I've been writing for the PokerStarsBlog since 2008. When I woke up this morning and checked the schedule to see which MicroMillions event I'd be covering today, I puzzled over what I saw: 2012 MicroMillions Event 58, $4.40 No-Limit Hold'em (4-Max, 7x-Shootout, Turbo). I couldn't recall ever having covered a 4-max shootout event during those four years.
I hit up my colleague Brad Willis, who has been writing for the PokerStarsBlog longer than anyone. "Do you know whether PokerStars has ever offered this format in any of their tournament series before?" I asked him. "My instinct is no."
"We've done 4-max almost certainly," he replied. "Shootout... I don't think so."
Congratulations, then, to the 7,094 players that participated in Event 58 today, the first players to ever play a 4-max shootout in a major tournament series on PokerStars. That novelty may explain why, for the first time all series, a MicroMillions event failed to make its guarantee. PokerStars guaranteed $40,000 in the prizepool for the event. When registration closed and only about $28,000 was in the kitty, PokerStars picked up the difference, ensuring that the top prize for Event 58 would be $3,600.
In order to get that top prize, a player would have to win seven consecutive 4-max shootout tables - with turbo structures, no less. Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki and Team Online player Grzegorz 'DaWarsaw' Mikielewicz gave it their best shots but both came up short. Horecki bowed out in Round 1 (though he remains in the top 10 on the MicroMillions leaderboard); Mikielewicz fell in Round 2.
It takes a good deal of skill and stamina and a pinch of luck to win six 4-max tables in a row. These four players did it to reach the final table of Event 58:
At the start of the final table, ritsar and ksentik were both interested in working out some kind of four-handed deal. MartinAltman and capo13335 both wanted to play for a while.
And play the did. The structure of Event 58 included starting stacks of 250 BBs and blinds that doubled every three to four levels. The levels were only five minutes long, but at a 4-max table that's time for plenty of hands. There wasn't much stack movement until capo13335 cracked ksentik's aces by flopping trips on the last hand of Level 6.
But those chips made their way back around the table, with ritsar and MartinAltman both jumping out to stacks in the 6500-chip range and capo13335 falling all the way to 2800, the short stack.
In Level 8, ksentik became the first casualty of the final table. After never recovering from those cracked aces, ksenik three-bet shoved a pair of deuces from the big blind for 3,000 chips, about 20 big blinds. ritsar, the original raiser, called with pocket 9s and flopped a set to send ksentik to the rail in 4th place.
After that elimination, ritsar was the chip leader with 10,986; MartinAltman was in 2nd place with 6,228; and capo13335 held the remaining 2,786. They agreed to pause the tournament to consider a deal. Chip-chop numbers would have given ritsar $2,563.39; MartinAltman $2,016.22; and capo13335 $1,620.39, with $800 left to the champion. capo1335 immediately asked for $1,800. MartinAltman snap-replied, "No way, I'm not giving you anything." ritsar wanted to preserve a minimum of $2,500, offering only $63 to capo13335.
"I can give you $63, or play," said ritsar. ritsar agreed to take the $63. The deal was struck.
Given the payouts, the $800 champion's set-aside was significant. The remaining three players didn't throw their stacks into the middle with abandon as sometimes happens after these types of deals. They played tight-aggressive poker, trading pots and the chip lead until two hands in rapid succession sent MartinAltman from the chip lead to the rail in 3rd place.
First, MartinAltman doubled up ritsar by calling ritsar's three-bet shove for 4,770. MartinAltman had the best hand, a dominating A♥Q♦ to ritsar's A♣J♥, but ritsar spiked a jack on the river to make a pair and drag the pot. Two hands later MartinAltman tried ace-queen again; this time it failed to improve against ritsar's pocket 9s. That was the end of the line for MartinAltman.
Heads-up play between ritsar and capo13335 was back-and-forth for a dozen hands until ritsar got maximum value for a flush:
From there it was three hands to the title for ritsar. capo13335 had the best of it pre-flop on the final hand, taking pocket 10s up against ritsar's A♣5♠. But the board rolled out 7♠6♦8♥4♠6♥ to give ritsar an 8-high straight and the Event 58 victory as the first-ever 4-max shootout champion in a major tournament series on PokerStars.
2012 Micro Millions Event 58 $4.40 No-Limit Hold'em (4-Max, 7x-Shootout, Turbo) results (after 3-way deal):
1st: ritsar ($3,300.39)*
2nd: capo13335 ($1,683.39)*
3rd: MartinAltman ($2,016.22)*
4th: ksentik ($696.00)
It's not too late to get in on the MicroMillions action. Check out the schedule, view all the results and stats, and see who's atop the leaderboard at the MicroMillions home page.