PokerStars Makes Millionaires out of JUANYI828, citoject

The PokerStars Makes Millionaires promotion is so crazy that it's almost hard to believe it exists. Twelve lucky players given the chance to play for $1,000,000 with no risk whatsoever - there really isn't anything else like it in the world. As the rest of the PokerStars community focused on the Spring Championship of Online Poker getting underway, these 12 took their seats to see whose life would be changed permanently in the next hour and a half.

The PokerStars Makes Millionaires finalists were divided into two tables identical in nearly every way: six players each, starting with 2,500 chips and blinds at 10/20, with an increase in the cost of play every 10 minutes, $1,000,000 on the line, and no dealmaking allowed. With thousands watching in the PokerStars client and hundreds more following via the Twitch channel of Team PokerStars Online's Randy "nanonoko" Lew, plus all that money on the line, there was as much pressure for these finals as there are for some televised poker tournaments.

FINAL 1

Seat 1: gol1974 (Russia)
Seat 2: citoject (Bulgaria)
Seat 3: agafon666 (Russia)
Seat 4: waterman3888 (Germany)
Seat 5: STALKERRAM (Russia)
Seat 6: chica_162 (Netherlands)

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The early levels at this table played out mostly cautiously, since Russia's agafon666 was sitting out. It's not clear exactly why, but a million things could have happened and the end result here was that nobody wanted to bust before the absent player. By the time the 50/100 level arrived, though, agafon666's stack still had 1,380 chips in it - and it was ahead of two of the active players at the table. chica_162 and gol1974 both managed to stay ahead of the blinds with timely steals, though, so the blinds progressed to 75/150 with all six players still alive.

Halfway through that level the first break came and everyone was still hanging in there, though only because of a crazy hand. waterman3888, tied for the lead with STALKERRAM, opened for 450 in the cutoff with A♠ Q♠. chica_162 called all-in for 365 chips, holding 9♣ 9♦, and gol1974 jammed for 1,394 chips with T♠ T♣. waterman3888 called and lost out on both pots after the board came 3♣ K♣ 9♥ 4♥ J♣; gol1974 won the 2,058-chip side pot, and chica_162 earned the 1,095-chip main pot to keep agafon666 from moving up the pay ladder. agafon666 was finally blinded out near the end of the 75/150 level, collecting $10,000 without playing a single hand and leaving the table to get started on the bigger payouts in earnest.

citoject held the lead with 6,126 chips for a big advantage as 100/200 blinds and 20-chip antes came around. Nobody else had half that until waterman3888 picked up A♣ A♦ on the same hand when STALKERRAM was dealt A♥ K♥. All the chips went in before the flop, which came 7♣ K♦ 6♠ to keep a little hope alive for STALKERRAM. But the 3♠ turn and 9♦ brought nothing further, giving waterman3888 the 5,190-chip pot and leaving STALKERRAM to collect $20,000 for 5th place.

Both chica_162 and gol1974 remained short-stacked, and they soon collided with nearly identical hands. chica_162 was covered by three big blinds and held A♠ 8♣, while gol1974 had A♣ 9♦. They both made a pair of kings on the K♥ 2♣ 4♦ 3♣ K♦ board, but with the kickers in play it was gol1974 who won the 1,880-chip pot and chica_162 who settled for $30,000 in 4th place.

It was still an uphill battle for gold1974, though:

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Seat 1: gol1974 (2,453 in chips)
Seat 2: citoject (6,581 in chips)
Seat 4: waterman3888 (5,966 in chips)

The Russian player stole a few pots and even won a couple that saw community cards dealt. But a loss at showdown in a pot against waterman3888's A♣ K♥ with the board reading 6♣ 7♥ A♦ 2♠ 7♠ dropped gol1974 back to 2,343 chips. That's about where the Russian player stood four hands later when waterman3888 folded on the button and gol1974 jammed in the small blind with A♥ 2♦. citoject called in the big blind with A♦ 5♠ and both players waited to see if they would split the pot. The J♠ 5♣ 8♣ made that just three percent likely to happen, and the K♣ turn and K♦ river eliminated that chance completely. citoject won the 4,781 chips in the pot, and gol1974 took $40,000 and 1,000,000 FPPs as the 3rd-place finisher.

With 125/250/25 blinds and antes, and a difference of $950,000 between finishing first and second, the two players were about as close as they could be to start heads-up play.

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Seat 2: citoject (7,339 in chips)
Seat 4: waterman3888 (7,661 in chips)

Withblinds and antes so high relative to the players' stacks, one pot, even a small one, could make a major difference. citoject moved into the lead just two hands into the duel after calling a minimum raise in the big blind, check-calling small bets on the K♣ A♠ A♥ flop and 6♥ turn, and leading for a minimum bet of 500 on the 6♦ river. After taking another small pot on the turn of a 7♠ 5♦ 3♣ 8♦ board on the next hand, the Bulgarian player suddenly held a 9,739-5,261 lead.

Keeping up the pressure, citoject won nine of the next 13 pots before waterman3888 moved in with A♠ 8♦, which held up against A♣ 5♥ on a Q♦ K♣ 6♦ J♥ 2♦ board to keep the Dutch player in the game. That didn't slow citoject down, though. The Bulgarian check-called small bets for a winner with K♦ J♠ and two pair on a board of 6♥ J♣ Q♣ K♠ 5♥ on the next hand.

After two more wins, waterman3888 was left with just over 2,000 chips and stole two pots before moving all-in on the button with K♣ J♥. citoject called with A♦ 7♦ and fell behind on the K♠ 5♣ 9♠ flop, but after the blank Q♣ turn, the A♠ came on the river. With that waterman3888 finished in 2nd place, good for $50,000 and a million FPPs, leaving citoject with all the chips to figure out how to live life as a millionaire.

1st: citoject (Bulgaria) $1 million
2nd: waterman3888 (Germany) $50,000 + 1 million FPPs
3rd: gol1974 (Russia) $40,000 + 1 million FPPs
4th: chica_162 (Netherlands) $30,000
5th: STALKERRAM (Russia) $20,000
6th: agafon666 (Russia) $10,000

FINAL 2

Seat 1: athenabing (China)
Seat 2: JUANYI828 (Taiwan)
Seat 3: Galonder (Russia)
Seat 4: WhatA298 (United Kingdom)
Seat 5: Dewmister (Canada)
Seat 6: tickitmaster (Hungary)

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The other table had afair bit more action in the early going since none of the players were sitting out. tickitmaster got into trouble with a few early losses and was in push-or-fold territory going to the 30/60 blind levels, but a double-up to 1486 was in the cards with 8♣ 8♠ after JUANYI828 called with A♦ J♦ and the flop gave tickitmaster a set.

That dropped JUANYI828, who had been chipping up steadily in the early stages, back to just above where she'd begun the table. Another loss two hands later dropped her to 1577 chips after she raised on the button and WhatA298 called in the big blind with K♣ J♣, flopping top pair.

JUANYI828 got a chance to rewrite history a bit as the 40/80 level began, calling in the big blind with A♥ T♦ when tickitmaster shoved on the button with A♣ 6♣. The 2♠ 5♦ 7♥ flop wasn't dangerous but it couldn't have inspired much confidence since it provided a backdoor straight draw. The 2♥ on the turn and 9♦ on the river left both players with a pair of deuces and put their kickers in play, the T♦ won the 2,322-chip pot for JUANYI, and tickitmaster left the table with $10,000 in 6th place.

After 58 hands with only two going past the flop and a break at the 55-minute mark for five minutes, the players returned to finish the 75/150 level. Dewmister had been reduced to only a few big blinds over that stretch and called for 673 chips with T♠ 5♣ in the big blind after WhatA298 shoved in the small blind with Q♣ J♦. Both Dewmister's cards were live, but the 7♦ 9♣ 6♦ 4♣ K♠ board brought no help and the Canadian collected $20,000 for 5th place.

It was a relatively even affair with blinds still at 75/150:

Seat 1: athenabing (4,220 in chips)
Seat 2: JUANYI828 (3,048 in chips)
Seat 3: Galonder (3,515 in chips)
Seat 4: WhatA298 (4,217 in chips)

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WhatA298 began to chip away at his opponents now, winning seven of the next eight pots, including a sneaky one against athenabing, won with 7♣ 4♥ after making a pair of sevens on the river of a 5♥ Q♣ Q♠ 6♠ 7♥ board, having bluffed on the flop and semi-bluffed on the turn. The only question as he continued to chip up was who would be the next out, and after 22 hands athenabing and JUANYI828 fought to avoid that fate. With just 22 chips separating them, they got their stacks in the middle, athenabing with A♠ 9♠ and JUANYI828 with Q♦ J♣. The 7♥ J♠ K♣ 8♣ 2♥ board crippled athenabing, and after seven hands of doubling up the Chinese player finally lost to exit with $30,000 in 4th place.

WhatA298 still held a healthy lead with three players remaining:

Seat 2: JUANYI828 (5,191 in chips)
Seat 3: Galonder (3,472 in chips)
Seat 4: WhatA298 (6,337 in chips)

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Perhaps the key pot of the entire final came just four hands later. JUANYI828 opened the betting with a minimum raise to 500 on the button, and WhatA298 called to bring a 4♥ K♣ Q♦ flop. The U.K. pro checked, JUANYI828 bet 600 into the 1,200-chip pot, and then WhatA298 put the pressure on and check-raised all-in.

The amateur, holding K♠ 7♥ for top pair with a weak kicker, had to make a decision - call and keep playing with a 3,371-chip stack, or call and risk being behind? In the end she came up with the right one, calling to see that WhatA298 was gambling on a straight draw with J♣ T♦, and was rewarded when the J♥ turn and K♥ river were safe cards. JUANYI828 collected the 9,082-chip pot with three of a kind and now had a big advantage over both her opponents.

JUANYI828 kept up the pressure on both of the shorter stacks, and WhatA298 kept it up, too. The British pro finally landed in a confrontation after jamming for 3,321 from the small blind on a steal with 8♥ 7♠, called down by JUANYI828 with K♠ T♣. Both players hit the 8♠ T♦ K♣ flop, but JUANYI828 hit it harder and left WhatA928 looking for an eight or a miracle straight draw. Neither emerged on the Q♦ turn or J♣ river, and WhatA928 earned $40,000 and 1,000,000 FPPs for 3rd place.

With more than 2,500 people watching the table in the PokerStars client and almost 1,000 more watching Randy Lew's Twitch channel, the heads-up match for $1,000,000 began:

Seat 2: JUANYI828 (13,353 in chips)
Seat 3: Galonder (1,647 in chips)

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The deal looked as good as sealed, and Galonder was probably already thinking about what a great second prize $50,000 is. But no-limit poker is a wild game, especially when the blinds are high compared to the stacks, and both players were about to go on an emotional roller coaster before arriving at the destination they expected from the beginning.

Galonder's comeback bid began after three hands with A♦ 8♠ holding up unimproved against K♠ Q♠, good for a double to 2,444 chips. JUANYI828 kept up the pressure and won eight of the next 13 pots, but Galonder caught a break after calling all-in for 1,844 with 9♠ 7♠ against JUANYI828's A♣ 2♥. A seven on the flop and a nine on the river gave Galonder 3,738 chips and a slightly sturdier lifeline than before.

JUANYI828 kept up the pressure, taking five of the next eight pots uncontested, but a call with K♥ T♦ in the big blind after Galonder shoved on the button with A♦ 9♣ brought the Russian player's stack back to 6,456 chips, just seven big blinds back. Still, JUANYI828 kept her foot on the gas, and it looked as if the road might be coming to an end seven hands afterward when she raised the minimum on the button with Q♥ Q♣ and Galonder jammed with 2♣ 2♦. JUANYI828 called quickly and must have felt like she'd been punched in the gut when the board came 6♥ 2♥ T♦, giving Galonder the 12,192-chip pot with a set of deuces.

Despite that setback, JUANYI828 was still in the fight with 2,808 chips - and fight she did. She earned 13 of the 14 pots without contest, including one that saw the flop and another that saw the turn, to climb back to within one big blind of her opponent. She finally took a wrong step after raising the minimum on the button with T♣ 8♣ and being re-raised to 900. JUANYI828 shoved all-in only to be called instantly by Galonder with A♦ K♦. The 6♦ 2♠ 9♦ must have looked hopeless, especially with those two diamonds threatening to close the show, but there were enough outs to five JUANYI828 a double-digit percentage of surviving. The 7♠ made a straight to give her the lead, but Galonder still had nine outs heading to the river. The K♥ that came wasn't one of them, though, and suddenly the match was right back to where it had begun.

JUANYI828's game plan didn't change with the lead. She took the blinds and antes on the next four hands, surrendering the next two before calling with A♥ J♦ when Galonder moved in with A♠ 3♦. Given the last few dozen hands there was reason to wonder if the underdog might come out ahead again, but the 8♣ 5♥ A♦ 7♣ 6♥ board delivered no surprises. Galonder surrendered the last chips and settled for $50,000 and 1,000,000 FPPs in 2nd place.

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Juanyi Lin

Before the start of the weekend, Juanyi Lin told PokerStars' Brad Willis that the opportunity to win a million dollars in the PokerStars Makes Millionaires final was "unimaginable." Lucky for her, she doesn't have to try to imagine it anymore. After a final well-played - and a harrowing heads-up duel survived - she's now living with the reality of it.

1st: JUANYI828 (Taiwan) $1 million
2nd: Galonder (Russia) $50,000 + 1 million FPPs
3rd: WhatA298 (United Kingdom) $40,000 + 1 million FPPs
4th: athenabing (China) $30,000
5th: Dewmister (Canada) $20,000
6th: tickitmaster (Hungary) $10,000


Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in PokerStars news