SCOOP 2016: Three-way chop ends with babbelz atop Event #25-L ($7.50 NLHE, 6-Max, Ultra-Deep)

Over the last several years, babbelz has enjoyed a unique form of success in PokerStars COOP events: the player from the Netherlands has chopped at the final table of tournaments in two different COOP series. Neither of those ended with the Dutch player taking down the title, though, leaving it a distinction of a slightly bitter note. That bitter note turned sweet with another deal at the end of tonight's SCOOP 2016 event, one that finally ended with babbelz's name at the top of the leaderboard as champion.

Event #25-L was the $7.50 version of a 6-max no-limit hold'em tournament with Ultra-Deep stacks. Each player was given 50,000 chips to begin play and the levels began at five minutes each, gradually increasing in length until Level 35, when they reached 15 minutes each for the rest of the tournament. The prospect of playing so much shorthanded poker with all those chips drew 9,546 players, good for a $65,103.72 at $7.50 apiece. The top 1,200 spots paid out at least $12.36, with nearly $10,000 awaiting the winner - but only after a lot of poker had been played.

Day 1 ended after 42 levels with 232 players still holding chips, led by Estonia's Nevvegiveup (6.87M), or 214 big blinds. But neither Nevvegiveup nor anyone else in the top 25 at the start of the day would make it through to the final table, with the lone exception of Lars Botman. The player from the Netherlands climbed from ninth at the start of the day to a tie for third when the 7th-place finisher was eliminated at 12:05am ET. With blinds and antes at 600K/1.2M/150K, there was a significant spread between the stacks at the table:

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Seat 1: goldenboy#36 (69,734,220 in chips)
Seat 2: Zigslick (34,740,716 in chips)
Seat 3: harmatiuk994 (167,282,862 in chips)
Seat 4: pazipro (42,043,814 in chips)
Seat 5: Lars Botman (69,538,881 in chips)
Seat 6: babbelz (93,959,507 in chips)

The 15-minute levels and relatively deep stacks on Day 2 left plenty of room to play at the final, and the players took advantage, playing out deep pots without having to be concerned about somebody moving all-in after every flop. The action was so reliably back-and-forth that when the first knockout did finally arrive on Hand #37, it was a monster that caught everyone off guard.

A big opener

harmatiuk994 opened the action for the minimum of 3.2M under the gun and both blinds called to put 10.8M in the pot before the 3♣ A♠ 7♦ flop. Both babbelz and goldenboy#36 checked to harmatiuk994, who bet 6.4M and drove babbelz away. goldenboy#36, though, check-raised to 16M, and harmtiuk994 called. goldenboy#36 led for another 16M on the 7♠ turn, a bet that harmatiuk994 called to set up a 72.8M-chip pot going to the river. goldenboy#36 led out one more time for 34.4M after the J♣ came on fifth street, then called harmatiuk994's raise all-in for 45.6M more and showed A♥ 7♣ for the turned full house, sevens full of aces. harmatiuk994 had a better boat with J♦ J♠ for jacks full of sevens, though, laying claim to the 224M-chip pot and knocking goldenboy#36 out in 6th place ($976.55).

With more than three and a half times as many chips as anyone else at the table, harmatiuk994 was now as clear as leader as you'll ever find at a SCOOP final. Less clear was who would step up to compete with the leader. pazipro won several pots, but they were all double-ups to keep the short-stacked Hungarian player in the game. Zigslick won a few, too, but mostly floated along ahead of the other short stacks and way behind the leader. After about 20 minutes of harmatiuk994 dominating play, babbelz flopped a set with 2♦ 2♥ and won a 54M-chip pot from harmatiuk994 to become the second player to cross the 100M-chip mark, at 109M.

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On babbelz's next big blind, the Dutch player called with A♥ 8♠ after pazipro moved all-in for 19.1M on the button. pazipro's A♠ 3♥ was already dominated before falling into worse position after the T♠ 5♥ 8♦ flop gave babbelz a pair of eights. Only runner-runner to a wheel straight could spin a winner, but the J♠ and 5♣ came instead and pazipro was gone in 5th place ($1,464.83).

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A short while later, babbelz re-raised to 10.4M out of the small blind with A♣ J♣ after harmatiuk994 opened under the gun and promptly caught a Broadway straight on the K♣ T♣ Q♦ flop. babbelz led there and again on the T♠ before slowing down after the 4♦ river in case of a full house, but harmatiuk994 checked behind and mucked. babbelz was suddenly to within 15 big blinds of the leader.

Ten hands later Zigslick got in on the action, calling on the button with T♦ T♥ after babbelz opened for 4.5M under the gun. babbelz would fold after Lars Botman re-raised all-in for 39M in the small blind, but Zigslick called with the tens and was up against J♣ T♣. The 4♦ 9♣ 7♦ held out the possibility for a few draws to materialize, but they failed to do so on the A♦ turn and K♦ river, giving Zigslick the 85M-chip pot and eliminating Lars Botman in 4th place ($2,766.90).

A deal and a turnaround

With all three remaining players' chip stacks falling within 20 big blinds of each other and nobody holding on to less than 78 big blinds themselves, the circumstances were there for a deal to be made, so the three players struck one that left $1,000 and the champion's watch in play. With their winnings secured, they continued to play for some time before Zigslick executed a bold move to take the lead. The Icelandic player three-bet to 12M in the big blind after babbelz opened the action for 5M in the small blind, and babbelz called to see an A♦ 6♠ Q♥ flop. The Dutch player then check-called 9.6M there and 22M on the K♠ turn before checking on the 5♥ river. This time Zigslick moved all-in for 123M, overbetting the pot for just 500K more than babbelz's stack, and babbelz ended up folding with the A♥ face-up. Zigslick turned over T♥ 4♦ - a stone-cold bluff - and raked in the 88M-chip pot to move into first place.

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Zigslick would stay in the lead through the 1.4M/2.8M/350K level, with babbelz winning a few pots against harmatiuk994 and the former leader hanging around on the short stack. Finally, harmatiuk994 busted out to leave Zigslick and babbelz heads-up. The lead was Zigslick's by a 308M-to-168M margin, but babbelz quickly trimmed it to just two big blinds after opening with J♣ 9♥ on the button, calling a re-raise from Zigslick, and then calling bets the rest of the way after catching middle pair on the 4♠ T♠ 9♣ flop. Zigslick had been firing blanks with K♣ 6♠, and the two were suddenly on even footing.

Then babbelz reeled off seven wins in the next eight pots, capped by a 217M-chip pot won after re-raising out of posiiton with A♣ Q♠. babbelz led for increasingly large bets with nothing on the T♠ 2♦ 3♣ flop and 3♦ turn before hitting a pair of queens on the Q♦ river. Zigslick called 42M there and mucked, giving babbelz a lead of better than 4-to-1. Four hands later Zigslick opened on the button with K♣ Q♠ and called all-in when babbelz re-raised, setting up a race against K♣ Q♠. They were barely out of the gate when it was decided by a trey on the flop, giving babbelz a set to close out the tournament.

Having finished 3rd after a four-way split of a SCOOP event in 2013 and chopped a TCOOP five ways in 2014, getting the win was a welcome feeling for babbelz, whose share with the extra cash on the table came to $7,470.04. Congratulations on getting that breakthrough!

SCOOP-25-L ($7.50 NL Hold'em, 6-Max, Ultra-Deep) results
Total prize pool: $65,103.72
Places paid: 1,200

1. babbelz (Netherlands) $7,470.04*
2. Zigslick (Iceland) $6,790.96*
3. harmatiuk (Brazil) $6,918*
4. Lars Botman (Netherlands) $2,766.90
5. pazipro (Hungary) $1,464.83
6. goldenboy#36 (Germany) $976.55
*Reflects the results of a three-way deal that left $1,000 in play for the winner

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Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in SCOOP