SCOOP 2015: Paulman 87 wins nearly $200K in Event #15-H, $1,050 NLHE (Progressive Super-Knockout, Thursday Thrill SE)

Some SCOOP tournaments are not just tests of poker skill, but tests of endurance much like the original freezeouts were for live tournaments in their early eras. Even among these events there are a select few that take the endurance theme and really run away with it. The high buy-in installment of Event #15, a special edition of the weekly Thursday Thrill tournament, proved to be one of the longest of these tests so far during SCOOP 2015, providing Paulman 87 of Mexico with a career-changing win.

Day 1 of the tournament started with 1,778 players holding 5,000 starting chips and ended with just 143 of those players remaining, joining the 55 who had cashed in before the end of the day, like Stavros "IDOLLS" Kalfas, who took 153rd place ($1,200.15 + $1,125 in bounties). All the Day 1 survivors were guaranteed at least $1,244.60 regardless of their finish on Day 2.

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Among those in the hunt on Day 2 was Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier. He's already had quite the run in this series, topping the Player of the Series leaderboard as Friday began with two wins - the only question was whether he could add to it by accumulating more points than just the 25 given to everyone who finishes in the top 10 percent of the field.

The road he took certainly wasn't an easy one. He never held much of a stack, sitting in last place with 56 players remaining, and then again with 42 left. And with a $6,609 bounty on his head - the largest at his table in most cases - there were plenty of opponents willing to be obstacles in his path. He displayed world-class patience in a quest for a chance to earn his third title of this series, but it ended in 31st place when he ran J♥ J♠ into the Q♦ Q♠ held by past Sunday Warm-Up and SCOOP winner Michael "Skämmes" Tureniec, who collected $3,304 for taking Mercier down.

That was at 7:32 p.m. ET, well over five hours before the final table would begin despite the fact that only 21 more players needed to be eliminated. The slow pace was a function of both the 30-minute blind levels and just how badly all these players wanted to win this SCOOP title. It was a slow slog that claimed the tournament lives of Praytush "Shane Gamble" Buddiga (23rd place, $3,556 + $5,546.87 in bounties) and Day 1 chip leader mrAndreeew (13th, $5,778.50 + $15,249.99) along the way.

The doorbell and when to ring it

Finally, with the the blinds and antes up to 8K/16K/2K and more than 20 hours of poker already in the books for this tournament, these nine players sat down to what promised to be a pitched battle over the $148,907.50 top prize:

Seat 1: Michael "Skämmes" Tureniec (795,248 in chips)
Seat 2: kondor887 (670,277 in chips)
Seat 3: jpvr (291,888 in chips)
Seat 4: Untoran (894,233 in chips)
Seat 5: Francisco "Tomatee" Benitez (906,945 in chips)
Seat 6: Respect_Lt (1,250,099 in chips)
Seat 7: Paulman 87 (675,991 in chips)
Seat 8: Josh "JBT449" Bergman (127,024 in chips)
Seat 9: JJ@mess (3,278,295 in chips)

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These was plenty of action in the early going since most of the players had enough room to make a few bets with some comfort. The exception was Josh "JBT449" Bergman. The 2013 PCA side event winner's already short stack had been reduced further to just 77K by Hand #14, when it all went in the middle under the gun behind A♦ 7♥. Past WCOOP final tablist Paulman 87 was the lone caller with 9♠ 3♣, which went runner-runner for two pair when the board fell Q♥ K♥ 2♣ 3♠ 9♥. With that, JBT449 was out in 9th place ($9,156.70), $9,591.79 in bounties earned along the way.

Michael Tureniec had picked up a few big blinds' worth of chips from the beginning to the start of Hand #27, and he re-raised to 117K in the cutoff after a middle-position raise to 36K by Paulman 87 and a call in the hijack by JJ@mess. Paulman 87 re-raised to 202K, Tureniec shoved for 896K total, and Paulman 87 called with K♣ K♥. That led Tureniec's A♠ Q♥ the entire way as the 7♥ 6♦ T♣ flop and 9♠ threatened to split the pot and the 2♥ river locked it up for Paulman 87. Tureniec left with $16,891, plus $13,749.98 in bounties, in 8th place.

Short-stacked jpvr split a pot all-in with JJ@mess when both players had A-T a few hands later, then picked up Q♦ Q♠ when Paulman 87 had 8♥ 8♦ seven hands later. That boosted the Belgian player to 399K, but it was just a step back from the edge in the end.

Thirteen hands later the blinds and antes rose to 10K/20K/2,250. After calling a min-raise in the big blind to enter a three-way pot, jpvr three-bet-check-shoved on a T♦ 7♠ 8♦ flop with K♦ J♦. Paulman 87 called with 4♠ 4♥, which was a 34.8-percent underdog on that flop but held up through the 8♣ turn and 6♣ river to win the 803K-chip pot. That sent jpvr to the rail in 7th place with $25,781 and $5,460.93 in bounties.

Sitting in a little room

Two-thirds of the finalists still remained:

Seat 2: kondor887 (176,317 in chips)
Seat 4: Untoran (1,298,479 in chips)
Seat 5: Francisco "Tomatee" Benitez (2,095,132 in chips)
Seat 6: Respect_Lt (971,565 in chips)
Seat 7: Paulman 87 (2,291,857 in chips)
Seat 9: JJ@mess (2,056,650 in chips)

The latest player to hold the mantle of short stack, kondor887, caught a bit of good fortune a few hands later, tripling up with A♥ 9♠ after catching a pair of nines on the flop when both Respect_Lt and Francisco "Tomatee" Benitez held A-K. Benitez then dropped nearly a million chips check-calling bets on every street against Paulman 87, who held K♠ 7♠ and turned a semi-bluff on the flop into value bets on the turn and river of the 6♠ T♠ 3♥ 4♠ K♥ board.

Within just a few more hands Benitez found himself all-in for 444K before the flop with 5♠ 5♦ against Paulman 87's A♠ K♦. The slim lead for the Uruguayan player disappeared when the 3♠ K♠ 3♣ 3♦ Q♠ board gave Paulman 87 a better full house and the 933K-chip pot. Tomatee was out in 6th place for $34,671, along with $3,156.25 in bounties.

Four hands later kondor887's last 222K went in the middle from the cutoff with 8♦ 8♠ and was matched by Respect_Lt, a past SCOOP finalist who held A♣ K♠. The board came 4♣ 9♣ 2♥ K♣ 9♠ to tip the 486K-chip pot to Respect_Lt and eliminate kondor887 in 5th place for $43,561, plus $12,390.61 in bounties.

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That left 2014 SCOOP and Sunday Million winner JJ@mess and Paulman 87 in a virtual tie with just over 3.3M chips apiece, while past Sunday Warm-Up finalist Untoran of Poland had 1.1M and Respect_Lt held on to 969K.

The latter began making up ground a few hands later. All the chips went in the middle before the flop via four bets, building a three-way pot worth 593K before the 4♣ T♦ 7♣ flop after three-betting with K♣ K♠ and then getting in for the rest of it and dodging about half the deck against JJ@mess' J♣ T♣. That gave Respect_Lt 1.84M chips to JJ@mess' 1.96M, putting them second and third in the standings.

In 32 more hands the remaining four players made it to the second break of the final table without another knockout, and another half-hour of poker still hadn't taken anybody out, evne with blinds and antes up to 17.5K/35K/4,375. After such a long stretch without any knockout it felt like it was going to take an irresistible coin flip or some kind of cooler to break the deadlock.

It turned out to be the latter when JJ@mess picked up jacks and Untoran was dealt kings on the same hand. The former min-raised to 70K in the small blind and then called for 620K after Untoran jammed for 1.63M in the big blind. The 8♠ J♥ A♦ flop turned everything upside down, the Q♠ dangled hope a potential Broadway straight on the turn, and the 9♦ on the river gave Untoran the 1.25M-chip pot. JJ@mess left in 4th place without a second SCOOP title but with $60,452 in earnings, plus another $18,683.56 in bounties.

Three-handed play lasted the next 21 hands without much change in the chip stacks until Untoran decided to press Q♣ 8♣ at the wrong time: after Paulman 87 had opened on the button with J♠ J♥. The 6♠ 8♠ 6♣ 4♥ 5♦ board gave paulman 87 the 4.06M chips in the pot and Untoran left in 3rd place, good for $82,232.50 plus another $23,880.83 in bounties.

The hardest button to button

It was now 3:49 a.m., almost 14 hours after Day 2 started, and the field had shrunk from the 143 survivors to just these two players:

Seat 6: Respect_Lt (2,498,426 in chips)
Seat 7: Paulman 87 (6,391,574 in chips)

With more than $20K on Respect_Lt's head and more than $40K on Paulman 87's, plus a pay jump of another $40K for the winner, there was plenty on the line for both players. With 20K/40K/5K blinds and antes, both players had the stacks to settle in and play some poker if they so chose.

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And choose they did. Respect_Lt won enough small pots over the course of the first 29 hands to tip into the lead with 5.6M after flopping an open-ended straight draw that got there on the turn. The lead change hands back to where it had begun after another 71 hands, then flip-flopped twice in 10 hands when Paulman 87 flopped a set of sevens and rivered a full house.

Paulman 87 soon had Respect_Lt up against the wall with only a bit over a million chips left and blinds and antes up to 30K/60K/7.5K. The underdog battled back over the 3M mark and it looked as if the match could keep going for some time yet. But this grueling tournament came to a fitting end at 5:32 a.m. on the 161st hand of the showdown between its final two competitors.

Paulman 87 opened the action with a raise to 135K, which Respect_Lt called to see the T♣ 2♥ 9♣ flop with 285K in the pot. That would balloon after five bets back and forth between the two to include the entire 3M-chip of Respect_Lt, who held J♣ 8♣ for an open-ended straight draw. Paulman 87's K♣ K♦ was ahead but technically an underdog on the flop with 48.3 percent equity. The 6♣ on the turn made a flush for Respect_Lt and dropped Paulman 87's chances to just 11 percent. But then the 4♣ came on the river. Paulman 87 had made a king-high flush, topping Respect_Lt's jack-high flush for the win.

More than three hours after the final table began, and an hour and 43 minutes after their heads-up match had begun, Respect_Lt had earned plenty of it as the runner-up with $108,902.50 in winnings plus another $20,249.97 in bounties. And Paulman 87 collected $148,907.50 plus $50,415.93 in bounties for the win, a new career best by more than $130,000 even before factoring in the cash from all those knockouts. Best of luck to the new champion on figuring out which tournaments on the remaining SCOOP 2015 schedule to play with all that cash.

SCOOP 15-H: $1,050 No-Limit Hold'em (Progressive Super-Knockout, Thursday Thrill Special Edition)
Entrants: 1,778
Prize pool: $1,778,000
Places paid: 198

1. Paulman 87 (Mexico) $148,907.50 + $50,415.93 in bounties
2. Respect_Lt (Lithuania) $108,902.50 + $20,249.97 in bounties
3. Untoran (Poland) $82,232.50 + $23,880.83 in bounties
4. JJ@mess (Czech Republic) $60,452 + $18,683.56 in bounties
5. kondor887 (Russia) $43,561 + $12,390.61 in bounties
6. Francisco "Tomatee" Benitez (Uruguay) $34,671 + $3,156.25 in bounties
7. jpvr (Belgium) $25,781 + $5,460.93 in bounties
8. Michael "Skämmes" Tureniec (Sweden) $16,891 + $13,749.98 in bounties
9. Josh "JBT449" Bergman (Canada) $9,156.70 + $9,591.79 in bounties

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in SCOOP