With the first Sunday Million event of 2011 upon us, it's only fair to say Happy New Year!
Resolutions, fresh bankrolls, and the hopes and dreams of a new year brought quite the impressive crowd to the tables this week, as a massive field of 9,466 players took their chance at the $1.5 million guarantee that is the staple of the weekly Sunday Million. But the outstanding number of participants helped the prize pool shoot up to $1,893,200.00, and from the outset, the tournament took on the feel of a New Year's celebration.
As the hours went on, though, it would come to be that only 1,350 players would cash in the big event, but those in that group were guaranteed a minimum payout of $321.84 and a maximum of $270,353.82. Everyone couldn't help but imagine being that last person standing.
Throughout the process of paying the top players, many members of the PokerStars family were noted. Team PokerStars Pro Joao "jomane" Nunes was the first to cash in 1131st place, followed by Slovakia's Dag Palovic in 1058th, Team Online's Dusty "Leatherass9" Schmidt in 813th, Team Pro Bryan Huang in 420th, Lex Veldhuis in 269th, and Russia's Vadim Markushevski in 114th. Hanging in as the last Team Pro standing was Jason Mercier, who eventually exited in 87th place for $1,987.86.
As the ten-hour mark approached, so did the final table, and it was reached in dramatic fashion. Hmiester1 started the hand with a raise, but becked responded with an all-in reraise for 2,832,134 chips. Touchmynuts1 came over the top with an all-in for 6,622,052, and Hmiester1 called for his/her tournament life, as touchmynuts1 had both opponents covered holding Q♥Q♠. Hmiester1 showed A♦K♥, and becked had the inferior A♠Q♦. The board came 8♣Q♣5♥2♣7♥, and that was enough to give touchmynuts1 the set and the main and side pots, while becked left in 11th place and hmiester1 did the same in tenth, each taking home $9,844.64.
Pimola pounces on final table with chip lead
It was toward the end of Level 35 that the action got underway, with blinds at 150,000/300,000 and a 30,000 ante. With Pimola in the lead but eight other players still in the game, their starting chip counts were as follows:
Seat 1: MorningBuzz (5,956,686 in chips)
Seat 2: stevemruk (8,332,528 in chips)
Seat 3: He77_Razor (12,968,610 in chips)
Seat 4: asianboys271 (6,206,026 in chips)
Seat 5: BacarySagna (10,672,936 in chips)
Seat 6: bigred2587 (7,849,592 in chips)
Seat 7: touchmynuts1 (14,972,494 in chips)
Seat 8: brianm15 (11,690,809 in chips)
Seat 9: Pimola (16,010,319 in chips)
Play started with the final nine getting a feel for each other, and the action was deliberate for a reasonable amount of time in the early going. A few significant pots put Pimola's chip lead at risk as He77_Razor and touchmynuts1 both took over that top spot briefly, but Pimola continued to soar.
Meanwhile, asianboys271 doubled through Pimola to play another round, and stevemruk doubled through He77_Razor.
After 40 minutes of play, it was brianm15 who had lost the most ground, going from chip leader during two-table action to the short stack at the final. Holding A♥9♥, he pushed all-in for just under 4 million chips, and asianboys271 called with a strong A♣K♠. The flop of 3♦K♥K♣ gave asianboys271 trip kings, and the 4♥ turn and 8♦ river finished the hand. Brianm15, winner of a 2009 Sunday Warm-Up and seventh place finisher in last week's Sunday Million, had to accept ninth place in his second Million final table in a row. He took home $13,252.40 for the notable accomplishment.
A few minutes later, a big hand developed between asianboys271 and stevemruk that doubled up the latter and put him in the chip lead, leaving the former crippled.
The very next hand prompted asianboys271 to move all-in for 98,805 chips. Pimola raised, and He77_Razor called from the big blind to see a 9♦K♠9♠ flop. Pimola bet, but when He77_Razor raised, Pimola folded. He77_Razor then showed J♠T♠ for the straight draw, and asianboys271 turned over A♣8♣. The 7♥ on the turn led to the Q♥ on the river, and He77_Razor made the straight to eliminate asianboys271 in eighth place with $20,825.20.
Sharp jump into lead for He77_Razor
At the point that the final table had been underway for one hour, He77_Razor had moved into a solid first place on the leaderboard, while stevemruk held a strong second, and Pimola moved to third. But touchmynuts1 quickly doubled through stevemruk in a pot worth 23 million chips to jump into second and send stevenmruk out of the top three, but stevenmruk doubled through Pimola to rebound.
Pimola was suddenly on a shorter stack than during any other time during the final table, and the final 5,108,675 chips went all-in preflop with J♠9♣. BacarySagna called from the big blind with A♦J♥, and the board of 3♥K♠Q♦7♠5♦ allowed the ace high to stand. Pimola was gone from the tournament in seventh place with $37,864.00 to show for it.
Shortly thereafter, Morning Buzz shoved his/her last 666,686 chips all-in from the small blind with T♥5♥, and original raiser touchmynuts1 called with J♦5♦. The flop of 8♦2♦A♦ was solid for touchmynuts1, who then had the nut flush. MorningBuzz watched the 4♣ and 9♥ round out the board before exiting in sixth place with $56,796.00.
Quickening the pace
Bigred2587 was the next to risk tournament life. After a raising war with touchmynuts1 preflop, bigred2587 pushed all-in with A♦Q♠, and touchmynuts1 showed 6s]6♥. The flop of 6♦5♣Q♦ was interesting, but the A♣ on the river made it even moreso with two pair for bigred2587 against touchmynuts1's set. But the 9♣ on the river ended the event for bigred2587, who walked away with $75,728.00 for the fifth place finish.
It didn't take long for BacarySagna to take a chance with A♥8♥, but the all-in move was met by a call from He77_Razor holding A♣A♠. The board came K♦9♠6♥9♦7♣, and the aces turned into two pair to send BacarySagna out in fourth place with $94,660.00.
Three-handed action saw stevemruk go from the short stack to second place, and it was eventually touchmynuts1 who moved all-in against He77_Razor. Touchmynuts1 was strong with K♣Q♥, but He77_Razor had A♠4♠, which turned into a straight on the 8♥2♠7♦6♠5♣ board. Touchmynuts1 left in third place with $140,948.74.
Two players tangle for the title
The last two players standing began play, and He77_Razor summed it up best in the chat box with "I think I'm dreaming." It was an opportunity for both players, and the excitement was palpable. Their starting chip counts were as follows:
Seat 2: stevemruk (27,243,236 in chips)
Seat 3: He77_Razor (67,416,764 in chips)
The sixth hand of the match saw stevemruk collect a 22 million-chip pot to begin to close the gap, though He77_Razor took most of that back in the two subsequent hands. But stevemruk took a chance on his pocket kings and doubled through his opponent to claim the chip lead in a pot worth 56 million chips.
He77_Razor doubled up as well, though, to stay in the game. And it was this key hand that sent He77_Razor to the top:
Five hands later, stevemruk took his final shot with K♠7♣ and his last 13,030,778 chips. He77_Razor called with A♣Q♦, and that hand only improved on the 3♣6♦J♥Q♠2♠ board. That left stevemruk to accept second place and the $198,786.00 that went with it.
He77_Razor became the first Sunday Million champion of 2011, and the prize that accompanied the title was $270,353.82 in New Year's cash. Congratulations on the big win!
Sunday Million Results for 01/02/11:
1st place: He77_Razor ($270,353.82)
2nd place: stevemruk ($198,786.00)
3rd place: touchmynuts1 ($140,948.74)
4th place: BacarySagna ($94,660.00)
5th place: bigred2587 ($75,728.00)
6th place: MorningBuzz ($56,796.00)
7th place: Pimola ($37,864.00)
8th place: asianboys271 ($20,825.20)
9th place: brianm15 ($13,252.40)
For more information on ways to register and qualify for upcoming Sunday Million tournaments, visit the Sunday Million page.