One of the greatest things about poker is that the game is an equalizer. No matter how famous you are, or how obscure, you’re equal once you’re sitting at the table. That’s what makes it possible for a hometown champ to beat a world champ if he plays his cards right…and maybe gets a little bit lucky along the way.
In all 519 players showed up to have a go at Event #6-M, a $109 No-Limit Five-Card Draw tournament with a second-chance rebuy available for the first two hours. Just 64 players rebought, building a $58,300 prize pool. With blinds at 5K/10K and antes at 2.5K, these six players faced off for the SCOOP watch and an $11,077 top prize:
Seat 1: Rens02 (966994 in chips)
Seat 2: blackDonii (122428 in chips)
Seat 3: shakentoucan (226382 in chips)
Seat 4: TiltPlayerrr (462443 in chips)
Seat 5: shaniac (418896 in chips)
Seat 6: MIBondiola (717857 in chips)
The lineup of the final table featured some pretty heavy hitters. Team Online stalwart and 2011 WCOOP event winner Shane “shaniac” Schleger, 2012 WCOOP 8-Game champ Jesse “shakentoucan” Johnston, and former Sunday Million winner Rens “Rens02” Feenstra were all at the table. Argentina’s MIBondiola had several deep runs in the Weekly Sunday PL Five-Card Draw in the past, and Hungary’s blackDonii has more than $278K in earnings this year without a single cash worth more than $8,800.
Perhaps easy to overlook in the mix was TiltPlayerr. The Russian player is something of a specialist, with all $3,500 worth of cashes at PokerStars coming from small-stakes five-card draw tournaments. Familiarity with the game never hurts, but could it stand up against proven poker chops from the other five players? As it turns out, it could.
MIBondiola scored the first significant pot, worth 249K. shakentoucan ran a bit of a semi-bluff, three-betting before the draw, taking just one card, and then leading for 65K into a 120K pot. But 10♠ 9♦ A♦ 10♦ K♦ for a pair of tens couldn’t win when MIBondiola turned over 7♦ A♣ 5♣ 2♦ A♥ for a pair of aces. Another 264K pot taken from shaniac after starting with a pair of aces and drawing a third one, moved the Argentine player into the chip lead with 1.02M.
An auspicious start
The first casualty would come via some pretty bad luck after blackDonii opened for a minimum raise to 20K. TiltPlayerr shoved all-in and the Hungarian called for another 99K, discarding just one card. TiltPlayerr actually discarded all five cards – and then showed down Q♠ 9♣ 9♠ K♠ 9♥ for three of a kind. That beat blackDonii’s 3♥ A♠ A♥ 5♦ 5♣ for two pair, sending the Hungarian player to the rail in 6th place ($1,865.60).
Rens02 falls back
For the next 25 hands or so there weren’t any huge shifts in the chip stacks. Then MIBondiola got involved in a raising war before the draw with Rens02, who had opened for a minimum raise to 24K. shakentoucan made the third bet to 52K, which was bumped to 128K by MIBondiola. Rens02 then put in a fifth bet to 222K, which got shakentoucan out of the way. But MIBondiola’s all-in bet of 993K chased Rens02 away, dropping the Dutch player back into the pack with 477K.
Just two orbits later MIBondiola was well ahead of the competition with 1.38M. Then a big draw came in for shaniac at an opportune time:
On the very next hand shakentoucan, nursing the table’s shortest stack, made it four bets and all-in for 272K before the draw. Rens02 drew two and turned up 2♥ 2♠ J♥ 2♦ K♠; shakentoucan did the same and revealed 4♦ 4♥ 4♣ 6♠ 8♦ for better trips. That left Rens02 with just under 47K.
An all-in move before the draw won the next pot for the Dutch player to move up to 77K, but the next hand was the end of the road. TiltPlayerr opened the betting for 24K and got a call from shaniac before Rens02 moved all-in for 50K more. Both shaniac and TiltPlayerr called; shaniac drew just one card, while TiltPlayerr and Rens02 both took three cards. TiltPlayerr check-folded to a bet from shaniac, who turned up 10♥ 6♦ 9♥ 6♥ 9♦ for two pair. Rens02’s K♥ J♣ 4♦ A♠ A♣ couldn’t beat that, sending the former Sunday Million champ out in 5th place ($2,915).
MIBondiola heads for the exit
With that 242K-chip pot the last remaining member of Team Online chipped up over the 1.1M mark and seized the lead. A few orbits later, on the 7K/14K/3.5K level, TiltPlayerr would catch up thanks to a 1.04M-chip pot pot where two hands that improved after the draw clashed:
That left MIBondiola with 268K, which steadily dribbled away over the next three orbits until the Argentine player picked up a pair of jacks and shoved for 72K over the top of TiltPlayerr’s opening min-raise. TiltPlayerr had a pair of kings and improved to three of a kind after the draw, which was enough to send MIBondiola out of the tournament in 4th place ($4,081).
A three-handed clinic
That just left the draw specialist and two WCOOP winners, one of whom is a member of Team Online, at the table. The less celebrated player did hold the chip lead, though, with 1.38M to shaniac’s 1.14M and shakentoucan’s 388K. shakentoucan took the first pot and then TiltPlayerr and shaniac each took half of the next ten before Schleger seized the lead with back-to-back pots worth 370K against TiltPlayerr. That prompted this bit of appreciation from Johnston:
shakentoucan: just a clinic
The three players continued to trade smallish pots and stayed in balance for the next 40 hands or so, with shaniac climbing as high as 1.6M. Then shakentoucan finally decided to take a stand, moving all-in for 259K over the top of shaniac’s opening min-raise to 32K. The Team Online pro called and discarded three, while shakentoucan took just one. Neither player improved, but shaniac’s A♠ 10♣ 6♥ A♥ Q♠ for a pair of aces beat shakentoucan’s busted flush draw with 9♦ 6♦ A♦ 3♥ 7♦. That sent shakentoucan to the rail in 3rd place ($5,975.75).
And then there were two
Seat 4: TiltPlayerrr (1061241 in chips)
Seat 5: shaniac (1853759 in chips)
For the first time in his career, shaniac was heads-up for a SCOOP title – and with the chip lead, no less. His opponent might have been less celebrated, but TiltPlayerr had intimate familiarity with draw to fall back on. For the first 34 hands they played a lot of small pots, and TiltPlayerr managed to chip away at Schleger’s lead. Then, on the 34th hand of heads-up play, both players discarded three cards on the draw; TiltPlayerr picked up three of a kind and shaniac paid off a 56K bet before mucking to bring the two players to within less than an ante of each other.
For dozens more hands the match stayed relatively close as the blinds and antes rose to 10K/20K/5K. Then TiltPlayerr won two pots more than 810K in quick succession to move over 1.76M. That advantage lasted roughly 25 minutes before Schleger was finally able to pull the match back to even thanks to this 650K-chip pot:
But a string of 11 straight pots going to TiltPlayerr – none of them the result of big action – put shaniac right back where he’d been before, down 1.8M to 1.1M. The Russian player finally knocked shaniac down to 787K when both players held two pair but kings and fours for TiltPlayerr topped queens and jacks for Schleger. The Team Online pro continued to fight until the 213th hand of heads-up play, when all of shaniac’s chips went in the middle before the draw with a pair of jacks. TiltPlayerr called with a pair of aces and improved to three of a kind after the draw; shaniac didn’t improve and the tournament came to an end.
For shaniac there wasn’t too much disappointment in coming close:
— Shane Schleger (@ShaneSchleger) May 15, 2013
As for TiltPlayerr, the small-stakes draw specialist, the $11,077 prize represents a career high point worth more than three times as much as all the previous cashes put together. Throw in the SCOOP watch and the pleasure of earning a win against tough competition and, at least for tonight, the Russian player has the total package.
SCOOP 2013 Event #6-M: $109 NL Draw (2x Chance)
519 entrants, 64 rebuys
$58,300 prize pool
66 places paid
1st place: TiltPlayerr (Russia) $11,077
2nd place: Shane “shaniac” Schleger (Mexico) $8,162
3rd place: Jesse “shakentoucan” Johnston (Canada) $5,975.75
4th place: MIBondiola (Argentina) $4,081
5th place: Rens “Rens02” Feenstra (Netherlands) $2,915
6th place: blackDonii (Hungary) $1,865.60
Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.