Winning a tournament in any of the PokerStars Championships of Online Poker – or the COOPs for short – is a highly-respected accomplishment, often regarded as the pinnacle of a player’s poker career. So imagine coming close several times but never quite being able to clinch a title. The good news is that the next festival is just around the corner; the bad news is that the fields get bigger and the tournaments tougher every year.
One player who knows that feeling is South Africa’s SONGJOY. First there was the ninth-place finish in a $265 PLO Knockout tournament in the 2012 WCOOP; then the ever-so-close runner-up finish in the $700 PLO in the 2013 WCOOP; and then another final table during the 2014 SCOOP – a fifth-place finish in a $109 NLHE Turbo Progressive Super-Knockout.
Well, I’m happy to reveal that SONGJOY took down his first ever COOP title today in the SCOOP-26-L $11 NL Hold’em 8-Max tournament for a handsome prize of $11,864.27.
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A total of 11,618 players began play at 1pm WET on Sunday (15th May), creating a prize pool of $116,180 – more than double the $50K guarantee. The deep payout structure meant that at least 23 per cent of entrants would make the money, and that number eventually ended up meaning 2,863 players were paid.
After 36 15-minute levels of play just 25 players remained, all of which would come back today to play down to a champion. The UK’s Isaac741 led the way with 10,255,529, while the short stack was Poland’s Tomson1946 with 905,255. The latter would be the first to bust on the day, while Isaac741 made it all the way to 10th before being eliminated for $631.87. After one more elimination we had our final table of eight.
SONGJOY (South Africa) 45,357,883
addo140 (United Kingdom) 16,698,009
ohanaaa (Brazil) 16,005,464
grantul (Slovenia) 14,620,489
BalBadwal (United Kingdom) 11,240,961
jointy333 (Germany) 5,032,170
Fahrenheit95 (Russia) 3,816,002
Solidthought (United Kingdom) 3,409,022
Three UK players meant the Brits had a good chance of winning a title today, while ohanaaa’s appearance continued Brazil’s amazing run here in the 2016 SCOOP. As you can see though, SONGJOY came into the final table as a massive chip leader, and it was a lead he wouldn’t give up once.
15 minutes of non-stop action
The first level of final table play saw four players eliminated.
The sole Russian Fahrenheit95 was the first player to fall during 43 (240K/480K, 48K ante). He opened to 960,000 from under the gun and it folded to the UK’s addo140 who raised it to 2,234,445. When it folded back to Fahrenheit95 he moved all-in for 9,543,508 and got a call.
The Russian had the A♠K♠ but what trailing the Brit’s K♣K♥, and it was all over by the turn of the 10♠4♦8♦K♦ board as addo140 had turned a set. The 9♠ hit the river and with that, Fahrenheit95 was out in eighth for $911.53.
Shortly after that, Solidthought was gone too. The UK player jammed all-in for 2,923,022 under the gun and only his fellow Brit addo140 called. It was the A♣J♣ against the Q♦K♠ but addo140 secured another knockout as the board ran out the 2♦8♠K♦3♣7♣. For seventh, Solidthought banked $1,314.96.
Next up was grantul in sixth. It folded to him on the button and he moved all-in for 7,895,909, and once again it was addo140 who made the call from the small blind. SONGJOY gave up the big blind and the cards were revealed:
It was a classic race, but the 3♣6♣4♦A♥10♦ board paired addo140’s Ace and sent grantul on his way with a $1,896.91 consolation prize.
jointy333 then became the fourth player to depart in Level 43. SONGJOY opened to 986,000 before the player from Germany jammed for 4,084,170 with the 10♠10♥ and was called by the chip leader with the 5♠5♥. It was a great spot for jointy333 to double, but the Q♣5♦Q♦ was a crushing blow and left him drawing to two outs. A ten didn’t land on the turn or river and jointy333 won $2,736.43 for his efforts.
Down to four
SONGJOY had almost double the chip stack of his closest rival, addo140, as four-handed play rolled on. The shortest stack was BalBadwal, and we’d soon say bye bye.
With the blinds now at 280K/560K, BalBadwal moved all-in for his last 7,458,991 and SONGJOY called from the big blind. The player at risk had the A♠3♦, but would need some help as SONGJOY had a pair with the 5♦5♠. The 7♦4♦2♠ flop meant SONGJOY didn’t want to hit a set; any five would now five BalBadwal a straight. The Q♥ landed on the turn, and the 2♣ river completed the board, eliminating BalBadwal in fourth for $3,947.49.
Despite all the hard work eliminating players early on in this final table, by the time we reached Level 45 (320K/640K) it was addo140 who had become the shortest stack. Brazil’s ohanaaa was now SONGJOY’s biggest competitor, but the player from South Africa would take an even bigger lead by eliminating addo140 in third.
addo140 just limped from the small blind and SONGJOY bumped it up to 1.72 million. addo140 then moved all-in over the top for 13,329,576 and was called. He had gotten frisky with the 9♣J♥, but was in terrible shape against the Q♥Q♠ of SONGJOY. The 7♥8♦2♣ flop brought the possibility of a gutshot, but the 7♠ turn and 3♠ river were no help at all. For third place, the last remaining UK player addo140 cashed for $5,694.51.
SONGJOY chip lead was always going to be hard to overcome, so it was no surprise to see this heads-up battle end swiftly. The blinds were now 400K/800K and ohanaaa limped only for SONGJOY to raise it 2.64 million. The player from Brazil jammed for 22,743,132 and SONGJOY made the call.
The A♥8♣10♦ flop paired both but SONGJOY was still out in front with the Aces. Anyone watching from Brazil would have been cheering for a King or ten, but the board was completed by the 7♦ and 5♠ and we had a well-deserved champion.
Congratulations to ohanaaa who put in another fantastic showing for Brazil, banking $8,214.69 in the process.
But special congratulations to your latest SCOOP champion, South Africa’s SONGJOY, who won $11,864.27.
SCOOP-26-L ($11 NL Hold’em 8-Max Deep Payouts) results
Prize pool: $116,180
Places paid: 2,863
1. SONGJOY (South Africa) $11,864.27
2. ohanaaa (Brazil) $8,214.69
3. addo140 (United Kingdom) $5,694.51
4. BalBadwal (United Kingdom) $3,947.49
5. jointy333 (Germany) $2,736.43
6. grantul (Slovenia) $1,896.91
7. Solidthought (United Kingdom) $1,314.96
8. Fahrenheit95 (Russia) $911.53
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Jack Stanton is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.