SCOOP 2016: Matthew 'MUSTAFABET' Ashton defeats Naoya 'nkeyno' Kihara heads-up to win HORSE Event #44-H ($1,050 HORSE)

Last weekend, Team Online Naoya 'nkeyno' Kihara advanced to two SCOOP final tables in Badugi events. He finished in third place in both and narrowly missed his first SCOOP win. Naoya 'nkeyno' Kihara made poker history in 2012 by becoming the first-ever Japanese player to win a WSOP bracelet, but if he wanted to win his first SCOOP, then he'd have to survive a head-on collision with MUSTAFABET. Matthew 'MUSTAFABET' Ashton is a British pro who literally moved his way up the ranks through PokerStars. As a university student, Ashton frequently played freerolls under the screen name MUSTAFABET to boost his bankroll. He parlayed one freeroll score into a ticket into a 2009 WCOOP event...and proceeded to win it for his first-ever WCOOP win. Flash forward a few years later and Matthew 'MUSTAFABET' Ashton is slapping a WSOP bracelet on his wrist after he won the 2013 WSOP $50,000 Players Championship for $1.7 million (and the coveted Chip Reese Trophy). Ashton fancied himself as a mixed-game specialist and in a short span, he more than proved his worthiness.

Alas, it was a tough heads-up fight, but the nimble Naoya 'nkeyno' Kihara busted in second place and his hopes of winning a SCOOP were stifled. Matthew 'MUSTAFABET' Ashton picked up his second over COOP and his first SCOOP bracelet. Despite the disappointing runner-up finish, nkeyno survived a difficult field and an even harder final table that also included Team Pro Eugene Katchalov, and Luke 'lb6121' Schwartz who was seeking his sixth SCOOP bracelet.

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Matthew 'MUSTAFABET' Ashton now owns WCOOP, SCOOP, and WSOP bracelets

The high-end of the HORSE event included the planet's premier mixed-game players. Sure, on any given day, anyone can win a no-limit hold'em tournament, but you're gonna need a heck of a lot more than luck if you want to win an all out sprint against seasoned thoroughbreds. One stumble, one falter, one mistake could threaten the life of both the jockey and the horse. Same goes for tournament poker. One bad move could result in a disaster of epic proportions. One moment you're in the lead bearing down in the home stretch at the final table, and then WHAM! You're a casualty and have become an minor statistic in the final boxscore.

The high-version of SCOOP Event #44-H $1,050 HORSE attracted 169 original players who reloaded and fired an additional 95 bullets in this event for a total of 264 entries. The prize pool topped $264,000, which easily exceed the initial $100K Guarantee. The top 32 places paid out in this HORSE event, with $53,460.00 set aside for the champion.

Day 1 of this two-day event ended with 39 players making the cut for Day 2...but not everyone had made the money yet. Russia's chopi7 was the chip leader with 180K. Team Online Naoya 'nkeyno' Kihara was 7/39 and Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov was right behind with 8/39.

Day 2 the money broke roughly an hour into the restart. Several notables were among majority of players who cashed early on Day 2 including niccc (31st place), Bryn Kenney (30th), gipsy74 (29th), luldocuments (27th), vovtroy (25th), SixthSenSe19 (23rd), NoraFlum (22nd), raidalot (21st), and jutrack (20th).

Around four tables to go, Team Online nkeyno surged to the lead with over 300K. Meanwhile, Team Pro Eugene Katchalov was hovering in the top 10. With 18 to go on the final three tables, Katchalov moved into the Top 7. With 13 to go, Katchalov chipped up into the Top 5 and flirted with third place for a while, shadowing nkeyno in first.

Couple more notables busted on the penultimate final table... plattsburgh (18th), Colisea (16th), The Cooker (13th), caprioli (12th), and bernard-bb (10th). Another deep run for plattsburgh, but the 2016 SCOOP winner Matt 'plattsburgh' Vengrin hit the road in 18th place. During a round of Stud, Dzmitry 'Colisea' Urbanovich busted in 16th place at the hands of bernard-bb. Colisea struggled with a short stack for all of Day 2 and never had enough ammo to make a legit run at the final table. 2012 SCOOP 8-Game champ The Cooker bowed out in 13th. Rodrigo 'caprioli' Caprioli was the last Brazilian standing, but busetd in 12th. He was short with two tables to go, but was unable to mount a comeback to win another bracelet for Brazil. Finland's bernard-bb won a SCOOP yesterday, but missed another chance at another bracelet after busting in 10th.

With action hand-for-hand with nine remaining, Eugene Katchalov picked off Luis_Parreir during a round of Stud. Luis_Parreir lost with a pair of Jacks against Katchlov's two pair. Belgium's Luis_Parreir bubbled off the final table in ninth place, and the final table was set.

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SCOOP-44-H - Final Table Chip Counts:
Seat 1: gloria1986 (242,303)
Seat 2: Trueteller (139,264)
Seat 3: Adamyid (196,286)
Seat 4: MUSTAFABET (221,907)
Seat 5: nkeyno (686,907)
Seat 6: E. Katchalov (446,654)
Seat 7: HlPPOCAMP (298,497)
Seat 8: lb6121 (408,182)

The final table commenced during Level 54 and the S portion of HORSE with a round of Stud and betting limits at 8K/16K. Russia's Trueteller was the shortest stack remaining. nkeyno and Katchalov were first/second in chips. Talk about a dynamic duo! I'd love to see a Hollywood movie about those two... a comedy-thriller in which they solve crimes and international conspiracies using their wits and intricate costumes and disguises.

Team Online's nkeyno had a fantastic run last weekend with a pair of Badugi final tables and a pair of third-place finishes. He made another final table, but began this one as the big stack. Safe to say that this was a much harder table than what he faced last weekend. nkeyno came very close to winning a SCOOP last year, but he was edged out by SirWatts and busted in second.

Luke 'lb6121' Schwartz won 5 SCOOPs. He got another shot at #6. He was probably your High Street bookie's odds-on-favorite to win this bracelet, even though nkeyno was the leader.

Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov needs no introduction. The stoic Katchalov won a WCOOP back in 2012, but a SCOOP total has evaded the Russian.

Matthew 'MUSTAFABET' Ashton won a WCOOP in 2009 when he was just a mild-mannered student and he parlayed a freeroll win into a seat into a WCOOP event, where in inevitably shipped the bracelet. At the 2013 WSOP, Ashton won the $50,000 Players Championship for his first piece of WSOP bling.

Adam 'Adamyid' Owen went deep in a couple SCOOP events this spring including a runner-up finish in Event 3-H.


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DEVIL'S HAIRCUT: HlPPOCAMP eliminated in 8th place

Nearly two full levels played out before the first player busted. During a round of Stud Hi/Lo, HlPPOCAMP was in serious trouble with fewer than 80K. HlPPOCAMP was all-in by the river against nkeyno.

nkeyno: 2♣5♦//7♦2♠K♠7♠//9♣
HlPPOCAMP: A♠4♠//8♣5♥T♣K♦//A♣

Without a qualifying low, nkeyno won the hand with two pair -- sevens and deuces. HIPPOCAMP's pair of Aces was no good. For an eighth-place finish, HlPPOCAMP earned $7,260.00.

With seven remaining, nkeyno chipped up to 862K. Adamyid was the new shorty with 182K.

WHERE'S IT AT?: Adam 'Adamyid' Owen eliminated in 7th place

During a round of Hold'em, we lost adamyid. The Brit was reduced to less than 83K when he made a final stand with Aces, but the results were nasty. Trueteller opened to 20,000, Adamyid raised to 30,000, and Trueteller called. The flop was 8♣7♣6♠ and betting got capped. The turn was the 9♣. Adamyid checked, Trueteller fired out 20,000, and Adamyid called all-in for 12,186.

Adamyid: A♥A♦
Trueteller: 9♠8♠

Trueteller flopped top pair and an opened ended straight draw, but turned two pair to take the lead. The river was the 4♥. Trueteller won the pot and snapped off Aces. Adam 'Adamyid' Owen was dunzo in seventh place, which paid out $9,240.00.

With six remaining... nkeyno still led with 835K, followed by Trueteller (631K), Katchalov (470K), lb6121 (376K), gloria1986 (205K), and MUSTAFABET was the shorty with 121K.

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No 6-pack of SCOOPs for Luke Schwartz

NOVACANE: Luke 'lb6121' Schwartz eliminated in 6th place

Luke 'lb6121' Schwartz got crippled in a 168K pot during one of the last hands of the round of Stud Hi/Lo. He got flushed out by gloria1986 and went from over 100K to 10K. When the round switched to Razz, Luke 'lb6121' Schwartz busted on one of the first hands of the level. lb6121 held 13,482 and was all-in on third street. nkeyno and gloria1986 tried to bust lb6121 and checked it all the way down to seventh street. At showdown...

nkeyno: 6♥A♣//7♠Q♦3♠6♠//9♦
gloria1986: 5♥9♣//4♣J♣3♣2♠//5♦
lb6121: (X-X)//Q♠4♥K♦T♣//(X)

gloria1986 won the hand with a 9-5-4-3-2 low against nkeyno's 9-7-5-3-A. lb6121 mucked his hand on the river but did not have a qualifying low. Luke 'lb6121' Schwartz was denied a sixth SCOOP. For a sixth-place finish, he earned $11,880.00.

With five remaining, Trueteller was the new leader with 766K, followed by nkeyno's 583K and Katchalov's 463K. MUSTAFABET was the shorty with 365K.

HIGH 5 (ROCK THE CATSKILLS): Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov eliminated in 5th place

An hour after Schwartz's bustout and complete revolution of games, no one had busted as a laborious five-handed battle fell into a quagmire. During the slowdown, gloria1986 had worked the way up the ladder into first place and was closing in on 1M. nkeyno collapsed to the back of the pack and was treading water with under 220K. Meanwhile, Katcholov was cruising in third with 420K.

During a barrage of Razz and Level 63, it was MUSTAFABET's turn to seize the lead and build a castle of chips worth 1M. Both nkeyno and Katcholov were short with under 200K each. Katchalov never made it out of Razz alive. He attempted to double up with his final stack of 157,554. He raised all-in on sixth street against big-stacked bully MUSTAFABET. At showdown...

E. Katchalov: 7♠A♠//8♥9♥4♥9♦A♦
MUSTAFABET: 5♣3♥//7♦6♥4♦Q♣9♣

MUSTAFABET won the pot with a 7-6-5-4-3 low, which he had locked up by fifth street. Katchalov made a final stand with a 9-8-7-4-A low, but it was not good enough to stave off elimination. Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov busted in fifth place, which paid out $14,520.00.

With four left in the hunt for the bracelet, MUSTAFABET topped everyone with 1.1M, followed by gloria1986's 1M, nkeyno's 352K, and Trueteller's 125K.

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5th place for Team Pro Eugene Katchalov

RAMSHACKLE: Trueteller eliminated in 4th place

Three hands later.... the ruthlessness of Razz claimed another victim. Short-stacked Trueteller was down to 93,767 and could not double up. The Russian also hit the bricks. By fifth street, Trueteller was all in and awaiting the moment of truth. At showdown...

nkeyno: 9♣5♦//2♥7♥8♥A♦5♠
Trueteller: 2♦4♥//3♦9♠2♣8♠J♥

nkeyno won the pot with an 8-7-5-2-A low against Trueteller's 9-8-4-3-2. Russia's Trueteller was knocked out in fourth place, which paid out $2,2440.00.

With three remaining, MUSTAFABET led with 1.1M and gloria1986 was right behind with 970K. nkeyno trailed in last with 527K.

NEW POLLUTION: gloria1986 eliminated in 3rd place

Once Razz ended, nkeyno breathed a sigh of relief by surviving the purge that claimed two players. During the ensuing round of Stud Hi/Lo, nkeyno surged immensely and rallied from the short stack to the big stack. His mini-rush was capped off by a 585K pot to take lead with 1.5M. He had scooped with two pair and a 7-6-3-2-A against MUSTAFABET.

A stunned gloria1986 was all of a sudden the short stack. Down to 68,485, gloria1986 was all-in on third-street in a multi-way pot. By seventh street, at showdown...

MUSTAFABET: 7♥8♠//6♠2♥9♠5♠//J♠
gloria1986: (X-X)//4♠4♥Q♠4♣//(X)
nkeyno: (X-X)//J♥K♣Q♦A♥//(X)

MUSTAFABET won the main pot and side pot with a Jack-high flush and a 8-7-6-5-2 low.. Both nkeyno and gloria1986 mucked their losing hands. For a third-place finish, Thailand's gloria1986 busted in third place, which paid out $30,360.00.

HEADS-UP: Matthew 'MUSTAFABET' Ashton (U.K.) vs. Team Online Naoya 'nkeyno' Kihara (Japan)
Seat 4: MUSTAFABET (1,578,566)
Seat 5: nkeyno (1,061,434)

Down to two. Could Team Online nkeyno finally bust through and win a SCOOP? Or would Matthew 'MUSTAFABET' Ashton finally win a first SCOOP?

The two sparred for nearly an hour before we saw any significant action. Neither could really get into much of a rhythm before the level changed and they moved onto a new game. However, during a round of Stud, nkeyno went off the rails and lost a decisive pot worth 806K. MUSTAFABET caught running Kings to win the hand with two pair -- Kings and fives. That pot pushed MUSTAFABET over 2M and nkeyno slipped to 583K. nkeyno tried to rally by winning the next two small pots, but that's as far as he'd get before his quest for a SCOOP abruptly ended.

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Team Online Naoya 'nkeyno' Kihara - second place

HOT WAX: Team Online Naoya 'nkeyno' Kihara eliminated in 2nd place; MUSTAFABET wins SCOOP bracelet

Two hands later, it was all over. The round was still Stud and nkeyno's stack had been trimmed to 420K. The betting got capped on fifth street and nkeyno was all-in an praying for a double up. At showdown...

nkeyno: A♠K♦//3♣2♠9♣Q♥3♦
MUSTAFABET: J♠J♥//2♦4♥T♠6♥9♠

nkeyno could only muster up a pair of treys, which lost to MUSTAFABET's pair of Jacks. Alas, nkeyno headed to the virtual rail in second place.

For a runner-up finish, Team Online Naoya 'nkeyno' Kihara won $40,920.00.

Congrats to Matthew 'MUSTAFABET' Ashton. First place paid out $53,460.00 in addition to a sleek champion's watch courtesy of Movado. This marks a second overall COOP for Ashton, who won a WCOOP in 2009.

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SCOOP-44-H ($1,050 HORSE) results
Entrants: 264 (169 entries, 95 re-entries)
Total prize pool: $264,000.00
Places paid: 32

1. Matthew 'MUSTAFABET' Ashton (U.K.) $53,460.00
2. Team Online Naoya 'nkeyno' Kihara (Japan) $40,920.00
3. gloria1986 (Thailand) $30,360.00
4. Trueteller (Russia) $22,440.00
5. Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov (Russia) $14,520.00
6. Luke 'lb6121' Schwartz (U.K.) $11,880.00
7. Adam 'Adamyid' Owen (U.K.) $9,240.00
8. HlPPOCAMP (Mexico) $7,260.00

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Pauly McGuire is the author of "Lost Vegas" and a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Pauly McGuire
@PokerStars in SCOOP