MicroMillions 5: marioko1 wins Event 27, $1+R NLHE (Sunday Spark Special Edition)

Sundays have always been a big day for tournaments at PokerStars. Traditionally that's meant marquee events like the Sunday Warm-Up and the Sunday Million. But last year's introduction of the Sunday Spark brought the joy of Sunday tournaments to players with more limited bankrolls. Offering a $25,000 guaranteed prize pool for as little as a $1 investment, the tournament also features unlimited re-buys for 90 minutes and five-minute levels. In just over a year it's become another of the PokerStars tournaments that players look forward to all week.

With MicroMillions 5 now officially in full swing, this week's Sunday Spark was a Special Edition with twice the normal guaranteed prize pool at $50,000, but even that hefty sum fell before the combined might of MicroMillions players. With 12,892 entrants, and 56,393 re-buys and 7,104 add-ons during the first 90 minutes of play, the total prize pool came to $69,595.89. Of that, $9,334.80 was set aside for the winner, giving everyone a definite target to shoot for over the next several hours.

By 9:37 ET the blinds and antes were up to 1.6M/3.2M/320K and Matrix5985 of Australia was eliminated in 10th place, setting up this final table lineup:

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Seat 1: SulinderBorq (73,545,652 in chips)
Seat 2: gio22021981 (25,802,527 in chips)
Seat 3: marioko1 (71,048,110 in chips)
Seat 4: guffyura (12,303,806 in chips)
Seat 5: Cabinet 11 (18,104,696 in chips)
Seat 6: NapaKoru (47,643,015 in chips)
Seat 7: Stanilevic (20,644,180 in chips)
Seat 8: Rubenghe (50,670,570 in chips)
Seat 9: TuxoHOBu4 (101,482,444 in chips)

marioko1 comes out swinging

With the blinds and antes already high and five-minute levels promising they would quickly increasing, there wasn't much time to wait around for short-stacked players like Ukraine's guffyura (with under four big blinds), Australia's Cabinet 11 (with just under six BB), Russia's Stanilevic (just over six BB), and Greece's gio22021981 (just over eight BB). Even chip leader TuxoHOBu4 of Ukraine, with 31 big blinds, didn't have a lot of room. The cards would dictate the pace of play.

And they didn't waste much time in doing so. On Hand #5 of the final table, marioko1 of Romania raised to 12.6M on the button with 5♣ 4♣ and called after Cabinet 11 moved all-in from the big blind for one big blind more with A♥ 8♠. The 6♠ 3♦ Q♠ flop presented all sorts of trouble for Cabinet 11, giving marioko1 14 outs twice, and one of them came home when the turn was the 5♦. That still left Cabinet 11 with six outs, but the 9♥ wasn't one of them and the Australian player was out in 9th place ($417.57).

The blinds and antes went up to 1.8M/3.6M/360K on the next hand, and on Hand #7 marioko1 would knock out another short-stacked player. This time the Romanian player opened to 14.4M from the hijack with a legitimate hand, A♥ K♣, and got a call from Argentina's Rubenghe in the big blind. Rubenghe held 6♦ 4♦ and had 30.35M left behind after that call; with more than double that in the pot, the Argentine player didn't waste much time moving in after picking up a flush draw on the 5♦ 5♣ K♦ flop. The call was an easy one for marioko1, who won the 94.18M-chip pot after the turn and river came 4♠ 7♣ to send Rubenghe out in 8th place ($695.95).

With just 5.18M chips left at that point, guffyura was now the shortest stack and looked likely to be the next to go. But on Hand #9 the Ukrainian player would stack up to 17.71M with Q♣ 8♠ against gio22021981's A♥ K♥ after the board came 6♣ T♦ 2♦ 9♣ J♣. On Hand #11 guffyura had a case of good timing, picking up 9♠ 9♣ in the big blind and calling all-in after marioko1 applied pressure from the big blind despite holding T♥ 3♥. The board ran out 9♥ 7♦ 3♣ 3♠ 5♠ and suddenly guffyura had 36.5M chips - still worth less than 10 big blinds, but much better than holding just one.

Another pocket pair - this one T♠ T♥ - helped gio22021981 to double up to 39.77M against TuxoHOBu4's 9♣ 9♠ on Hand #12. But when Stanilevic picked up 9♦ 9♠ on Hand #15 and moved in for 12.56M from the button, things didn't go quite so well. Singapore's SulinderBorq called from the big blind with Q♣ J♣ and hit middle pair on the A♣ Q♦ 2♥ flop. The T♣ turn and 3♠ river were no help and Stanilevic was gone in 7th place ($1,391.91).

There was some brief talk of a deal at this point. But not everyone agreed to pause the clock for official discussion, which meant play continued and the cards dictated the proceedings. Only four hands later marioko1 put the advantage of the big stack back to work. With short-stacked guffyura (17.36M) in the small blind and NapaKoru of Finland (37.01M) in the big blind, the Romanian player shoved for 141M on the button. A♠ 4♥ was plenty good to make that move, but it was behind when NapaKoru called holding A♣ Q♦. Things looked good for the pre-flop favorite after the T♥ 3♦ 9♥ flop and 2♦ turn, but the 4♣ on the river gave marioko1 a pair of fours and sent NapaKoru out of the tournament in 6th place ($2,087.87).

SulinderBorq steps up

The very next hand after NapaKoru's elimination saw the tables turned as marioko1 started off with the better hand only to lose out on the pot - this time in the single biggest pot of the tournament:


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That gave SulinderBorq the chip lead with 144M, but marioko1 remained in good position with 117M. TuxoHOBu4 wasn't far behind with 111M, leaving gio22021981 (30.59M) and guffyura (16.91M) to desperately try to find to pick up some chips. guffyura tried first, getting in with J♣ T♥ against SulinderBorq's T♠ 3♣; the A♥ T♦ 3♥ flop was bad news, but the 6♣ turn and 6♦ river bailed the Ukrainian player out for a split pot. On Hand #28 gio22021981 took a shot, moving all-in for 11.24M on the button after SulinderBorq opened for 9M in the cutoff; marioko1 called in the big blind, as did SulinderBorq, and the two players checked down the 4♣ 8♥ 6♠ 4♥ 2♠ board. marioko1 turned up K♣ J♥ for a pair of fours with K-J-8, which ended up being enough to take the pot. gio22021981 mucked and exited in 5th place ($2,783.83).

Now guffyura was against the wall, holding just 13.31M chips with blinds and antes freshly up to 2.5M/5M/500K. Those chips all went in the middle two hands later, called off from the button after marioko1 opened for 20M under the gun. SulinderBorq called from the big blind and the two big stacks checked the 9♠ 7♦ J♥ flop and T♠ turn. Only on the K♠ river did SulinderBorq venture a bet of 10M, which got marioko1 to fold; SulinderBorq showed K♣ Q♣ for a king-high straight, beating guffyura's jack-high straight with T♥ 8♦ and sending the Ukrainian player to the rail in 4th place ($3,479.79).

About as close as they could be

After guffyura's elimination, the last three players were all within a single big blind of each other:

Seat 1: SulinderBorq (141,736,337 in chips)
Seat 3: marioko1 (142,007,467 in chips)
Seat 9: TuxoHOBu4 (137,501,196 in chips)

Over the course of the next 10 hands TuxoHOBu4, who had come in with the chip lead but taken a back seat during much of the final table up to that point, stepped on the gas. The Ukrainian player took five of those pots, including this one on Hand #40 to jump considerably ahead of the other two players:


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That left marioko1 as the shortest stack with 78M. Two hands later, though, SulinderBorq would move down to the bottom of the chip counts. After opening for 15M from the small blind and getting a call from SulinderBorq in the big blind, TuxoHOBu4 led out for 25M into the 31.5M pot on the 2♠ 3♣ K♠ flop. SulinderBorq opted to raise to 55M, leaving 39.73M chips behind, but didn't want to go any further after TuxoHOBu4 made a third bet.

The rest of SulinderBorq's stack went in the middle on Hand #43 of the final table, moved in before the flop from the small blind with J♣ 8♠ in the hole. marioko1 made the call with K♠ 4♣ and stayed ahead as the board fell 5♦ 2♠ Q♥ A♣ 6♥. That sent SulinderBorq to the rail in 3rd place ($4,871.71).

With 297M chips, TuxoHOBu4 held an advantage of a little more than 2-to-1 as heads-up play began, but marioko1 quickly began chipping away that lead. An all-in raise on the turn of a board reading 2♦ 9♠ Q♠ K♣ was good enough to take down an 89.1M-chip pot and pull to within 10 big blinds on Hand #51. On the next hand marioko1 struck a huge blow that changed the course of the tournament:


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That left TuxoHOBu4 with a little less than nine big blinds and no choice but to play the majority of hands. That led to a double-up to 115M on Hand #55 despite holding Q♠ 3♣ to marioko1's A♣ 3♥, thanks to a queen on the flop. But it was too little too late. Hand #56 saw TuxoHOBu4 open for 16.5M on the button, which marioko1 called. The two checked the 5♦ 4♦ 3♦ flop, but marioko1 led for 22M on the 9♥ turn. TuxoHOBu4 moved in for 98.46M on a bluff with K♥ Q♥, but marioko1 had flopped a straight with 6♣ 2♣ and had an easy call. The river was the 2♠, changing nothing with regard to the hand, and just six hours and eight minutes after it started, the tournament was complete.

For finishing in second place, TuxoHOBu4 earned $6,550.36. And the champion, marioko1, took home $9,334.80 for a quarter-day's work - not bad at all after having come to the final table in the middle of the pack.

MicroMillions 5 Event #27: $1+R NL Hold'em (3x-Turbo, Sunday Spark Special Edition)
12,982 entrants, 56,393 re-buys, 7,104 add-ons
$69,595.89 prize pool
1,710 places paid

1st place: marioko1 (Romania) $9,334.80
2nd place: TuxoHOBu4 (Ukraine) $6,550.36
3rd place: SulinderBorq (Singapore) $4,871.71
4th place: guffyura (Ukraine) $3,479.79
5th place: gio22021981 (Greece) $2,783.83
6th place: NapaKoru (Finland) $2,087.87
7th place: Stanilevic (Russia) $1,391.91
8th place: Rubenghe (Argentina) $695.95
9th place: Cabinet 11 (Armenia) $417.57

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in MicroMillions