As always, the $10,000 buy-in Spring Championship of Online Poker Main Event (the “High”) at PokerStars attracted a host of top tournament talent, with the leaderboard constantly displaying names of some of poker’s elite players throughout the three days the tournament played out.
By the end, however, the name of one top player stood out above the rest, the one belonging to Talal “raidalot” Shakerchi who rose to lead of the counts prior to today’s final table, then led wire-to-wire to earn the most coveted title of the series and the biggest cash prize as well of $1,468,000.88.
Over $90 million was won in this year’s SCOOP, with the largest chunk of that amount forming the prize pool for this crown jewel of the series, the $10K “High” buy-in Main Event.
There were over 300 players already in their seats shortly after the tournament began on Sunday. Just a couple of hours after that they’d surged well past the 400-player mark to start building a prize pool that was clear would easily best the event’s $4 million guarantee.
Then by the time the six-hour mark came — at which point late registration and the ability to re-enter (only once!) had ended — there were a whopping 824 entries, with the last one pushing the overall prize pool to a huge $8,000,001.76. The top 99 places paid, with $1,468,000.88 for first place (barring a final table deal), just over one million for second, and everyone making the final table earning at least six figures.
At that point about half the field had hit the rail already and David “MissOracle” Yan was enjoying an early lead with just over 400 players left. There was still another six hours of poker to be played on Day 1, however, during which time the field was carved down further to 129 players making it through to Monday.
That was still 30 shy of the money, although players at the top of the leaderboard to end the night were no doubt thinking of much larger prizes than the $18,400 for a min-cash. There were plenty of familiar names among those in that group as well, as the overnight top 10 shows:
1. Christopher “lissi stinkt” Frank (Germany) — 933,872
2. Nick “chilenocl” Yunis (Chile) — 825,251
3. Pascal “Päffchen” Hartmann (Austria) — 809,604
4. Rachid Ben “SkaiWalkurrr” Cherif (United Kingdom) — 804,595
5. Christopher “NigDawG” Brammer (United Kingdom) — 770,769
6. Scott “gunning4you” Seiver (Canada) — 697,561
7. Ziv “zivziv” Bachar (Israel) — 697,213
8. zaxman13 (Greece) — 649,852
9. €urop€an (Finland) — 637,488
10. Luke “lb6121” Schwartz (United Kingdom) — 630,694
It took just under two hours on Monday for 30 more knockouts to come and the money bubble to burst. At that point €urop€an had moved up and into the chip lead with Pascal “Päffchen” Hartmann and Rui “sousinha23” Sousa close behind.
As the day wore on and the field shrunk under 50 players, €urop€an remained settled in first position, staying there as more hit the rail including Nick “chilenocl” Yunis (49th, $27,200), Mike “Tîmex” McDonald (44th, $30,400), Craig “mcc3991” McCorkell (43rd, $30,400), Mohsin “sms9231” Charania (42nd, $30,400), Isaac “philivey2994” Haxton (40th, $30,400), Pascal “Päffchen” Hartmann (39th, $30,400), Mikael “ChaoRen160” Thuritz (37th, $34,400), Kevin “ImaLuckSac” MacPhee (36th, $34,400), Andreas “Hoegh93” Høgh (35th, $34,400), Peter “Se7enTr3y” Akery (34th, $34,400), Joe “bigegypt” Elpayaa” (33rd, $34,400), Luke “lb6121” Schwartz (31st, $34,400), Jeff “jeff710” Hakim (29th, $34,400), and Lauri “IMS DURNK” Pesonen (28th, $34,400).
Once they’d gotten down to three tables, however, €urop€an finally let go of the lead as others rushed ahead, with Christopher “NigDawg” Brammer leading the charge as he became the first player to 5 million chips.
The next wave of knockouts included Mike “MikeyGG3” Gentili (27th), RayJing (26th), Dylan “WhiteRabbito” Honeyman (25th), Charlie “Epiphany77” Carrel (24th), slv458 (23rd), J0hn Mcclean (22nd), brights88 (21st), zapacanov (20th), and finally €urop€an (19th), with those nine all earning $40,000 even for their finishes.
Brammer still led with two tables left with that same 5 million-plus chip stack. FourSixFour (18th), Trocola7 (17th), and jnk1313 (16th) next went out, earning $56,000.01 apiece. vovanmillion next went out in 15th, and they remaining 14 battled onward for quite some time during which Talal “raidalot” Shakerchi eventually ascended in the counts to take over the chip lead, eventually to be passed by LuckBox.
Christopher “lissi stinkt” Frank next fell in 14th followed by Darren “darrenelias” Elias in 13th, with those two like vovanmillion earning $72,000.01. Former leaders then became short stacks, with Rui “sousinha23” Sousa (12th) and Christopher “NigDawG” Brammer (11th) going out, and after a stretch of hand-for-hand play Sam “Str8$$$Homey” Greenwood went out in 10th, with those three each making $88,000.01.
They’d reached the final table, where Shakerchi was back in the chip lead for one hand — and he won that one, too, taking a pot off Pablo “pablotenisis” Fernandez — before the tournament was paused until Tuesday afternoon.
A glimpse at the final table just before it began:
Seat 1: Sean “Nolez7” Winter (Romania) — 3,888,664
Seat 2: EvnomiYa (Russia) — 2,876,963
Seat 3: Pablo “pablotenisis” Fernandez (Mexico) — 3,433,591
Seat 4: Scott “gunning4you” Seiver (Canada) — 4,617,287
Seat 5: Markku “markovitsus” Koplimaa (Estonia) — 5,861,868
Seat 6: s0nny_bLacCk (Thailand) — 3,962,436
Seat 7: IReadB00ks (Denmark) — 4,229,194
Seat 8: Talal “raidalot” Shakerchi (United Kingdom) — 9,258,971
Seat 9: LuckBox (Japan) — 3,071,026
All nine players made it through the first half-hour of Day 3, with Scott Seiver earning a big pot off of Sean Winter in the last hand before the break (pocket aces versus ace-king), prompting a Game of Thrones reference in the chatbox during the five-minute pause in play:
gunning4you: Jon Snow has to hold back the forces of winter
Nolez7: i must not get 9th
Nolez7: or 8th
A few minutes after play resumed, the sword came down on the first final table casualty of the day.
EvnomiYa eliminated in ninth
The blinds were 87,500/175,000 (with a 21,875 ante you only ever see online) when Scott “gunning4you” Seiver opened for 378,675 from early position, and it folded around to EvnomiYa in the big blind who pushed all-in from the big blind for 2,289,463 total, and Seiver called the push in a flash.
EvnomiYa had picked up 7♣7♠, but Seiver had picked up A♠A♦ again. The board ran out an uneventful 4♠4♦Q♠6♥8♣, and EvnomiYa was out in ninth, though still enjoyed a $100K-plus score.
IReadB00ks checks out in eighth
Close to 15 minutes later came the next knockout, and Seiver was the one responsible again.
Following a min-raise to 350,000 from early position by IReadB00ks, it folded around to Seiver who called from the small blind, and the pair watched the flop come 10♥K♦2♦. Seiver checked, IReadB00ks continued for 263,542, Seiver check-raised all-in, and IReadB00ks called with the 2,552,027 left behind.
IReadB00ks showed K♣Q♠ for top pair of kings while Seiver had both flush and straight draws with Q♦J♦. The Q♣ turn gave Seiver a pair, then the 10♦ river gave him a needed diamond for the flush, and IReadB00ks was on the rail in eighth.
Luck runs out for LuckBox, stopped in seventh
They continued onward with the seven remaining players all making it to the next break coming at the day’s hour-and-a-half mark, by which point Shakerchi still led with 13.1 million, Seiver was next with about 9.6 million, and LuckBox was the short stack with a little less than 1.6 million.
Then on the first hand back, the blinds were 100,000/200,000 when Talal “raidalot” Shakerchi opened with a big raise from the small blind and LuckBox called all-in with the 1,355,772 left after posting the big. Shakerchi had Q♥8♥ and was dominating the Q♣4♠ of LuckBox, and five cards later — J♣9♦A♦4♦10♦ — LuckBox was done in seventh, a finish good for just over a quarter million dollars.
pablotenisis put out in sixth
About 20 minutes later the blinds were 125,000/250,000 when Pablo “pablotenisis” Fernandez open-pushed for 3,282,444 from the button, then saw Scott “gunning4you” Seiver reraise-jam from the small blind to isolate.
Fernandez had 9♣7♣, but Seiver had picked up yet another premium pair with K♠K♦. The 4♣Q♦6♠2♣Q♠ board didn’t help Fernandez, and he went out in sixth. The finish was a few spots shy of his third place in Event #31-H ($2,100 NLHE), but the prize was a lot more as the player from Mexico took away just over $336K.
Despite having scored three of four final table knockouts, Seiver was still in second position behind Shakerchi who continued to add to his stack. When the next elimination came, Shakerchi increased his lead still more.
The blinds were up to 150,000/300,000, and after being folded to on the button Markku “markovitsus” Koplimaa open-raised all-in for 3,042,073. It folded to Shakerchi in the big blind who thought for a couple of beats, then called with A♣5♣ to see he was ahead of Koplimaa’s K♦Q♠.
The Q♥9♣6♠ flop swung the edge Koplimaa’s way, however, with the Q♣ turn giving the Estonian trips. But the river was the 8♣, completing a backdoor club flush for Shakerchi and ending Koplimaa’s run in fifth — a 13th cash for him this SCOOP, and of course the largest by far at just over $416K.
gunning4you shot down in fourth
That pot pushed Shakerchi up over 20 million, a total representing more than what his three remaining opponents had combined. s0nny_bLacCk asked the others if they might be interested in some deal talk, but Shakerchi said “happy to play” and play they did.
They continued into the second half of the day’s third hour, at which point Sean “Nolez7” Winter open-raised all-in from the small blind for close to 5.2 million and Scott “gunning4you” Seiver called with the 3,988,571 he had left after posting the 300,000-chip big blind.
Seiver had 10♠10♦ and was in decent shape preflop against Winter’s A♦5♦, and he was still leading — albeit precariously — after the 7♠4♦7♦ flop and 3♣ turn. But the river was the 2♣ to complete a wheel for Winter, and Seiver was out in fourth, coming three spots shy of winning a second SCOOP title after winning one two years ago in a $2,100 2-7 draw event.
Play continued with Shakerchi still well in front and no more deal talk arising in the chat box, and a dozen hands later they were down to two.
The blinds were still 150,000/300,000 when Sean “Nolez7” Winter open-pushed again from the small blind and it was s0nny_bLacCk calling this time from the BB for 5,890,133. Winter had K♣7♠ and was behind s0nny_bLacCk’s K♠Q♠, but the 10♣10♦7♣2♠9♠ board favored Winter and sent the player from Thailand out in third for a prize worth a little over $792K.
Flush over flush means Winter falls in second as Shakerchi snares the win
That left just Winter and Shakerchi, a couple of players plenty familiar with each other thanks to their frequent participation in high roller events.
Winter has been cashing in a number of them over the past year, including chopping the $25,000 High Roller at the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and earning $914,580 after taking runner-up.
There’d be no chopping up this one, however. The businessman Shakerchi — besides collecting cashes in SCOOP events — had proven himself before time and again in high roller events, including winning $10K tournaments both at the EPT8 Grand Final in Monaco and at EPT9 London.
And, as had been noted in the chatbox earlier, Shakerchi was happy to play and try to win another.
Shakerchi had a close to 2-to-1 edge to start the heads-up duel with 27,169,302 to Winter’s 14,030,698, and after three hands the stacks hadn’t changed much when the following hand took place.
It began with a min-raise to 700,000 by Shakerchi from the button, with Winter calling. The flop came 2♦4♣3♦, and Winter checked. Shakerchi continued for 788,375, and Winter stuck around. Things went similarly after the 7♥ turn, with a check from Winter, a bet of 1,624,052 from Shakerchi, and another call.
The J♦ river then completed the board, and Winter checked once more. This time Shakerchi fired 3,913,659, and Winter responded with an all-in shove for 11,330,771 total that Shakerchi called in an instant.
Their cards were tabled…
Both had rivered flushes, but Shakerchi had the nuts to claim the pot and the title. Winter managed to do a lot better than eighth or ninth, his runner-up showing adding up to a huge seven-figure score.
1. Talal “raidalot” Shakerchi (United Kingdom) $1,468,000.88
2. Sean “Nolez7” Winter (Romania) $1,048,000.23
3. s0nny_bLacCk (Thailand) $792,000.17
4. Scott “gunning4you” Seiver (Canada) $596,000.13
5. Markku “markovitsus” Koplimaa (Estonia) $416,000.09
6. Pablo “pablotenisis” Fernandez (Mexico) $336,000.07
7. Luckbox (Japan) $256,000.05
8. IReadB00ks (Denmark) $176,000.03
9. EvnomiYa (Russia) $104,000.02
Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.