Stacked final tables aren’t particularly rare in the Super Tuesday. Thanks to its $1,050 buy-in and $400,000 guaranteed prize pool, it always attracts a robust field of skilled players from around the world. Those conditions don’t necessarily guarantee heavyweight showdowns at the final table, but they certainly do create the right environment for them to evolve on their own.
Tonight’s Super Tuesday final saw multiple showdowns between past champions in several major PokerStars tournaments, including two past winners of the Super Tuesday itself and a few other players who’d chopped the Super Tuesday in the past but missed out on the title. In the end a past champion faced off against a past Sunday Million winner in the heads-up match, showing that the quality always rises to the top in these tournaments.
The first hands were dealt in the 4/28/2015 installment of the Super Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET, and by the time late registration closed three hours later the total field came to 570 players. That set up a $570,000 prize pool and $107,730 first-place prize, with the rest of the money split among the next 71 finishers. The money bubble finally popped at 7:36 p.m. ET, with the blinds and antes at 700/1,400/125, as former TCOOP champion robinho of Sweden departed in 73rd place.
Bernardo “bedias” Dias, one of the top online poker players in Brazil, held the lead as the payouts began. With 114,538 chips in hand on the 700/1400/125 level, Dias was looking to add a Super Tuesday title to the Sunday Million crown he won back in March 2014. After nearly four more hours of poker, the blinds and antes were up to 4K/8K/1K and Dias had tripled that stack as the field dwindled. The elimination of the U.K.’s cmontopdeck in 10th place popped the last bubble, making Dias the third-largest stack heading to the final table:
Seat 1: Jon “apestyles” Van Fleet (286,342 in chips)
Seat 2: Bernardo “bedias” Dias (324,635 in chips)
Seat 3: Vlade “dariepoker” Darie (1,002,771 in chips)
Seat 4: Jeff “jeff710” Hakim (174,086 in chips)
Seat 5: IfoolU (79,188 in chips)
Seat 6: amountain (342,300 in chips)
Seat 7: engantil (312,358 in chips)
Seat 8: ILIOS72 (237,136 in chips)
Seat 9: shobidobi (91,184 in chips)
Other than Switzerland’s amountain, who was ahead of Dias by a few big blinds, the only player with more chips than Dias was Vlade “dariepoker” Darie. The Romanian player, who earned the biggest win of his career at PokerStars last February with a victory in this very tournament, was cruising with a million chips and 125 big blinds in his stack. The other end of the leaderboard, meanwhile, was held down by Sweden’s IfoolU, who chopped the Super Tuesday two ways for $96K almost exactly one year ago, on April 29, 2014.
Holding less than 10 big blinds, every path to topping that runner-up finish would need to start with IfoolU doubling up early. The Swede got a chance on Hand #15, re-raising all-in from the big blind with A♠ K♦ after fellow short stack shobidobi from the U.K. opened for 41K holding 7♣ 7♥. The K♣ 2♦ 8♦ flop was all IfoolU, and there was light at the end of the tunnel when the J♣ came on the turn. But the 7♦ fell on the river to give shobidobi a set of sevens and IfoolU’s second Super Tuesday final table ended significantly sooner than the first, in 9th place ($8,721).
apestyles goes up slowly, comes down quickly
While Vlade Darie continued to hold down the top spot over the next several orbits, the other past Super Tuesday champion at the table was in great shape and looking to climb even higher. Jon “apestyles” Van Fleet, the 5/22/2012 Super Tuesday champion, got the chance to press a few hands hard and make a move up the leaderboard. It began with Hand #45, when he re-raised engantil’s under-the-gun raise to 24K, making it 66K to go, and then continued the action with an all-in bet of 256K when checked to on the Q♦ 9♦ 3♠ flop. That discouraged engantil, giving apestyles the 162K-chip pot and a 418K-chip stack.
Two hands later Van Fleet picked up J♦ J♠ and did the opening in early position, raising to 28K. Dias re-raised all-in from middle position and, after the rest of the table folded and Van Fleet called, showed down K♣ K♠. The board came 7♣ 10♣ 2♠ Q♥ 5♥, the kings held to give Dias the 505K-chip pot, and Van Fleet’s stack was reduced to 177K.
One orbit later, on Hand #55, Van Fleet picked up another pocket pair. This time it was 8♥ 8♠ and he opted to make his opening raise all-in for 175K – and again he ran into a bigger pocket pair behind him. This time it was chip leader Darie, who called the bet with Q♥ Q♦. The opponent may have been different, but the result was the same for Van Fleet. The board came 9♠ 4♦ 9♣ 5♦ K♠, the queens held, and apestyles’ quest for a second Super Tuesday title ended in 8th place ($12,825).
The next elimination came a lot more quickly. Just four hands after apestyles’ departure, the final table saw off its second player in another coin-flip between two short stacks. Germany’s engantil opened the betting for 42K and then called with just 16K left behind after shobidobi moved all-in for 153K. shobidobi’s A♦ Q♣ picked up a pair of queens on the 10♠ 5♠ Q♦ flop, but engantil’s 10♣ 10♥ did that one better with a set of tens. The 9♠ turn and 2♦ river couldn’t beat that, and shobidobi’s run ended in 7th place ($18,525).
Darie now enjoyed a significant lead with the blinds and antes at 7K/14K/1750:
Seat 2: Bernardo “bedias” Dias (475,520 in chips)
Seat 3: Vlade “dariepoker” Darie (1,292,438 in chips)
Seat 4: Jeff “jeff710” Hakim (136,586 in chips)
Seat 6: amountain (420,590 in chips)
Seat 7: engantil (355,730 in chips)
Seat 8: ILIOS72 (169,136 in chips)
Past SCOOP champion Jeff “jeff710” Hakim was still in the mix at this point, but he was hanging on with a short stack and looking for any opportunity to double up. He found one good enough on Hand #66 in the big blind and went with it, moving all-in for 120K under the gun with K♥ J♠. Greece’s ILIOS72, a past Sunday Million finalist, flat-called on the button, looking to draw in another caller, but both blinds folded and the pot went heads-up. The kings dodged a gutshot draw after the turn and held up on the A♠ 5♥ 3♦ 10♦ 7♠ board to knock Hakim out in 6th place ($24,225).
It wasn’t long before two more big pocket pairs clashed before the flop. Vlade Darie opened the betting on Hand #78 and probably didn’t see it coming before amountain moved all-in for 298K in the small blind and engantil called with 32K left behind in the big blind. Darie folded, leaving engantil’s J♥ J♠ heads-up with amountain’s A♠ A♥. The K♠ 10♣ 9♣ flop threatened to crack the aces with a gutshot straight draw, but the 3♥ turn and 9♥ river gave amountain the 639K-chip pot and a boost into second chip position.
engantil, meanwhile, was left with only that aforementioned 32K, 10K of which went to the ante and small blind on the next hand. The German player called it off with Q♣ J♥ and beat Darie’s 4♣ 4♠ to chip up to 128K. Getting in ahead on the next hand, with A♣ 5♠ to ILIOS72’s K♥ 9♥, worked out just as well, and suddenly engantil was back out of the basement with 259K. ILIOS72, who slipped behind the German, jumped back ahead on the next hand – after a mistimed shove for 207K with A♦ 8♦ was called by initial raiser amountain with A♣ K♦, the J♣ 8♥ 5♦ 7♠ 2♦ board kept ILIOS72 in the game with 449K.
The pace slowed down for the next 20 hands. ILIOS72 was in fine shape with more than 500K, but another hitch in the Greek player’s timing wouldn’t meet such a forgiving board. ILIOS72 opened for 40K on the button, holding K♥ 2♣, but decided not to give up the fight after chip leader dariepoker re-raised to 118K in the big blind. ILIOS72 jammed for 508K total and dariepoker called with A♦ Q♠, a 65-35 favorite. Any king or deuce could have bailed ILIOS72 out, but the board fell 8♣ 3♥ 7♦ 6♣ 9♦, ace-queen won unimproved, and the Greek player’s ride ended in 5th place ($30,780).
The calm before the storm
Thanks to that pot against the second-largest stack in play, Vlade Darie now had the lead more firmly in hand than at any point in the previous 100 hands of the final table:
Seat 2: Bernardo “bedias” Dias (692,260 in chips)
Seat 3: Vlade “dariepoker” Darie (1,743,175 in chips)
Seat 6: amountain (229,975 in chips)
Seat 7: engantil (184,590 in chips)
Nobody put up much resistance over the next 20 hands and Darie made the most of the opportunity to steal blinds and antes, chipping up more than 260K to 2.08M. He dropped a bit of that playing aggressively on the button when amountain called and doubled up with A♦ 9♣ against Darie’s 6♥ 5♥, but only after the Swiss player dodged an open-ended straight draw. And then most of the rest of those lost chips came back in the process of eliminating engantil.
The German player jammed on the button for 114K, holding A♣ J♣, and Darie made the trivial 84K-chip call in the big blind with 10♣ 8♣. The J♥ 6♦ 9♦ flop was a minefield for engantil, and it blew up when the 7♠ hit the turn. The 4♠ gave dariepoker the 249K chips in the middle and sealed engantil’s fate in 4th place ($43,890).
It looked at this point as if Vlade Darie might be in position to sail away with his second Super Tuesday title:
Seat 2: Bernardo “bedias” Dias (585,760 in chips)
Seat 3: Vlade “dariepoker” Darie (1,969,290 in chips)
Seat 6: amountain (294,950 in chips)
Darie had dominated throughout the final table and was poised to close things out, but the deck stopped him short of that goal. Just four hands after knocking out engantil, Darie flopped two pair after limping in from the small blind and led for 25K into the 59K pot. amountain called in the big blind, and then again when Darie bet 53K into 109K. Darie jammed on the 3♣ river and amountain called, showing 10♥ 5♥ for the flush to double to 516K.
That didn’t slow Darie down. The Romanian won eight of the next nine pots, splitting the other one with amountain when both players held Q-T, to take an even more commanding lead than before. With 2.24M chips, blinds and antes at 12.5K/25K/3125, and neither opponent holding more than 334K, he was in an enviable position as he looked to close out his dangerous opponents and claim a second Super Tuesday title in just over a year.
Once again, the deck would deny Darie a chance to get heads-up. He opened the betting on the button with a raise to 50K, and Bernardo Dias called to see the 5♣ 2♥ 7♥ flop. Dias checked, Darie bet 38K into the 121K-chip pot, and Dias, holding K♥ 6♥, jammed for 209K total. Against most hands that probably would have taken the pot right there, but Darie had A♥ Q♥ for the nut flush draw and called the bet. Dias was against the wall, but the 6♦ on the turn moved him into the lead. The 9♠ on the river wasn’t an ace, queen, or heart, and Dias doubled to 541K.
Two hands later amountain would double through Darie, calling all-in as a 60-percent favorite with A♠ 6♠ against dariepoker’s opening raise with Q♥ 9♦ and doubling to 639K after the board came 4♦ 7♣ 2♥ 5♦ 4♣. That left both amountain and Dias within a big blind of one another around 640K, and Darie still holding the lead at 1.58M.
Shipwrecked, but washed ashore
Four hands later the familiar comfort of the chip lead was taken away for the first time at the final table after Dias checked top pair on a 2♦ 3♣ Q♣ flop, check-raised Darie when the Romanian hit a pair on the J♦ turn, and got max value by jamming for 444K on the 4♣ river. Darie called with K♦ J♣ but couldn’t beat Q♦ 9♣, boosting Dias’ stack to 1.38M and dropping Darie’s own to 894K.
Six hands later the former champion finally narrowed the field to two. Darie called with A♦ 7♥ in the big blind after amountain opened for 75K on the button and promptly caught two pair on the A♣ Q♣ 7♦ flop. The Romanian’s check-raise trapped amountain into committing with K♠ Q♠ for second pair. That developed into a potential straight after the K♦ on the turn, but the K♥ for two pair was no help on the river. Darie collected the 1.17M-chip pot and amountain bowed out in 3rd place ($58,140).
There had been discussion of looking at numbers prior to amountain’s elimination, and after it the remaining two players agreed to take a look among themselves. They agreed almost immediately to a close split that left $8,000 and the title on the table, and with that the game was back underway.
With a past Super Tuesday champion looking to repeat and a past Sunday Million champion looking to simultaneously stop him and claim a second major PokerStars tournament title for himself, the battle certainly appeared to be one between world-class heavyweights. The actual match didn’t disappoint the rail, featuring sharp play from both competitors as they fought for pride and that extra $8K.
Dias turned things upside down on the second hand after calling in the big blind for 70K after Darie’s opening raise on the button. Dias check-called 57K on the 10♥ 7♥ 6♦ flop, then check-called a nearly pot-sized bet of 238K on the turn. That and the J♥ on the river slowed both players down, keeping Dias from getting any more value with A♥ 2♥ for the nut flush but still earning the 740K-chip pot when Darie mucked.
That gave Dias a lead of roughly 10 big blinds with only 95 total big blinds in play. Darie reversed that just two hands later after opening for 70K on the button and calling Dias’ re-raise to 221K. Dias led for 177K on the 3♦ 6♣ J♠ but wanted nothing more of it after Darie descended into the time bank and emerged with a small raise to 385K. That gave Darie the edge by about 12 big blinds, a margin that closed to almost zero after Dias won a small pot on the next hand.
A repeat slips away
The first tipping point came on Hand #15 of the heads-up match with blinds and antes at 17.5K/35K/4375. Dias opened for the minimum of 70K on the button and Darie called to take a 2♣ 10♥ 8♠ flop. Darie check-called 65K and both players checked through the 5♠ turn, bringing the 9♥ on the river. Darie led out for 170K this time with 6♣ 6♠ in the hole, but they lost out when Dias called with K♥ 9♦ for the rivered pair of nines.
That 620K-chip pot gave Dias a 1.9M-to-943K lead over Darie. The Brazilian kept ahead by applying pressure and playing small pots. None of the next 24 pots grew above 10 big blinds, and Darie’s stack slipped to 571K. Finally the Romanian picked up A♥ 4♦ and moved all-in before the flop. Dias called as a 42-to-57-percent underdog with K♦ 10♥ but surged into the lead with a pair of kings on the 3♠ 8♣ K♥ flop. The 2♣ on the turn left the past champ looking for any ace or five, but the 9♠ on the river gave Dias’ pair of kings the pot – and the title.
Vlade “dariepoker” Darie may not have claimed his second career Super Tuesday title tonight, but he does have a significant consolation in his $90,998.62 share of the heads-up deal, the second-largest PokerStars score of his career behind only that Super Tuesday win in February 2014. As for the champion, the extra $8K on the table made for a total prize of $95,676.38. That’s also the second best of Bernardo “bedias” Dias’ PokerStars career, behind only his Sunday Million victory in March 2014. Congratulations to both players on a fruitful tournament against top-flight competition.
4/28/15 Super Tuesday ($1,050 No-Limit Hold’em) results
Prize pool: 72
Places paid: $570,000
1. Bernardo “bedias” Dias (Brazil) $95,676.38*
2. Vlade “dariepoker” Darie (Romania) $90,998.62*
3. amountain (Switzerland) $58,140
4. engantil (Germany) $43,890
5. ILIOS72 (Greece) $30,780
6. Jeff “jeff710” Hakim (Canada) $24,225
7. shobidobi (United Kingdom) $18,525
8. Jon “apestyles” Van Fleet (Canada) $12,825
9. IfoolU (Sweden) $8,721
* – denotes results of a heads-up deal
Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.