MicroMillions 5: tez10 topples the field in Event 54, $5.50 NLHE

A poker tournament is a lot like a baseball game: you know when each one begins and the structure it will follow as it's being played out, but there's no way to know when any given one will come to an end. Both are capable of moving along at a brisk pace and ending in short order. But no matter how far down a baseball team might be, the game isn't over until the third out has been recorded in the ninth inning. And no matter how short-stacked all its players might be compared to the blinds and antes, no poker tournament is done until only one of them is left with any chips.

Event 54 of this MicroMillions 5 series, a $5.50 no-limit hold'em freezeout, was a good example of this. The tournament kicked off at 2 a.m. ET today and drew a field of 5,635 entrants by the time late registration was complete. That built a $28,175 prize pool, of which 720 players would receive a share. Once all those figures in place, all that was left was to play down until there was a winner. By the time the blinds and antes were up to 60K/120K/15K, the final nine players appeared primed for a quick final table:

mm5-054 ft.jpg

Seat 1: gianni 123 (1,315,048 in chips)
Seat 2: rashii10 (2,040,436 in chips)
Seat 3: re6el33 (3,372,085 in chips)
Seat 4: AL3XK3ITY (1,708,516 in chips)
Seat 5: tez10 (9,360,876 in chips)
Seat 6: rivicoz (2,098,620 in chips)
Seat 7: Fmozart (1,021,660 in chips)
Seat 8: Elgeborg2 (3,788,339 in chips)
Seat 9: alek000 (3,469,420 in chips)

A quick pace early...

The action got started almost immediately as Switzerland's gianni 123, who had the second-shortest stack coming into the final table with just under 11 big blinds, moved all-in for 1.28M on Hand #2 after an opening raise from the Ukraine's rivicoz. The Ukrainian player made the call with A♠ Q♦, which was well behind gianni 123's K♦ K♠. The board came 7♥ T♥ 4♦ Q♥ 9♥ and gianni 123 had scored the final table's first double-up.

That left rivicoz with just 783K. Two hands later the Ukrainian player picked up A♥ 9♣ in early position and moved all-in for 753K. The action folded to Russia's re6el33, who called with 8♦ 8♠ in the big blind. The 8♥ 7♣ 6♦ flop gave re6el33 top set but also left rivicoz with an open-ended straight draw. But the 3♦ turn and Q♣ river were no help, sending rivicoz to the rail in 9th place ($225.40).

The new short stack was Brazil's Fmozart with 961K. The Brazilian was in the big blind three hands later when Russia's Elgeborg2 raised the minimum to 240K under the gun, and once the action folded around Fmozart moved all-in for 916K.with K♦ J♥. Elgeborg2 made a quick call with A♦ 3♣, which held up on a board of 4♥ 7♠ 3♦ 5♣ 9♥ board to eliminate Fmozart in 8th place ($352.18).

The quick pace of bustouts fell off for a bit as most of the pots went to the first raiser before the flop, with a smaller number of pots going to whoever made a bet on the flop. On Hand #22, the first of the 70K/140K/17.5K level, India's rashii10 picked up 9♠ 9♣ and opened the pre-flop betting by moving all-in for 1.39M. Unfortunately for rashii10, Russia's alek000 woke up in the big blind with K♣ K♠ and quickly called. Things only got worse on the flop for rashii10 when the flop came K♦ T♥ T♦: the only way to win was to hit running nines, and the only way to chop would be for running tens to come on the turn and river. When those cards came the 8♥ and Q♥, rashii10 was knocked out in 7th place ($633.93).

Elgeborg2 managed to win a healthy 4.23M-chip pot on the next hand with an uncalled river bet with the board reading 4♥ A♠ 5♦ 7♦ 3♠. But from there the action tightened up. Only two of the next 15 hands even reached a flop, and none of them went past it. Finally, on Hand #42, Brazil's AL3XK3ITY picked up 6♦ 6♣ and moved all-in for 1.13M under the gun. The only caller was gianni 123, who held K♠ Q♠ in the small blind. The 5♣ A♠ T♥ flop and 2♥ turn were safe for the Brazilian player, but the K♣ on the river gave gianni 123 the pot. With that, AL3XK3ITY was gone in 6th place ($915.68).

...before extra innings

The remaining five players, with blinds and antes still at 70K/140K/17.5K, were now stacked like this:

Seat 1: gianni 123 (2,943,612 in chips)
Seat 3: re6el33 (3,445,157 in chips)
Seat 5: tez10 (9,096,376 in chips)
Seat 8: Elgeborg2 (6,947,499 in chips)
Seat 9: alek000 (5,742,356 in chips)

Even the shorter stacks still had room to maneuever, which set the stage for a drawn-out fight - and drawn-out it was. The next 65 hands, played out as the blinds rose to 125K/250K with 31.25K antes, saw only five major pots played. All of them resulted in wins for the player with the shorter stack. The 66th - Hand #108 of the final table - looked like it would play out in much the same fashion when re6el33 got in for 3.41M before the flop with K♥ K♣ and Australia's tez10 raised to isolate holding Q♦ J♠. The 9♠ 7♠ 8♥ gave tez10 four outs to a straight; the 6♣ on the turn didn't fill it, but the T♥ did, shipping the 7.61M-chip pot to tez10 and knocking re6el33 out in 5th place ($1,197.43).

The knockout was a departure from the overall pattern of the final table, which so far had mostly resembled a team mounting a late-inning rally. But the pattern quickly resumed. gianni 123 moved in for 2.59M on Hand #112, holding 9♥ 8♥ and got a call from tex10 with 8♦ 7♦. Neither player improved on the 5♠ 4♣ T♦ J♣ 3♦ board and gianni 123 stacked up to 5.76M. Then alek000 turned the tables on Hand #127, moving in for 2.38M with A♠ J♣ and holding up against gianni 123's K♣ Q♣ after the board came 8♠ 3♦ 2♦ 8♣ 9♠. And on Hand #128, gianni 123 got those chips back with a little extra:

RSS readers, please click through for replay

Losing that pot left Elgeborg2 with just 1.58M, worth a little more than six blinds and almost 3.6M less than anyone else at the table. But the Russian player caught a break worth more than $700 five hands later when tez10 raised to 1M on the button and alek000 shoved for 4.07M, holding 5♣ 5♣. tez10 made the call with K♦ T♦ and promptly caught two pair on the 6♥ T♣ 6♦ flop. The 8♥ turn and 7♣ river sent alek000 out in 4th place ($1,591.88).

Still on the short stack, Elgeborg2 remained the focus of attention. The Russian player doubled up to 4.18M on Hand #135 with A♠ Q♥ against tez10's A♦ 8♠, pulling into a virtual tie with gianni 123. But Elgeborg2 was unable to gain any traction from there, while gianni 123 pulled this off on Hand #153:

RSS readers, please click through for replay

A 3.71M-chip pot won with A♦ Q♥ against tez10's J♥ 9♣ just a few hands later moved gianni 123 to within 10 big blinds of the leader. Meanwhile Elgeborg2 was hanging on for dear life with just 2.94M. All of that went in the middle before the flop on Hand #162, three-bet from the big blind with A♥ 7♥ after tez10 had opened in the small blind with A♠ 9♠. The J♦ 9♥ 4♣ flop gave tez10 middle pair and left Elgeborg2 in need of a perfect combination of running cards for the win, but the 6♦ and K♣ didn't fit the bill, sending Elgeborg2 to the rail in 3rd place ($2,324.43).

tez10 held a lead of 17.5M to 10.67M over gianni 123 with blinds and antes at 150K/300K/37.5K as heads-up play began. After trading blinds back and forth for five hands the two players agreed to look at the numbers for a potential deal, and within minutes they had made a deal. Then, on the very first hand after the deal was in place, gianni 123 opened for 750K on the button with K♥ Q♠. tez10 three-bet to 2.1M and then called with K♦ K♣ after gianni 123 shoved for 10.82M. The board ran out A♣ 6♦ 8♠ J♥ 4♣, the kings were good, and the tournament came to a close.

Thanks to the deal, gianni 123 earned $3,563.17 for second place - almost $300 more than the original pay scale had called for. That's better than $3,000 more than gianni 123's previous best score. As for tez10, the Australian player earned $4,130.07 for the win. That's the second-best showing of the Aussie's career and the best since a $3,300+ score back in November 2011.

MicroMillions 5 Event #54: $5.50 NL Hold'em
5,635 entrants
$28,175 prize pool
720 places paid

1st place: tez10 (Australia) $4,130.07*
2nd place: gianni 123 (Switzerland) $3,563.17*
3rd place: Elgeborg2 (Russia) $2,324.43
4th place: alek000 (Russia) $1,591.88
5th place: re6el33 (Russia) $1,197.43
6th place: AL3XK3ITY (Brazil) $915.68
7th place: rashii10 (India) $633.93
8th place: Fmozart (Brazil) $352.18
9th place: rivicoz (Ukraine) $225.40
* - denotes results of a two-way deal

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in MicroMillions