MicroMillions 8: jet_ya888 flies high in Event #73, $3.30 NLHE

MicroMillions 8 is in full swing headed to its final weekend and there are as many varieties of poker in play as you can imagine. Between all the shorthanded tables and re-buys events and exotic draw, stud, and flop games, sometimes it's nice to fall back to something familiar, like a home-cooked meal or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Or, for tournament poker players, the no-limit freezeout.

That's exactly what was waiting for players in Event #73, a $3.30 No-Limit Hold'em tournament. The promise of the Cadillac of Poker's warm embrace drew 8,248 entries, enough to build a $24,744 prize pool that topped the guarantee by nearly 65 percent. The top 1,080 finishers all earned at least $5.19, with $3,716.70 set aside for the champion.

Blinds and antes were at 100K/200K/25K as these nine players sat down to the final table at 12:37 p.m. ET:

Seat 1: zarfrolov (4,256,870 in chips)
Seat 2: Rush_Gunz (4,234,946 in chips)
Seat 3: jet_ya888 (4,840,944 in chips)
Seat 4: $howdanutz (2,825,786 in chips)
Seat 5: mangas1978 (10,201,752 in chips)
Seat 6: FloatDaRiva (5,427,828 in chips)
Seat 7: 007 OLDMAN (2,350,168 in chips)
Seat 8: Vonka22 (2,372,101 in chips)
Seat 9: angchaops (4,729,605 in chips)

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Usually a first hand knockout involves a short-stacked player making a desperate move, but the confrontation on the first hand of this final table saw two players with more than 20 big blinds each. Rush_Gunz from Portugal opened the betting with K♥ K♦ in the hijack seat and made the fourth bet all-in for 4.2M after South Korea's FloatDaRiva re-raised to 1.4M from the big blind with A♦ A♠. FloatDaRiva called and the aces held up on the 2♥ 8♥ 3♥ 2♣ T♦ board to win the 8.7M-chip pot and eliminate Rush_Gunz in 9th place ($191.76).

FloatDaRiva picked up another pocket pair on Hand #5, the first of the 125K/250K/31.25K level, opening for 500K in the hijack seat with J♣ J♥ and calling another 3.8M when China's angchaops moved all-in from the small blind. The Chinese player held A♦ 9♠ but grabbed the lead on the 8♦ 8♥ A♥ flop. The 7♥ river gave FloatDaRiva a chance at a flush, but the 9♦ on the river was a blank and angchaops doubled up to 9.2M.

The short stacks finally got involved on Hand #6 when Lithuania's Vonka22 moved all-in for 1.9M from the cutoff. Russia's zarfrolov was the only caller in the small blind with A♦ 4♥, which had the advantage over Vonka22's J♠ 3♠. A spade draw popped up on the 7♠ 6♥ 8♠ flop, and a straight draw did the same on the T♥ turn. But neither draw came in with the A♣ on the river, and Vonka22 exited in 8th place ($296.92).

zarfrolov was involved in the next showdown on Hand #10. The Russian player opened for 500K in middle position with Q♠ J♠ and called after $howdanutz moved in for 2.7M in the cutoff. zarfrolov's hand was dominated by $howdanutz's A♣ Q♣, which came into play on the 9♥ 3♦ Q♥ flop. Without a jack or a straight materializing on the 2♣ turn and 4♣ river, the 6.1M-chip pot went to $howdanutz.

The United Kingdom's 007 OLDMAN had won a single pot at the final table, stealing the blinds and antes on the second hand, and made a play for a second pot on Hand #11, opening the action by moving all-in for 1.9M from the small blind with A♠ 3♥. angchaops called from the big blind with K♣ J♥ and picked up a 12-out draw on the 6♥ A♥ Q♥ draw, despite 007 OLDMAN pairing the ace. The 2♥ on the turn made the heart flush to win angchaops the 4.1M chips in the middle, and 007 OLDMAN left in 7th place ($531.99).

Slowdowns and double-ups

With all that action, the chip counts at six players had shifted significantly in just the first 11 hands:

Seat 1: zarfrolov (2,940,685 in chips)
Seat 3: jet_ya888 (5,047,194 in chips)
Seat 4: $howdanutz (6,076,572 in chips)
Seat 5: mangas1978 (9,008,002 in chips)
Seat 6: FloatDaRiva (6,264,419 in chips)
Seat 9: angchaops (11,903,128 in chips)

Other than zarfrolov, everybody still had enough chips not to be forced into action, even when the blinds and antes would rise to 150K/300K a few hands later. The Russian stole the next two pots - one before the flop and another with an all-in raise on a 4♥ J♥ Q♥ flop - to climb to 5.1M and get right back into the mix.

Hand #15 altered the dynamic a bit. The action opened with a raise to 500K by angchaops under the gun and calls in the blinds from mangas1978 and FloatDaRiva. All three checked the 4♦ K♥ 4♥ flop, and mangas1978 checked again on the 8♠ turn. FloatDaRiva bet 600K into the 1.6M-chip pot, and this time only angchaops came along. FloatDaRiva led for 1.2M on the J♦ river, then dipped into the time bank and emerged with a call after angchaops raised to 2.4M. angchaops showed A♦ 7♦ for the rivered flush and dragged the 7.7M pot, moving up to 15.8M in the process.

FloatDaRiva was left with 1.9M and moved it all in under the gun on Hand #21, holding 5♣ 5♦, only to have zarfrolov call with J♣ J♠. But the board came down K♥ 9♣ 5♠ K♦ 6♦ for a full house, fives full of kings, and FloatDaRiva stacked back up to 4.2M.

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Other than two jumbo-size steals by jet_ya888, one for 2.3M before the flop and the other for 4M on a 7♥ 7♠ 9♥ flop, there was no more real action until Hand #39, the first hand of the 200K/400K/50K level. angchaops opened for 800K with 6♠ 5♠ and then had the odds to call when $howdanutz moved in for 2.1M from the small blind. $howdanutz's K♥ J♣ didn't improve on the 4♣ 9♥ 8♦ 4♥ Q♥ but didn't have to, and the German player won the 5M-chip pot with king-high.

mangas1978 kept the all-in survivor streak alive on Hand #49 after opening the betting for 800K in the hijack seat and calling for 3.2M more following an all-in bet by FloatDaRiva. mangas1978's K♦ J♣ was racing against FloatDaRiva's 8♦ 8♠ and jumped in front on the J♥ K♣ 4♦ flop. The 3♦ turn and T♦ river were no help to the pocket pair and mangas1978 stacked up to 9M.

FloatDaRiva was left with just over 1M chips and they all went in the middle before the flop on the very next hand behind K♣ 8♥. angchaops called and had the lead with A♣ T♥, but the 7♣ 7♠ K♣ Q♦ K♦ board gave FloatDaRiva kings full and the 3M-chip pot. That left zarfrolov as the short stack and all of the Russian's 2.4M chips went in the middle from the cutoff on the next hand with A♣ 8♣. mangas1978 called in the big blind with 3♥ 3♠ and won the race on the 7♣ Q♠ 9♦ 7♦ 4♠ board, knocking zarfrolov out in 6th place ($767.06).

The blinds and antes soon went up to 250K/500K/62.5K and the shorter effective stacks made showdowns rare. One finally came on Hand #66, after $howdanutz moved in for 4M from the small blind with K♣ J♥ and mangas1978 called in the big blind with 6♦ 6♣. The short stack prevailed after the catching a pair of kings on the turn of the 2♣ T♠ 9♦ K♠ A♣ board, doubling to 8.3M and leaving mangas1978 with 5.2M.

mangas1978 stacked up even higher, though, when the next showdown occurred on Hand #75. The Greek player opened for 1M under the gun with K♠ J♦ and called when FloatDaRiva shoved for 4M in the cutoff. FloatDaRiva's A♦ K♥ was a big favorite even before hitting top pair on the A♠ Q♣ 3♣ flop or three of a kind on the A♥ turn. But the T♣ on the river made a Broadway straight for mangas1978, which won the 9.2M-chip pot and sent FloatDaRiva to the rail in 5th place ($1,014.50).

A rough three hands

angchaops now had 18M chips for the lead, with mangas1978's 9.9M good for second place and jet_ya888 (6.7M) and $howdanutz (6.5M) neck-and-neck for third place. The next 20 pots all stayed under six big blinds and the blinds and antes rose to 300K/600K/75K in value. Finally, on Hand #96, the two big stacks collided with one another.

angchaops opened with a raise to 1.2M under the gun, and mangas1978 called in the big blind to bring a J♣ A♥ T♦ flop. mangas1978 checked and induced a 600K bet from angchaops, then raised to 3M. angchaops fired back with an all-in bet and mangas1978 called for 5.7M more, showing A♦ T♣ for two pair, aces and tens. angchaops was head with K♣ Q♠ for the flopped Broadway straight, but only until the A♣ on the turn made aces full for mangas1978. The K♠ on the river changed nothing and mangas1978 assumed the lead with 20.5M.

That loss dropped angchaops to last place, and two hands later the Chinese player was all-in before the flop after raising from the small blind with K♦ J♦ and then calling for 6.6M total following jet_ya888's re-raise with 9♣ 9♥. The pocket pair held up after the board came T♠ 2♥ 7♠ Q♣ 3♣, and within a three-hand span anychaops had gone from chip leader to leaving in 4th place ($1,311.43).

Ready for takeoff

jet_ya888 now held 14.7M chips and expanded that to 19.4M by winning the next three pots in a row, two with blind steals and one with a check-raise on a 6♦ T♦ 9♥ flop that got pre-flop raiser $howdanutz to fold. After folding the next three hands and paying blinds and antes, that left $howdanutz in the small blind for 400K on Hand #106 with just 868K left behind. That all went in with K♠ 6♣, but mangas1978 called from the big blind with the dominating K♦ T♦. The Greek paired on the T♥ 5♠ 5♣ flop and never looked back as the board ran out Q♥-7♣, busting $howdanutz in 3rd place ($1,979.52).

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Just two big blinds separated leader mangas1978 and second-place jet_ya888, a margin that shrank by half over the first seven hands of heads-up play. The eighth began with jet_ya888 raising to 1.6M on the button and calling mangas1978's re-raise to 3.2M, bringing the T♦ A♠ 3♦ flop. mangas1978 led out for 1.2M but didn't take long to fold when jet_ya888 raised to 4.8M, giving the Ukrainian player an eight-big-blind advantage.

Three hands later jet_ya888 opened for 1.6M on the button and mangas1978 re-raised again, this time to 4M. Rather than call with A♣ 7♥, jet_ya888 opted to move all-in - but the timing couldn't have been a lot worse, as mangas1978 called for 17.1M total with a dominating A♥ K♣. The 7♦ 4♦ A♠ flop was golden for jet_ya888, though, making two pair and leaving mangas1978 in need of a king to stay alive. The board didn't comply, running out 3♠-A♣ to bring the tournament to a close.

mangas1978 wasn't able to turn the final table chip lead into a win, but the $2,730.99 runner-up prize was still a career best score on PokerStars by nearly than $1,100. Meanwhile, the comeback by jet_ya888 was good for $3,716.70, the second-highest score the Ukrainian has ever won here at PokerStars. Congratulations to them both on their fine performances.

MicroMillions 8: Event #73, $3.30 No-Limit Hold'em
8,248 entries
$24,744 prize pool
1,080 places paid

1st place: jet_ya888 (Ukraine) $3,716.70
2nd place: mangas1978 (Greece) $2,730.99
3rd place: $howdanutz (Germany) $1,979.52
4th place: angchaops (China) $1,311.43
5th place: FloatDaRiva (South Korea) $1,014.50
6th place: zarfrolov (Russia) $767.06
7th place: 007 OLDMAN (United Kingdom) $531.99
8th place: Vonka22 (Lithuania) $296.92
9th place: Rush_Gunz (Portugal) $191.76

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in MicroMillions