TCOOP: Big hands bring big bucks for biggielaw in Event 21 ($44 NLHE 4-max)

13996-TCOOP-thumb.pngYou might have read recently in this poker blog that pot-limit Omaha is the true action game in the poker spectrum. Four cards - and the draws and re-draws that they can combine to create - lead to big pots and big swings.

While that all may be true, for my money the true action game in the poker spectrum is four-handed no-limit hold'em. It often becomes a game of "double dog daring" the other player to look you up, as so rarely will any player connect strongly with the flop. And when you want to make it even more action-prone, offer a turbo tournament featuring that variant.

That, of course, is exactly what PokerStars did for 2012 TCOOP Event 21, $44 No-Limit Hold'em (4-max).

The $44 price point and the early Monday time slot of Event 21 drew 4,727 entries, handily smashing through the $150,000 guarantee as has been the case throughout the 2012 TCOOP. In less than two hours, the field collapsed to the 600 money winners, each of whom earned somewhere between $77.52 and $27,267.86 depending upon their exact order of finish. That $27,000 prize was the brass ring that everyone was hoping to grab. Naturally.

Team PokerStars made a modest turnout for Event 21. The 13 Team Pros and Team Online members who played this event were led by Shane "shaniac" Schleger. His 230th-place finish (good for $151.26 in prize money) was the only Team PokerStars cash of the tournament.

With the rest of the team licking their wounds and moving on to their next event of the day, Event 21 continued barreling down the tracks towards its four-handed, action-prone final table. After a shade more than four hours of play, these five players were the last ones with a seat in the tournament:

TCOOP-21 final table.jpg

Seat 1: andrei7820 (3698986 in chips)
Seat 2: biggielaw (6324426 in chips)
Seat 3: beo68 (7892876 in chips)
Seat 4: Alekhinebcn (1878490 in chips)
Seat 5: Zufall84 (3840222 in chips)

The first three to bite the big one

Although Event 21 was a 4-max tournament, the final table is played five-handed to avoid the unfair situation of having one table play heads up while the other plays 3-handed when there are five players left.

As you can see from the screenshot, the final table began with blinds at 80k / 160k and an ante of 20k. The average stack was 4,727,000, about 30 big blinds. That may seem like a lot of blinds for the final table of a turbo tournament, but in a "normal speed" 4-max that number would probably be closer to 80.

Zufall84 took an early beat at the final table and then couldn't recover. With blinds up to 100k / 200k and with about 1 million in chips left, Zufall84 shoved A♣8♥ from the button. The small blind, andrei7820, dipped into the time bank before calling but then folded when big blind (and big stack) biggielaw re-shoved. biggielaw showed a dominating A♠K♣ and won the pot with two pair, kings and nines, 3♣T♥9♣9♠K♠.

Down to four players, Alexhinebcn made an aggressive shove from the small blind that worked out against andrei7820. With 10 big blinds, Alexhinebcn moved all in holding 6♣9♠. andrei7820 had been dealt an ace, A♥4♠, and called the raise. Ace-high was still boss after a king-high flop of K♠T♣8♦, but Alexhinebcn turned a gut-shot straight with the 7♠ to leave andrei7820 drawing dead.

Down to 4 big blinds, andrei7820 shoved from the small blind on the very next hand. For the second orbit in a row, biggielaw woke up with a dominating monster in the big blind. biggielaw's A♣Q♠ held firm against andrei7820's Q♦2♣ on a board of T♦4♦3♥8♥T♥. andrei7820 finished the tournament in 4th place.

Three-handed, biggielaw had more than half the chips in play, touting 13.3 million. beo68 was in 2nd chip position with 5.3 million, while Alekhinebcn barely trailed with 4.9 million.

The players traded blinds and antes for a few hands before biggielaw was dealt yet another monster in the big blind. With blinds at 150k / 300k, beo68 open-shoved the button for 5.8 million. biggielaw snap-called with pocket queens and held again, this time against A♠9♦ on a jack-high board. beo68 hit the rail in 3rd place, leaving Alekhinebcn as the sole player left trying to prevent a final-table "clean sweep" by biggielaw.

A big deal

Neither player could gain any chip momentum in the first hands of heads-up play. With limits up to 200k / 400k, Alexhinebcn made another aggressive shove from the small blind for 4.8 million with 9-6. It worked again, as biggielaw called with the better hand, K♥J♦, but lost the pot on a board of 6♥7♠A♦7♥Q♣. Alexhinebcn's two pair, sevens and sixes, brought the chip stacks closer to level.

Alexhinebcn took the lead a few hands later, when A♣8♣ made the Dead Man's Hand, aces and eights, against biggielaw's single pair of aces with A♠7♠. At that point, Alexhinebcn had 12.5 million in chips; biggielaw's stack was down to 11.0 million. The two players decided to pause the tournament at blinds of 250k / 500k and discuss a deal.

It was an easy deal to make. Both players agreed to take their chip equity, about $20,000 each, leaving the $3,000 champion's set-aside as the last piece of the puzzle.

Solving that puzzle took precisely two hands. biggielaw won them both. First biggielaw took over the chip lead by three-betting Alexhinebcn pre-flop and induing a fold. On the very next hand biggielaw min-raised the small blind, then called Alexhinebcn's all-in shove. biggielaw's dominating hand, A♦T♦, looked to be in trouble to Alexhinebcns T♥8♠ after an eight flopped, 3♣8♣K♦. But biggielaw's big hand held up again, this time by catching running aces to make trip aces and complete biggielaw's total annihilation of the final table.

Three big aces and a big pair. Each of them held up for biggielaw. When you're playing action-packed, short-handed poker, that's almost unfair. Almost.

2012 TCOOP Event 21 $44 No-Limit Hold'em (4-max) results (reflects two-way deal):

* 1st: biggielaw ($22,689.16)
* 2nd: Alexhinebcn ($20,234.52)
3rd: beo68 ($9,926.70)
4th: andrei7820 ($7,279.58)
5th: Zufall84 ($4,727.00)

There's still plenty of time to get in on the TCOOP action. Check out reports from other events, see who's atop the leaderboard, and peruse the schedule of remaining events at the TCOOP home page.

Dave Behr
@PokerStars in TCOOP