While Mario Lopez still had the chip lead went play went heads-up, Hilario Quijada had been doing most of the eliminating.
German Christiansen raised to 130,000 from the small blind and Quijada tanked. Quijada grabbed a pile of white, T25,000 chips and counted out 350,000. Then he grabbed his cards and slightly moved them towards the muck before he pulled them back.
Quijada thought a bit more, recounted the bet and then added a pile of blue chips to it.
“Raise,” Quijada said. “450.”
Christiansen moved all-in and Quijada snap-called.
Christiansen showed 7♣7♠ but Quijada had a better pair with K♦K♣. The board ran A♣3♥J♦9♠A♠ and Quijada eliminated another player.
Christiansen won $75,760 for the 3rd-place finish while the tournament went heads-up.
Quijada started the match with 2.1 million while Lopez was still in the lead with 3.2 million.
“I wanted to get heads-up with 1 million to your 4 million,” Quijada said.
But Quijada would have to settle for double that. Then he took the tournament chip lead for the first time.
For the first part of the match, there were a lot of small pots. Players would raise and call preflop and then check down to the river. They were hesitant to show cards at every showdown, Lopez would usually show just one card and Quijada would muck if he was beat.
Then Quijada took a few big pots.
In one, Lopez called from the small blind and Quijada raised to 295,000. Lopez called and the flop came J♥10♥6♦. Players checked and checked again when the 8♠ came on the turn.
The river brought a 10♠ and a big bet. Quijada put out a bet worth 405,000 and after some thought and chip shuffling, Lopez called.
Quijada turned over 8♦8♥ for a full house and Lopez mucked.
Soon after that, Quijada called from the small blind and Lopez checked.
The flop came 10♥6♦A♠ and Lopez bet 70,000. The turn brought a 10♦ and Lopez upped the bet to 80,000. Quijada called and the 9♣ completed the board.
Lopez checked and quickly called after Quijada fired off a bet of 135,000.
Lopez mucked just as quickly when Quijada showed K♥10♠ for trip tens.
The hand put Quijada up to 3.1 million while Lopez dropped to 2.2 million.
The leaded didn’t last long for Quijada. With 40,000/80,000 blinds, a number of small pots put Lopez back up to about 2.6 million and players are about even again.
At the conclusion of this level, the final two players will be on a 75-minute dinner break.
Alexander Villegas is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.