SCOOP 2014: Victor chuch tops tough table in Event #1-H, $2,100 NLHE (6-max)

The big money and prestigious titles are back! SCOOP 2014 kicked off yesterday with three tiers of 6-max no-limit hold'em tournaments, all scheduled for two days of play. The High version, with its $2,100 buy-in and $1,000,000 guaranteed prize pool attracted a stellar field and would end with an impressive final table - not to mention a roller-coaster ride of a story for the eventual winner.

Event #1-H drew a total field of 896 players, good for a $1,792,000 prize pool nearly 80 percent above the original guarantee. With a scheduled top prize of $315,929.60 waiting on the horizon, and 30-minute levels giving everybody plenty of room to ply their skills, a full day of poker ensued.

That first day of play ended Sunday evening with 27 players remaining and Victor chuch from Mexico holding the lead at 822,502 chips. That 164-big-blind stack was well ahead of second-place Mike "SirWatts" Watson 609,407 chips, with Stephen "stevie444" Chidwick (460,436), 2012 SCOOP Event #20-M winner raidalot (319,314), and Jonathan "ape styles" Van Fleet (317,839) lurking further back.

Stacked to the max

After nearly five and a half hours of play on the second day the field was finally whittled down to just these six players:

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Seat 1: Crazy Elior (3,077,700 in chips)
Seat 2: Elio "smokrokflock" Fox (1,295,194 in chips)
Seat 3: Pascal "Pass_72" Lefrancois (501,211 in chips)
Seat 4: Victor chuch (515,112 in chips)
Seat 5: rickiee (1,821,995 in chips)
Seat 6: Phill "Grindation" Mcallister (1,748,788 in chips)

The level of accomplishment among the finalists was nothing less than one would expect from the first High-tier event of this SCOOP. In 2010, Pascal "Pass_72" Lefrancois won the Super Tuesday and a WSOP gold bracelet, and later that summer finished 11th in the Main Event. Elio "smokrokflock" Fox won both the Bellagio Cup main event and the WSOP Europe Main Event in 2011. Phill "Grindation" Mcallister chopped the Sunday Million heads-up in 2012. And incoming chip leader Crazy Elior triumphed heads-up win over Dan Smith last spring in Event #23-H, the same player who denied Victor chuch a win in this year's TCOOP Event #17.

With 30-minute levels in play throughout the tournament and blinds and antes at a relatively low 12.5K/25K/3,125 when the final table began, there was no immediate pressure even on the two short stacks. Both Victor chuch, playing from Mexico, and Canada's Pass_72 had at least 20 big blinds to work with, allowing them some options in dealing with the aggressive bigger stacks. They clashed with each other on Hand #14 but both showed down A-Q to split the pot. The next hand saw Victor chuch open for 60K on the button with A♠ J♦ and call all-in after Grindation jammed from the big blind with 4♣ 4♠, taking down the 873K-chip pot and buying a little breathing room after the board came J♥ K♠ A♦ 9♠ 2♠. Three hands later it was Pass_72's turn to double through Grindation, after both players hit a flush on the river of the A♥ 8♦ 3♣ 8♥ 2♥ board, with Pass_72 moving all-in holding the nuts and grabbing the 1.32M-chip pot.

That put Pass_72 in great position but a multi-way pot on Hand #24 would turn things upside down for the Canadian bracelet holder:

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The club flush draw never came through, smokrokflock grabbed the 2.53M-chip pot, and Mr. Lefrancois hit the rail in 6th place ($53,760).

Grindation, who had once held the lead that now belonged to smokrokflock, now had the short stack but got back into the swing of things with a win on Hand #30, calling all-in from the big blind with A♥ 2♣ after Sweden's rickiee jammed from the small blind with 5♦ 2♥. That wasn't enough to climb out of the basement but it did get Grindation back to within four big blinds of rickiee's stack.

Ten hands after that the same two players would face off again, this time with rickiee getting the best of it with Q♦ Q♣ against Grindation's 8♣ 8♥. The board came down 3♥ 5♥ 9♦ 8♦ J♠, giving Grindation a set of eights and the 1.69M chips in the middle and leaving rickiee with just 22,598 chips, less than the size of the big blind. The Swedish player was able to double with K♥ J♥ against Crazy Elior's A♦ K♦ on the next hand, but J♥ J♦ on the next hand couldn't stay ahead of smokrokflock's T♥ 4♥ on a 6♥ K♣ Q♥ K♥ 4♦ board and rickee was gone in 5th place ($89,600).

As the table was reduced to four players, Victor chuch was once again the short stack with just over 1M chips and the blinds and antes at 17.5K/35K/4,375. That situation changed immediately on Hand #43 in this pot against Crazy Elior:

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That flopped straight was good for the 2.03M-chip pot, moving Victor chuch into second place and dropping Crazy Elior just behind Grindation in fourth place. Five hands later the U.K. player opened the betting under the gun with a small raise to 72.5K, holding 6♠ 6♦, and was quickly three-bet to 175K by smokrokflock on the button. After dipping into the time bank Crazy Elior jammed for 1.29M and smokrokflock called with A♣ Q♠. The latter quickly caught top pair on the 3♣ 9♥ Q♣ flop and won the pot after the turn and river came 8♠ 8♦, ending Crazy Elior's tournament in 4th place ($125,440).

Down to three

Elio "smokrokflock" Fox was now firmly in the lead as three-handed play began:

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Seat 2: Elio "smokrokflock" Fox (5,108,012 in chips)
Seat 4: Victor chuch (2,153,885 in chips)
Seat 6: Grindation (1,698,103 in chips)

Grindation was able to make up some ground over the next 17 hands but otherwise things mostly looked the same as the U.K. player opened Hand #66 with a minimum raise on the button. smokrokflock made it three bets for 239K in the small blind, driving Victor chuch out in the big blind and putting the decision back to Grindation. After some deep thought Grindation made it four bets and 433K. smokrokflock paused for a few seconds and jammed with A♣ Q♠, a bet which Grindation snap-called for 1.88M more with K♦ K♥. The cowboys held up on the T♣ 2♠ 8♣ 4♥ 9♦ board and Grindation grabbed the lead along with the 4.68M-chip pot, but three hands later they would come together again in a better situation for smokrokflock:

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That moved Mr. Fox back to within four big blinds of the lead, but that was as close as things would get. Most of the confrontations after that point were between the former WSOP Europe champ and Grindation, and the latter got the better of nearly all of them. Hand #89 was a turning point when smokrokflock's two pair with Q♦ 9♣ on the 7♠ T♣ 9♥ Q♣ A♦ board fell to Grindation's 9♦ 9♠ for a set of nines. That left smokrokflock with 1.38M, and four hands later a loss to Victor chuch's K♦ K♥ reduced that stack further to 715K.

The blinds and antes were up to 25K/50K/6,250 on Hand #95 when Grindation opened for 100K in the small blind and smokrokflock called in the big blind to take a 3♠ A♣ 2♥ flop. Fox called a 50K bet there and 68K on the K♣ turn, then called all-in for his last 484K on the A♠ river. He showed K♥ 2♣, which had been ahead with two pair on the turn, but Grindation's A♦ 6♦ caught trips on the river to end smokrokflok's day in 3rd place ($179,200).

Heads-up for the title

Much like the beginning of the final table, Victor chuch was significantly behind as heads-up play began.

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Seat 4: Victor chuch (2,000,211 in chips)
Seat 6: Grindation (6,959,789 in chips)

After dropping the first two pots Victor chuch doubled with K♣ 7♣ against Grindation's A♠ 9♥ to move up to 2.39M. After winning the next three pots that number increased to 3.14M, and then 3.79M after six of the next eight. Then Grindation won 14 of the next 18 pots to move the chip stacks back to almost exactly where they'd been at the start of heads-up.

Hand #126 was the big break Victor chuch had been waiting for:

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That moved the two close to parity, and within 11 hands Victor chuch was able to take over the lead by a small margin. Grindation fought back by taking 10 of the next 13 pots, seizing a 5.52M-to-3.43M lead, but that was as good as things would get for the player from the U.K. Victor chuch went on a tear, winning the next seven pots in a row to move ahead by a 3-to-1 margin.

By the time Hand #164 arrived Grindation was beginning to move back ahead. The U.K. player, sitting out of position in the big blind, called a minimum raise to 160K before the flop and took a 6♣ 9♦ 7♥ flop. Grindation check-raised Victor chuch's 116K-chip bet to 328K and was called, then led out on for 618K on the A♥ turn and was called again. Grindation jammed for 1.77M on the river and Victor chuch snap-called with T♣ 8♥ for the flopped nut straight. Grindation's three-barrel bluff with K♠ J♦ was a victim of poor timing, and the tournament came to a close.

Grindation's day might have ended in second, but the consolation was a very healthy $232,960 score. Meanwhile, Victor chuch's persistence after being short for much of Day 2 paid off with a career-best prize of $315,929.60, topping that TCOOP runner-up finish back in January. It was a great start to SCOOP 2014 for both players, as well as the other four finalists, and all of them will surely be looking to make similar runs over the next two weeks of springtime action here at PokerStars.

SCOOP 01-H: $2,100 No-Limit Hold'em (6-max)
Entrants: 896
Prize pool: $1,792,000
Places paid: 102

1. Victor chuch (Mexico) $315,929.60
2. Phill "Grindation" Mcallister (United Kingdom) $232,960
3. Elio "smokrokflock" Fox (Canada) $179,200
4. Crazy Elior (United Kingdom) $125,440
5. rickiee (Sweden) $89,600
6. Pascal "Pass_72" Lefrancois (Canada) $53,760

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in SCOOP