SCOOP 2015: zÿax goes wire-to-wire, wins Event #23-M ($215 NLHE Sunday Warm-Up SE)

When Event #23-M was down to its final three, one player believed he had an edge over the other two. Graftekkel wasn't just blowing smoke-- he's had more success than most in the Sunday Majors, with a second a third, and a fifth-place finish in the Million on his C.V. Graftekkel, however, turned down a three-handed deal when he was the chip leader and ended up bluffing off his entire stack in two ill-fated hands. His departure opened the door for two upstarts, IwentworthI and zÿax, both of whom were seeking their first major victory. After a fierce, eighty-minute heads-up battle, Day 1 chip leader zÿax emerged with the win and over $162,000 as he went wire-to wire and took down a SCOOP title.

This Special Edition of the Sunday Warm-Up drew 5,176 players, the prize pool topping out at $1,035,200.00. 675 places were paid, with $162,404.39 set aside for first place. 26 levels played out on the first day and the remaining 164 players advanced to Day 2. Zÿax was the overnight chip leader with 1,135,862. Among the Day 2 survivors, notable finishes included Jake Cody (148th), Naoya "nkeyno" Kihara (136th), Leo Margets (83rd), Randal "RandALLin" Flowers (62nd), Shaun Deeb (56th), and Nico "PKaiser" Fierro (26th).

Action resumed Monday morning at 11:00 am EDT and continued for five and a half hours before the field was reduced to its final ten players. With the blinds up to 70,000/140,000, the action folded around to lilachaa in the small blind, who moved all-in for 2.84 million. IwentworthI snap-called from the big, his A♥A♣ up against K♠T♣. IwentworthI's pocket aces held up on the eight-high board and lilachaa was eliminated on the final table bubble.


Final table chip counts

Seat 1: Ace_High_828 (2,173,708 in chips)
Seat 2: _math_&ç!( (3,675,842 in chips)
Seat 3: luigysk8 (2,989,812 in chips)
Seat 4: IwentworthI (13,022,185 in chips)
Seat 5: zÿax (9,989,746 in chips)
Seat 6: Anton2423 (7,102,576 in chips)
Seat 7: Graftekkel (4,730,358 in chips)
Seat 8: J. Gelades (5,996,574 in chips)
Seat 9: Slaktaren007 (2,079,199 in chips)

Luigysk8 suffered a setback on Hand #7 when he doubled up Ace_High_828, whose 7♦7♠ held up against A♣K♣. Luigysk8 was left with 519,000 in chips, but doubled up to 1.2 million two hands later when his A♠J♦ prevailed over Anton2423's 7♣8♣. Luigysk8 chipped up to nearly 3 million by the time the blinds rose to 100,000/200,000, but ultimately fell to IwentworthI when he shoved with K♥T♣ from the small blind and ran into A♣J♦.

Two hands later, J. Gelades open-shoved for his remaining 1.11 million from UTG with pocket threes and Anton2423 called from the small blind with Q♣Q♥. Anton's pocket queens held up and made queens full of jacks on the A♥Q♠6♠J♥J♠ board, ending J. Gelades's run in eighth place.

J. Gelades's departure left _math_&ç! as the short stack with 2.72 million in chips. When Ace_High_828 opened for a min-raise to 400,000, _math_&ç! looked down at T♣T♠ and moved all-in from middle position, only to have Graftekkel reshove from the big blind with A♥A♦. _math_&ç! didn't improve on the J♣2♣2♠8♦9♥ board and hit the rail in seventh place.

Anton2423 doubled up when his A♥Q♣ turned an ace against Slaktaren007's pocket jacks, leaving the Swede on the short stack with 3.22 million. However, he cleared at least one more pay jump when Ace_High_828 four-bet shoved 4.39 million preflop with A♣J♣ and IwentworthI called with A♠K♠. Ace_High_828's dominated hand stayed that way on the Q♦9♥2♥2♣4♦ board and he departed in sixth place.

The blinds were up to 125,000/250,000 when Anton2423 picked up A♦K♣ UTG and opened for 500,000. Graftekkel three-bet to 1,267,500 and Anton2423 moved all-in for 6.6 million. Graftekkel called with J♣J♠ and turned a set on the 7♣4♣3♥J♦2♥ board, eliminating Anton2423 in fifth place. Three hands later, Graftekkel opened for 500,000 and Slaktaren007 three-bet shoved for his remaining 1.57 million with 6♦6♣. Graftekkel called with K♠J♠ and hit a jack on the J♥5♥2♣ flop. The K♥ turn made Graftekkel top two pair and the river blanked with the 5♣, ending Slaktaren007's run in fourth place.

As three-handed play commenced, IwentworthI held the chip lead with 24.9 million, Graftekkel was a strong second with 20 million, and zÿax was the short stack with 6.8 million.

Zÿax, however, didn't stay short-stacked for long. With the blinds up to 150,000/300,000, Graftekkel opened for 600,000 and zÿax three-bet to 1.5 million with Q♠Q♦. Graftekkel shoved and zÿax called, his pocket queens up against 7♥7♠. Zÿax had Graftekkel in dire straits when he flopped a set of queens and drawing dead by the turn on the A♥Q♥9♠J♣8♠ board, good for a double up to 15.2 million. Graftekkel got a bit of it back a few hands later, but the damage was done, and the final three agreed to pause the action and discuss a potential deal. Here's how they stacked up at the time.

Graftekkel 20,094,949
IwentworthI 17,939,759
zÿax 13,725,292

Final table host Katerina "katerina289" Malasidou presented the players with both chip count chop and ICM numbers. Graftekkel was only interested in the chip count chop, which offered him about $1,500 more than ICM.

Graftekkel: ICM heavily favors shortstacks
Graftekkel: Also think I have a decent edge here
Graftekkel: so chip chop is fair
zÿax: jaaja good luck with that

Zÿax said he was only willing to deal if he was guaranteed $115,000-- abut $3,000 more than his chip chop share and $1,500 more than ICM. Neither Graftekkel nor IwentworthI were willing to give up a penny, and with the negotiations at a standstill, the action resumed.

A few hands after cards went back in the air, Graftekkel opened for a min-raise to 800,000 on the button and zÿax called from the big blind. The flop fell Q♣4♣2♥ and zÿax check-called Graftekkel's 800,000 continuation bet. The turn came the 9♣ and zÿax checked again. Graftekkel bet 1,875,000 and zÿax called. The river was the J♥ and zÿax checked a third time. Graftekkel made it 4.38 million to go and zÿax quickly called. Zÿax revealed J♣T♣ for a queen-high flush, while Graftekkel was caught bluffing with 5♦6♦.

"Lot of edge," zÿax wrote as he raked in the 16 million pot and took the chip lead.

"Oh snap," Graftekkel replied.

A short time later, IwentworthI opened for 800,000 on the button and Graftekkel called from the big blind. Graftekkel check-called 1.05 million on the 6♠5♥4♦ flop, then led out for 2,285,000 when the 5♠ turned. IwentworthI called and the 4♠ landed on the river. Graftekkel moved all-in for 10.6 million and IwentworthI called all-in for less, revealing 6♣8♦ for two pair, sixes and fives. Once again, Graftekkel was caught bluffing-- his T♦7♦ never improved-- and he tumbled to only 2.65 million in chips.

Zÿax dug the needle in even deeper, typing "nice edge."

"You're delightful," was all Graftekkel could manage.

On the next deal, Graftekkel moved all-in from the small blind and IwentworthI called. Gratekkel's J♠9♠ did not improve against IwentworthI's A♣3♥ and he went out in third place. Although the $85,404 he collected was an impressive score, it was $37,414 less than the ICM chop he turned down three-handed.

Heads-up chip counts

Seat 4: IwentworthI (27,325,208 in chips)
Seat 5: zÿax (24,434,792 in chips)

On the third hand heads-up, IwentworthI flopped a flush draw and filled it on the turn, extracting two streets of value from zÿax. Once the 10.1 million pot was shipped IwentworthI's way, both players agreed to pause the action and take another run at making a deal. Here's how their stacks looked:

IwentworthI 28,850,208
zÿax 22,909,792

Based on their stack sizes, the deal offered IwentworthI $137,212.85 and zÿax $133,792.34. Zÿax said he was willing to close the deal if he was guaranteed an even $135,000, but IwentworthI declared "this numbers or play." The deal to divide over $271,000 in prize money fell apart over $1,207.66 and cards went back in the air.

IwentworthI pushed zÿax down to 15.6 million before both players saw a T♥9♣3♦ flop for 1,000,000 apiece. Zÿax check-called IwentworthI's 850,000 continuation bet and checked again when the A♦ turned. IwentworthI bet 2.45 million and zÿax called. The river was the 9♥ and zÿax checked again. IwentworthI bet 2.85 million and zÿax called with K♠9♠ for trips. IwentworthI had nothing but a busted straight draw with J♦8♣ and zÿax rebounded to 22.8 million.

Zÿax moved into the chip lead during the 300,000/600,000 level, reaching as high as 36.2 million before dropping six pots in a row to IwentworthI. Zÿax sunk all the way to 8.46 million, then got the rest of his chips in the middle with A♣6♠ vs. IwentworthI's pocket eights. IwentworthI's pair held up all the way through the turn on the J♣7♦5♠K♣ board, but the A♥ spiked on the river, giving zÿax new life with 15.5 million in chips.

Zÿax fell back slightly to 11.1 million before checking his option from the big blind to see a J♥8♣7♣ flop. Zÿax check-raised to 3.2 million, IwentworthI shoved for 39.6 million and zÿax called all-in with Q♣9♣. IwentworthI revealed J♣5♠ for top pair, and dodged zÿax's outs when the 3♦ turned, but once again, zÿax was saved by the river when the Q♥ landed to make him a pair of queens. Zÿax doubled to 22.3 million, taking this pair back to where they were prior to the failed heads-up deal.

Thirty minutes later, zÿax and IwentworthI were still trading pots, their stacks nearly equal. Zÿax had edged out to a 29 million to 22.7 million lead when he opened for a min-raise to 2 million and IwentworthI shoved from the big blind. Zÿax called, his A♦J♠ racing with IwentworthI's 7♥7♠. This time, zÿax didn't have to wait for the river as the flop came down A♠8♥6♠. The turn was the 2♥, the river was the T♦, and after an eighty-minute heads-up battle, zÿax emerged with his first SCOOP title.

Congratulations to zÿax on a hard-fought victory! He banked $162,404.39 for the win, while runner-up IwentworthI earned $120,600.80.

SCOOP 23-M: $215 NLHE
Entrants: 5,176
Prizepool: $1,035,200.00
Places paid 675

1. zÿax (Czech Republic) $162,404.39
2. IwentworthI (Russia) $120,600.80
3. Graftekkel (Netherlands) $85,404.00
4. Slaktaren007 (Sweden) $58,488.80
5. Anton2423 (Russia) $43,996.00
6. Ace_High_828 (Germany) $33,644.00
7. _math_&ç! (Belgium) $23,292.00
8. J. Gelades (Ukraine) $12,940.00
9. luigysk8 (Brazil) $8,281.60

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in SCOOP