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The sun is peeking out from behind the clouds and the trees are in blossom once again. This can mean only one thing: it’s time for the PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker. After a successful debut last year, the SCOOP returns in 2010 with millions in guaranteed prize pools to be plundered. The unique three-tiered tournament system also reappears, meaning that every SCOOP event has a high, medium, and low buy-in level. This range of choice allows for the only online tournament series that is truly accessible to everyone and can still deliver the high-stakes big-money action the pros crave. This morning saw Event #2 draw to a close, the first two-day tournament on the 2010 SCOOP schedule. It was a simple and straightforward No Limit Hold ‘em tournament, meaning that a dash of luck and raw poker skill were all the players needed to be in with a shot at a prestigious PokerStars title.

The low third of the trifecta was a $20 + $2 buy-in event with a $500,000 guarantee. A huge 26,200 people piled into the tournament, cracking through the guarantee and building a total prize pool of $524,000. There are still plenty of sponsored PokerStars pros in these low buy-in tourneys, and Event #2 was no exception. Sadly for Team PokerStars, none of their members managed to get anywhere near the final table. Four of their number succeeded in battling into the 4500 paid places, with 2009 Bluff Magazine Player of the Year, Jason Mercier, the top finisher in 71st place ($419.20). The final table featured a few well known online grinders – such as Josh VanDuyn (pbdrunks) and Nick Niergarth (gbmantis) – but none of them could prevent bassman122 picking up the $44,797 first place prize. During the heads-up contest, the top two combatants elected to chop the money evenly in half, with $10,000 left to play for. This left second place player BelowRail with $34,797 for his silver medal finish.

The $200 + $15 Mid-Stakes tournament suffered slightly at the hands of it’s smaller and bigger brothers, but was a still a hotly contested affair. The 9632 runners failed to break the $2 million guarantee, leaving some healthy overlay to play for. Once again it was a final table chocked full of dangerous competitors. Ryan D’Angelo (g0lfa), Frank Rusnak (Round42), and Thierry Van Den Berg (BOKPOWER) all managed to force their way into the final nine, but all failed to progress further than 7th place. Unlike his low-stakes counterpart, eventual champ sethsethseth was unwilling to compromise and resisted a chop at every turn. It proved to a wise decision, as he crushed SixZeros heads up to take home the $280,000 first place prize.

Two days of the highest quality online poker was available to anyone able to afford the $2,000 + $100 entry fee for the top tier of Event #2. The combined efforts of the 1,077 entrants just managed to bump the prize pool over the $2 million guaranteed – up to $2,154,000. If there was anywhere you’d expect to find a final table stuffed full of big names, it was this event. None of the truly huge stars made it into the last nine spots, but Guyanese WPT Champ and Team PokerStars Pro, Victor Ramdin, managed to make it as far as 5th place. Joining him at the final table were dangerous online experts like Toby Lewis (810ofclubs), Alex Santiago (ags104), and Carter Gill (devinr12).

Going into the final table, the chipstacks were as follows:

Seat 1: Toby Lewis (299,696)
Seat 2: Alex Santiago (2,579,099)
Seat 3: roi kin23 (707,970)
Seat 4: Jamie Kaplan (2,681,182)
Seat 5: Victor Ramdin (1,313,478)
Seat 6: cal42688 (867,566)
Seat 7: zidovo (719,501)
Seat 8: Carter Gill (892,805)
Seat 9: Marccus85 (708,703)

Unlike the other versions of Event #2, the big names shone brightly in the high stakes arena. The final table began with a conflict between two of those shining stars, Victor Ramdin and Toby Lewis. Sadly for Lewis, he wandered into an all-in confrontation, holding K-J against Ramdin’s A-K and was unable to find the cards he needed to keep his tournament hopes alive. Marcus85 was the next to fall, thanks to the Pocket Rockets of Alex Santiago. Marcuss85 called Santiago all the way down to the river, but couldn’t catch the cards he needed to topple Alex’s A-A. With a chip and a chair remaining, it was just a matter of time before he left the tournament in 8th place. The very next hand it was the turn of zidovo to find himself all-in. Carter Gill stepped up to make the call and hit a set of Kings on the flop to end zidivo’s run at the title. Gill then began to build a run of eliminations, knocking out cal42688, Victor Ramdin, and Jamie Kaplan in quick succession. Alex Santiago completed the rout by ousting roi kin23 in 3rd, to set up a tantalizing heads up encounter.

After fighting back from a losing position, Santiago began the last hand by completing in the small blind. Gill raised and Santiago called, prompting a flop of 4h-3h-3d to hit the board. Carter Gill put out a big bet, only to see an even bigger one fired back at him. Not to be deterred, he piled 1 million more into the pot, to which Santiago responded with an all-in bet. Gill flipped up 6h-7h, to give himself a flush drawn and a gutshot, but found himself drawing thin against the Kh-5h of Alex Santiago. A 9 of hearts of the turn completed Santiago’s flush and his quest to become the Event #2 High Stakes SCOOP Champion.

The final table payouts for all three events were as follows:

Low:

1st: bassman122 ($44,797.00)
2nd: BelowRail ($34,797.00)
3rd: hackfest ($23,580.00)
4th: Josh VanDuyn ($18,340.00)
5th: FaulkDogg ($13,100.00)
6th: Nick Niergarth ($7,860.00)
7th: brodys1 ($5,240.00)
8th: ace19834321 ($3,930.00)
9th: MOOSE86CCHS ($2,620.00)

Mid:

1st: sethsethseth ($280,000)
2nd: SixZeros ($204,000)
3rd: fold_em_sho7 ($144,000)
4th: guiguibos ($100,000)
5th: SamMAMA77 ($80,000)
6th: PleasureDog ($60,000)
7th: Ryan D’Angelo ($40,000)
8th: Frank Rusnak ($20,000)
9th: Thierry Van Den Berg ($13,600)

High:

1st: Alex Santiago ($387,720.00)
2nd: Carter Gill ($276,358.20)
3rd: roi kin23 ($206,784.00)
4th: Jamie Kaplan ($155,088.00)
5th: Victor Ramdin ($107,700.00)
6th: cal24688 ($86,160.00)
7th: zidovo ($64,620.00)
8th: Marccus85 ($43,080.00)
9th: Toby Lewis ($25,848.00)