Often times winning a poker tournament comes down to being in the right place at the time. For PokerStars player thehoffa, the first “right place” of the day was the registration screen for a type of tournament he’d never played before: Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo. There would be plenty of fortunate spots along the way that paved thehoffa’s path to SCOOP glory, but that decision kickstarted them all.
Before even a single player was registered for the tournament PokerStars guaranteed a $25,000 prize pool, which would have been met if just 2,500 players had turned up to play. In the end more than three times that many – 7,622 – showed up. Think of the WSOP Main Event from recent years and you’ve got an idea of the sheer size of this $11 tournament. With a first-place prize of $10,670.81 at stake, everybody had reason to let it all hang out.
The pace of play was frenetic despite the 5,000-chip starting stacks and pot-limit nature of the game. Never mind the split pots: more than 1,900 players were gone by the end of the first hour of play, and over half the field was gone by the second break. Play did slow down momentarily as the money bubble approached, but once it popped the shortest stacks all seemed ready to take the money and run. Meanwhile the survivors built stacks meant to last into the early morning hours when the real struggle would begin.
After 11 hours of play, thehoffa was one of those survivors. He held a slim chip lead over -$eG mAsTeR- when this situation came along at just the right time:
Just minutes later the crippled CastorrTroy would become the final table bubble boy, while thehoffa would enter the final table with nearly double the stack of his closest opponent:
After PokerStars staff stepped in to congratulate the players, they took a moment to do the same with one another. Rightfully so, given the odds each of them had overcome to get where they found themselves. But when the moment passed it was right back to work.
First to go was Afferrare in ninth place. He mucked his cards on a board of J♥ 5♠ 4♥ 9♠ 7♦, with thehoffa taking the the low pot with 2♥ 3♣ 2♠ 4♣ while tmxzt829 claimed the high with Q♣ Q♦ 8♠ 10♠ for a straight. Afferrare’s exit earned a respectable $518.30.
tmxzt829 got right back to work on the next hand, claiming another victim in the form of Dr.Niebaum. The good doctor got his money in with 9♥ 4♣ 10♣ A♥ and managed to catch a pair of nines on the Q♦ 9♦ 7♦ flop, but he left in eighth place with $762.21 when tmxzt829’s 10♦ 7♣ Q♥ A♣ two pair held up through the river.
Those back-to-back hands took the table down to seven, and anybody could have taken charge of the table with blinds at 125,000-250,000 and an average stack of 5.4 million. Sitting on the biggest stack with nearly 13.6 million, thehoffa had the most room for error; as it turned out he wouldn’t need much of it. He turned up the aggression factor and claimed one key pot without a showdown before eliminating Henry XIV in this pot:
Henry XIV picked up $1,524.41 for the seventh place finish, while thehoffa went on to scoop another pot worth over 3.5 million holding a lowly pair of fours, building his stack to nearly 21 million in the process.
As thehoffa’s stack grew, talk of a deal quickly arose. The players were all interested in hearing chip-chop numbers, but thehoffa’s fair share came out to be worth more than the already announced first place prize. That proved to be too big a stumbling block for the other players and the game would continue without a new deal in place.
-$eG mAsTeR- seemed to gather steam from the failed negotiations. He had been in a distant second place when play was paused but he quickly narrowed that gap. With blinds at 150,000/300,000, mois64 opened to 1,050,000 and found -$eG mAsTeR- as his only caller in the small blind. After checking behind on the K♣ 10♦ 3♦ flop, mois64’s A♥ Q♥ 3♥ 2♣ turned two pair with the Q♠ and that was good enough to get his remaining 3.1 million in the middle. Unfortunately -$eG mAsTeR- had flopped a set with 5♣ 9♦ K♠ K♥, and when no low came mois64 was out in sixth place, collecting $2,286.61.
Only a few hands later a short-stacked tmxzt829 would press a slim hand at the wrong time. His 9♦ 7♥ K♥ A♦ hit the 6♠ 7♣ 6♥ flop, but thehoffa’s 2♠ hit it much, much harder. The turn and river were of no help and tmxzt829 left in fifth place with $3,048.81.
While four players remained at the table, the chip disparity was too big to see many different outcomes. thehoffa held nearly 65% of the chips in play, and -$eG mAsTeR- had most of the rest. Even in a swingy game like PLO8 it would take something approaching a miracle to save the short stacks, but the deck held no such plan. The two big stacks didn’t either, and they took turns raising pots until their last two opponents withered away.
The first out was bstockton68. The 9♥ A♠ 6♣ flop looked good to his A♣ 3♣ K♥ 6♠, but -$eG mAsTeR- had the big draw with 3♠ 5♦ 2♦ 8♣. The J♥ on the turn didn’t change things, but the 7♥ on the river scooped the pot for the big stack, making a nine-high straight and a 7-6-3-2-A low to send bstockton68 home in fourth place with $3,811.01.
Then leonardop4 took his turn, raising all-in preflop for just a few big blinds with 7♦ and getting a call from thehoffa with 4♥. The Q♦ board didn’t provide enough help, sending leonardop4 out in third place with $5,487.85.
With just two players left and thehoffa holding a better than two-to-one chip lead, talk of a deal was on the table once more. This time the negotiations didn’t take long: thehoffa got $9,400, -$eG mAsTeR- took $8,500, and the last $500 stayed on the table for the winner. When the first hand of heads-up play was dealt, thehoffa made an admission to his opponent.
“this is actually my first PLO8 tourney,” thehoffa typed in the chat box. “kind of like the game. Ive been so lucky, its so sick“
That stretch of luck held out exactly as long as it needed to. The chip lead did change hands twice, but just a few minutes after heads-up began it would end with this pot:
The willingness to be in the right place at the right time by entering an $11 SCOOP event in an unfamiliar game ended up being worth $9,900 for thehoffa. With a start like this for SCOOP, the rest of the schedule should start looking even juicier than it already did for players with dreams bigger than their bankrolls.
Final table results (including two-way deal)
1. thehoffa – $9,900
2. -$eG mAsTeR- – $8,500
3. leonardop4 – $5,487.85
4. bstockton68 – $3,811.01
5. tmxzt829 – $3,048.81
6. mois64 – $2,286.61
7. Henry XIV – $1,524.41
8. Dr.Niebaum – $762.21
9. Afferrare – $518.30