranteed to have a SCOOP champion and that guarantee came to maturity quickly, six hands into the heads-up duel. A three-bet to 360k from MrCoco was met in kind with a four-bet to 1,080k from pads1161. A little more juicing of the pot and all the chips were in, preflop.

MrCoco: J♠ 8♣ A♠ 7♣ - 51%
pads1161: A♣ T♦ 3♠ 5♣ - 49%

The classic flip revived! The Q♦ 9♥ 2♠ flop gave an inside straight draw to the chip-leader, who would survive in good stead regardless of the outcome of this particular hand. The 6♦ turned gutshot into wrap, while making for the nut-low draw in pads1161's hand. The 2♥ river was amazingly anti-climactic... the ace-jack high was going to play and scoop! Pads1161 had been eliminated second from first, none the wiser, but (and preferably we might add) $21,521.15 richer.

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Congratulations to Julian "MrCoco" Gardner, who surged at just the right times this long, skill-rewarding tournament and who adds another SCOOP title to his long-spanning resume, as well as $28,093.88 for the win!

SCOOP 2014: 35-M, $215 PL Omaha Hi/Lo
Entrants: 938
Prize pool: $187,600
Places paid: 126

1. MrCoco (United Kingdom) - $28,093.88*
2. pads1161 (United Kingdom) - $21,521.15*
3. Liquid_PLO (Germany) - $26,738.17
4. robc1979 (United Kingdom) - $13,601
5. ymnik1970 (Russia) - $9,455
6. Ovchinka8 (Belarus) - $7,504
7.Marble Blast (Finland) - $5,628
8. Mike "SirWatts" Watson - $3,752
9. Nick "FU_15" Maimone - $2,251

* - denotes results of a three-way deal

Gareth Chantler is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Gareth Chantler
@PokerStars in SCOOP