MicroMillions 6: AshModai90 roasts the competition in Event #38, $5.50 NLHE

Often a poker player's result at the final table of a tournament has less to do with how many chips they have when they get there than what they do with those chips once play resumes. Sometimes a chip leader can dust off a big portion of his stack in the early going and fade out before he even has a chance to get going, much like Philip Hilm did in the 2007 WSOP Main Event. A short-stacked player can double up and buy enough time to climb the pay ladder - or double again and suddenly find herself in contention for the top prize. And a player in the middle of the pack can move ahead with a well-timed play against a big stack who's a little too eager to knock the other players out.

All of that is especially true in non-turbo tournaments where players have more time to wait for the right hand. That includes tournaments like Event #38 of this MicroMillions series, a $5.50 no-limit hold'em event with 10-minute levels, where exactly that kind of chip mobility was on display at the final table. The day had begun with 9,691 players taking to the virtual felt, building a total prize pool of $48,455, but after eight and a half hours the blinds and antes had climbed to 100K/200K/50K and these nine players were still in the running:

MM6-038 ft.jpg

Seat 1: andrei17 (2,532,169 in chips)
Seat 2: AshModai90 (7,921,021 in chips)
Seat 3: dorinoTAG (9,918,463 in chips)
Seat 4: blackcapas (1,502,943 in chips)
Seat 5: ReBorn010513 (4,465,912 in chips)
Seat 6: metis669 (6,652,136 in chips)
Seat 7: LuckyyyLuc (5,638,400 in chips)
Seat 8: Pumi89x (7,185,489 in chips)
Seat 9: PurpleSky180 (2,638,467 in chips)

Poland's LuckyyyLuc crawled forward from the middle of the pack on the second hand of the final table by getting value on every street with K♠ K♦. A min-raise to 400K before the flop got Russia's metis669 to come along, as did bets of 400K on the T♥ K♥ 7♦ flop, 800K on the 4♦ turn, and 800K on the 6♣ river. LuckyyyLuc showed the set and won the 5.12M-chip pot as metis669 mucked. The Polish player was then in position to score the first knockout of the final table on Hand #10 after opening for 450K with T♣ T♠ and calling a shove for 1.42M by Lithuania's blackcapas, but the river of the 5♦ 6♣ 3♥ Q♣ A♠ board saved the Lithuanian's A♣ K♠ for a 3.28M-chip pot.

The rise of AshModai90

All eyes were now on the Ukraine's andrei17, whose 1.5M-chip stack was worth just six big blinds. The Ukrainian player managed to double up on Hand #113 with A♥ 9♠ against the A♣ 7♣ held by Russia's dorinoTAG, and then again on Hand #15 with A♥ K♠ against dorinoTAG's K♦ J♥. Those two losses dropped dorinoTAG from the chip lead to third place with 8.66M, before this pot on Hand #16 dropped the Russian player back into the middle of the pack and gave Estonia's AshModai90 the lead:

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It didn't take long for dorinoTAG to strike back. Hand #17 saw the Russian player call a button min-raise of 500K from andrei17 to see a 7♥ Q♥ 3♣ flop, pairing dorinoTAG's Q♣ J♣. The Russian checked, andrei17 bet 1M, and dorinoTAG check-raised to 2.37M. andrei17 called all-in with A♥ K♠ and needed an ace, a king, or backdoor cards to a heart flush, but the turn and river came 6♠ 5♠ to send the Ukrainian player to the rail in 9th place ($375.52).

AshModai90 won the next two pots uncontested before the flop and then added a bigger chunk to the table's biggest stack on Hand #20. The Estonian player opened for 500K in the hijack seat with A♦ 5♥ and then called an all-in bet of 1.88M by metis669. The Russian player held K♥ J♥ and paired on the J♣ A♥ 8♣ flop, but AshModai90's pair was better. A king, a jack, or back-door cards for a heart flush would have saved metis669's tournament, but the 7♠ and A♣ came instead and the Russian was gone in 8th place ($533.00).

With almost double the chips of anyone else of at the table, AshModai90 was free to hit the gas at will. Hand #24 saw that in action when the Estonian player made a three-bet of 1.19M over LuckyyyLuc's 500K opener. LuckyyyLuc went into the time bank before coming back with a four-bet of 1.88M but had to fold without seeing a flop after AshModai90 came back with a fifth bet of 2.75M.

The shortest stack now belonged to Belgium's PurpleSky180. After passing on hands in both blinds, the Belgian player picked up A♥ K♦ and stayed ahead of Germany's Pumi89x, who held A♣ 7♥, and get back to 1.16M chips. That brought PurpleSky180 close a tie with fellow short stack blackcapas, but Hand #37 saw blackcapas jump back ahead by doubling to 2.82M with A♥ 2♥ against AshModai90's Q♥ 3♣.

Hand #43 was the end of the line for PurpleSky180, who called all-in for 2K more than the big blind with Q♣ 9♣ but couldn't outrun AshModai90's A♣ Q♥ on a board of 7♦ A♦ 8♣ 6♥ 2♥. That knocked PurpleSky180 out in 7th place ($969.10).

blackcapas nearly suffered the same fate on the very next hand after jamming for 2.11M under the gun with Q♣ J♦ and having AshModai90 call with A♣ K♣, but the board bailed the Lithuanian player out by falling 3♥ Q♥ 4♠ 2♠ 3♦ for a double-up to 4.74M. Two hands later almost half those chips would go to another short stack, Luxembourg's ReBorn10513, whose 7♦ 6♦ outran blackcapas' 2♦ 2♠ for a 3.15M-chip pot.

The blinds and antes were up to 200K/400K/50K on Hand #52 when blackcapas shoved for 2.02M in the small blind. ReBorn10513 called with A♠ T♦ in the big blind, leaving just 499K behind, and was probably surprised to be facing 3♥ 2♣. The A♦ K♠ 9♣ 2♥ 4♣ board didn't bring enough help and blackcapas left in 6th place ($1,453.65).

One giant and four would-be slayers

AshModai90 was firmly in the lead with just five players remaining:

Seat 2: AshModai90 (20,181,656 in chips)
Seat 3: dorinoTAG (10,788,545 in chips)
Seat 5: ReBorn010513 (5,239,456 in chips)
Seat 7: LuckyyyLuc (4,605,457 in chips)
Seat 8: Pumi89x (7,639,886 in chips)

That lead extended further on Hand #54 with a key pot against the nearest competitor:

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The next six hands went by without seeing a flop before dorinoTAG opened for 800K from the small blind on Hand #61. ReBorn10513 shoved for 5.03M in the big blind and dorinoTAG quickly called with A♥ T♥ and the tournament on the line. That was ahead of ReBorn10513's K♦ Q♠ through the A♣ J♦ 9♥ flop and J♣ turn, leaving just two cards in the deck that could knock dorinoTAG out - and the T♠ on the river was one of them. That gave ReBorn101513 the Broadway straight and the 8.48M-chip pot, and busted dorinoTAG in 5th place ($1,938.20).

AshModai90 now had 65 big blinds while the other players had just 55 between the three of them. Three hands later that balance would shift after LuckyyyLuc picked up T♠ T♥ and opened for 800K. Pumi89x re-raised to 1.23M and then called with 2.28M left behind after LuckyyyLuc jammed for 5.45M. The German player held A♠ 9♥ and caught bottom pair on the 9♣ Q♦ 6♦ flop, but the J♥ turn and 5♦ river brought no more help and Pumi89x was now the shortest stack at the table.

Hand #66 was the end of the line for Pumi89x. The German player held 5♣ 3♠ and three-bet all-in for 2.15M after ReBorn10513 opened for a minimum raise to 1M. ReBorn10513 called with K♦ Q♦ and stayed ahead through the T♣ A♠ 2♦ Q♣ 2♥ board to eliminate Pumi89x in 4th place ($2,422.75).

AshModai90 had a big lead over both of the other remaining players and put it to use, stealing six of the nine pots without once showing down any cards. ReBorn10513 picked up A♦ 9♠ in the big blind on Hand #76 and made a stand, coming over the top of the chip leader's opening raise of 1M from the small blind. The timing was off, though, as AshModai90 held A♥ T♣ and quickly paired up on the K♦ 3♥ T♠ flop. Running nines or straight cards for a chop were all that could keep ReBorn10513 in the game, but the turn and river came 2♥ 6♦ and the player from Luxembourg was gone in 3rd place ($3,634.12).

One last thing

The table was tilted distinctly to one side as heads-up play began:

Seat 2: AshModai90 (41,056,586 in chips)
Seat 7: LuckyyyLuc (7,398,414 in chips)

LuckyyyLuc was ready to go with any decent cards and shoved with A♥ 4♦ on the second hand. AshModai90 called with A♦ 6♥ but the two chopped the pot when the board came K♦ 8♠ 7♠ 8♦ T♥. Then they chopped another pot on the fourth hand, this time on a board of 7♠ 3♦ 7♥ 3♠ 3♥ after LuckyyyLuc got in with A♠ K♠ against A♣ 4♦.

The Polish player finally doubled up on the sixth hand of heads-up, though it took a little help to get there. A jam from the button with Q♥ J♠ was called by AshModai90 with A♠ J♥, but the 9♦ A♥ K♠ 3♦ T♣ board gave LuckyyyLuc the pot with a Broadway straight.

Still down by roughly 3-to-1, LuckyyyLuc continued to chip away until the deficit was less than 2-to-1. But any deficit in heads-up play can be costly and the 16th hands of heads-up would be the last. LuckyyyLuc opened for a minimum raise of 1.2M on the button, holding A♥ 7♠, and called after AshModai90 shoved in the big blind. The Estonian player's big bet was to protect 5♣ 5♠, which held up against the overcards on a board of J♣ 8♦ K♥ 4♦ T♥ to bring the tournament to a close.

For finishing as the runner-up, LuckyyyLuc earned $5,208.91 - an amazing accomplishment for a player whose previous best score was $10 this August in a tournament with a $0.55 buy-in. As for AshModai90, the win was worth $7,133.18 - the second-biggest score of the Estonian player's career, but 78 percent higher than any other outright victory on a tournament resume dating back to 2009.

MicroMillions-038: $5.50 NL Hold'em
Entrants: 9,691
Prize pool: $48,455
Places paid: 1,260

1. AshModai90 (Estonia) $7,133.18
2. LuckyyyLuc (Poland) $5,208.91
3. ReBorn10513 (Luxembourg) $3,634.12
4. Pumi89x (Germany) $2,422.75
5. dorinoTAG (Russia) $1,938.20
6. blackcapas (Lithuania) $1,453.65
7. PurpleSky180 (Belgium) $969.10
8. metis669 (Russia) $533.00
9. andrei17 (Ukraine) $375.52

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in MicroMillions