MicroMillions 6: Nodroz overcomes pedigree opposition to win Event #44 ($11 NL Hold'em)
MicroMillions is usually about the underdog. In any of the major 'OOP' events, most MM players would be considered underdogs perhaps, more used to the equally volatile world of lower limits. And that's how it was intended to be. But poker being as it is, it's often the game that appeals rather than the stakes.
That was the story of one player at the final table of Event 44, who led coming into it only to fall at the last hurdle. Instead the title would go to Nodroz, from Belgium, who will look back on his performance, worth $5,624.74 after a three-way deal, as no doubt one of his best.
AceQuad leads as the final table begins
To win the title Nodroz had to overcome the type of opposition usually found at the business end of a SCOOP final. Here's how the final table looked at the start.
Seat 1. AceQuad (Mexico) 4,787,940
Seat 2. Akkula666 (Russia) 1,504,124
Seat 3. lulubum (Canada) 2,218,222
Seat 4. SoLAn2k (Norway) 514,920
Seat 5. ARGO 4507 (Russia) 1,510,221
Seat 6. Vikulinka (Ukraine) 1,152,268
Seat 7. Nodroz (Belgium) 5,252,856
Seat 8. DustHL (Russia) 1,367,088
Seat 9. BrokedBros (Brazil) 2,447,361
So who was the imposter, so to speak? That would be chip leader AceQuad.
For those familiar with the higher stakes of the online world, AceQuad, better known as Eric Brix, won a closely fought contest to be named SCOOP player of the year earlier in 2013. As detailed on the PokerStars Blog, the 28-year old Minnesotan, who now lives in Cancun with his wife, is not averse to big wins on a big stage. He was demonstrating that talent here, and while the stakes might have been more modest, the will to win was not.
A familiar story
Things started in the familiar way. Vikulinka was first to move all-in, doubling with pocket nines through Nodroz, who showed pocket eights. Then DustHL did the same with ace-king against the revived Vikulinka, who called on an ace-high flop with ace-jack. That, alas, was enough to force another shove moments later. Vikulinka found pocket tens but ran into the ace-queen of BrokedBros. An ace on the flop reduced the field to eight.
ARGO 4507 would be the next to depart, his first action in the final being to call all-in DustHL's three-bet pre-flop shove, with jack-nine of diamonds. DustHL had got his chips in with ace-king. The board brought nothing but a pair of sixes, bringing DustHL's ace into play.
By now there were three leaders, with DustHL, BrokedBros and AceQuad all on more than 4 million chips. By the first break Nodroz had joined them. That left the short stacks. SoLAn2k managed a double up but couldn't postpone the inevitable much longer, sent to the rail by Nodroz in seventh.
Company on the rail
Minutes later lulubum was also on the rail. Having found pocket fives, lulubum shoved for a little more than a million (with the big blind at 140,000). AceQuad found jacks and called to put end to lulubum's hopes.
AceQuad was now up to 8.1 million, and firmly in charge, even more so when he despatched Akkula666 in fifth place, calling Akkula666's all-in with king-jack, with his own king-ten, only to runner-runner an unlikely flush.
But the lead was not exactly static, with the well-stacked players keen to scrap over pots. Soon enough Nodroz had seized the advantage with a pair of sixes against AceQuad, who then recouped most of that by eliminated BrokedBros in fourth.
It was at this point that a deal was discussed, with the chip stacks as follows:
Nodroz - 8.13 million
AceQuad - 6.87 million
DustHL - 5.95 million
But these things are not often straight forward.
Nodroz: chip chop
Nodroz: chip chop most fair.
AceQuad: I don't think so!
There followed a short interlude in which the host explained how the icm system worked, in which Nodroz explained to the host that he needed no explanation of how the icm system worked ("but thx"), and in which no deal was agreed, Nodroz adamant that he was being short changed.
I've got an even better idea
Instead, he would agree to a deal if the others gave him $150 of their own share. AceQuad nixed that, but DustHL, already set for substantially more than third place promised, agreed. A new deal was struck, and they all lived happily ever after.
Almost immediately a big pot altered the landscape again.
Surely this would be enough momentum for AceQuad to romp home? Not quite. AceQuad may well have been the most convincing player at the table, but the others were proving difficult to dislodge.
Finally DustHL did depart in third place, his pocket fives out-done by AceQuad's ace-queen on an ace-high flop. It left AceQuad with a huge advantage.
AceQuad -- 14 million
Nodroz -- 6.8 million
And so the story was all set to end there, with AceQuad gallivanting to a well-earned MicroMillions title, to add to an already glittering resume.
Nothing certain except uncertainty
But even a lead like that can be overturned. Granted Nodroz might not have thought that necessarily, but he gave it a go, being rewarded for the effort, in what would prove a gripping hand.
Rarely to hands thrill so much. The final had not been a stalemate, or a traditional session of all-ins being called. Instead there had been ample play, during which several players showed off a natural flair for the game. This hand though changed everything. AceQuad didn't give up exactly, but knew the work would be difficult.
A final table to grace any championship, OOP', MicroMillions or otherwise.
Congratulations to Nodroz who refused to follow the script. Expect to see AceQuad at a final table near you.
MicroMillions-044: $11 NL Hold'em
Prize pool: $41,930.00
Places paid: 540
1. nodroz (Belgium) $5,624.74*
2. AceQuad (Mexico) $,4809.92*
3. DustHL (Russia) $4,516.17*
4. BrokedBros (Brazil) $2,410.97
5. akkula666 (Russia) $1,782.02
6. lulubum (Canada) $1,362.72
7. SoLAn2k (Norway) $943.42
8. ARGO 4507 (Russia) $524.12
9. vikulinka (Ukraine) $335.44
*Denotes three-way deal.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.