In penny arcades and on county fair midways as far as the eye can see, there sits a bank of games we know affectionately as Whack-A-Mole. In this practice in apparent futility, one lone player stands before a table of holes. From said holes pop blind, plastic rodents. The popping happens with frustrating irregularity, especially for the one lone player whose job it is to whack the little creatures with a giant padded mallet. If the lonsome pounder does his job correctly, he can whack enough of the immortal beasts that he collects enough tickets to turn in for a stuffed teddy bear. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.
Event #1 of the PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker was the Whack-A-Mole of the new championship series. The $55 buy-in level of the event allowed for unlimited rebuys, a fact which meant that even if you whacked your opponent into submission, another buy-in turned the fallen tunnel-digger into poker’s version of Lazarus. There did exist one notable exception, however. In this whacking game, the opposition did not have unlimited lives. Eventually, they fell off one by one. Even then, it was a tough job. With 4,057 entries, it was a long time–nearly 17 hours, in fact–before we had a champion. It was none other than well known tournament rounder Isaac “westmenloAA” Baron.
The medium buy-in of Event #1, No Limit Hold’em Six-Max, had more than a teddy bear to award as prizes. Indeed, it is not often one sees a relatively cheap buy-in build a prize pool of $641,350. Among the bigger names grabbing a piece of pool was Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari who finished in 66th place. The biggest prizes, though, were left for six top players from around the globe. Here’s how it looked when they convened for the final table at 5am ET.
Seat 1: phil steve (881300 in chips)
Seat 2: prinzprosper (6837621 in chips)
Seat 3: t soprano (5826128 in chips)
Seat 4: westmenloAA (4349456 in chips)
Seat 5: KidCardiff6 (12902849 in chips)
Seat 6: MKKMOO (4031146 in chips)
It took a full 45 minutes before the first elimination at the final table. It happened at the 30,000/60,000/7,500 level when prinzprosper came in for a button raise to 155,555. Well-known online tournament rounder t soprano sat in the small blind and made it an additional 300,000 to play. T soprano is not unfamiliar with the re-steal, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to see prinzprosper push all-in for his entire 3,912,066 stack. This time, t soprano had a real hand for this spot and made the call. His A♣ J♠ was up against prinzprosper’s 9♦ 9♥. The board ran out 5♠ 5♣ K♠ 2♦ Q♥ and t soprano was eliminated in sixth place. He picked up $10,902.96 for his marathon performance.
With one more mole whacked, another half hour of steals and re-steals passed before another player went down. It was once again a case of both stacks going in before the flop. Once again, prinzprosper was in the mix, this time against phil steve. Here’s how the hand played out.
Out-kicked and out of chips, phil steve departed in fifth place, earning $19,240.51.
After phil steve’s departure, the players went to another break and prepared to enter the 16th hour of play. KidCardiff6 had come into the final table with the chip lead, but over an hour and half, Isaac “westmenloAA” Baron had put on a short-handed master class and worked his way up to more than eleven million chips. His position was clear.
He said, “I will look if you guys want, but I am warning you I will want a decent bit more than the chip count chop numbers.”
With that, talk of a deal was immediately scuttled and they returned to play with the following chip counts.
Seat 2: prinzprosper (8240098 in chips)
Seat 4: westmenloAA (11255304 in chips)
Seat 5: KidCardiff6 (8390626 in chips)
Seat 6: MKKMOO (6942472 in chips)
On the first hand back from break, Baron ended up in a major hand that turned the tables a bit. Prinzprosper came in for a raise to 33,3333 and got calls from Baron and KidCardiff6. The flop came down 6♥ 2♥ 10♣ and everybody checked. The 9♥ turn brought a 640,000 bet from Baron. KidCardiff6 folded, but prinzprosper raised to 1,920,000. Baron called and they saw the 5♦ river. Baron check-called a 399,999 bet to see prinzprosper’s 8♥ K♥.
Baron wouldn’t have to wait but a couple of seconds to top off his stack. When MKKMOO came in for a raise, Baron was ready to play. If you want to see what an eleven million chip pot looks like, check out the hand below.
MKKMOO picked up $33,439.99 for the fourth place finish.
With the deep stacks in play, it looked to be a long time before we crowned a champion…unless there occurred a massive cooler that got the two chip leaders all-in before the flop. It was impossible to miss, even before we saw the cards. Baron raised to 350,000, KidCardiff6 called, and prinzprosper re-raised to 1,190.000 more. All looked fine until Baron raised another 1,820,000 and prinzprosper pushed all-in for 14,224,264. Baron called. It could only be a few hands. Here’s what it looked like.
prinzprosper: K♦ K♠
Baron: Q♣ Q♥
If we told you KidCardiff6 said, “ooooooooo,” what would you think happened? Oh, yes and oh, no. It looked just like 5♥ J♥ 6♠ 8♦ Q♠
Terribly unlucky but showing a lot of class, prinzprosper exited in third place for $51,308.01.
Going into heads-up play, Baron had KidCardiff6 nearly 4-1. It could’ve been over very fast when they got it all-in on a 6♦ 3♠ Q♦ flop. KidCadiff6 held A♦ A♣ and held up against Baron’s J♦ 7♦.
Before long, KidCardiff had taken over the chip lead and had a 2-1 advantage on Baron. It didn’t last. Within just a few minutes, they got it all-in again with Baron’s A♦ A♣ crushing KidCardiff6’s A♥ 3♣.
“Back to square one,” KidCardiff6 said wryly.
KidCardiff never bounced back. A few moments later, they got it all-in again pre-flop. Baron’s hand, A♥ K♠, once again crushed KidCardiff6’s shows A♣ 6♠. The second place $70,548.51 prize was likely enough to sooth KidCardiff6’s pain.
With that, the final mole was whacked and well-known pro Isaac “westmenloAA” Baron scored his first SCOOP championship for $97,805.88. Congratulations to him and everyone else who came out of the marathon with some money.
SCOOP Event #1: $55 NLHE Six-Max w/ rebuys
1. westmenloAA (United States) $97,805.88
2. KidCardiff6 (United Kingdom) $70,548.51
3. prinzprosper (Germany) $51,308.01
4. MKKMOO (United Kingdom) $33,439.99
5. phil steve (Canada) $19,240.51
6. t soprano (USA) $10,902.96