SCOOP 2014: claudiu_pana comes out ahead in Event #8-L ($7.50 NLHE Heads-Up)

Heads-up poker is arguably the purest form of poker there is. It's one-on-one. Mano-a-mano. There's no where to run. No where to hide. A fight to the death, where only one can survive. Imagine having to do that fourteen times in a row. Imagine winning every single one of them. Well that's exactly what Romanian claudiu_pana achieved today, turning a few dollars into over $6,000 in prize money, and that remarkable achievement was rewarded with the coveted SCOOP title!

The event was SCOOP Event #8-L: $7.50 No Limit Holdem Heads-Up Event where a whopping 13,808 players came together to prove the growing popularity of the heads-up format. The prize pool of $94,170.56 almost doubled the advertised guarantee, with the top 2,048 players reaching the money.

To reach that point, players would have to win up to three matches in succession. Caio Pessagno, Lex Veldhuis, Bertrand Grospellier, Felix Schneiders, Victor Ramdin, Marcel Luske, Tyler Frost, João Nunes, Matthias de Meulder, Chris Moneymaker and Fatima De Melo were some of the Team PokerStars Pros in the field but sadly, they were eliminated in the early rounds of play.

Marcin "Goral" Horecki (1,903rd - $16.00) added yet another SCOOP cash to his record, while George Danzer (1,123rd - $16.00) and Randy Lew (142nd - $69.68) also made the money. However the last red spade in the field belonged to Christophe de Meulder.


de Meulder advanced to the quarter-final stage for the final eight players but he was quickly bounced out in eighth place. On just the 11th hand of the quarter-final match, de Meulder called bets on the flop and turn, before his opponent, claudiu_pana, checked it over on a board of 3♣4♥K♥6♦3♦. de Meulder moved all in with K♣J♦ but claudiu_pana snapped it off with K♠A♠ for a better kicker, leaving de Meulder to collect $1,216.68.


claudiu_pana would advance to take on sch-jol, while in the other semi-final it would be kav1945 to take on MrNinOz.

In the first match, sch-jol would take the early lead winning a healthy pot with a raise on a board of A♠2♦A♣Q♣, but claudiu_pana was able to fight back. At one point claudiu_pana won 15 pots in a row to regain the ascendency, including the following hand for a big double up:

RSS readers click through to see replay

claudiu_pana would continue to win the majority of pots to increase the advantage before the final hand was also a bit of a cooler. The board read A♣A♦T♠K♣A♠, following a checked flop and small bet on the turn. On the river, claudiu_pana sneakily checked and sch-jol committed all in with K♠8♠ for a full house, but claudiu_pana held A♥6♥ for quads to advance to the final. sch-jol took home $2,208.29 for a fourth-place finish.

Meanwhile in the other semi-final, kav1945 and MrNinOz were slugging it out in a very tight contest.

MrNinOz snuck ahead but kav1945 was able to secure a double up on a board of A♠Q♠7♦8♠3♥. kav1945 moved all in on the river with 7♣7♥ for a set to better MrNinOz's Q♥8♥ for two pair.

kav1945 would win another nice three-bet pot a short time later. MrNinOz three-bet preflop from the big blind before leading on the 2♥J♥4♠ flop. kav1945 made the call as the J♦ paired the board. This time it was check-bet-call as the K♥ river brought checks from both players. MrNinOz showed Q♦2♦ but kav1945 collected the pot with 6♥6♣.

With the blinds sneaking up, MrNinOz was down to ten big blinds, when he opened with a min-raise from the button. kav1945 moved all in with A♦T♠ and MrNinOz made the call with 7♦7♠. The board was spread 8♠3♠9♠3♣4♠ to give both players a flush but it was kav1945's ten-high flush which scooped the pot. kav1945 advanced to the final as MrNinOz received $2,208.29 for third place.

Final - claudiu_pana vs kav1945


Barely a hand had been played when the two finalists decided to pause the clock and split the prize money. They had to leave $1,000 in the middle to play for, so they were both happy to lock up $5,130.59 for a guaranteed extra $800 or so from the original second place payout.

With that locked up, the $1,000 and SCOOP title were still in the middle to play for.

The play was steady in the early goings before two huge pots were played in consecutive hands. The first would see a dangerous looking board of 6♥8♥9♦9♥T♥. claudiu_pana had three-bet preflop, bet the flop and then check-called the turn. When the river landed, claudiu_pana tried to toss out a small blocking bet but kav1945 was having none of that, moving all in to take it down.

The very next hand, claudiu_pana was able to recover those chips, and a few more, with a big double up. The action didn't get serious until the river on a board of 3♦8♦J♣3♠8♠ when kav1945 got aggressive and moved all in once again. This time however, claudiu_pana wasn't going anywhere with T♥8♣ for trip eights to bring the match back to about even.

claudiu_pana had the momentum and extended the advantage with three streets of value holding K♦J♥ on a board of T♣2♥J♠3♣5♥. claudiu_pana then went on another nice run, winning 14 of the next 18 hands (with one chop), with the final hand of that run also the final hand of the tournament:

RSS readers click through to see replay

kav1945 flopped top two pair, and got the chips in good, but the river brought claudiu_pana a better two pair to grab the victory! A great run by kav1945 who survived 13 heads-up duels only to fall at the final hurdle, collecting $5,130.59 in prize money. However the SCOOP title goes to Romania as claudiu_pana is the Heads-up champ, winning $6,130.59. Congratulations!

SCOOP-08-L: $7 NL Holdem [Heads-Up] - $50K Guaranteed
Entrants: 13,808
Prize Pool: $94,170.56
Places Paid: 2,048

1. claudiu_pana (Romania) - $6,130.59*
2. kav1945 (Russia) - $5,130.59*
3. MrNinOz (Malta) - $2,208.29
4. sch-jol (Netherlands) - $2,208.29

* denotes heads-up deal

If you missed out today, then don't worry as there are plenty more opportunities for you to grab yourself a slice of the SCOOP pie. There are 45 different events, all with low, medium and high buy-in levels to suit players of all budgets. A total prize pool of $40 million is guaranteed with the series running right through until May 18th. Head to the SCOOP home page for more details.

Heath "TassieDevil" Chick is a Freelance Contributor for the PokerStars Blog.

@PokerStars in 2014