MicroMillions 8: L-Ninho storms to the title in Event #95, $2.22 NLHE (Hyper-Turbo, Heads-Up)

MicroMillions 8 has been filled with a wide variety of turbo tournaments, allowing PokerStars players to win relatively large prizes without devoting entire days to their pursuit. But what do you do when even a turbo tournament takes up too much time? That's when you turn to the turbo tourney's wild cousin, the Hyper-Turbo.

Event #95, a $2.22 No-Limit Hold'em heads-up tourney played with a Hyper-Turbo blind schedule, guaranteed plenty of action with just two minutes per blind level. To take home the $2,612.62 top prize would require 14 consecutive heads-up wins - a tough feat by any measure, but particularly with two-minute blind levels making the results of any one match a lot less predictable than they might be otherwise. Making up for that uncertainty, though, was the fact that even the finalists of the event would only end up playing poker for a little over four hours.

In all, 16,384 players took part in this tournament, building a $35,717.12 prize pool. Everybody who managed to win their first three matches - 2,048 players in all - won the guaranteed minimum of $6.07. And a top prize of $2,612.62 awaited the lone player who could outlast that enormous field. By 3:01 p.m. ET only four players were left in contention for that prize.

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Semifinal: straddlester (United Kingdom) v. Vedic.Knight (Germany)

The first semifinal match saw the lead switch hands frequently from the very beginning. straddlester and Vedic.Knight ended the first level separated by just 190 chips, but Vedic.Knight jumped into a firmer lead on the first hand of 40/80. The German player opened with a raise to 160 on the button, which straddlester called to bring a Q♣ A♦ 4♦ flop. Both players checked, and then straddlester check-called a bet of 320 on the 5♦ turn to bring the 5♥ on the river. straddlester checked again but opted to fold after Vedic.Knight bet 480, giving the German the 960-chip pot and a 5,575-4,425 lead.

straddlester rattled off four small wins in the next five pots to pull back close to even. But then Vedic.Knight won four of the subsequent five, including one where all the action was pre-flop and the two checked down the entire 6♠ 2♠ 4♦ A♥ J♠ flop, giving Vedic.Knight the 800-chip pot with J♣ 9♣ to top straddlester's 5♥ 5♦. One more win on Hand #20, taken after Vedic.Knight opened for a minimum raise to 240 and then four-bet to 3,000 over straddlester's re-raise to 600, moved Vedic.Knight in front with 6,447 chips to straddlester's 3,553.

straddlester finally caught a break on Hand #24. Out of position, the U.K. player called Vedic.Knight's raise to 240 and then checked the 4♣ K♠ 6♦ flop. Vedic.Knight checked behind but bet 240 after straddlester checked the J♠ turn. straddlester called again, and then once more for 480 after checking the 5♦ river. Vedic.Knight showed A♥ Q♥ for ace-high, and straddlester won the 1,920-chip pot with K♥ 2♥ for top pair.

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That pot moved straddlester back up to 4,618, and after splitting half of the next six pots, but winning the larger of them, the U.K. player had actually moved back into a 5,012-4,982 lead on the 80/160 level. But things turned back around on Hands #36 and #37, when Vedic.Knight won two consecutive 1,600-chip pots - one at showdown with A♠ 9♥ against 6♣ 6♠ on the river of a 4♠ 5♣ T♠ 7♠ 9♣ board, the other without showdown after betting three-quarters of the pot on the river of a Q♣ Q♠ 7♠ 5♥ K♥ board - to reclaim a 5,942-4,058 lead.

That brought on the 100/200 level, where straddlester made a run of six consecutive wins, including one for 2,400 after calling Vedic'Knight's raise to 600 before the 9♠ 9♥ 4♣ and then check-raising the German's 600-chip bet to 1,200. straddlester now had a 6,658-3,342 lead, but only six hands later Vedic.Knight brought things back to nearly even after betting 400 when checked to on a 7♥ 9♦ 7♠ flop and then re-raising to 2,000 after straddlester's minimum raise to 800.

With the arrival of 150/300 level there was no clear leader, and certainty that a lead could hold up even once it was gained. But a run of five wins in a row would close out the match. straddlester took the first three of those for the minimum with pre-flop raises. Hand #54 saw both players limp and then check the 5♣ 3♦ A♠ flop before straddlester led for 300 on the 2♠ turn. Vedic.Knight raised to 900, which straddlester called, but then folded to straddlester's all-in bet on the T♣ river, sending the 2,400-chip pot to the U.K. player and leaving Vedic.Knight with 2,842 chips.

Hand #55 would be the last of the match. straddlester, holding A♦ 7♣, opened with an all-in raise on the button and Vedic.Knight called with A♠ 2♦ and the tournament on the line. The German picked up a wheel draw on the 5♥ 3♦ 8♣ flop, but it was negated by the 6♦ on the turn. That left only the last three deuces in the deck to keep the game going, but the 8♠ fell on the river and eliminated Vedic.Knight in 4th place ($837.56).

Semifinal: tuaragon (Slovenia) v. L-Ninho (Romania)

The other semifinal match didn't see a flop until Hand #6, in a limped pot that L-Ninho took down with a bet on the T♦ 8♥ 8♦ flop. The second came on Hand #10 after tuaragon raised to 120 before the 4♣ 2♣ A♥ flop and won with a continuation bet after L-Ninho checked. That left the two players both with 5,000 chips, exactly where they had started.

tuaragon started switching things up soon. The Slovenian player called a raise to 120 out of position on Hand #12 and then check-raised to 800 when L-Ninho bet half the pot on the T♣ 5♦ 6♥. That was good for the 640-chip pot. An identical line on Hand #16 won the 594-chip pot after L-Ninho bet slightly less on the T♥ 3♦ Q♣ flop, giving tuaragon a 5,757-4,243 lead as the 40/80 level ended.

The next 14 pots went by without a single one growing larger than four big blinds, and tuaragon maintained a lead of 434 chips. L-Ninho managed to turn that around at the end of the 80/160 level, though, starting with Hand #31. tuaragon opened for 480 on the button and then called after L-Ninho put in a rare three-bet to 1,114. That brought a flop of 4♣ 5♠ 5♦ and L-Ninho won the 2,228-chip pot with a half-pot bet, good enough to take a 5,897-4,103 lead.

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Four hands later, with blinds up to 100/200, L-Ninho called tuaragon's raise to 500, bringing a 3♦ Q♠ 5♦ flop. L-Ninho checked again and this time tuaragon bet 400, only to fold to L-Ninho's check-raise to 900. Followed with four more consecutive wins, that raised L-Ninho's advantage to 7,397-2,603. tuaragon dropped 100 chips over the seven hands before opening Hand #47 with an all-in raise to 2,503, holding Q♥ 7♥. L-Ninho didn't take long to call with T♣ 9♣, which had flush and straight draws after the 5♥ 4♥ K♣ flop and J♣ turn, but tuaragon made the flush with the 2♥ on the river and suddenly the difference between the two players was back to just 12 chips.

With the blinds now up to 150/300 and still rising every two minutes, the match was completely up in the air. The two competitors split the last eight pots of the level evenly, but L-Ninho retook the lead after re-raising all-in over the top of tuaragon's opening raise to 900, a bet the Slovenian declined to call. As it turned out, that lead change would be the match's last.

On Hand #60, with blinds at 200/400, L-Ninho opened the betting with an all-in raise to 6,194 on the button. tuaragon called for 3,806 and showed K♠ J♦, which trailed L-Ninho's A♦ 7♣ even before the A♠ 9♦ 8♣ flop arrived. The T♠ on the turn gave tuaragon outs to two different possible straights, but the 5♦ on the river ended the Slovenian's run through the tournament in 3rd place ($837.56).

Final: straddlester (United Kingdom) v. L-Ninho (Romania)

After the elimination of the first 16,382 players in the field, the tournament had come down to two players with 13 consecutive wins apiece. straddlester started the final match by winning four pots in a row, moving into a 5,420-4,580 lead. But then L-Ninho struck back with five wins out of the next six, including a big win on Hand #9.

That pot started with straddlester raising to 80 on the button and then calling L-Ninho's re-raise to 216, bringing a 5♣ 2♥ 3♥ flop. L-Ninho led out for 216 and straddlester raised the minimum to 432. L-Ninho called there and then check-called straddlester's bet of 612 on the 9♦ turn, before both players checked the J♣ river. L-Ninho showed Q♥ 9♥ for second pair, straddlester mucked, and L-Ninho took the 2,540-chip pot for a 6,302-3,698 lead.

Five hands later the blinds were up to 60/120 and L-Ninho picked up the second four-figure pot of the final. The Romanian player opened for 240 on the button and straddlester called, bringing a 7♦ K♥ 7♥ flop. straddlester checked and then raised to 412 after L-Ninho bet 206, but L-Ninho's third bet for 832 was good enough to win the 1,304-chip pot.

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Only three of the last 19 pots would grow to be worth more than four big blinds, and L-Ninho won them all. Hand #19, on the 80/160 level, was the first. Both players came in for the minimum and then checked the K♣ 7♥ 8♣ flop. straddlester checked again on the K♥ before raising L-Ninho's 120-chip bet to 480, which L-Ninho called to bring the K♠ on the river. Both players checked again and L-Ninho's J♠ 7♠ made kings full of sevens to beat straddlester's 9♣ 5♣, which lost out on the 1,200-chip pot with trip kings and a busted flush draw.

Hand #30 was one of the last of the 80/160 level and started with straddlester opening for 320 on the button. L-Ninho called and checked the 4♠ 9♣ 6♦ flop before raising straddlester's 320-chip bet to 880. That was too rich for the U.K. player and L-Ninho seized the 1,280-chip pot for a lead of 8,270-1,730.

On Hand #33 of the final, the last of the tournament, straddlester managed to find a great spot for getting all-in, opening for 400 on the button and then calling all-in for 1,530 with A♠ K♣ after L-Ninho jammed with Q♣ 7♣. But the 8♥ 8♣ 7♦ flop put L-Ninho back in the lead, giving straddlester six outs twice. The turn was the 6♣, taking away one of those outs as it would give L-Ninho a club flush, and the river was the 4♠, bringing the tournament to its end.

straddlester's prize for 13 consecutive wins before losing in the final was $1,658.34, for an average of more than $118 per round of the tournament. That's a new personal best at PokerStars by just over $1,000 for the player from the United Kingdom. And for L-Ninho, the prize for outlasting straddlester in the final was $2,612.62, the fourth-best score of the Romanian player's PokerStars career but the most ever for an outright tournament win. Congratulations to them both for outlasting this huge heads-up field.

MicroMillions 8: Event #95, $2.22 No-Limit Hold'em [Hyper-Turbo, Heads-Up]
16,384 entries
$35,717.12 prize pool
2,048 places paid

1st place: L-Ninho (Romania) $2,612.62
2nd place: straddlester (United Kingdom) $1,658.34
3rd place: tuaragon (Slovenia) $837.56
4th place: Vedic.Knight (Germany) $837.56

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in MicroMillions