Helping to put a big exclamation point on the 10th Anniversary festivities here at PokerStars, a special $10,300 High Roller tourney was added to the schedule on Sunday, and as expected the event drew many of online poker's biggest names. Combine that tough field with deep starting stacks (10,000 chips) and 30-minute levels and the tourney was certain to present a true challenge to players' skills.
At least 50 had to enter to match the event's $500,000 guarantee, but more than an hour before it began twice that had already signed up. By the time the first hands were dealt there were 150 seated, including more than a dozen Team PokerStars Pros and Team Online members.
When registration ended two hours in, a final total of 187 had joined the fray. That added up to $1.87 million for a prize pool -- way, way over that $500K guarantee -- to be divided among the top 27 finishers. Six-figure paydays awaited the top five finishers, with $402,050 of that going to the winner (barring any final table deals).
It took about three hours for the field to be trimmed to 140, with Daniel "KidPoker" Negreanu (147th) and Jude "j.thaddeus" Ainsworth (143rd) among the recent eliminations. At that point, bidernutnut led the way, having built a stack of nearly 45,000, with b8chatz and shaman627 the only other players with more than 30,000.
Ninety minutes later there were 100 left, with Humberto Brenes (127th) and Ville Vahlbeck (120th) having joined the group on the rail. shuriken555 led with over 74,000, with Steve "gboro780" Gross next with just under 52,000 and bearsfan775, Adam "squee451" Sherman, bindernutnut, and b8chatz not far behind.
As the field was whittled in half to just 50, more Team PokerStars Pros joined the fallen, including Andre Akkari (88th), Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier (87th), and Pat Pezzin (85th). Also gone were Team Online members Randy "nanonoko" Lew (81st) and Javier "El_Cañonero" Dominguez (58th), Pierre "Zoutechamp" Neuville (57th) of Team PokerStars Belgium, Mickey "mement_mori" Petersen of Team Online (54th), and Max Lykov of Team PokerStars Russia (52nd).
The tourney had been going just about seven hours, with L0ve2playU sitting with the most chips of the final 50 with a little over 100,000, with Dan "djk123" Kelly, Schildy1984, lb6121, and Rachid "SkaiWalkurrr" Ben Cherif rounding out the top five. Meanwhile, Team PokerStars had but two representatives left, Eugene Katchalov and Jonathan Duhamel, both hovering with below-average stacks just inside the top 30.
Katchalov was among the next wave of eliminations, however, going out in 43rd just after other familiar names like Athanasios "Athanasios 9" Polychronopoulos (49th), Ronny "1-ronnyr3" Kaiser (47th), and Steve "gboro780" Gross (46th).
Meanwhile Duhamel scored a double-up when his A♥K♣ held against Ashley "DYBYDX" Mason's A♣Q♠ to push the 2010 WSOP Main Event champ back above average. Mason was trying to replicate his success in the $10K High Roller event from the 2011 SCOOP last September when he bested a field of 200 to take the bracelet and $430,000 payday.
As they crossed the nine-hour mark, 28 remained, with Toby "810ofclubs" Lewis (39th), Timothy "Tim0thee" Adams (37th), bindernutnut (36th), Andrey "Kroko-dill" Zaichenko (34th), Rachid "SkaiWalkurrr" Ben Cherif (32nd), and Dan "Danny98765" Smith (30th) among the latest to be eliminated.
On the bubble with the blinds 600/1,200, Chris "ImDaNuts" Oliver opened for 2,520 from UTG and Adam "squee451" Sherman reraised all in for 7,621 from a couple of seats over. It folded back to Oliver who called, turning over 7♠7♦ to Sherman's A♣A♦.
The flop came 5♠A♠3♠, giving Sherman a set of aces but also giving Oliver a flush draw. The 2♠ then landed on the turn, completing ImDaNuts' flush, and after the 6♣ river Sherman had been ousted in 28th.
"awesommmmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeeee" typed a sarcastic squee451 as the hand completed.
With 27 left, Dan "djk123" Kelly held the lead with about 275,000, just over 100,000 better than Jamie "pokerjamers" Armstrong in second. ImDaNuts, Ashley "DYBYDX" Mason, and aaabbbccc rounded out the top five, with Duhamel still there in 10th.
Over the next hour-and-a-half the field was reduced to 18, with each of the nine players eliminated earning $18,700: William "Altrum Altus" Reynolds (27th), bearsfan775 (26th), Renato "leguito" Almeida (25th), asadi (24th), Mike "Timex" McDonald (23rd), Joao "joaobarb" Barbosa (22nd), L0ve2playU (21st), Liutauras "liutas.a" Armanavicius (20th), and FisFarfar (19th).
Dan "djk123" Kelly still led with 318,583, well ahead of second-place Andrey "Chaaai" Saenko with 174,127. Keven "Stammdogg" Stammen was third with 167,598, while Duhamel was near the bottom of the counts with about 35,000.
Duhamel lasted through the next three eliminations -- Banderivets (18th), lb6121 (17th), and b8chatz (16th) -- each of whom earned $23,275. Then with the blinds 1,000/2,000, Duhamel open-pushed his remaining 22,774 from early position with K♥3♦ and got one caller in Chaaai who held T♥T♦. The board came Q♦3♣A♦5♠4♠, and Duhamel was out in 15th, good for $28,050.
It would take a while for the next five eliminations to occur: Alexander "Schildy1984" Debus (14th, $28,050), Russell "rdcrsn" Carson (13th, $28,050), aaabbbccc (12th, $32,725), kriga (11th, $32,725), and Jamie "pokerjamers" Armstrong ($32,725). As the clock tripped past 3:00 a.m. ET -- about 11-and-a-half hours after the tournament began -- the final table began.
Seat 1: montecarlo13 -- 102,452
Seat 2: DYBYDX -- 354,084
Seat 3: Chaaai -- 274,124
Seat 4: jcl87 -- 329,477
Seat 5: ImDaNuts -- 182,853
Seat 6: djk123 -- 108,053
Seat 7: Stammdogg -- 187,048
Seat 8: gray31 -- 278,532
Seat 9: Greenstone25 -- 53,377
With the blinds 1,500/3,000 (Level 21), almost everyone still had healthy stacks with which to compete with the leader Ashley "DYBYDX" Mason except Greenstone25, and it would only take a half-dozen hands for Greenstone25 to get those chips in the middle.
Following an opening raise to 6,600 from UTG by Joey "jcl87" Lawrence, it folded around to Greenstone25 who pushed all in for 54,502 from the cutoff. The others got out, and jcl87 quickly called, turning over A♣K♣ to Greenstone25's J♥J♦. The board came 3♥A♦T♣6♠A♠, giving Lawrence trip aces and sending Greenstone25 out in ninth.
Not long after that hand Keven "Stammdogg" Stammen would essentially switch stacks with DYBYDX to grab the lead when Stammen's K♠K♦ held versus DYBYDX's J♦J♣.
A short while later the blinds were still 1,500/3,000 when Dan "djk123" Kelly raised to 6,000 from the hijack seat, then Grayson "gray31" Ramage reraised to 15,678 from the button. The blinds folded, then Kelly made it 28,662 to go. Ramage responded by reraising again, this time to 49,876, and Kelly shoved all in over the top for 170,008 total. Ramage made the call, showing A♦Q♠ to Kelly's J♠J♦.
The flop paired Ramage, coming Q♣3♠T♠. The turn was the 8♠ and river the 3♦, and djk123 was eliminated in eighth.
Seven hands later they'd just moved to Level 22 (500/2,000/4,000) when Chris "ImDaNuts" Oliver raised to 8,385 from middle position and it folded around to montecarlo13 who reraised to 24,000 from the small blind. DYBYDX folded the BB, then Oliver pushed all in and montecarlo13 called with the 51,371 he had left.
ImDaNuts had T♦T♣ and was hoping that pair would hold versus montecarlo13's A♠K♣. The five community cards came eight-high -- 4♦8♦5♣4♠2♥ -- meaning Oliver's tens were best and montecarlo13 was out in seventh.
A few minutes later there another bit of preflop back-and-forthing ensued, this time between Chris "ImDaNuts" Oliver and Joey "jcl87" Lawrence from the blinds. After it folded around to Lawrence, he raised to 10,000, then Oliver made it 18,999. jcl87 pushed it to 42,750, eliciting an all-in shove for 234,183 by ImDaNuts which jcl87 promptly called.
jcl887 had A♣K♦ and ImDaNuts 3♣3♠. The flop landed K♥5♦8♦, putting Lawrence in front with a pair of kings. The turn was the J♠ and river the 8♣, and they were quickly down to five.
The remaining players took the 12-and-a-half-hour break, then soon after they returned came another elimination.
It was Level 23 (625/2,500/5,000). Andrey "Chaaai" Saenko raised to 10,000 from UTG, Keven "Stammdogg" Stammen called from the button, and Grayson "gray31" Ramage called as well from the small blind. The flop came 7♣9♥K♣. Ramage checked, Saenko bet 19,625, then Stammen raised to 49,775. gray31 folded, Chaaai reraised to 82,500, Stammdogg pushed all in, and Chaaai called with the 137,244 he had left.
Saenko showed A♦A♣, but Stammen had flopped a set of nines with his 9♦9♠. The turn was the 5♠ and river the 6♠, and Saenko was out in fifth.
With four players remaining, jcl87 led with just over 751,000, Stammdogg had pushed into second with about 660,000, gray31 was third with just over 301,000, and DYBYDX was last with almost 157,000.
Mason chipped up to move out of last and take a slight lead over Ramage, then the pair had an all-in preflop confrontation in which Mason had K♠7♦ and Ramage A♥Q♥. The flop brought a seven, but the turn was a queen, and gray31's hand held up, pushing him up over 500,000 and sending DYBYDX down to just 17,188.
Just a few hands later, DYBYDX would reraise all in from the big blind over a button raise by Stammen, sticking his last 15,938 in the middle with A♥4♠ and Stammdogg called with A♣T♥. Again the flop was good for Mason -- coming 7♥4♣J♣. And the 9♠ turn was okay, too. But the T♠ river gave Stammen the better pair and sent DYBYDX to the rail in fourth. Still, it was another nice six-figure payday for Mason following his WCOOP High Roller win last fall.
At that point the remaining trio had a brief conversation between hands about the issue of deal-making.
gray31: u guys wanna look at numbers?
jcl87: can look i guess
gray31: look at numbers stamm or play?
Stammdogg: no ty lets play for it all :)
They continued for another half-hour, during which time Stammdogg saw his stack slip down under 250,000 while jcl87 and gray31 both hovered around 800,000-820,000.
Then, with the blinds 3,000/6,000 (Level 24), Stammen opened with a raise to 14,225 from the button and jcl87 called from the big blind. The flop came 9♠8♦8♠. Joey "jcl87" Lawrence checked, Stammdogg bet 16,225, then Lawrence check-raised to 38,765. Stammen pushed all in for 220,839 total, and jcl87 called.
Stammen had Q♣Q♦ for queens and eights while Lawrence had A♠T♠ for a flush draw. The turn was the 6♣ and Stammen was still best, but the 7♠ fell on the river, giving Lawrence the flush and sending Stammen out in third.
jcl87 had 1,060,210 to gray31's 809,790 to start heads-up play. Both immediately agreed to revisit the idea of perhaps chopping the remaining prize pool, and they called to have the tournament paused. They played one hand -- a raise-and-take-it by Ramage -- and had begun the second of heads-up when the signal came that the tourney would be paused upon the completion of their hand.
The way things turned out, there wouldn't be a need for a deal after all.
They had just begun Level 25 (875/3,500/7,000), and Lawrence began with a min-raise to 14,000 from the button. Ramage made it 39,876 and Lawrence called the reraise.
The flop came all spades -- 4♠9♠8♠ -- and without waiting too long gray31 bet 38,765. jcl87 paused for a while, then raised to 100,500. Ramage took even longer to respond, then finally reraised back to 234,567. jcl87 hesitated, too, then pushed all in and Ramage called with his remaining chips.
Lawrence had flopped a flush with K♠7♠, but had to fade another spade as Ramage turned over A♠K♥. The turn was the J♣ and river the A♥, and before any deal discussion could take place the tourney had been decided. Two spade flushes in three hands equaled two knockouts and a High Roller win for Lawrence!
Congratulations to Joey "jcl87" Lawrence for a huge High Roller win over a tough, tough field and a $400K-plus score!
10th Anniversary High Roller, $10,300 No-Limit Hold'em:
1st: jcl87 ($402,050)
2nd: gray31 ($289,850)
3rd: Stammdogg ($219,725)
4th: DYBYDX ($163,625)
5th: Chaaai ($112,200)
6th: ImDaNuts ($93,500)
7th: montecarlo13 ($74,800)
8th: djk123 ($56,100)
9th: Greenstone25 ($37,400)