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The first ever PokerStars Summer Championships of Online Poker began on Thursday with the first of its innovative three-tier tournaments. In an attempt to make these large online festivals accessible to everyone, every event has three versions at three different buy-ins. Each of these doppelgangers are identical, except for the buy-in and the level of guaranteed money added to the prize pool.

Event #1 was an action stimulating rebuy tournament with a maximum of 6 players at each table. Even the lowest tier, with a buy-in of $5.50 generated enough action to build up a prize pool of $435,030. This low level event gathered together 27,134 entrants, with 5,400 of them finishing in the money. When the dust had settled it was Eetu100 who emerged victorious, pocketing $41,562 for his first place finish. Just behind him were MrWhite ($29,364) in second and bakter9 ($17,401) in third.

The mid-stakes version was significantly less popular than its less expensive brother, but still managed to build up a prize pool of $641,350. Over four thousand entrants paid the buy-in of $55 and engaged in some frantic rebuy action in the hope of finishing in one of the top 600 spots. At the end of the day it would be westmenlo who would be crowned Event #1 mid-stakes champion, picking up $97,805 for his troubles. Just missing out on the glory were KidCardiff6 ($70,548) in second place, followed closely by prinzprosper ($51,308) in third.

Although these lower level buy-ins introduce the magic of a PokerStars Championship to the masses, it is still the high stakes players that will draw all the headlines. A select, but elite, 672 runners stepped up for this $530 rebuy tournament, putting together an impressive $1,109,500 prize pool. This 18 hour long spectacle would see many a great player fall by the wayside, with MrTile ($113,723) the last to leave before the start of an epic heads up battle.

It was AcesSpades11 from Canada against BongBob from Germany to decide who would become the SCOOP Event #1 Champion. Immediately before heads-up play began the two struck a deal to split the prize money: $175,000 for Ace and $180,000 for Bob. This left $11,135 and the title to play for, with the pair duking it out for over 3 hours before a champion could finally be crowned.

Things began slowly, although Ace’s aggressive play allowed him to slip into a slender lead. As play began to loosen up it seemed inevitable that a big pot would be on its way, and when it came it was BongBob who captured it. A flop of 3s-7h-9c seemed fairly innocuous, but Bob’s big bet and Ace’s big call seemed to suggest otherwise. A King on the river prompted no slow down in the action, Bob again betting big and Ace again making the call. The 7d on the river finally encouraged Ace to lead out, only to see face a reraise from Bob. After some thought Ace elected to make the call, dismayed to find that his K-Q two pair had been crushed by a 7-3 full house. This left Bob with a lead of about $3.3 million to $2.7 million.

Bob’s advantage would be short lived however, as the seemingly endless flip-flop pattern took its next turn. With the board reading 7c-8d-4s-3s-9h, Ace made an audacious all-in move to the tune of $1,923,766. Bob could not bring himself to make the call and was forced to concede the $1,697,722 pot to his rival. Having grasped a firm lead Ace might have hoped to continue to exert his dominance, but Bob clawed his way back with a $1.1 million pot shortly after.

The next large-scale exchange would come when Ace and Bob where holding Th-8h and Ac-Kh respectively. Ace showed a mysterious confidence in his lesser hand, re-raising Bob’s initial bet and then calling the re-re-raise that came back at him before the flop. A board full of blanks prompted cagey checks until a King fell on the river. Ace made a badly timed stab at the pot to the tune of $252,000, with Bob quickly making the call and raking in the $1 million pot.

It was at this point that 2004 World Series of Poker Champion Greg Raymer arrived to share his thoughts with the final two. Before congratulating them on their efforts he offered to buy either of their seats for $100k, an offer which was politely declined. Perhaps quietened by the celebrity interloper, play progressed more cautiously from then on, with the lead swapping back and forth until chip stacks were once again around even.

The pot that looked like it might settle everything came around 2 hours into proceedings. Ace was the aggressor until a board of 6h-3h-Qc-Ts prompted a reraise from Bob. A call and an 8s on the turn lead to a bet of 777,777 from Bob, sending Ace deep into the tank. After complaining in the chat that he knew he was beat he finally made the call and confirmed his suspicions. Ace had Q-J for a pair of Queens, against Bob’s Q-T two pair. This $2,455,554 pot pushed Ace onto the ropes and gave Bob a chance to finish him off for good.

A short while later Ace was all-in. Big preflop bets proceeded a board of 5d-4d-4s where Bob put Ace to a decision for all of his chips. With a customary “gl” Ace shipped it in, flipping over Qd-Td against Bob’s As-Jh. Things were looking good for Bob when a useless 9 fell on the turn, but an unlikely rivered Q ensured that the spectacle was not over yet. This put both men back roughly where they had started almost 3 hours ago.

The lead swapped back and forth once again until another huge put Bob back into a commanding position, from which he began to slowly grind away at Ace’s stack. Despite sitting on less than $700,000 for some time, Ace refused to give in, riding his luck at one point when his A-J caught runner runner 5’s to split a pot against Bob’s A-K. Eventually though it had to end and in the final pot both men were all-in before the flop. Ace held K-T and Bob 5-6 suited. The board ran out J-7-5-A-7, and after a marathon heads up battle between two excellent players, BongBob was crowned SCOOP Event #1 Champion, taking home $191,135.