SCOOP 2016: Paul "paulgees81" Volpe tops epic final in Event #39-H ($2,100 NLO/8, 6-Max)

SCOOP-High tournaments are without a doubt some of the most entertaining poker in the world to watch these days. With deep stacks, slow structures, and small fields full of the world's best poker players, they produce the kind of epic battles that used to come around every few years on a near-daily basis. And when an off-the-wall variant is the game of choice, the likelihood of one of those epic battles going down seems to grow exponentially. Paul "paulgees81" Volpe found himself at one of those final tables today in Event #39-H and fought his way through some heavy hitters to lay claim to his second career SCOOP title.

A $2,100 No-Limit Omaha Hi/Lo tournament with up to three re-entries per player, Event #39-H drew the biggest names in the game and cruised past its $100,000 guarantee. With 135 entries and 107 re-entries, the prize pool swelled to $484,000. At Day 1's end there were 35 players remaining in the field, just five shy of the first payout.

It took just a half hour for lasagnaaammm to bust in 31st place on Day 2 and start the parade of heavy hitters. James "Andy McLEOD" Obst (30th), Marco "NoraFlum" Johnson (28th), omaha4rollz (26th), Vladimir "vovtroy" Troyanovskiy (24th), Shawn "buck21" Buchanan (19th), and Viktor "Isildur1" Blom (16th) all cashed in this tournament. So did two Team Online pros, Naoya "nkeyno" Kihara (15th, $5,566) and Adrienne "talonchick" Rowsome (12th, $8,470).

When Nick "FU_15" Maimone busted in 7th ($13,794) after nearly eight hours of Day 2 poker, this murderer's row took their seats at the final table:

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Seat 1: Paul "paulgees81" Volpe (245,048 in chips)
Seat 2: Mark "SHIPP ITT" Herm (737,625 in chips)
Seat 3: Nick "TheTakeover" Schulman (660,919 in chips)
Seat 4: Adam "Adamyid" Owen (301,451 in chips)
Seat 5: Niklas "Lena900" Astedt (98,803 in chips)
Seat 6: Team PokerStars Pro Jason "JasonMercier" Mercier (376,154 in chips)

It was as experienced a final table as you'd expect from a SCOOP-High tournament. In Seat 1 was Paul "paulgees81" Volpe, a past winner of WCOOP and SCOOP titles and a Sunday Million who made the final table of Event #28, $2,100 FL Triple Draw just three days ago. That event was taken down by the occupier of Seat 3, Nick "TheTakeover" Schulman, who earned his first COOP title to go along with his big bag of WSOP and WPT titles. Between them sat Mark "SHIPP IT" Herm, a past Sunday Million winner and SCOOP 2014 NLO/8-Medium champ.

Adam "Adamyid" Owen, owner of Seat 4, was making his 19th cash (sixth in an Omaha variant) of SCOOP 2016, including a runner-up finish in Event #03-H and another final table yesterday in Event #34-M. Seat 5 occupant and past Super Tuesday champion Niklas "Lena900" Astedt was appearing at his second SCOOP 2016 final after Event #14-L, another NL Omaha tournament. And in Seat 6 was one of the single most successful players in SCOOP history, Team PokerStars pro Jason Mercier, collecting his 26th cash of the series and ninth in an Omaha variant.

Mercier picked up a huge pot early on after opening under the gun with A♠ A♣ J♥ 7♣, being re-raised by SHIPP ITT in the cutoff, and jamming for 344K. SHIPP ITT called with the other two aces A♦ A♥ T♠ 4♥ and had a slight edge in equity before Mercier hit the J♦ 2♠ J♠ flop and hit it hard. The 5♠ turn held out hope for a wheel to scoop the pot or at least a low card for a split, but the K♠ on the river gave Mercier the double to 699K.

He's a SCOOP cashing machine!

About 15 minutes later Lena900, who'd been unable to make anything happen so far, defended the big blind with A♠ T♦ 6♣ 5♦ after paulgees81 opened with A♣ 7♠ 3♠ 3♦ and check-called all-in after the 4♠ 7♥ 4♣ flop. Lena900's open-ended straight draw there was still alive after the 7♦ on the turn gave Volpe trip sevens, but the the Q♦ river closed it off and sent Lena900 to the rail in 6th place ($19,844).

Four minutes later it looked for a brief moment like Adamyid would be joining Lena900 on the rail. He raised all-in from the big blind for 200K with K♣ K♦ 3♦ 2♥ over the top of a Jason Mercier raise, and Mercier called with A♥ A♠ Q♠ 2♣. At 71.8 percent, Mercier's chances were about as good as they could get before an Omaha flop, but when it came J♦ 3♣ Q♦, Owen had himself a diamond flush draw. That draw came home on the A♦ turn, giving Mercier outs to a full house, but the 6♥ on the river wasn't one of them.


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Adamyid doubled to 407K with that win, still the short stack but now holding about 68 big blinds. Short of an action flop forcing two players to go to war, the flow of play made it seem unlikely that anybody would be knocked out soon, and in fact such a flop never showed up. There wouldn't be another situation where a player had his tournament life on the line until 11:19pm ET.

The stacks were deep, and the blind levels advanced so slowly as to exert almost no pressure. And while there was plenty of action, there simply weren't many showdowns - where you might expect more of them, there was a lot more deliberate folding, and more often than not it a hand ended with the winner dragging the pot sans showdown. There wasn't much to separate the players, making the game as much an endurance contest as a test of Omaha skill.

As chaotic as NLO/8 has a reputation for being, this particular game looked less like the Tasmanian Devil of poker variants and closer to something like an old-school no-limit hold'em world championship final table. And that wasn't lost on the participants, either.

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All that action had failed to produce either an overwhelming leader or a clear short stack. Instead SHIPP IT and Nick Schulman found themselves within two big blinds of each other, at 386K and 362, respectively, when the first all-in situation in over two hours finally arose. SHIPP IT open-shoved with A♣ 8♦ 5♥ 3♥ in the cutoff and Schulman called with A♦ Q♦ 5♠ 2♠. The board came down 5♣ 6♦ J♦ 4♣ K♠ and the two players split the 373K-chip high pot with a pair of fives, ace kicker, but Schulman alone took the low with 6-5-4-2-A.

Left short enough after that loss that a steal of the blinds and antes represented a 10-percent stack increase, SHIPP ITT began to move all-in before the flop for the better part of an orbit. Jason Mercier, holding A♦ K♥ 8♦ 5♥, looked him up in the small blind the fourth time he shoved pre-flop, but this time SHIPP ITT was holding A♣ K♠ J♥ 2♣. A near-perfect flop of T♣ K♣ Q♥ gave him a Broadway straight, and though Mercier picked up flush outs on the 6♥ turn, the 542K-chip pot was SHIPP ITT's after the 3♦ came on the river.

Mark Herm plays NLO/8 in his sleep

Mark "SHIPP IT" Herm knows his NLO/8

Mercier managed a few all-in steals of his own before the flop in the next few orbits, and Nick Schulman looked him up the fourth time with A♠ K♣ 9♠ 2♣. Mercier's A♥ A♦ K♦ Q♥ had a 10-percent edge, and even after the J♠ Q♠ 5♥ flop the there was just a 1.6-percent difference in equity for Schulman and Mercier. The PokerStars pro moved ahead on the 7♦ turn, but the 4♠ river gave Schulman both a spade flush and a low to scoop the pot. After battling through more than two and a half hours of five-handed final table play, Jason Mercier was denied his fifth SCOOP title in 5th place ($29,040).

With Mercier gone and the table four-handed, Schulman had the advantage in chips:

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Seat 1: Paul "paulgees81" Volpe (514,178 in chips)
Seat 2: Mark "SHIPP ITT" Herm (662,342 in chips)
Seat 3: Nick "TheTakeover" Schulman (838,208 in chips)
Seat 4: Adam "Adamyid" Owen (405,272 in chips)

Aside from one split pot between paulgees81 and SHIPP ITT and another between paulgees81 and TheTakeover, the only pot to top 10 big blinds in the next hour of play was a 277K-chip pot taken by SHIPP ITT without showdown after a bet on the river. It was the same brand of smart, attacking poker that had been on display from the whole table for four hours, and it finally provoked another standoff when SHIPP ITT opened for 33K on the button with A♣ A♠ 9♣ 4♠. He called Adamyid's all-in re-raise to 497K in the big blind and Adamyid's A♦ T♣ 6♠ 5♣ was live the whole way, but without a low possible on the 4♥ 7♠ 4♦ T♥ Q♦ board, SHIPP ITT won the pot with trip fours. With that, Adam "Adamyid" Owen left in 4th place ($38,720).

That 1.01M-chip pot on the 8K/16K level gave SHIPP ITT more chips at 1.24M than both Schulman and Volpe combined. Then minutes later Volpe would bring his count a little closer to SHIPP ITT's by taking out Schulman. After opening on button for effectively a min-raise, Schulman jammed for 439K. After thinking it over and typing, "not sure if I should be calling, lol," Volpe finally did call Schulman's re-raise and showed A♥ J♦ 9♣ 2♥, a slight underdog against Schulman's A♦ Q♦ Q♣ 8♠. Volpe made two pair on the flop and held on through the rest of the 9♠ 5♠ A♠ 7♥ 3♥ board to scoop the pot, sending Nick "TheTakeover" Schulman to the rail in 3rd place ($58,080).

So close to another SCOOP title for TheTakeover in 3rd place

Nick Schulman, so close to a second SCOOP title

The last two players standing quickly agreed to split the remaining prize money up according to ICM, leaving $2,000 on the table for the winner. Then, after SHIPP ITT won the first pot back for 383K after flopping trip aces, they agreed to skip the 12:55am ET break and continue playing. They split three pots in 20 hands after the deal before the turning point, which started with Volpe limping on the button with Q♣ 7♣ 4♠ 3♠. SHIPP ITT re-raised to 60K in the big blind with A♥ T♥ 9♦ 5♥ and then called after Volpe jammed for 671K total to set up a standard Omaha coin flip situation. There was no low possible on the 9♣ Q♦ 4♣ 7♦ T♣ board, so Volpe's club flush scooped the 1.34M chips in the pot.

Four hands later Volpe was on the button again, this time with A♠ 9♦ 9♥ 5♥, and opened all-in. SHIPP ITT called for 950K as a 60.7-percent favorite with A♥ K♥ Q♠ 2♠, but the deuce on the 8♥ T♦ 2♣ flop gave Volpe the better low draw to go with a better pair for the high. The T♥ turn kept SHIPP ITT's hopes alive with a flush draw, but the 4♦ river gave Volpe the scoop - and the SCOOP.

Winning is a familiar feeling for Paul Volpe

Paul Volpe, now winner of two SCOOP titles

After an epic four hours and 29 minutes, Paul "paulgees81" Volpe had overcome a stacked final table lineup to take down his second career SCOOP title and $93,300.26. Mark "SHIPP ITT" Herm had to settle for second place but took the largest prize of the tournament with his $95,459.74 share of the heads-up deal. Congratulations to everyone who made this final table for putting on an entertaining show in an under-appreciated poker variant, and to Paul Volpe on grabbing champion's watch number two.

SCOOP-39-H ($2,100 NL Omaha Hi/Lo, 6-Max) results
Entrants:
 242 (135 entries, 107 re-entries)
Total prize pool: $484,000
Places paid: 30

1. Paul "paulgees81" Volpe (Canada) $93,300.26*
2. Mark "SHIPP ITT" Herm (Canada) $95,459.74*
3. Nick "TheTakeover" Schulman (Turks and Caicos Islands) $58,080
4. Adam "Adamyid" Owen (United Kingdom) $38,720
5. Team PokerStars Pro Jason "JasonMercier" Mercier (Canada) $29,040
6. Niklas "Lena900" Astedt (Sweden) $19,844
*Reflects the results of a two-way deal that left $2,000 in play for the winner


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Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in SCOOP