MicroMillions 6: zen_mec knows the art of winning Event #75, $5.50 NLHE (6-Max, Big Antes)

When you're talking about tournament stack sizes, the big blind is normally the prime unit of measure. If someone's holding a dozen or so big blinds, he's short-stacked. If her stack is worth 100 big blinds, she's deep-stacked. It's a convenient way to keep track of the constant stream of numbers, but it also leaves out an important factor in the structure: the antes.

We notice the blinds but tend to ignore antes. Perhaps it's because they come out at the start of every hand. Or perhaps because they're generally only a small fraction of the big blind. In the PokerStars Big Antes structure, that's a lot harder to do since they weigh in at one-fifth of the big blind instead of one-eighth. This makes sitting back and waiting a less viable strategy than in a more traditional structure, guaranteeing plenty of action throughout the game.

Event #75 of MicroMillions 6, a $5.50 6-max, no-limit hold'em tournament with Big Antes, attracted a field of 9,881 players to build a prize pool worth $49,405. That set up a top prize of $7,171.18, and after eight hours and 40 minutes the final six players were ready to fight for it:

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Seat 1: Judita007 (16,598,624 in chips)
Seat 2: zen_mec (6,282,425 in chips)
Seat 3: homer789 (4,218,628 in chips)
Seat 4: johnvhp (13,320,315 in chips)
Seat 5: Tomizb (5,607,841 in chips)
Seat 6: RodMan_Alien (3,377,167 in chips)

The blinds and antes were at 100K/200K/40K, costing everyone 540K per orbit, and the bottom half of the field was in need of a quick double. But the action came thanks to Slovakian player Judita007, who didn't waste any time putting the incoming chip lead to work, checking the option in the big blind on Hand #1 to see a J♠ 8♥ 8♠ flop with the table's other big stack, johnvhp of Portugal. Judita007 check-called a 400K bet into the 1.34M pot and the turn was the 6♥, and this time the Slovakian check-raised johnvhp's 400K bet to 800K. johnvhp called there and then called another 2.6M on the 4♣ river but mucked when Judita007 turned up 8♣ 8♦ for flopped quads.

That moved Judita007 up to 21.1M chips, more than 12.2M ahead of the nearest opponent and worth more than 84 big blinds. That much breathing room meant there was no need to get too involved over the next 15 hands while the rest of the field shook itself out. johnvhp, meanwhile, was able to get all of those lost chips back and then some on Hand #16:

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With not even a hint of help from the board, RodMan_Allen failed to crack the aces and finished in 6th place ($692.65).


johnvhp now held 14.3M and still trailed Judita007 by 4.3M, but the gap between them narrowed on the next hand when homer789's Q♦ Q♣ survived an all-in against the Slovakian player's A♦ J♠ on a Q♠ A♥ T♣ 4♥ 3♣ board. That cut Judita007's lead to about 640K, but then Belgium's zen_mec - a past Sunday Warm Up winner - doubled through johnvhp with K♠ 9♦ against A♠ T♥ to take the Portuguese player back down to 10.5M. And for good measure, Lithuania's Tomizb won a blind-versus-blind pot worth 5.25M from Judita007 two hands later, betting every street of a 4♥ 6♦ 8♥ A♠ 9♠ board and taking it down uncontested on the river.

All that action had the chip counts looking a bit different than they had at the start:

Seat 1: Judita007 (12,034,996 in chips)
Seat 2: zen_mec (7,459,850 in chips)
Seat 3: homer789 (7,732,256 in chips)
Seat 4: johnvhp (9,920,057 in chips)
Seat 5: Tomizb (12,257,841 in chips)

From there the five players settled into a steady rhythm of claiming small pots before the flop, with the occasional post-flop win mixed in here and there. zen_mec made the biggest move by winning Hand #38 and Hand #39 with a combination a pre-flop raising and continuation betting on the flop, good for 3.33M and 3.48M to give the Belgian player a second-place stack with 12.38M. That strategy continued to pay off for another dozen hands and zen_mec was over the 16M-chip mark.

Tomizb jumps ahead

The deadlock at five was finally broken on Hand #52. johnvhp, who had fallen to 6.53M during the recent stretch of hands, opened the betting for 1M in the cutoff and Tomizb was the only caller on the button. The flop came 8♥ 8♦ 2♥ and johnvhp check-raised all-in for 5.53M, which Tomizb called with 7♣ 7♠ for two pair. johnvhp's A♦ J♥ could catch up with either an ace or a jack, but the turn and river fell 5♠ 6♣ to knock the Portuguese player out in 5th place ($988.10).

Tomizb picked up another pair on the next hand and it would pay off handsomely. The Lithuanian player opened the betting in the cutoff for 1.2M and got calls from both Judita007 on the button and homer789 in the big blind. The flop came 5♦ 5♣ K♥ and then came a flurry of action. Tomizb bet 1.6M when checked to, Judita007 re-raised to 4.4M, Tomizb moved all-in, and Judita007 called with K♠ Q♣ for kings and fives. That trailed Tomizb's aces and fives with A♥ A♦, though, and without another king on the 3♠ turn and 9♠ river the Slovakian player was eliminated in 4th place ($1,976.20).

zen_mec makes a move

Tomizb now held a chip lead of about 27 big blinds on the 200K/400K/80K level:

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Seat 2: zen_mec (16,006,915 in chips)
Seat 3: homer789 (6,537,256 in chips)
Seat 5: Tomizb (26,860,829 in chips)

The next five hands went by without a flop but homer789 managed a double on Hand #59 after jamming for 8.17M with Q♦ T♦ and catching top pair to outrun Tomizb's 9♣ 9♥. Then Tomizb fell to the back of the pack in a hand against zen_mec on the next hand:

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After that burst of activity the pace of play slowed somewhat, with only one of the next 22 hands reaching a showdown. zen_mec continued to chip up at this point, while the other two players jostled for position. Hand #83 finally brought the biggest confrontation of the final table after zen_mec opened for a minimum raise to 1M on the button and homer789 jammed for 15.7M in the small blind. zen_mec made the call with 9.18M behind and A♣ Q♣ in the hole, which was flipping with homer789's 7♣ 7♥. The board came 8♣ 8♦ Q♥ K♠ 4♣ and suddenly the tournament was down to its final two players.

One last chance

Tomizb's back was against the wall as heads-up play began:

Seat 2: zen_mec (41,438,379 in chips)
Seat 5: Tomizb (7,966,621 in chips)

After trading blinds for five hands, Tomizb picked up K♠ K♥ and doubled through zen_mec's A♣ 6♦ for 15.9M. zen_mec responded by winning eight of the next nine pots pre-flop, bringing the chip counts back to roughly the point they'd been at when heads-up play began.

Tomizb managed to double up one more time on the 16th hand of the duel, calling small bets with Q♥ T♠ on the A♦ 9♣ A♥ flop and A♣ turn before hitting a full house on the T♦ river to beat zen_mec's made boat with 9♦ 2♥.

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But zen_mec took the next pot pre-flop and set up the final hand of the tournament, which saw the Belgian player min-raise on the button with A♥ K♣ and call Tomizb's raise to 15.7M. The Lithuanian held A♦ 2♠ and had just three outs, but none of them came on the 5♠ 8♥ T♦ 7♠ K♥ board and the tournament was complete.

Tomizb's runner-up prize of $4,940.50 beat the Lithuanian player's previous career best by more than $4,400. And while champion zen_mec's wasn't a career high, the $7,171.18 return on a $5.50 investment will look very pretty on that tournament resume for a long time to come.

MicroMillions-075: $5.50 NL Hold'em (6-Max, Big Antes)
Entrants: 9,881
Prize pool: $49,405
Places paid: 1,350

1. zen_mec (Belgium) $7,171.18
2. Tomizb (Lithuania) $4,940.50
3. homer789 (Germany) $3,458.35
4. Judita007 (Slovakia) $1,976.20
5. johnvhp (Portugal) $988.10
6. RodMan_Allen (Hungary) $692.65

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in MicroMillions