It was the third Sunday in January of 2010. Nothing spectacular about it, really, with the exception of it being the weekend of a U.S. holiday honoring the civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
But what makes every Sunday spectacular on PokerStars is the plethora of guaranteed tournaments, with one standing out from the rest with its $1.5 million guarantee. The Sunday Million attracts players from the world over, and the 17th of January found 8,885 of them looking for that coveted six-figure payday. The number of registrants pushed the prize pool up to $1,777,000, which was enough to make it anything other than a run-of-the-mill Sunday.
As the tournament played down, a total of 1,350 players found their way into the money, which guaranteed a minimum payout of $302.09. And with the approach of the last few tables, one player in the group stood out with a little PokerStars symbol near his name. CharismA3 was at the top of the leaderboard for the last few hours of play, and it came as no surprise to PokerStars, which recruited the young online pro only weeks before the end of 2009 to its online team of pro superstars.
Out of the 23 players selected for the Team PokerStars Online lineup, Kristian "CharismA3" Martin hailed from Germany and took up poker at the age of 18. He took a few years to climb the limits and diversify his game range, ultimately making a name for himself that caught the attention of PokerStars. And there he was, atop the leaderboard, looking for his first Sunday Million final table as a representative of the team.
When the action sped toward the final table and ten players remained, it wasn't looking so wonderful for CharismA3 anymore, and one big hand was the end of his run. After yurabond raised preflop, CharismA3 reraised all-in for 8,141,686 with A♣ T♦, but yurabond called with pocket queens. The board blanked with 3♠ 7♠ 5♣ 6♦ 8♣, and the tournament was suddenly over for ChraismA3, as he bubbled the final table and left with $9,240.40 to ease the pain.
But there were nine happy players ready to continue play, and the final table was set just as Level 37 got underway, with blinds at 250,000/500,000 and a 50,000 ante. Action started with the following chip counts:
Seat 1: jayjayme (5,801,838 in chips)
Seat 2: bullyon (7,603,670 in chips)
Seat 3: iChipd (4,391,307 in chips)
Seat 4: Nezzareth (904,384 in chips)
Seat 5: s8kipper (11,070,084 in chips)
Seat 6: DRKP (8,218,868 in chips)
Seat 7: AceQuad (17,896,351 in chips)
Seat 8: IveGotToejam (15,521,971 in chips)
Seat 9: yurabond (17,441,527 in chips)
Though it took a long time to get to the final table, play there started rather swiftly. On the second hand of action, the very short-stacked Nezzareth raised all-in with pocket jacks, and DRKP called from the button with A♣ K♦. The flop of 2♦ 2♥ 4♠ looked good for Nezzareth's double-up, and the 7♠ on the turn kept hope alive. But the A♦ on the river gave the pot to DRKP and eliminated Nezzareth in ninth place with $12,439.00.
Two hands later, the new short stacked player, iChipd, found a hand to work with. But action started with bullyon raising all-in from first position with A♣ K♥, but iChipd went forward with the all-in call holding A♠ J♣. They watched the cards come Q♥ 6♠ 2♥ 9♣ 8♠, and iChipd couldn't improve, which resulted in an eighth place finish and $19,547.00 in prize money.
It was soon after that yurabond began to run away with the lead, especially after taking an 8.1 million-chip pot from DRKP and one worth just under 12.7 million chips from AceQuad.
Meanwhile, jayjayme had been chipped down to little more than 2.5 million chips and decided to push all-in preflop. DRKP and yurabond both called, and they checked down the board of 3X♠-9X♣-4X♠-JX♥-6X♥. When DRKP showed pocket eights, it was good enough for the win, and the other players simply mucked. But that was the last hand for jayjayme, who exited in seventh place with $35,540.00.
Three hands later, s8kipper put in a preflop raise but was soon faced with a reraise from IveGotToejam, who pushed all-in and put s8kipper to the test for his tournament life. Ultimately, s8kipper called with pocket kings, and IveGotToejam showed A♣ J♣, which took control on the Q♥ A♠ 5♦ flop. The 9♣ on the turn changed nothing, and the Q♣ on the river simply ended the hand with s8kipper heading to the rail with $53,310.00 for the sixth place finish.
As the stakes grew with every level, the urgency for the short stacks to move became more apparent. For example, bullyon raised from the button all-in holding only J♣ 6♣, but AceQuad woke up with pocket sevens in the big blind and called. The board brought possibilities with 8♥ 3♦ 2♦ 5♠ 6♥, but nothing panned out except a pair of sixes, which was only good enough to send bullyon out of the tournament in fifth place with $71,080.00.
The final four players began chatting and decided to look at the chip-chop numbers, so the tournament was paused to give them some options. After the numbers were tweaked a bit, an agreement was forged to pay players as follows, with the exception of the extra $30,000 to be awarded the ultimate winner.
Seat 6: DRKP (12,786,928 in chips) = $126,583.49
Seat 7: AceQuad (19,501,158 in chips) = $149,446.97
Seat 8: IveGotToejam (30,071,035 in chips) = $182,291.30
Seat 9: yurabond (26,490,879 in chips) = $173,166.49
With that, play resumed, and it didn't take long for DRKP to feel the need to risk it all. It happened during a preflop raising war with yurabond, who pushed all-in, prompting DRKP to call all-in with K♠ 8♠. yurabond showed the A♦ Q♣ and caught a queen on the flop when the three cards came 8♣ Q♠ J♥. The 9♠ turn and 9♣ river ended the hand, and DRKP accepted $126,583.49 for the fourth place finish.
Then IveGotToejam lost ground when AceQuad doubled through on the following hand:
Shortly thereafter, IveGotToejam pushed for his last 716,631 with J♣ 3♣, but both competitors called. They bet and called the A♠ 6♣ 7♥ flop, but when AceQuad bet the J♥ turn, yurabond got out of the way. AceQuad then showed pocket queens, which remained the winning hand after the K♠ finished it. IveGotToejam, who finished in third place in the November 23 Sunday Million in 2009, took another third place finish, this time for a $182,291.30 payday.
Heads-up action then began with the following counts:
Seat 7: AceQuad (41,780,947 in chips)
Seat 9: yurabond (47,069,053 in chips)
It only took a few hands for AceQuad to gain the upper hand, courtesy of the following play:
And yurabond could not seem to gain ground from there. It came down to one final hand that started with a raise from yurabond and call from AceQuad to see a 7♠ T♥ T♣ flop. A bet from yurabond prompted a check-call from AceQuad to bring the A♠ turn card. Both players checked to see the Q♥ on the river, and yurabond bet all-in with Q♠ 4♠. AceQuad check-called with A♦ 8♠ and top two pair, which eliminated yurabond in second place with $173,166.49.
AceQuad grabbed the weekly Sunday Million title, along with $179,446.97 for the accomplishment.
Sunday Million Results for 01/17/10:
1st place: AceQuad ($179,446.97)*
2nd place: yurabond ($173,166.49)*
3rd place: IveGotToejam ($182,291.30)*
4th place: DRKP ($126,583.49)*
5th place: bullyon ($71,080.00)
6th place: s8kipper ($53,310.00)
7th place: jayjayme ($35,540.00)
8th place: iChipd ($19,547.00)
9th place: Nezzareth ($12,439.00)
*Reflects a four-way chip-chop agreement
For more information on ways to register and qualify for upcoming Sunday Million tournaments, visit the Sunday Million page.