MicroMillions 4: Up and over for JKMatthews down under in Event #54 ($5.50 NL Hold'em)
If you've never seen a final table that's dragged you can count yourself lucky. Stories are legendary of live events cursed by inactivity. Not just a cold deck, but cold players, content to fold their way into the early morning. The same sometimes applies to the online game, although the pace usually means any discomfort lasts only a fraction of the time. But every so often a finale comes along to remind you of how entertaining a final table can be, as well as how pleasing - one played with skill, panache, and in the best of spirits.
That would apply to the finale of Event 54 of the MM4, and in particular to its winner JKMatthews, who not only won with style, but with rare humility, earning every cent of the $4778.88 prize money.
That came as part of a two-way deal with runner-up Antoniozerpa, from Venezuela. If JKMatthews had been the best player at the table, Antoniozerpa was undoubtedly the second best, stumped only by JKMatthews playing out of his socks.
Leading coming into the final, JKMatthews dropped his advantage only once, quickly picking it up again. He was unstoppable, maximising his advantage at all times in a textbook display of bravura.
The final table
Seat 1. Sazzy83 - $1,938,795
Seat 2. FLOnofear - $4,533,376
Seat 3. JKMatthews - $6,888,870
Seat 4. Dot411 - $4,558,941
Seat 5. Dob.asche - $2,778,168
Seat 6. Manolis753 - $2,805,576
Seat 7. Antoniozerpa - $4,004,498
Seat 8. Sudrap - $4,812,208
Seat 9. binawhile - $939,568
The final got underway with blinds at 70,000-140,000 with a 17,500 ante. Binawhile was the short stack but it was Dob.asche leaving first, unfortunate enough to run ace-queen in to the ace-king held by Antoniozerpa, who moved his stack up to 6.6 million. By that stage however, JKMatthews had increased the size of his to 9.1 million.
The final table begins
That would soon increase to more than 10 million as JKMatthews engaged a plan that he continued to use successfully through to the end - constantly playing the aggressor and putting the decision to his opponents who more often than not had to concede to his will. Antoniozerpa, however, was eager to test that.
For the first time JKMatthews had lost the lead, Antoniozerpa stretching marginally ahead. It would be the first and only time, and wouldn't last long, as JKMatthews dispatched Sazzy83 to the rail in eighth place moments later, tens against fives.
With the blinds now 125,000-250,000, with a 31,250 ante (imagine what that would look like live), binawhile got stuck in again.
Just as JKMatthews had handled the big stack well, binawhile was doing the same with a short stack, expertly navigating it through two double-ups; this latest efforts with pocket sevens against Antoniozerpa's ace-jack. That kept binawhile alive while Dot411 fell to JKMatthews in seventh, king-deuce against ace-jack. Sudrap followed in sixth when his ace-eight failed to improve against FLOnofear's pocket queens.
All the while JKMatthews further added to his stack, which continued its upward trajectory. Although it remained susceptible to knocks. Binawhile doubled again through it, ace-ten against king-jack, on his way to what would eventually be a remarkable third place finish.
Before that though FLOnofear busted in fifth place, shoving for nine big blinds with ace-five off-suit against the ace-king suited of JKMatthews, who when not forcing out players without showing his cards, was forcing them out by showing them.
JKMatthews - 19 million
binawhile - 4.3 million
Antoniozerpa - 5.2 million
Manolis753 - 3.6 million
Antoniozerpa though was not ready to give up yet.
Again, JKMatthews maintained the pleasantries. Every hand he played was followed by a "gg", or a "nh" depending on how it transpired. But that hand brought Antoniozerpa back to within 4 million, as they reached the break.
JKMatthews - 14,301,244
binawhile - 6210294
Antoniozerpa - 10485060
Manolis753 - 2613402
The with big blind now 400,000, Manolis753 first doubled through Antoniozerpa with nines against sixes before losing out to JKMatthews, ace-nine against pocket tens. It put binawhile back in the short-stack spotlight, his run coming to an end in third place with an icy ace-queen vs. ace-king scrap against Antoniozerpa.
The deal heads-up was agreed swiftly and with smileys on each line of chat box text. You sensed that both players were breaking personal records and neither wanted to spoil the fun. They agreed on $4,300 each with the rest, $478.88, left in the middle.
JKMatthews was ahead almost two-to-one in the first hand, more so after a large river bet forced Antoniozerpa to fold in the next. But JKMatthews required only three minutes to sew things up. The chips went in, Antoniozerpa marginally ahead with ace-deuce against JKMatthews' king-queen. For added drama the deck left it until the river to deliver the match winning king.
A thrilling performance from JKMatthews, the type that disguised hard work as mere folly. The Australian makes for a worthy winner. "GG."
MicroMillions 4 Event #54 Results
Prize pool: $33,610.00 ($20,000 gtd)
Places paid: 855
1st. JKMatthews (Australia) - $4,778.88*
2nd. antoniozerpa (Venezuela) - $4,300.00*
3rd. binawhile (United Kingdom) - $2,722.41
4th. manolis753 (Greece) - $1,887.20
5th. FLOnofear (Romania) - $1,411.62
6th. sudrap (Czech Republic) - $1,075.52
7th. dot411 (United Kingdom) - $739.42
8th. Sazzy83 (Luxembourg) - $420.12
9th. dob.asche (Germany) - $262.15
(* denotes a two-way deal)
The numbers are big - more than $5 million in prize money guaranteed during this, the fourth MicroMillions series. A total of 100 events will be running until March 24th across various poker disciplines. To find out more go to the MicroMillions 4 home page where you'll find the full schedule of events as well as statistics, coverage, leader boards and much more.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter