Lots of limping. Plenty of aggressive stealing. Fields full of players who have limited experience. Hold on, have we travelled back in a poker time machine?
Nope – if anything, we’re looking at the future. You see, Event 12-M of the Spring Championship of Online Poker was a No Limit Hold’em Ante Up tourney – which remains one of the more modern online poker formats that has also found popularity on the live tournament circuit. The structure of these events maintain the same fixed-blind level throughout – entirely changing the pre-flop positions that poker players perceive as standard. It’s not the blinds that increase, but the antes – and every player is accountable for one of those each hand.
The medium-tier was an $82 buy-in with a $75K Guarantee slapped on the prize pool. Well, by the time registration was over that amount had almost doubled to $143,175. A total of 1,909 players entered on Day 1 but only 252 would make a profit, and a few of the names in the lobby were hardly surprising to see. The UK’s Charlie “JIZOINT” Combes was crowned the “Ante Up King” after winning his second SCOOP title in the Ante Up format in 2013 (the first came in 2011). Unfortunately for Combes, who has more than $5,000,000 in online tournament winnings, he couldn’t grasp his third title in this event, after busting relatively early. Other previous SCOOP Ante Up champs who left this tournament before the money included 2014’s high-tier winner Ash “DYBYDX” Mason and last year’s winner in this event, piper_kl88.
PokerStars Asia Pro Naoya “nKeyno” Kihara was the only member of the red spade club to cash (85th – $250.55), whilst other Team PokerStars Pros not faring as well included George Danzer, Jason Mercier (chasing his third SCOOP title of 2015), and Chris Moneymaker.
Just 21 players returned to battle on the virtual event on Day 2, and leading the way was Canada’s ilir3. Another player doing well was tournament beast Paul “paulgees81” Volpe, a SCOOP and WCOOP champ and yet another member of the $5,000,000 club in terms of online success. Lower in chip stacks but ahead of Volpe by around $1M in online winnings was Bryan “theczar19” Piccioli, who was looking to go one better than his 2nd place finish in the high-tier Ante Up event at SCOOP 2012 (for $36,140) by getting the win and the title. Meanwhile, Hungary’s Tóth “SlyderS1” Béla was chasing his second SCOOP title (the first came in 2013 for $169,758).
Final table chip counts
Seat 1: VzB_Poker (Brazil) — 857,519
Seat 2: LuckboxStami (Finland) — 150,213
Seat 3: SsicK_OnE (Germany) — 1,825,386
Seat 4: K0VAK (Bulgaria) — 446,593
Seat 5: ilir3 (Canada) — 1,868,530
Seat 6: GangstaZab (Russia) — 1,393,467
Seat 7: theczar19 (Mexico) — 1,729,354
Seat 8: KissP4ckUSee (Malta) — 484,637
Seat 9: AlcateL00 (United Kingdom) — 789,301
The start-of-day chip leader, ilir3, had maintained that lead going into the final table. Also, could Bryan “theczar19” Piccioli pick up his first SCOOP title after coming so close in the past? We waited to find out.
LuckboxStami eliminated in 9th place ($1,431.75)
It didn’t take long for our first elimination. Blinds were insignificant at this point (just 5/5) but the ante was 10,000. In this hand, LuckboxStami was in the “big blind” position, and SsicK_One made it 10 from UTG. It was called around to AlcateL00 on the button who made it 48,775 to go. LuckboxStami, who had just 120,203, raised all-in and everyone else got out of the way before AlcateL00 called.
The player all-in was just a 30% favourite and would need a lot of help to survive. The flop fell 2♠J♠10♦ and it wasn’t the dark suit LuckboxStami was hoping to see. The K♣ turn meant that the only card that could change anything would be a queen for a chop. Instead, it was the 2♦ and we were down to eight players.
KissP4ckUSee out in 8th ($2,505.56)
Just 7 hands later we had another knockout. With a couple of callers, ilir3 made it 51,234 to go from middle position. theczar19, who by this point was chipleader with more than 2M, called from the cut-off, before KissP4ckUSee shoved for 374,612 on the button. ilir3 made the call and theczar19 folded so we were heads up.
It was an old fashioned race, and the flop was intiguing. The 9♣J♦7♠ meant that KissP4ckUSee could now not only go ahead with a king or queen, but one of the remaining 2 tens as well. However, the 8♦ turn all but ended it giving ilir3 a straight, and when the river was the K♣ it was too little too late.
VzB_Poker eliminated in 7th place ($3,865.72)
The next one to fall was the player in Brazil. A min-raise from ilir to 10 saw everyone limp around to VzB_Poker on the button, who shoved huge for 588,869 with the ante at 12,500. SsicK_OnE re-raised all-in from the small blind and everyone folded.
It was A♣J♥ for the initial raiser against the A♥K♥ of SsicK_OnE. There was never much sign of hope for VzB_Poker as the board ran out 9♦5♠8♥ 5♥Q♥, giving Ssick_OnE the nut flush and sending the player in Brazil to the rail.
GangstaZab’s aggression backfires; out in 6th ($5,297.47)
Having seen two limpers in front of him, GangstaZab raised to 45,000 – 3 times the 15,000 ante – from the button with a stack of just over 1M behind. Chipleader theczar19 to his left made it 211,940 to go and it was folded back to the initial raiser. After some time spent in the time bank, GangstaZab 4-bet shoved for 1,073,075 total and it was quickly called.
The aggression hadn’t paid of for the Russian, who need a nice run out to survive. Instead, it was just about the worst flop – 2♥A♥2♠ – and the 5♥ turn and 6♣ river didn’t change anything either. We were down to 5.
K0VAK gone in 5th ($6,800.81)
K0VAK made it 52,550 from UTG and met an instant 3-bet from ilir3 in the cut-off to his left. When it folded back to him, he shoved for 528,073 total and got a quick call.
K0VAK’s 5♥5♣ were far behind the Q♥Q♦ of ilir3, but the flop brought some hope. It was 2♥A♠3♥ and a four or five would be enough to take the lead. The J♣ arrived on the turn changing nothing, and K0VAK couldn’t get there on fifth street either; the 10♣ the card that would see him out in 5th.
By this point, theczar19 was the big chipleader.
It would take quite some time before another player’s tournament life would come to an end, and in that time theczar19 extended his lead even further, bringing his stack over the 6,000,000 mark.
AlcateL00 eliminated in 4th place ($9,413.75)
With 608,645 and the ante at 30,000, the short stack AlcateL00 made it 104,755 on the button. Both Ssick_OnE and ilir3 folded but theczar19 decided it was time to play for it all. AlcateL00 made the call and was well ahead with A♠Q♥ against A♦5♦.
The lead didn’t last long though. The 5♥K♣K♦ was a cruel one and put theczar19 out in front. When the 10♠ landed on fourth street it meant that he needed a queen or jack to win and a ten to chop, but the 4♥ was a blank and that was all she wrote for AlcateL00 – out in 4th place.
The chip counts after several orbits three-handed looked like this:
But, as we all know, closing out a tournament against tough competition is by no means easy, regardless of chip advantages. The two shorter stacks picked their spots and built their stacks up, before Ssick_OnE doubled through theczar19 when his pocket kings held against A♣Q♣. With the ante now at 50,000, the stacks were pretty similar: SsicK_OnE had around 3.5M, ilir3 had around 3M and theczar19 too had around the 3M mark. However, there were no talks of a chop.
ilir3 eliminated in 3rd place ($12,885.75)
The chipleader coming into Day 2 and the final table, ilir3, had seen his stack get short after a few big hands, one of which saw him bet all three streets heads up with theczar19 only to fold to a river shove. With the ante now 70,000 he was down to just 497,627 and shoved all in on the button, which was called by theczar19. Despite being behind with the J♣9♣ against A♣7♥, ilir3 was still going to win the hand 45.9% of the time. However, neither hand improved on the K♠8♦6♠3♣6♦ board and we were finally heads up.
Heads up chip counts
theczar19 eliminated in 2nd place ($17,181); SsicK_OnE wins for $22,909.24
After around an hour of heads up play, SsicK_OnE had a taken a demanding lead with around 8M to theczar19’s 2M. Having got lucky to double up just a few hands prior, theczar19 shoved all in for 2,475,958 after SsicK_OnE had made it 98,240 from the button (antes at 100,000). It was snap called and it was K♠K♥ for SsicK_OnE against the [8H][QS] of theczar19. He’d need a lot of help to avoid another SCOOP 2nd place finish, and he didn’t get any. The board ran out 5♦J♥6♣ 3♦A♥ and we had our winner in Event 12-M. Congratulations to all the players who made the final table!
SCOOP-12-M: $82 NL Holdem [Ante Up] – $75K Gtd
Prize Pool: $143,175
Places Paid: 252
1. SsicK_OnE (Germany) — $$22,909.24
2. theczar19 (Mexico) — $17,181
3. ilir3 (Canada) — $12,885.75
4. AlcateL00 (United Kingdom) — $9,413.75
5. K0VAK (Bulgaria) — $6,800.81
6. GangstaZab (Russia) — $5,297.47
7. VzB_Poker (Brazil) — $3,865.72
8. KissP4ckUSee (Malta) — $2,505.56
9. LuckboxStami (Finland) — $1,431.75
The Spring Championship of Online Poker is the biggest and richest tournament festival of the year, with millions in prize money to be won, a packed schedule, and separate buy-in levels designed to suit all bankrolls.
A total prize pool of $40 million is guaranteed with the series running right through until May 24th. Head to the SCOOP home page for more details.
Jack Stanton is a journalist and freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.