Heads-up no-limit hold’em is one of the purest forms of poker available, perhaps only behind no-limit deuce-to-seven draw. Success in match play comes from being able to quickly identify and exploit an opponent’s weaknesses while adapting to their strengths. If your opponent adapts to you before you adapt to your opponent, the curtains can come down on your tournament very quickly.
Judging from today’s turnout in SCOOP EVENT #10-Low, $16.50 No Limit Hold’em Heads-Up Match Play, match play is also a very appealing form of poker. PokerStars set a cap of 8,192 players for SCOOP Event #10-Low. Despite such a high cap, the tournament sold out twenty minutes before its scheduled start time. The champion of the tournament would have to win a lucky thirteen successive heads-up matches. It’s a feat that requires a combination of excellent skill, good timing and good luck. Just one rivered gutshot could be enough to dash a player’s hopes of turning $16.50 into the first-place prize of $16,281.61.
Five Team PokerStars Pros were included in the massive field. It was another tough day for them. Victor Ramdin, Marcin Horecki, Defending World Series of Poker Main Event champion Peter Eastgate, and 2009 NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship runner-up Vanessa Rousso were all eliminated in the first round. Only 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Chris Moneymaker had any success. He won his first three matches to squeeze into the bottom tier of the payout schedule before being eliminated in Round 4.
After ten rounds of play spread across nine long hours, the field of 8,192 dreamers was reduced to eight. Those eight players were guaranteed $2,457.61 and drew the following quarterfinal matches:
Table 1: schaeng v. jim1slim
Table 2: hneves182 v. cantfold101
Table 3: Scarer v. docsu
Table 4: CACHETONJEU v. T-factor04
cantfold101 quickly built a 4-to-1 chip lead on hneves182 by applying unrelenting pressure. It seemed that he would be the first player through to the semifinals when a big hand went down on Table 4. T-factor04 had opened up a 2-to-1 chip lead on CACHETONJEU without any large pots. The two took a raised flop of 7♥ 6♦ 2♥. CACHETONJEU checked to T-factor04, who fired out a bet of 250. When CACHETONJEU check-raised to 750, T-factor04 jammed for 6,325 hoping for a call. He got one. CACHETONJEU showed down 8♦ 8♠, a hand that was drawing very slim against T-factor04’s A♠ A♥. The turn 9♠ was the perfect sweat card for the two players, as it gave CACHETONJEU an open-ended straight draw. His tournament life unhinged when the river fell blank, the 6♥. He was the first player out of the quarterfinals.
hneves182 quickly followed CACHETONJEU out of the tournament on this flip:
Less than ten minutes into the quarterfinals, two matches were already completed. On the other two tables, schaeng and Scarer each were holding slim lads against jim1slim and docsu, respectively. They played for another ten minutes. While schaeng was unable to make much headway against jim1slim, Scarer found himself up 8,000 to 2,000 after docsu had a self-described “oops” moment. He bluffed with total air on a double-paired board (jacks and threes) and was called by Scarer, who tabled pocket nines. That gave Scarer the ammunition he needed to pick off a second “oops” moment when, at blinds of 50-100, docsu pushed all in for 1,626 after Scarer raised the button to 234. Scarer called with A♠ 7♥ and found himself up against 3♠ 8♠. Although docsu paired eights on a flop of 10♦ 8♦ 5♦, Scarer managed the runner-runner straight with a perfect 9♦ turn card and J♥ river card. His semi-final dance card was punched.
Two minutes later schaeng dispatched jim1slim by winning six straight hands. The last hand was criminally easy for schaeng. He flopped trip fours holding 5♠ 4♥ on a board of 2♠ 4♠ 4♦ and induced an all-in bluff by jim1slim, who showed down king-high, K♣ 9♣. The turn 5♦ gave schaeng an unassailable full house, sending him through to the semi-finals.
The semi-final table draw came out:
Table 1: cantfold101 v. schaeng
Table 2: T-factor04 v. Scarer
Scarer quickly ran up his chip count against T-factor04. He was at 6,000, then 7,500, then 8,000. It looked like he would eliminate T-Factor04 practically before the other semi-final match had even started when suddenly, schaneg and cantfold101 were all in on Table 1. schaeng had cantfold101 covered by only 60 chips for this exciting hand:
With that beautiful river card (clubs always come, some people would say!) schaeng was into the finals in less then ten minutes. He wouldn’t have to wait long to find out whether T-factor04 or Scarer would be his opponent. T-factor04 was crippled to 1,300 chips after making a gutsy bluff on a board of 5♦ Q♦ Q♠ 4♣ Q♥. He had bet the flop, check-raised the turn and bet the river. Scarer dipped into his time bank as he considered what to do.
“So sick if you have a queen here,” said Scarer. Fifteen seconds ticked off his time bank before he added, “Missed flush imo.” He called T-factor04’s bet. T-factor04 didn’t show down a missed flush; he showed a total airball, 10♣ 7♣. Scarer’s K♦ 5♠, queens full of fives, won the pot.
Two hands later the tournament was over for T-factor04. In a limped pot that was checked to a turn of J♣ Q♣ A♣ 6♣, T-factor04 check-raised all-in for 1,168 after Scarer opened the action to 111. Both players had made flushes, but T-factor04’s J♠ 7♣ was the lesser flush to Scarer’s 10♣ 8♦. T-factor04 took a bow in third place, making way to allow the final table to begin.
schaeng and Scarer immediately asked the host to pause the tournament so they could discuss a deal. Scarer suggested that the two players split the remaining prize in half. schaeng agreed. After the host reminded them that a $1,000 set-aside was required, the deal was in place. Each player was guaranteed $12,402.41.
What had been a $6,700 heads-up sit-n-go instantly became a $1,000 heads-up sit-n-go. It was over within five minutes. Scarer took a 3-to-1 chip lead when his flopped pair of sevens, with 7♠ 8♠ in the hole, held up against schaeng’s unimproved A♣ Q♥. A few hands later, the two players engaged in a preflop raising war. schaeng tanked for about fifteen seconds before putting in the final raise, all in to 2,997. Scarer called with A♦ K♥, a hand in great shape against schaeng’s A♠ J♠. Once the board ran out 7♥ Q♦ K♠ J♣ 5♥, schaeng was eliminated.
Scarer ran the 8,192-player gauntlet. He completed a perfect 13-for-13 day to take home $13,402.41 in prize money, the champion’s watch, and the title of Champion of SCOOP Event #10-Low. Whoever said thirteen was an unlucky number should speak with Scarer. It turned out to be a great number for him.
SCOOP Event #10-Low No Limit Hold’em Heads-Up Match Play Results (including two-way deal):
1st place: Scarer ($13,402.41)
2nd place: schaeng ($12,402.41)
3rd place: T-factor04 ($5,480.45)
4th place: cantfold101 ($5,480.45)
5th place: jim1slim ($2,457.61)
6th place: docsu ($2,457.61)
7th place: hneves182 ($2,457.61)
8th place: CACHETONJEU ($2,457.61)
Ten SCOOP events have been played now, but the 2009 SCOOP tournament series isn’t even halfway home yet. You can find the schedule on the SCOOP page and can track the results of the top performers on the leaderboard page. PokerStars.tv has also been hard at work putting together their usual fantastic video coverage of the SCOOP series.