While the British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne was laying out the cuts, hikes and incentives for the coming year in the UK nine players were sitting down at the final table of Event 54 of the MicroMillions.
While all 4572 runners had looked on the MicroMillions budget of 2012 favourably - low buy-in, great fun, potentially incredible returns - nine had established themselves as being among the biggest beneficiaries after eight-and-a-half hours of play.
The chip leader going into the final table was Czech aklybok who had enjoyed two key double ups in the final few hands of two-table action, winning a flip for his life and then finding aces to double again through ace-queen. That put him near the top of the chip counts, a position he never left on his way to MicroMillions greatness and a $2,156.35 first prize.
The perfect budget, which may be an impossible achievement, keeps everyone happy, laying the burden and benefits on everyone equally, just like an Ante Up tournament which has two minimal 5-5 blinds throughout and an increasing ante which everyone is forced to pay. Antes are like tax, you just can't escape them. The ante-based structure dictates that stacks are forced to act faster because chips are siphoned into the middle of the table every hand not just twice an orbit. On the other hand, you'll also see more multi-way flops to connect with before you do decide to commit - it's not many final tables where you see six players to the flop, not that 9th place finisher vlavava got to see much of it.
The Russian was the first player to fall after the short stack moved in over four limps for a pot-sized shove with the mighty A♠K♦. Unfortunately he was looked up by the brave bookworm62 with Q♠2♠ who promptly flopped the near nuts with Q♣6♠J♠. The turn and river drew blanks and vlavava was the first to be excised. It turns out the budget wasn't best for Russian ex-pats. Three had made the final table and they were the first three out.
Russia goes bust
Havnar departed in 8th in more multi-way madness after shoving an A♠4♠ flush draw into a K♠8♣8♠ flop which, thanks to the numbers of limpers that the antes formats can pick up, found action from 'drag0_9fish' who had flopped trips with T♠8♦. Havnar failed to catch another black card and was followed a little time after by the remaining Russian in the biggest pot of the tournament so far (and fourth overall); CAHEK70 three-bet shoving with top pair into the flopped monster of aklybok. Watch it yourself below:
CAHEK70's departure sparked a flurry of exits with three players falling within the space of just five hands; the Russian was quickly followed to the rail by captainen11 whose 3♥3♠ couldn't spike again LittledEddy54's pocket sixes, while Bookworm62's all-in shove into bastet2004 with 9♥T♦ for top pair on a 5♣6♣9♠ flop couldn't shift the German from a two-to-one call with T♠T♣, who lost a huge pot to LittleEddy54 just after...
Four players remained, two wealthy (LittleEddy54 and aklybok) and two looking for their own form of fiscal regeneration (bastet2004 and drag0_9fish) as the antes moved through from 70,000 to 80,000.
Queens on the river
Then, as poker often seems to throw up, was a bizarre coincidence, back to back river queens tipping the tournament on its side. drag0_9fish had opened a pot-sized 320,020 with A♠Q♥ in the cut-off and had been called on the button by LittleEddy54 with T♥K♦. LittleEddy54 tried to steal it on the 4♦9♥6♥ flop but drag0_9fish made the call (with the best hand no less). Both players checked the J♦ turn before the first all-important queen on the river. drag0_9fish led for 254,770 with top pair, top kicker before calling LittleEddy's shove with the nut straight. He left in 4th for $788.67, a large uptick on his $3 entry!
That took the action three-handed with bastet2004 trailing with just 1,602,497 to the other player's 10,000,000 high stacks, but with nothing to lose he squeezed all-in with K♥Q♠ and was called by aklybok, who was one card away from reclaiming the chip lead to go heads up, but bastet2004, perhaps deservedly, caught a queen on the river to double up to 3,698,499. Like the numbers quoted in the annual budget his ticket continued to spin upwards, to 5,288,819, then 6,694,714, before the deficit took hold again and that number began to shrink down through 5,730,259, 5,067,434 to the 3,941,274 he stuck into the middle with A♦K♦ on a K♠5♥A♥ flop against aklybok. Unfortunately for the German, the Czech had flopped a set of fives and the 8♠ turn and 9♦ river blanked out.
Wait, he's no micro grinder...
Bastet2004 who has won close to $1.4m in online tournaments at PokerStars (his largest win coming second in a $109 rebuy for $88,944) was always going to be tough to dislodge, that cooler an inescapable situation for even the most experienced of players. Hie elimination left left LittleEddy54 and aklybok, very much at the other end of the scale with just one four figure win apiece, to battle it out for Event #54 but aklybok's chip lead was too much, especially when he failed to catch his king against aklybok's pocket tens, which sent the title to the Czech Republic.
The final table payouts
1st: aklybok, Czech Republic, $2,156.35
2nd: LittleEddy54, Germany, $1,604.77
3rd: bastet2004, Germany, $1,131.57
4th: drag0_9fish, Philippines, $788.67
5th: bookworm62, Canada, $582.93
6th: captainen11, Denamark, $445.77
7th: CAHEK70, Russia, $308.61
8th: Havnar, Russia, $171.45
9th: vlavava, Russia, $109.72
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