To celebrate the Sunday Million's seventh birthday, PokerStars rolled out a $7 million guaranteed prize pool, and a crowd large enough to fill Yankee Stadium came running. This week, a trip to the final three tables yielded a five-figure payday, sixth place paid as much as a typical Sunday Million win, and first place was set to take home a truly life-changing sum. At $9,857,400, the final prizepool of the Million's 7th Anniversary Special exceeded that of the 2013 PCA Main Event, and the $1,242,842.98 first-place prize was in line with the top spot at last season's EPT London... only this one came with only a $215 buy-in.
Rising to the top of a Euro-heavy final table was a trio diverse in nationality and experience. As recent as yesterday morning, Kasra84 was grinding $3.50 turbo SNGs, while benislovas was at home in $11 MTTs, his largest recorded cash a $1,200 score in a NLHE Big Antes tournament. These small-stakes heroes were up against the final table's most experienced player, David "sexygee" Gent, a SCOOP champion with over $700,000 in MTT earnings on PokerStars. After more than 15 hours on the felt, our final three agreed to a deal that guaranteed them over $700,000 apiece and benislovas pushed his way to the front of the pack to win the Sunday Million 7th Anniversary Special and over $848,000.
52 Red Spades joined the 49,287-player field, including Team Pros Joe Cada, Liv Boeree, Alex Kravchenko, Victor Ramdin, Nacho Barbero, and Johnny Lodden. Six of them made the money: Ivan Demidov (5,686th), Andre Coimbra (5,408th), Martin Hruby (4,933rd), Richard Toth (4,798th), Henrique Pinho (3,428th), and Angel Guillen, who lost flush over flush to go out in 754th place.
With 16 players remaining, benislovas moved into the chip lead, his A♥A♦ holding up against ARTSchGamble's K♥K♠ in a 76 million-chip pot. Benislovas held the top spot until rewgr343 took out his fellow countryman uyra63 in 12th place, his pocket jacks standing up to K♦9♦. As the final table bubble loomed, short stack Heminsley was the leading candidate to bust. With over two-thirds of his stack committed in the 2 million big blind, Heminsley called all-in with K♠J♦. Small blind n0rflip revealed 2♦8♥. Although n0rflip flopped an eight, Heminsley spiked a river king to double up to 6.4 million. On the next hand, Heminsley doubled again, his A♣3♥ holding vs. sexygee's Q♦T♣. Still the shortest stack at 15.5 million, Heminsley at least had a little breathing room.
Heminsley hung on, while on the other table PS479832 three-bet shoved for 39.9 million over benislovas' opening min-raise. Benislovas quickly called with A♠T♥, while PS479832 tabled 4♠7♠. Benislovas' ace-high held up and PS479832 hit the rail in tenth place, setting the final table.
Final table chip counts
Seat 1: sexygee (45,572,147 in chips)
Seat 2: rewgr343 (103,278,786 in chips)
Seat 3: n0rflip (50,049,172 in chips)
Seat 4: Heminsley (24,658,844 in chips)
Seat 5: benislovas (143,157,856 in chips)
Seat 6: stradale430 (30,116,152 in chips)
Seat 7: 2outs4cake (20,948,734 in chips)
Seat 8: pellompogos (28,597,346 in chips)
Seat 9: Kasra84 (46,490,963 in chips)
Benislovas brought a massive chip lead into the final table and widened the gap even more when he quickly won a 58 million pot off rewgr343. The chips were barely in benislovas' stack when pellompogos began rallying the table to discuss a deal. Everyone was willing to look at numbers, although sexygee warned the others that it would "have to be a sick deal" for him to agree. After 2outs4cake doubled through sexygee, his pocket sixes holding against K♦Q♠, everyone clicked the button and the action was paused while ICM numbers were calculated.
While the first set of numbers were enthusiastically received by most of the table, sexygee told his opponents that he was looking for a number closer to $350,000 (nearly $55,000 more than what the ICM chop offered). Kasra84 and pellompogos did their best to salvage the negotiations, but sexygee was not willing to budge.
Cards went back in the air and on the third hand after the pause, n0rflip opened for a min-raise to 5 million. Heminsley shoved for 17.4 million on the button and n0rflip called, turning over A♠3♥. Heminsley had him dominated with A♥Q♣, but it didn't stay that way on the flop, which fell 6♠3♠2♠, pairing n0rflip's kicker and giving him the nut flush draw. N0rflip's flush came in on the turn with the T♠, and Heminsley was eliminated in ninth place.
Following Heminsley's elimination, 2outs4cake, Kasra84, and pellompogos continued to pressure the rest of the table to make a deal. In fact, they were so persistent that final table host Lee Jones had to step in and referee.
Lee Jones (Commentator): Hey folks - nobody is obligated to deal; let's be very clear about that.
Lee Jones (Commentator): We will *not* have pressure put on people to deal, or even pause to look at numbers.
2outs4cake: mod please leave us alone
Hang on... did someone just diss LEE JONES? In the PokerStars universe, that's akin to salting your kindly next-door neighbor's lawn. The cool veteran gave an appropriately firm response.
Lee Jones (Commentator): Actually, no. My job is ensure that the player's rights are respected. One of those rights is to play the tournament, as scheduled, with the payouts as published.
Lee Jones (Commentator): Without being hassled for making that choice.
However, even the wrath of Lee Jones couldn't stop 2outs4cake. As the tournament went on another hourly break, he continued to plead with his opponents, leaving Jones to admonish him yet again.
From eight to three in seven minutes
The long eight-handed stalemate finally came to an end when rewgr343 moved all-in for his last five big blinds with A♦9♠ and benislovas looked him up from the small blind with K♠Q♣. Rewgr343 hit top pair on the K♥9♣3♥ flop, but benislovas rivered the A♣ to make two pair, aces and nines. For eighth place, rewgr343 picked up $85,759.38.
Two hands later, sexygee got off the short stack, doubling through n0rflip when his 7♦9♣ turned two pair against A♠K♣. On the next deal, the action folded around to 2outs4cake on the button. 2outs moved all-in for 31.8 million with J♥T♣, and Kasra84 called with A♥8♥ in the big blind. Kasra84 flopped an ace and rivered an eight, sending 2outs4cake to the rail. For seventh place, 2outs4cake collected $117,303.06.
Kasra84 scored another knockout on the very next hand. Down to seven big blinds, stradale430 found K♠J♥ and moved all-in from the cutoff, only to run into Kasra84's pocket kings in the small blind. Sradale430 couldn't catch up and ended his run in sixth place with a $181,376.16 score.
After three eliminations in four hands, pellompogos renewed the call for a deal. However, his pleas came too late. Left with only 11 million in chips with 2M/4M blinds, pellompogos open-shoved with J♦T♣ from under-the-gun and sexygee reshoved from the button to isolate. Both blinds folded and sexygee turned up A♣Q♣. An ace hit the flop and another came on the river, sending pellompogos home in fifth place with over a quarter million dollars in earnings. Now guaranteed at least fourth-place money, sexygee's decision to hold out for more than $350,000 was officially a profitable one.
The action slowed for only four hands before another player fell. After Kasra84 opened for a standard min-raise to 8 million, n0rflip moved in for 26.4 million with A♠K♥. Kasra84 called with 7♥T♥, the board running out 9♥7♠3♣9♠8♥ to eliminate n0rflip in fourth place.
Now, how about that deal?
As play turned three-handed, benislovas held the chip lead with 220 million, Kasra84 was in second with 191.4m, and sexygee was the short stack with 81.4m. However, Kasra84 and sexygee worked quickly to even things up a bit. Kasra84 snagged an 89.2 million pot when benislovas three-bet pre, then folded to Kasra84's raise on a Q♦6♠2♦ flop. And moments later, sexygee doubled through benislovas, his A♦T♦ making Broadway vs. benislovas' A♥9♦. Knocked down to less than 50 million with 2.5M/5M blinds, benislovas found pocket deuces on the next hand. Luckily, sexygee did his bidding for him, moving all-in for 241 million with 4♦7♣ in the small blind. Benislovas snap-called from the big and rivered deuces full to double to 100 million.
At last, it was enough for our three remaining warriors. Sexygee, Kasra84 and benislovas agreed to pause the action and a deal was made, each of them guaranteed more than $700,000 for outlasting this massive field. Here's a look at their chip counts when negotiations began, and the shares they agreed to:
sexygee 201,798,962 ($836,321.83)
Kasra84 181,721,490 ($813,370.28)
benislovas 109,349,548 ($708,589.33)
With $140,000 still left in play, cards went back in the air.
It wasn't long before Kasra84 found a hand to go with, three-betting to 30 million with pocket fives. Benislovas four-bet enough to set him all-in and Kasra84 called, his small pair needing to fade K♦J♣. The fives hung on through the turn, picking up a wheel draw to boot, but benislovas spiked a jack on the river. Kasra84 was out in third place, his share of the deal worth $813,370.28.
Heads-up chip counts
Seat 1: sexygee (126,548,962 in chips)
Seat 5: benislovas (366,321,038 in chips)
Sexygee had at least one celebrity railbird, U.K. Team Pro Jake Cody, who sent well-wishes in the chat box.
jakecody (TeamPro): glgl dave
jakecody (TeamPro): sicko :)
Apropos for a seventh anniversary, heads-up play took only seven hands. Benislovas had chipped up to nearly 400 million before getting his money in on the turn with second pair. Sexygee called with an open-ended straight draw and two overcards, but benislovas rivered trips to lock up the extra $140k and the title.
Congratulations to benislovas for making the leap from small-stakes grinder to Sunday Million champion! He took home $848,589.33 for the win while runner-up David "sexygee" Gent earned $836,321.83.
PokerStars Sunday Million 7th Anniversary Special results
Places paid: 6,309
1. benislovas (Lithuania) $848,589.33*
2. sexygee (United Kingdom) $836,321.83*
3. Kasra84 (Germany) $813,370.28*
4. n0rflip (Norway) $358,809.36
5. pellompogos (Cyprus) $254,320.92
6. stradale430 (Austria) $181,376.16
7. 2outs4cake (United Kingdom) $117,303.06
8. rewgr343 (Russia) $85,759.38
9. Heminsley (United Kingdom) $62,101.62
*= reflects the results of a three-way deal that left $140,000 in play for the winner
Kristin Bihr is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.