What happens when you get three high rollers playing for $4,000 when they already have $114,606.66 locked up? One word: fliappaments! Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier, Phil Galfond and Julian Gardner found themselves three-ways for the SCOOP-18-H title relatively even stacked. They quickly settled on a straight chop and agreed to move it all in the next hand.
Mercier was particularly keen to flip given that he'd tweeted a couple of hours earlier: "Well now I've played 56 hours of online poker in the last 66... And I'm still going!!! Final table of #scoop plo 1k rebuy #letsgo" He must have been shattered and, having lost a dominating chip lead after being ahead to win 80% of the chips in play against Gardner, the end of the 15 hour tournament can't have come soon enough.
The flip was won by the biggest stack at the table, that belonging to Gardner. The Englishman, who has $2,545,096 in live winnings, is best known for his runner-up finish to Robert Varkonyi in the 2002 WSOP Main Event. That won Gardner $1,100,000 but no title. He's come close at other times, noticeably a third-place finish in a $2,000 WSOP event in 2006 which netted him $172,427, but today the title would not be denied to him.
It was quite a final table, those three big names were joined by Joseph 'Subiime' Cheong, Action Freak and O.Klunssila, with the latter out in front.
Final table starting stacks
Seat 1: MrCoco, 479,242
Seat 2: subiime, 139,486
Seat 3: MrSweets28, 524,313
Seat 4: Sira Al Aziz, 208,597
Seat 5: O.Klunssila, 784,946
Seat 6: JasonMercier, 331,416
Given the field it was always likely to have a top tier final table with the likes of
Ignat '0Human0' Liviu making the money, and EPT winners Mickey 'mement_mori' Peterseb and Kevin 'ImaLuckSac' MacPhee falling just before the bubble.
In the lead up to the final table Mercier and Galfond were sat next to each other, a couple of minor tangles taking place between the two but it was Greek player ActionFreak who seemed to be the fulcrum of the, well, action. Galfond was crippled by him in the hand below, but just eleven hands later he'd spun his 58,000 up to 358,000 and was table chip leader. At the other remaining table O.Klunssila was inexorably stacking up and took out ferocious666 by flopping a full house and getting it in against a giant wrap, which was already drawing dead. That took the action hand for hand until the final table was set.
Mercier flopped quad queens against Action Freak but his river trap failed to get sprung by the aggressive player. Cheong in the meantime was blinding down, which was something that Action Freak simply refused to do much to the benefit of Galfond:
The Greek's elimination set a final table that had more of a home game feel than most:
subiime said, "hey jason"
subiime said, "LL?"
JasonMercier said, "wager?"
subiime said, "you called my bluff, i was just kidding"
MrSweets28 said, "haha"
JasonMercier said, "lol"
During the chit-chat Gardner was busy tank-calling a 108,000 river bet from O.Klunssila on the river of a 9♥8♣6♥A♣9♠ board. He was shown 2♥A♥9♦T♠ for the near nuts stretching out the Finn's lead once again. That however was the end of the good times for him: Sira Al Aziz doubled through him and Mercier did likewise shortly having played 7♣K♠A♠A♦ cute pre-flop and finding a royal flush draw before binking the nut full house on the river of a J♠Q♠6♣J♦A♣ board. O.Klunssila had led 54,000 into the river with 6♥2♥J♣8♣ and called Mercier's tank-shove. That put the American Team PokerStars Pro into the chip lead for the first time.
The perennially short-stacked Cheong shipped it in light and cracked Sira Al Aziz's aces to double back up to 147,000 (18 big blinds) while at the other end of the chip counts Mercier was the first player to break the million mark after finding aces again. This time he raised with them but flopped a flop house with his 6-8 kickers. It all but knocked out Sira Al Aziz who himself found aces shortly after and doubled back into contention through O.Klunssila. This is Omaha after all.
At this point Galfond was the only player in touching distance of Mercier with 489,000. The remaining players were scattered beneath trying to avoid being the first player out. One player was bound to make a dash to catch the Mercier and Galfond and that fell to Gardner who knocked out a short stacked Sira Al Aziz after his button raise was shoved on. Gardner's Q♠9♠8♣A♣ connected well on the 8♦4♦7♦8♥J♣ board to crack K♣A♥2♠K♦. Sira Al Aziz bust in 6th for $27,962.
Mercier continued to stack up unabated and moved up to a dominating 1,343,000 (more than half of the chips in play) after sending Cheong to the rail in 5th. Mercier min-raised his button to 20,000 and Cheong called in the big blind before check-raising for most of his remaining 155,000 stack on the 8♦J♥3♦ flop with K♣J♣8♠2♣. Mercier called with Q♦J♦8♣4♠ and hit his flush on the 7♦ turn to send Cheong to the virtual cash desk to collect $40,920.
The Team Pro's unchallenged mashing surely couldn't last and neither could his bottom set hold against the top two-pair of Gardner on a J♠5♥Q♦ flop. It was the biggest pot of the tournament so far - 884,378 - and both a jack and queen hit the latter streets to push Gardner into the chip lead.
Galfond had been quiet for some time but he stepped up to plate to send O.Klunssila to the rail in 4th for $54,560 to set up a tough three-way battle. Or certainly would have...
It didn't take long for a deal to be suggested and accepted, locking up six-figure scores for all three players.
MrCoco said, "3 way chop gents?"
JasonMercier said, "even?"
MrCoco said, "yes i respect you both"
MrSweets28 said, "hmmm"
JasonMercier said, "up to phil"
MrSweets28 said, "damn... I was excited to play but that's a reasonable offer"
JasonMercier said, "how much do we have to leave to play for"
MrCoco said, "done?"
JasonMercier said, "we have to leave something"
MrCoco said, "ok"
JasonMercier said, "i think its a rule"
MrSweets28 said, "yeah"
MrSweets28 said, "they might make us play this hand out"
JasonMercier said, "hit the discuss a deal"
JasonMercier said, "in info"
MrSweets28 said, "I can't find it"
MrCoco said, "i have agreed a deal"
MrSweets28 said, "I never go deep in tourneys"
It took one more hand of folding but Galfond eventually found the deal button and the three players agreed to a three-way all-in on the next hand. The $4,000 which had been set aside for the winner, as well as the SCOOP watch and title, were pushed over to Gardner whose mighty 9♣J♦J♥4♥ held up. The three players earned themselves a huge payday and a good sleep.
1st - Julian 'MrCoco' Gardner, United Kingdom, $118,606*
2nd - Jason 'JasonMercier' Mercier, Team PokerStars Pro, Canada, $114,606*
3rd - Phil 'MrSweets28' Galfond, Canada, $114,606*
4th - O.Klunssila, Finland, $54,560
5th - Joseph 'subiime' Cheong, Canada, $40,920
6th - Sira Al Aziz, Portugal, $27,962
*indicates that a deal was made.
Number of players: 241 (230 re-buys, 211 add-ons)
Players paid: 30