May is here, which means we've arrived at a particularly big month on the poker calendar. The Spring Championship of Online Poker gets going in just over a week. And oh yeah, there's that other big tournament series that will be kicking off later this month in Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, there was some other business to take care of this May Day -- the latest installment of the biggest weekly online tournament in the world, PokerStars' Sunday Million.
A total of 5,744 runners came out for this week's $200+$15 no-limit hold'em tournament, creating a $1,148,800 prize pool and thus exceeding the $1 million guarantee. The top 855 finishers would split that prize money, with $178,066.70 due the winner barring any final table deals.
Two dozen Team PokerStars Pros joined the field this week, and within a couple of hours nearly half that group had hit the virtual rail. Then over the next two hours 10 more were eliminated, leaving just Toni Judet (Team PokerStars Romania), Javier "El_Cañonero" Dominguez (Team PokerStars Spain), and Georgios "gkap13" Kapalas, one of three "challengers" currently vying to become the first representative of Team PokerStars Greece.
At that point Dominguez was on the super-short stack, and soon found himself all in with a pair of fives versus ilovetyumen's pocket sevens. By the turn the board showed 4♠2♦8♥3♦, giving Dominguez hope, but the river brought a queen, knocking "El_Cañonero" in 883rd, within shouting distance of the cash.
Moments later the bubble burst, at which point four players were all close in chips atop the counts with ElverGalinda in front followed closely by jc_blueJ, GRIVAS-D, and james777177.
Both Kapalas and Judet would stick around another half-hour before being eliminated in quick succession. As it happened, the same hand proved the undoing of both.
First "gkap13" open-raised all in for just over 12 big blinds with 4♠4♥ only to run into sanimoney's A♥A♦. No saving four came for Kapalas, who was eliminated in 553rd ($379.10).
Then it was Judet's turn to push his 14 big-blind stack from the small blind with the very same hand Kapalas had (including suits) -- 4♠4♥ -- but Heysz! had A♣K♣ in the big blind and made the quick call. The 8♠8♥Q♣ flop was safe for Judet, but the K♠ turn paired Heysz! The river was the J♦, and Judet was gone in 514th ($390.59).
By the six-and-a-half hour mark the field had been trimmed down to 100 players, with ElverGalinda still holding the top spot, followed by Kuba25 and vicdelucca. An hour after that, just 50 were left, with ElverGalinda continuing to maintain the advantage with Babba88 in second and Kuba25 still right there in third.
ElverGalinda remained in the top five as the field shrunk to less than 30, but the run was cut short shy of the final two tables with an exit in 22nd place ($2,699.88).
Just 10 were left when the tourney reached the nine-and-a-half hour break, by which point Pinowww had surged to a commanding lead with more than 16 million chips -- better than twice the nearest challenger. Pinowww appeared primed to try to repeat his success at the 11/21/10 Sunday Warm-Up when the Dutch player made quick work of the final table to take the $148,975.39 first prize.
Soon after they returned from break, a short-stacked elitelive pushed all in with 3♥3♣ and was called by Teuton1 who held A♠K♣. The board brought four clubs and a better flush to Teuton1, knocking elitelive out in 10th ($6,663.04). Just nine remained.
Seat 1: katalanon -- 5,893,092
Seat 2: andreyluis -- 3,943,358
Seat 3: Stunts25 -- 5,655,466
Seat 4: Teuton1 -- 7,420,787
Seat 5: KOKY3135 -- 5,051,720
Seat 6: zakarias22 -- 3,563,645
Seat 7: Pinowww -- 16,883,296
Seat 8: Dictionary11 -- 2,142,526
Seat 9: Vsegris -- 6,886,110
Knocking out elitelive had pushed Teuton1 into second place, but all remained far behind Pinowww as the final table began.
It would take about 15 minutes for the first elimination of the final table to come. But then the floodgates opened, with a rush of knockouts crowning a champion inside of half an hour.
The blinds had moved to 150,000/300,000 when Teuton1 opened with a raise to 750,000 from middle position. It folded around to Dictionary11 in the small blind who called with the 262,526 he had left. Vsegris stepped aside, and Dictionary11 showed A♣7♦ to Teuton1's K♦T♦.
The flop couldn't have been much worse for Dictionary11, coming 9♦5♦J♦ to give Teuton1 the diamond flush. The 4♠ on the turn settled it, and Dictionary11 was out in ninth.
Soon after andreyluis, now the table's short stack, was pushing all in from middle position for 1,918,358 only to see Teuton1 reraise all in from the cutoff for 4,161,593. All others folded, and it was andreyluis' A♦7♦ versus Teuton1's A♠K♠. The board came T♠2♦T♣4♥Q♠, and Teuton1 had claimed a third straight victim, knocking andreyluis out in eighth.
From there chip leader Pinowww and Vsegris -- who'd chipped up to move into second place -- would handle all of the remaining eliminations.
First it was Vsegris opening a hand with a minimum-raise to 800,000 from early position. It folded around to zakarias22 in the big blind who reraised all in for 3,178,645. Vsegris called, and had the preflop edge with K♦Q♣ versus zakarias22's K♠T♣. Five cards later -- 7♣Q♠9♥5♦8♠ -- Vsegris' hand was still best, and zakarias22 was out in seventh.
That hand pushed Vsegris over the 19 million-chip mark, just a couple hundred thousand behind Pinowww. And after taking a couple of pots off of Pinowww, Vsegris moved into the lead with six players remaining.
Undeterred, Pinowww soon was min-raising from UTG to 800,000, then watched as KOKY3135 reraised all in for 2,888,440 from the big blind. Pinowww snap-called, tabling A♥A♦ to KOKY3135's A♠J♠. The board came 3♦K♣4♦K♥5♦, and KOKY3135 was out in sixth.
A little over an orbit later it was Vsegris' turn to claim a victim. Teuton1 open-raised all in for 3,909,951 from the cutoff, and only Vsegris called from the small blind. Teuton1 had A♥7♠ and needed help versus Vsegris' A♠Q♦. No such help arrived, however, as the five community cards came 5♥J♣6♦Q♣8♥, sending Teuton1 out in fifth.
A few hands later, katalanon open-raised all in from UTG for 3,208,092 with A♠6♣ and Pinowww called from the small blind with 9♠9♦. The board ran out 2♠K♣T♦K♦9♣, giving Pinowww nines full and sending katalanon out in fourth.
With three left, Vsegris had the lead with more than 34 million, Pinowww had almost 20 million, and Stunts25 was far behind with just under 3.1 million. And after Vsegris opened with another min-raise to 800,000 from the button, Stunts25 shoved all those chips in the middle from the SB, and both Pinowww and Vsegris called.
The flop came K♠K♦4♣. Pinowww checked, and when Vsegris bet just 400,000 into the side pot Pinowww got out. Vsegris showed 4♥4♠ -- a flopped boat! -- while Stunts25 had A♥Q♦. The Q♣ on the turn meant Stunts25 was still alive, but the 6♣ fell on the river, sending Stunts25 out in third.
Heads-up play began with Vsegris in front with 40,885,638 to Pinowww's 16,554,362. On just the third hand between them, Pinowww opened with a 2x raise to 800,000 from the small blind/button, and Vsegris called. The flop came all diamonds -- 9♦5♦4♦ -- and Vsegris checked. Pinowww bet 900,000, then Vsegris raised to 1.8 million. Pinowww called.
The turn was the K♥, and Vsegris led this time with a bet of 3.2 million. Pinowww responded by pushing all in with the 12,634,362 he had left, and Vsegris called.
Both had paired their kings, but Vsegris had Pinowww barely out-pipped. A diamond or seven could have saved Pinowww, but the river was the A♠, giving Vsegris the victory.
Congratulations to Vsegris, winner of this week's Sunday Million!
Sunday Million Results for 5/1/11:
1st: Vsegris ($178,066.70)
2nd: Pinowww ($132,112)
3rd: Stunts25 ($93,052.80)
4th: katalanon ($64,505.12)
5th: Teuton1 ($48,249.60)
6th: KOKY3135 ($36,761.60)
7th: zakarias22 ($25,273.60)
8th: andreyluis ($14,360)
9th: Dictionary11 ($8,960.64)
As mentioned, May is here, and we're just about a week away from the Spring Championship of Online Poker. See the SCOOP page for the full schedule of events!