Micro Millions II: TuKaLuGa, from way behind, demolishes Event 73

micromillions-thumb-blog.pngStarting a final table with almost half the chips in play is a huge leg-up for any poker player - but it's not the end of the proposition. Eight eliminations still stand between that player and 1st place, and those eliminations usually become more difficult to attain as the players get deeper into the final table.

That object lesson was on display today in the 2012 MicroMillions II Event 73, $3.30 NLHE, as the overwhelming chipleader fell in 2nd place to a lightning strike up the counts by TuKaLuGa, the eventual champion.

Event 73 drew 8,752 players, an impressive number when you consider that it was scheduled as an early Friday morning tournament. 1,170 players would receive at least $5.25, the minimum payout in Event 73. Reaching the final table was worth a guaranteed $203.48; taking down the whole tournament would earn you more than 1,000 times your buy-in ($3,944.06).

Hopefully you've been following along with PokerStars Team Online Player Andre "acoimbra" Coimbra as he has been attempting an ironman challenge to play all 100 MicroMillions II events. (If not, feel free to read Coimbra's diary about the challenge.) Coimbra hasn't fared very well in the early-morning hours, but today he battled his way to a 725th place finish, good for $6.82.

Coimbra was long-since retired to the rail when an absolutely brutal rivered one-outer in an 18 million-chip pot sent gwsq to the rail in 10th place as the final table bubble player. These nine players assembled at the final table:

MM2 Event 73 recap.jpg

Seat 1: mattthemaori (1380288 in chips)
Seat 2: berdik0602 (1269957 in chips)
Seat 3: Marboo (2745091 in chips)
Seat 4: AntonMajor10 (5377760 in chips)
Seat 5: srbigrac (917934 in chips)
Seat 6: TuKaLuGa (3575480 in chips)
Seat 7: borui.killer (2050000 in chips)
Seat 8: gandulfo0815 (5280880 in chips)
Seat 9: W.I.W.69 (21162610 in chips)

Level 46: Blinds 100k-200k, ante 25k
Average stack: 4.8 million (24 BBs)

W.I.W.69 starts strong...

W.I.W.69 was the benefactor of that rivered one-outer, making a flopped set of 8s into quad 8s against gwsq's flopped set of aces. That hand gave W.I.W.69 a huge chip lead of 21 million at the final table; the rest of the table had only 23 million combined.

Several other players were in immediate danger of busting. srbigrac was one of them and opted to call all in from the big blind with A♦9♦ after borui.killer shoved the small blind. borui.killer had a better ace, A♥T♥. The board could have ended in a chop, but the turn paired borui.killer K♣K♠2♠T♦2♥ to seal the elimination of srbigrac in 9th place.

Just three hands later mattthemaori was the short stack sitting in the big blind. When small blind W.I.W.69 open-shoved, mattthemaori also called all in for less than a million with an ace, A♣7♠. Again, the small blind had a better ace, A♦K♠, and again that better ace held up. mattthemaori hit the rail in 8th place while W.I.W.69's stack got even bigger.

With that big stack, W.I.W.69 could afford to get the chips in from behind a few times, looking to gamble to take other players out. Nobody would have faulted W.I.W.69 for getting them in with A♠Q♦, however. That's what happened in a hand against berdik0602. W.I.W.69 opened with a min-raise to 500k that berdik0602 three-bet to 1.5 million. W.I.W.69 four-bet to 2.75 million, more than berdik0602's remaining stack. berdik0602 called all in with pocket kings. A queen on the flop and a queen on the turn allowed W.I.W.69 to drag another pot and eliminate berdik0602 in 7th place.

...then TuKaLuGa takes over

While W.I.W.69 dominated the final table, TuKaLuGa began climbing up the ranks. A key hand came against W.I.W.69, who flopped a set of deuces against TuKaLuGa's gutshot straight draw. The chips went in, but TuKaLuGa nailed the straight on the turn to stay alive. Two hands later TuKaLuGa eliminated gandulfo0815 in 6th place by calling gandulfo0815's shove for 1.7 million on a flop of 2♥T♣K♥. gandulfo0815 showed Q♣T♠ for middle pair; TuKaLuGa had two queens in the hole. The board blanked out; gandulfo0815 was gone. TuKaLuGa, who moments before seemed destined for the rail, climbed to 9.2 million and 2nd place in the chip counts.

TuKaLuGa may have borrowed some of W.I.W.69's run-good to eliminate AntonMajor10 in 5th place during the 150k-300k round. The hand was a flip when the chips went in pre-flop. AntonMajor10 showed A♠6♠ against TuKaLuGa's 5♣5♥. AntonMajor10 flopped a flush draw, T♥Q♠8♠, then turned the A♥ to improve to a pair of aces. That card left TuKaLuGa drawing at only one out, the 5♦. That very card fell on the river, allowing TuKaLuGa to collect the 8.5 million-chip pot.

That one-outer seemed to be the spark that TuKaLuGa needed. A full house against W.I.W.69 earned TuKaLuGa another 6 million chips and the chip lead; an unfortunately timed shove for 4.0 million by borui.killer with 5♥6♥ swelled TuKaLuGa's stack even more. TuKaLuGa called from the big blind with A♠J♥ and nailed an ace on the turn to leave borui.killer drawing dead. 4th place was worth $1,323.30 for borui.killer.

The next hand Marboo shoved for 2.6 million from the button. TuKaLuGa three-bet to isolate with A♣K♠. After W.I.W.69 folded, the race was on against Marboo's pocket 7s. The Q♥J♣6♣ flop missed TuKaLuGa but gave TuKaLuGa some extra outs. They turned out to be unnecessary; the turn K♥ paired kings for TuKaLuGa, which was enough to notch the elimination when the river blanked.

It seemed like the Event 73 final table was W.I.W.69's to win, but TuKaLuGa's amazing charge up the count left W.I.W.69 as a roughly 2-to-1 chip underdog when heads-up play began. Both put together amazing runs to get to the final two of the tournament. Which would play and run the best to claim the title?

It didn't take long to find the answer. TuKaLuGa managed to grind W.I.W.69 down to about 7.3 million. On the final hand of the tournament, W.I.W.69 opened the button with a minimum-raise to 800k. TuKaLuGa called to a flop of 5♦6♦K♠ and checked. W.I.W.69 continued for 714k; TuKaLuGa responded by check-raising to 2.4 million. W.I.W.69 shoved for 6.4 million and TuKaLuga snap-called. W.I.W.69 was drawing with J♦2♦... but not in the way that W.I.W.69 likely expected. TuKaLuGa showed a better flush draw with Q♦7♦. The turn and river were both bricks, allowing TuKaLuGa to drag the last pot of the tournament with queen-high.

In the end, W.I.W.69's run paled in comparison to the lightning charge put together by TuKaLuGa. It's not often that a player gets to be the champion of a tournament with unimproved queen-high, but when that happens it's always a great day.

2012 MicroMillions II Event 73 $3.30 NLHE results:

1st: TuKaLuGa ($3,944.06)
2nd: W.I.W.69 ($2,888.16)
3rd: Marboo ($1,969.20)
4th: borui.killer ($1,323.30)
5th: AntonMajor10 ($1,050.24)
6th: gandulfo0815 ($787.68)
7th: berdik0602 ($525.12)
8th: mattthemaori ($301.94)
9th: srbigrac ($203.48)

Time's running out on the 2012 MicroMillions II. If you haven't yet joined the fun, check out the MicroMillions home page to learn what events are still on tap. If you have joined the fun, make sure you close out the series with a bang!

Dave Behr
@PokerStars in MicroMillions