I figured it might be fun if I'll do a small review of my version of the SCOOP Main Event and the Limit Hold'em events. Let's break it down!
The 20th of May was a big day for me. Online there are only really two tourneys every year in which you can win a reasonable amount of money playing Limit Hold'em; SCOOP and WCOOP. The SCOOP even has 3 tourneys at the same time (low, medium and high) which creates a decent amount of value for experienced Limit players. The level of play in the low buy-in is never that high, the medium always gets a decent amount of runners due to the buy-in still being affordable for a tournament that only runs twice a year, and the high buy-in attracts a lot of pro's who play every SCOOP since they figure they can never be that far behind in a game as simple as Limit Hold'em (or possibly they're trying to make a run for the SCOOP Leader Board). That does mean that the type of "bad" players is very different between the different buy-ins, but there is value in these tourneys for sure. The variance is even higher in Limit than in No-Limit tourneys so you need a little run good, but you always need that when you're competing in big tourneys with a relatively small sample size of hands.
The three main tourneys started at 20:00 and during the day there were a pretty decent amount of satellites scheduled, in which I presumed there was a pretty decent amount of value. I decided to play as many as I could from 15:00 onwards and I think that in the end I played roughly 90% of the medium and high satellites. The satellites offered were in many different formats; multi-table Sit & Go's, single table Sit & Go's, Hypers, Turbos, Steps... basically anything you can think of. Every format had a different payout structure so I really had to pay attention if I was playing the bubble or not, I couldn't just assume based on the number of players at the table. Some satellites only awarded one ticket which resulted in heads-up play which is always difficult to handle when you are playing 8 different satellites at the same time. I probably missed some value in mixing too many different formats at the same time, but there isn't any other day in the year in which so many Limit Hold'em satellites run so I wasn't able to practice beforehand.
I was lucky to win two tickets to the $700 qualifier to the high buy-in but that satellite wasn't really deep stacked and after only losing one big hand I was out. Not winning a $700 satellite when most other satellites only award $215 means a heavy impact on your ROI so unfortunately I finished my batch of 50 satellites with a small loss. The level of play got better during the day when more Limit regulars started to play satellites so maybe next time I need to be a bit more selective. On the other hand, winning the $700 satellite would have boosted my ROI so in the end it's all down to variance.
My table draw in the low was decent: two good players and three bad ones to give me plenty of value. In the first hour, I managed to run my stack up to 7,000, which was decent with the low blinds still around. It's nearly impossible to bust within the first hour and I certainly wasn't planning to do so. I managed to keep a healthy stack in the second hour despite running into two bad river cards which cost me decent-sized pots. During the seconnd break I had 9,100 chips which was above average. Unfortunately the third hour I couldn't take down any decent pot and when I got JJ right after the 3rd break I hoped to get a chance to double up.
Poker Stars $24.55+$2.45 Limit Hold'em Tournament
holdi12 (CO): 2,380 (4.76 BB)
puule (BTN): 18,790 (37.58 BB)
Mr. Ilves (SB): 7,660 (15.32 BB)
AAmaggie (BB): 23,885 (47.77 BB)
Hero (UTG): 6,840 (13.68 BB)
efeiner (MP): 18,863 (37.73 BB)
Pre-flop: Hero is UTG with J♦J♥
Hero raises, efeiner 3-bets, 3 folds, AAmaggie calls, Hero calls
AAmaggie checks, Hero checks, efeiner bets, AAmaggie calls, Hero raises, efeiner calls, AAmaggie calls
AAmaggie checks, Hero bets, efeiner calls, AAmaggie folds
Hero bets, efeiner raises, Hero calls
Final pot: 13,750
efeiner shows A♦K♦ for an ace-high flush
Well, that didn't work out as planned. Since I was the big blind in the next hand with only 1,340 chips left I had to go all-in with 65o. No help on the board so it was the low buy-in which I busted first. Koraseg, a good regular, went on to win and took down $12,314 in a $27 tournament, which is pretty decent for a Limit tourney! Well known fellow Dutchie Paul 'padjes' Berende took down 4th place for $4,548.
In the first hour of the medium not much had happened but in the second hour I could finally get some things going. Most notable was the fun atmosphere at the table which doesn't happen a lot online since most people don't have a lot of time to chat. The Limit community is rather small so most people know each other and I happened to have a table full of familiar faces. People even jumped in from the rail and because I was only playing three tourneys it was easy to chat along. It almost felt like a live tourney at some moments. The table wasn't that easy and those players who weren't familiar were soon replaced by those that were. Luckily, I was doing pretty well and after the third hour I was constantly in the top 100. After the 4th hour I was really doing well with 35,000 chips and a couple of the good players had already busted so it was time to start running over the table. The poker gods had another plan and I either got unplayable hands or hands at the bottom of my range with flops which only cost more money. Five marginal hands later and I busted in 107th place, 84 places were paid. Calvin 'Cal42688' Anderson managed to win the tourney, taking home $23,634 which also was a pretty decent amount for a Limit tourney. I was still in the high!
This was definitely the highlight of the SCOOP for me. My Main Event! The field wasn't as tough as last year. As expected, many Pro's who you wouldn't normally find in a Limit tournament decided to play this one. A field of 131 players signed up and I'd guess that roughly half of them were Limit regulars, which means it had a pretty decent value for a $2,100 buy-in. The first hour was uneventful but I was able to almost double my starting stack during the second hour. After four hours of play, I had more than 16,000 chips which was pretty decent at that time and I pretty happy with my table and my game. This was at the same time as I was doing well in the medium so I had a lot of confidence about cashing in both. As mentioned, during the fifth hour I busted the medium but that meant I could focus on "the big one". At the end of the sixth hour we were pretty close to the money when I played the following hand:
Poker Stars $2000+$100 Limit Hold'em Tournament
Blinds: 500-1,000 Limit
Players: 6 players
john_baird_1 (BTN): 22,331 (44.66 BB)
blanconegro (SB): 30,535 (61.07 BB)
SixZeros (BB): 3,495 (6.99 BB)
Hero (UTG): 23,818 (47.64 BB)
72bestcard (MP): 26,255 (52.51 BB)
B00mslang (CO): 24,689 (49.38 BB)
Pre-flop: Hero is UTG with Q♣Q♥
Hero raises, 3 folds, blanconegro 3-bets, 1 fold, Hero calls
blanconegro bets, Hero calls
blanconegro bets, Hero raises, blanconegro calls
blanconegro checks, Hero bets, blanconegro raises, Hero calls
Final Pot: 12,500
blanconegro shows A♠K♠ for an ace-high flush
As you can see this hand is almost identical as the one in the low with the exception that I was in position in this hand which made me raise the turn instead of check/raising the flop. The hand is pretty standard but winning this one would have given me a really healthy stack with which to easily navigate into the money. I had work to do again and this worked out pretty good at first, despite the fact my new table had three high stakes limit regulars who I consider better then myself. After going up and down, I open three times but three times I don't hit anything on the flop. After that I wasn't able to play a hand post-flop for nine orbits! This had nothing to do with me playing tight, I just didn't get a single opportunity to play a hand.
Meanwhile, we were down to 20 players with 18 paid and there was some stalling at the other tables since the bubble was worth $3,406. Three or four other players had about the same stack as I did and winning one big pot would probably be enough to make the money. If that didn't happen, I had to try and keep my stack at the same level, not bleeding too many chips every round by paying the blinds. I opened 76o on the button and flop nothing, I defend T9s in the big blind but again nothing. After 10 orbits of not picking up a single good hand my A3s on the cutoff looked really sweet:
Poker Stars $2000+$100 Limit Hold'em Tournament
Shhh00kem (UTG): 46,428 (58.03 BB)
Hero (CO): 7,618 (9.52 BB)
GripDsNutz (BTN): 34,677 (43.35 BB)
facel3ssvoid (SB): 13,516 (16.89 BB)
Sasuke234 (BB): 54,688 (68.36 BB)
Pre Flop: Hero is CO with A♣3♣
1 fold, Hero raises, GripDsNutz 3-bets, 2 folds, Hero calls
Hero checks, GripDsNutz bets, Hero raises, GripDsNutz calls
Hero bets, GripDsNutz calls
Hero bets, GripDsNutz raises, Hero calls all-in
Final Pot: 16,436
Hero shows A♣3♣
GripDsNutz shows A♠T♥ to win
I hoped that my semi-bluff on the flop looked pretty strong since committing so many chips close to the bubble must mean I had something. I almost jumped up in the air when I hit the river, but instead of hitting the jackpot I had to call off to bust in 20th place just two places short of the money. Out. No $68,120 first prize. Even worse, nothing at all. As a cash game player I really can't ever get used to the feeling of busting tourneys this deep. Seven hours of play for nothing and my "Main Event" was over. I'd less less than 50% of the remaining players were Limit regulars, I really had hoped for more but those last 10 orbits really killed me off. The structure of the tourney was really good, meaning there was a lot of room for post-flop play, but you still need to pick up a hand every now and then. After a pretty long heads-up it was Jarcon86 who took it down.
Now I can only wait till the WCOOP since I'm skipping the WSOP this year. I was pretty close to booking a ticket after I busted because I really love playing "big" Limit tourneys. Last WCOOP I finished 11th so I hope to do better this year!
Richard 'Tzen1' Veenman is a member of Team PokerStars Online. Read his profile page here.