SCOOP 2015: Vagos89 wins, Kihara takes fourth in Event #6-M ($82 Heads-Up NLHE)
Playing for over 15 hours to win a SCOOP title sounds like almighty tough task. Defeating a field of 2,567 players is equally daunting. What about winning twelve heads-up matches in a row? When you put it like that, and you only have to beat a dozen opponents, it doesn't sound so overwhelming, but the reality is that heads-up poker is as tough as it gets. There's nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. You need to take on the best heads-up players in the world and beat them one at a time on your way to glory.
Only one player was able to achieve that feat of perfection today in SCOOP Event #06-M, and that was Canada's Vagos89.
The $82 No Limit Holdem Heads-Up event was a long and gruelling day of poker for some as the 2,567 players combined to produce a prize pool of $192,525.
Stavros Kalfas, Marcin Horecki, George Danzer, Marc-Andre Ladouceur, Jaime Staples and Chris Moneymaker were some of the Team PokerStars Pros to miss the money for the top 256 players however there was one red spade making a deep run in Japanese sensation Naoya Kihara.
In the round of 16, Kihara got the better of xUpto1Mx with a coinflip, but he needed a bit of good fortune in the quarter finals against dnsmallball. With the blinds still at a low 40/80 and effective stacks over 50 big blinds deep, Kihara opened for a raise to 220 before dnsmallball three-bet to 640. Kihara decided to move all in but dnsmallball snapped it off with A♦K♥. Kihara showed A♣7♦ and it appeared a big double up was coming but the board of 7♣6♦T♦8♦A♥ hit Kihara's kicker to claim the match and advance to the semi finals.
Naoya "nkeyno" Kihara vs Vagos89
The first semi final between Kihara and heads-up specialist Vagos89 got off to a cracking start with Vagos89 winning the first three pots before putting Kihara to the ultimate test on hand number four.
With the blinds at 25/50, Vagos89 min-raised the button before Kihara three-bet to 350. Vagos89 made the call and the flop landed 4♣A♥T♠. Kihara bet out 375 and Vagos89 made the call. The turn was the T♦ and both players checked before the 3♣ appeared on the river. Kihara led out with a bet of 875 before Vagos89 sprung to life by moving all in. Kihara had 2,851 behind and after using up a good four minutes of his time bank, he eventually made the call with A♠9♠ for two pair, but Vagos89 had the goods with a deceptive 4♦4♠ set of fours.
Kihara collected $7,731.80 for an impressive run that ended in fourth place as Vagos89 would have to sit around and wait to see who the opponent would be in the final.
Blunty2004 vs fafafofo
Unlike the other semi final, the battle between Blunty2004 and fafafofo would take a while to warm up with plenty of small pots exchanged in the early goings.
fafafofo would gain the first significant pot after turning a top pair with T♣9♠ on a board of 2♠6♥7♦T♦3♠ with a river bet paid off by Blunty2004.
fafafofo went out to a two-to-one lead and used that advantage to kick up the aggression. At one point fafafofo won 21 of 24 consecutive pots but the blinds were still small so Blunty2004 had plenty of time to attempt to mount a recovery.
However the momentum was with fafafofo and when K♠2♣ rivered trips for the chip leader, Blunty2004 was getting into short-stacked territory.
With the blinds at 40/80, Blunty2004 moved all in preflop with J♣K♥ following a button limp from fafafofo. However the trap was sprung when fafafofo made the call and tabled the A♥A♠! Blunty2004 caught some hope with a gutshot on the 8♠Q♦9♦ flop, but the 5♥ turn and 2♥ river sealed an emphatic victory for fafafofo.
Blunty2004 took home $7,731.80 for third place as fafafofo progressed to the final!
Vagos89 vs fafafofo
The final would pit Vagos89 against fafafofo but before there was any real significant action, the two were happy to try and work out a deal.
fafafofo said, "gl"
Vagos89 said, "hi gl"
Vagos89 said, "deal ?"
Vagos89 said, "or play ?"
fafafofo said, "yeah lets make a deal"
After a bit of a struggle to find the deal button, the tournament was eventually paused for the two to talk numbers, however negotiations were short lived.
Vagos89 said, "I want 19k"
Vagos89 said, "so 19-18 and 3 for the winner"
fafafofo said, "even"
fafafofo said, "or play"
Vagos89 said, "ok lets play it"
Perhaps it was an indication of the tight struggle that lay ahead, but the cards were quickly back into the air.
Vagos89 was the early aggressor, chipping up to a quick advantage by winning 12 of the first 16 pots of the match. None of those pots would actually go to a showdown with the most significant going the way of Vagos89 with a river raise on a board of 2♣9♦7♥4♠K♠ that went uncalled.
However following a scheduled break, fafafofo was able to regroup and claw back into contention. The biggest pot of the duel to this point would see fafafofo raise the turn before moving all in on the river on a board of K♥Q♦J♦J♠9♣. The board was too dangerous for Vagos89 to call and fafafofo had virtually squared up the match.
Just as fafafofo was challenging, Vagos89 was able to regain control in a three-bet pot with bets fired on all streets on a A♦6♦6♣2♦K♦ board. fafafofo had to give it up and was back on the short stack.
With the blinds ticking up to 100/200, Vagos89 went for the kill with an all-in shove preflop with 8♦7♦. fafafofo made the call and was in great shape with a dominant K♥7♠ which landed the double up through the A♠J♠A♥J♣5♠ board.
But every time fafafofo took one step forward, it was followed by two steps back.
Vagos89 attacked a board of 2♦6♥8♦3♥9♦ with bets on the flop and turn followed by an all-in shove on the river to again force fafafofo from the pot before the final hand of the tournament would be dealt.
The blinds were up to 150/300 with Vagos89 moving all in with K♦6♠. fafafofo had 1,966 chips and made the call with K♥5♠ to be in ugly shape, but that quickly turned around when the flop landed 5♦2♥4♦. fafafofo paired the kicker to take the lead and it appeared a double up was imminent. However the 2♦ turn and 8♦ river put four diamonds on board and with Vagos89 holding the only diamond, our champion had been decided!
fafafofo took home $15,457.83 for second place as the SCOOP title headed to Canada with Vagos89 victorious, collecting the top prize of $24,295.61. Congratulations!
SCOOP-06-M: $82 NL Holdem Heads-Up - $150K Guaranteed
Prize Pool: $192,525
Places Paid: 256
1. Vagos89 (Canada) $24,295.61
2. fafafofo (Bulgaria) $15,457.83
3. Blunty2004 (Germany) $7,731.80
4. Naoya "nkeyno" Kihara (Japan) $7,731.80
5. zumbii (Bulgaria) $4,304.85
6. bkmzee (Russia) $4,304.85
7. dnsmallball (Romania) $4,304.85
8. TheFresKeR (United Kingdom) $4,304.85
The Spring Championship of Online Poker is the biggest and richest tournament festival of the year, with millions in prize money to be won, a packed schedule, and separate buy-in levels designed to suit all bankrolls.
A total prize pool of $40 million is guaranteed with the series running right through until May 24th. Head to the SCOOP home page for more details.
Heath "TassieDevil" Chick is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.