PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up Final Table Report (08/24/08)

There's no justice in tournament poker; there's only survival. At the end of a grueling tournament, the winner isn't the player who knocked out the greatest number of other players, or the player who was dealt the best starting hands most frequently, or even the "best" player (if such a thing can even be determined). The winner is simply the player who survived longer than any other player. Surviving in and of itself is a skill, to be sure. When you outlast a field of almost 3,600 players, survival takes on a whole new dimension.

3,599 players registered for the Sunday Warm-Up today to vie for a prize pool of $750,000. Eight and a half hours later, 3,590 had been eliminated, leaving nine players vying for a first prize of over $100,000. Here's how those players measured up at the start of the final table:

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Seat 1: goodvibe1 (3125226 in chips)
Seat 2: vanky (3620984 in chips)
Seat 3: Supa4real (6992395 in chips)
Seat 4: Dudelinio (3842824 in chips)
Seat 5: tallgeir (8572505 in chips)
Seat 6: GB2005 (1103480 in chips)
Seat 7: lordhuttyx (2034545 in chips)
Seat 8: EDWARDHOPPER (2634407 in chips)
Seat 9: RuudGullit (4063634 in chips)

For a tournament that played more quickly than many expected, it was perhaps no surprise that only four minutes passed before the first elimination of the final table. GB2005, who came to the final table with the shortest stack, made a stand with Big Slick. He found himself up against the opponent with the biggest stack, tallgeir. tallgeir, holding the queen of spades and the eight of spades, had two very live cards against GB2005's ace-king. GB2005 was in great position to survive the hand when neither player picked up a pair on the flop or the turn, but an unlucky river queen made top pair for tallgeir. The rich got richer at GB2005's expense, but it wasn't all lemons for GB2005. He walked away with $6,750.

The big stacks continued to exert pressure on their smaller brethren for several hands until two of the shorties decided to tango on their own. EDWARDHOPPER, in 7th place at the start of the final table, opened with a raise to 398,000. Perhaps his raise looked fishy to Vanky, who moved all-in holding Ah-2s. EDWARDHOPPER made a snap call with pocket kings, but like GB2005 before him, his leading hand did not hold up. Vanky made a five-high straight when the board ran out 5-3-9-9-4. EDWARDHOPPER's tournament life expired with that river card. He finished in 8th place and earned $9,750.

Meanwhile, the other of the shortest stacks at the table, lordhuttyx, inched up the payout ladder. With tallgeir wielding one of the biggest stacks on his immediate right, lordhuttyx couldn't find many spots to pick up pots. He finally found one when action folded to tallgeir in the small blind and tallgeir open-shoved. With Ah-3c in his hand, lordhuttyx may have believed that he was ahead of a good portion of tallgeir's range. This time, he was correct; tallgeir opened Qh-6c after lordhuttyx called. For the third time, it looked like the best hand would lose after the flop came 5-Q-5, but lordhuttyx survived when an ace hit the turn.

That survival bought lordhuttyx some chips and most importantly some time. It put him more on par with the medium stacks, who with the elimination of the shortest stacks had themselves become the new short stacks. RuudGullit found himself with just fifteen big blinds remaining and elected to open-shove Ad-6h from the button. goodvibe1 made a quick call with Ah-Js. The hand went suck-resuck when the flop came 6-K-9 and a miracle jack then appeared on the turn. For the second time in a row, the best hand held up. RuudGullit hit the rail in seventh place, earning $15,750 along the way.

goodvibe1 followed up that elimination by sending lordhuttyx to the rail a few hands later. All the money went in preflop. goodvibe1 again had the best hand, with his pocket jacks leading lordhuttyx's pocket sevens. There was no survival miracle for lordhuttyx this time. By doubling up against tallgeir ten minutes prior, and with the elimination of RuudGullit in the interim, lordhuttyx won $23,250 for finishing in sixth place.

Only five players had survived to this point in the tournament. The shortest among them, Vanky, perhaps concerned for his own tournament survival, suggested chopping the tournament based on chip equity. Supa4real was willing to look into the numbers, but goodvibe1 typed out a very curt "no chop sry". Play continued. Vanky busted in fifth place just four minutes later when his ace-queen couldn't out-race goodvibe1's pocket jacks. He won $30,750.

It was the third elimination in a row for goodvibe1, who had amassed the biggest stack. He added to it by eliminating tallgeir in fourth place just a few hands later. In a raised pot, tallgeir made a half-pot bet on a 3c-Ks-9c flop. goodvibe1 raised to 1.5 million and tallgeir called. When the turn blanked, the two players kept raising until tallgeir was all in. He had middle pair with Qh-9s, but goodvibe1 had top pair with Kh-8d. tallgeir failed to survive the hand when the river didn't bring him a miracle card. It must have been a disappointing end to tallgeir's tournament, but the $38,625 probably took away some of the sting.

With tallgeir's elimination, only three players remained: Dudelinio, Supa4real and goodvibe1. goodvibe1 had done most of the heavy lifting to that point of the final table, with Dudelinio and Supa4real winning small pots along the way and otherwise staying out of the line of fire. That changed in a hurry.

goodvibe1 came in for a raise which Supa4real re-raised to about 1.8 million. Imagine what his reaction must have been when Dudelinio put in the third raise, all-in for just over 3.8 million. With over 6 million chips up for grabs, Supa4real had to call about 2 million more and did so after goodvibe1 obligingly got out of the way. Supa4real's Ah-9h was dominated by Dudelinio's Ac-Qc, but Supa4real had one very large advantage: he wasn't the one at risk of elimination. Dudelinio couldn't survive the hand after the board ran out 6c-2s-9s-5h-Ad. Dudelinio won $48,750 for third place. Just like that, 3,599 players had been whittled down to the final two.

Going into heads-up play, goodvibe1 had the chip lead, courtesy of all of the player he eliminated from the final table. For the first ten to fifteen minutes of heads-up play, the players traded pots. Supa4real would make a little headway against goodvibe1's chip lead, only to lose a few pots and wind up right back at square one. Each player was doing an excellent job of hanging onto his chips and surviving.

Finally, two hands occurred almost back-to-back that decided the tournament. For the first time in heads-up play, goodvibe1 elected to reraise after Supa4real had raised. When Supa4real called, almost 5.7 million chips wound up in the middle. goodvibe1 made a stab at the flop with a bet of 2.8 million, but didn't take long to fold after Supa4real moved all in.

That pot pushed Supa4real into the chip lead for the first time. Just a few hands later, he eliminated the tenacious goodvibe1. Both players limped into the pot for the first time and took a J-4-J flop. goodvibe1 checked, then raised to 1.6 million after Supa4real bet 500,000. With plenty of ammunition, Supa4real called and went to the turn.

When the turn came down the nine of spades, goodvibe1 again checked. Perhaps sensing weakness, Supa4real took another stab with a bet of 1.6 million. goodvibe1 instantly check-raised all-in for a total of 7 million, putting Supa4real to the test. He made an incredible call. His Qc-4d for two pair, jacks and fours, was in the lead against goodvibe1's huge draw with Kc-9c. The river blanked out, allowing Supa4real to win the pot and the whole tournament. He was the ultimate survivor, winning a cool $101,250. goodvibe1 took down $71,250 for his second-place finish.

The final table results were as follows:

1. Supa4real$101,250
2. goodvibe1 $71,250
3. Dudelinio $48,750
4. tallgeir $38,625
5. vanky $30,750.
6. lordhuttyx $23,250.
7. RuudGullit $15,750.
8. EDWARDHOPPER $9,750.
9. GB2005 $6,750.

For more detail on the tournament, be sure to check out the complete live blog of this event.