Royal Jiks looked like he had it made. When the final table kicked off, he had two and a half times the stack of his closest competitor. And while everyone else was sweating money jumps and increasing blinds, he was able to hang back and rake in pots with the slightest amount of pressure. Royal Jiks could have easily gone wire-to-wire at this final table, but a cooler of a hand with five players remaining left him on only two and a half big blinds. That's when Royal Jiks' story turned from one of domination to redemption, as he clawed his way back to the top and closed out a victory in the Sunday Million.
The Million drew 7,055 players this week, resulting in a $1,411,000 prize pool. 1,080 places were paid with first place set to earn $211,650.00. Nearly two dozen Red Spades entered the fray, including Johnny Lodden, Nacho Barbero, Pius Heinz, Liv Boeree, Andre Akkari, Ike Haxton, Mickey "mement_mori" Petersen, and George Danzer. Four of them finished in the money: Humberto Brenes (805th), Lex Veldhuis (783rd), Martin "AABenjaminAA" Hruby (391st) and Ana Marquez, who made a super-deep run and advanced to the final two tables.
Marquez maintained an average stack as the field thinned, but appeared to go card-dead once she hit the final two tables. Although Marquez scored a couple of key double-ups to stay alive and survive the rising blinds, she was crippled when her K♦Q♥ fell to SundayLights' Q♦T♣. Both players flopped a pair, but SundayLights caught a two-outer on the river to make trip tens. Marquez managed to rebound, her stack growing as high as 3 million, but went out in 15th place when she shoved 11 BB from the cutoff with A♦5♣ only to run into renozerus' pocket queens.
With ten players remaining and the blinds up to 200,000/400,000, Zim02 picked up T♥T♠ and three-bet shoved preflop for his last 2.65 million. UTG raiser (and runaway chip leader) Royal Jiks called with J♥7♥ and promptly flopped a jack to take the lead. Royal Jiks picked up a flush draw on the turn with the Q♥ and rivered the 9♣ to send Zim02 home in tenth place and set the final table.
Final table chip counts
Seat 1: Anderbruegge (5,466,134 in chips)
Seat 2: Royal Jiks (19,908,121 in chips)
Seat 3: DuduPoker-Br (7,550,610 in chips)
Seat 4: AleksHNL (6,842,008 in chips)
Seat 5: danmark2000 (5,204,184 in chips)
Seat 6: SundayLights (5,781,702 in chips)
Seat 7: bbeat77 (7,059,524 in chips)
Seat 8: intbild (7,974,096 in chips)
Seat 9: -shameLi- (4,763,621 in chips)
Short stack -shameLi- had little time to wait for a hand and when he picked up 4♣4♦, he moved in for his last seven big blinds from middle position. Royal Jiks reshoved from the button to isolate and turned over J♦J♥. -shameLi- didn't catch a miracle four on the board and departed in ninth place.
The blinds rose to 300,000/600,000 before Anderbruegge made a move, three-bet shoving for 2.08 million with pocket fives. Danmark2000 made a cold four-bet shove with A♣Q♥ in the big blindand intbild moved out of the way. An ace hit the flop and Anderbruegge was out in eighth place while danmark2000 moved up to third in chips with 9.2 million.
From seven to five
Royal Jiks already had a stranglehold on the chip lead, but furthered it even more when he claimed the last of SundayLights' stack. Down to 2 million and 800,000 of it committed in the big blind SundayLights put the last of his chips in with 5♥7♠, but did not improve against Royal Jiks' A♣Q♠. SundayLights took home $30,336.50 for seventh place, while Royal Jiks moved up to 25 million.
A distant second in chips with over 12.5 million, danmark2000 picked up J♣9♦ in the big blind and went heads-up to a 8♦2♦2♣ flop for a min-raise. Danmark2000 checked, intbild bet 1,550,400, and despite missing altogether, danmark2000 called. The turn brought the K♠, no help to danmark2000. He checked again and this time intbild checked behind. The river was the 6♣ and danmark2000 decided to bluff at the pot, making it 2.4 million to go. Intbild looked him up and revealed K♣T♦ for top pair. Danmark2000 slipped to 6.9 million while intbild moved up to 16.9 million.
Two hands later, DuduPoker-Br made his last stand, moving all-in for 4.4 million with A♣4♦. AleksHNL reshoved with T♥T♣ to isolate, his pair holding up on the J♥7♦4♥Q♦3♣ board. AleksHNL took third position with 14.6 million in chips as DuduPoker-Br hit the rail in sixth place, earning $43,741.00.
With the blinds about to rise to 500,000/1,000,000, the final five agreed to pause the action and discuss a potential deal. Although Royal Jiks initially balked at the chip count chop numbers, demanding an additional $15,000, he ultimately relented and agreed to the following deal.
HostJosephP (Administrator): Royal Jiks:$160,504.30
HostJosephP (Administrator): intbild:$131,243.33
HostJosephP (Administrator): AleksHNL:$116,633.58
HostJosephP (Administrator): bbeat77:$93,179.77
HostJosephP (Administrator): danmark2000:$91,335.09
With $20,000 still left in play for the winner, action resumed.
The beat goes on
Believing danmark2000 would make a small bilnd shove with any two cards, bbeat77 called off about 90% of his stack with K♣2♣ in the big blind, only to discover his opponent actually had a real hand. Danmark2000's A♦J♠ rivered the nut flush to take down the 20 million pot, leaving bbeat77 on 628,000-- little more than one small blind.
Miraculously, bbeat77 found A♦K♦ on the next deal and doubled to 1.9 million. On the hand after that he put his chips in with T♣5♣ and made tens full of aces to double again. Three hands after that, his 2♣2♦ held against AleksHNL's A♥2♥ and he was back up to 8.2 million. But just as quickly as he rebounded, bbeat77 lost most of those chips back, his A♣2♥ falling to AleksHNL's A♥J♠. Back down to 3.2 million, bbeat77 moved in with 7♥8♠ and flopped an eight against danmark2000's K♠4♥. Bbeat77 still had life in him yet and doubled to 6.7 million.
AleksHNL coolers Royal Jiks
Bbeat77 cooled off for a few hands and the attention shifted to Royal Jiks. With the action folded to him in the small blind, Royal Jiks moved in for 19.7 million, but AleksHNL was lying in wait with K♥K♦ in the big blind. Royal Jiks couldn't find an ace on the board and AleksHNL made off with the 35.1 million pot and the chip lead.
Down to only 2.4 million, it was now Royal Jiks' turn to make an improbable comeback. The next hand saw his A♥Q♣ hold against intbild's A♣4♦ to take Royal Jiks back up to 6.6 million, but it was a three-way all-in that really sent him on the road to recovery. In the worst shape of the three with A♥5♥ against AleksHNL's pocket deuces and intbild's A♦T♠, Royal Jiks paired his kicker on the flop and ended intbild's run in fifth place:
Although intbild departed in fifth place, he collected the second-largest share of the prize pool thanks to the five-way deal.
Royal Jiks reclaims the lead
Royal Jiks was back up to 20 million, but the chip lead still belonged to AleksHNL with 29 million. AleksHNL lost a bit of ground when he doubled up the still-short bbeat77, but remained on top until Royal Jiks finished him off. Bbeat77 picked up 7♠7♦ and moved in for 11.6 million and Royal Jiks called with A♣8♠. An eight hit the flop and bbeat77 went out in fourth place, earning $93,179.77.
With that pot, Royal Jiks reclaimed the chip lead with 31.3 million. AleksHNL was right behind him with 24 million and danmark2000 was the short stack with 15.2 million.
Danmark2000 didn't last too much longer. AleksHNL open-shoved from the small blind and danmark2000 called off his chips with A♠2♠ in the big. AleksHNL was in trouble with K♦T♥, but hit a ten on the turn to take the lead. Danmark2000 needed an ace on the river to survive but caught a deuce instead, and departed with $91,335.09 for third place.
Heads-up chip counts
Seat 2: Royal Jiks (31,282,826 in chips)
Seat 4: AleksHNL (39,267,174 in chips)
The chip counts were close to start, but Royal Jiks pulled ahead when he called AleksHNL's turn and river bluffs on a K♠7♣K♥6♣K♦ board. AleksHNL had complete air with 8♣T♦ and Royal Jiks raked in the 39.8 million pot with Q♥Q♦.
Although AleksHNL ground his stack back up and evened the score, Royal Jiks struck a near-death blow when his A♥9♦ held against A♠6♥ in a preflop all-in:
Left with less than one big blind, the remainder of AleksHNL's chips went in with Q♦2♠ on the next hand. Royal Jiks picked up K♦3♣ and closed it out with a pair on the flop, the board running out A♣4♠3♦6♥2♦ to lock up his Sunday Million win.
Kudos to Royal Jiks on his first Sunday Million title and a career-high score of $180,504.30. For his runner-up finish, AleksHNL banked $116,633.58.
PokerStars Sunday Million results for 11-11-2012
Places paid: 1,080
1. Royal Jiks (Switzerland) $180,504.30*
2. AleksHNL (Russia) $116,633.58*
3. danmark2000 (Denmark) $91,335.09*
4. bbeat77 (Estonia) $93,179.77*
5. intbild (Romania) $131,243.33*
6. DuduPoker-Br (Brazil) $43,741.00
7. SundayLights (Portugal) $30,336.50
8. Anderbruegge (Germany) $16,932.00
9. -shameLi- (Switzerland) $10,935.25
*= reflects the results of a five-way deal that left $20,000 in play for the winner
Kristin Bihr is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.