MicroMillions 8: Namepo's lead good for the win in Event #85, $2.22+R NLHE (3x-Turbo, Saturday Splash Special Edition)

It's the last weekend of MicroMillions 8, which means that PokerStars players are being treated to more special editions of their favorite regular low buy-in weekend tournaments. Among them for the second weekend in a row was the Saturday Splash, everyone's favorite $2.22 re-buy tournament, with its 3x-Turbo structure allowing players to build huge stacks during the re-buy period before resetting the blinds and playing deep-stacked poker for a while before the turbo levels caught up.

Late registration for Event #85 was open for the first hour of play and by the end of it there were 15,474 entries. The re-buy period ended continued for another 30 minutes after that, with add-ons available at its end, and together the players combined for 63,737 re-buys and 7,698 add-ons. All together that made for a $175,556.18 prize pool split up among the top 2,025 finishers, with $21,953.29 reserved for the winner.

After just five and a half hours of play there were only nine players remaining for the huge starting field:

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Seat 1: ThVioli.7 (55,450,068 in chips)
Seat 2: Tenzor333 (44,354,036 in chips)
Seat 3: SLBenficaa7 (75,679,719 in chips)
Seat 4: barvee (37,679,984 in chips)
Seat 5: mike_best25 (21,869,906 in chips)
Seat 6: pfeifer228 (68,805,867 in chips)
Seat 7: Namepo (105,275,417 in chips)
Seat 8: Kruemmel111 (51,297,367 in chips)
Seat 9: Julia7187 (8,160,636 in chips)

Short-stacked German player Julia7187 got stuck in the big blind on the very first hand, but a pot stolen with a bet on the 9♠ 7♣ 8♣ flop of Hand #2 kept elimination at bay. With just 10.5M and blinds and antes at 1.2M/2.4M/240K, though, it still wasn't far away. Four hands later the action folded around to Julia7187 in the hijack seat and the German player moved all-in with K♦ Q♠. Sweden's barvee was the only caller, coming in from the big blind with A♦ 2♦ and hitting the A♠ 3♠ 4♥ pretty hard. The Q♦ on the turn held out slim hope to Julia7187, but the T♥ on the river was no help and the German was gone in 9th place ($1,053.33).

There was more action to come and no delay before it arrived. Hand #8 saw the Czech Republic's ThVioli.7 raise to 5.8M and pfeifer228 call from the big blind. ThVioli.7 then called identical 5.8M-chip bets by pfeifer228 on the 8♦ A♥ T♠ flop, 2♠ turn, and 9♣ river, showing down A♦ K♦ to beat pfeifer228's A♣ 5♣ for the 48.4M-chip pot.

Kruemmel111 jumps ahead

Hand #10 opened with another pre-flop raise to 5.6M by ThVioli.7, and barvee called in the hijack. Japan's Namepo seriously considered a call in the small blind but eventually folded, leaving just Germany's Kruemmel111 to make a decision in the big blind. That decision was a quick all-in move for 50.9M, which was enough to scare ThVioli.7 off the pot, but barvee was game and called all-in for 49.6M. barvee's A♦ Q♠ was in awful shape against Namepo's A♥ K♣, a situation which only worsened on the 4♦ T♥ K♦ flop. barvee did have outs to a Broadway straight, though, and picked up outs to a flus has well on the T♦ turn. But the river was the 3♣, giving Kruemmel111 the 108.4M-chip pot and eliminating barvee in 8th place ($1,580).

Things slowed down for eight hands before speeding right back up on Hand #19 when short-stacked mike_best25 from the United Kingdom moved all-in for 13.9M in early position. Tenzor333 from Belarus was in the big blind for 3.2M already and called with Q♣ T♥. That was ahead of mike_best25's 8♦ 6♦ but fell behind again on the A♣ 4♠ 8♠ flop. The J♥ on the turn gave Tenzor333 outs to a straight, but the Q♦ on the river made a pair of queens to beat mike_best25's eights, knocking the U.K. player out in 7th place ($3,072.23).

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The blinds and antes went up again before the next significant confrontation, this time to 2M/4M/400K, just in time for the biggest pot so far. Tenzor333 opened the action before the flop with a raise to 8M in early position and got calls from both pfeifer228 on the button and Kruemmel111 in the big blind. Kruemmel111 and Tenzor333 both checked the 4♦ 7♦ 9♣ flop, bringing on a bet of 8M from pfeifer228. Only Kruemmel111 called and the turn was the 5♠. Kruemmel111 checked again and pfeifer228 bet 8M again, only to be check-raised to 20M. The German called, then called another 24M when Kruemmel111 bet on the 3♥ river, only to much and be left with just 18.5M when Kruemmel111 showed 8♥ 6♣ for the turned nine-high straight.

pfeifer228 moved all of those chips in the middle before the flop on the next hand with K♥ 9♥ in the hole, and once again Kruemmel111 was the caller, holding A♥ T♠ in the big blind. The T♦ A♠ 7♠ flop left pfeifer228 in dire straits, and without help from the 2♥ turn or 7♦ river was out in 6th place ($4,740.01).

Following those two hands, Kruemmel111 had 191M chips, some 21 big blinds ahead of second-place Namepo. That edge grew when Kruemmel111 won three of the next four pots, including one against Namepo without a showdown after a bet on the turn, to close out the 2M/4M/400K level. With 233M and nobody else above 83M, Kruemmel111 was in clear control - but it wouldn't last for long.

Namepo mounts a comeback

Namepo was able to get those lost chips back after opening a pot in the small blind for 9.9M and then moving all-in over the top of a Kruemmel111 re-raise to 22.5M. Then came the first hand of the 2.5M/5M/500K level, when the Japanese player was dealt 9♥ 9♦ and opened the betting for 11.1M under the gun. The action folded to Switzerland's SLBenficaa7 in the big blind and the Swiss player moved all-in for 39.7M, showing 5♣ 5♦ after Namepo called the bet. Neither of SLBenficaa7's two outs appeared on the 2♦ 8♠ J♣ K♦ A♦ board, and the Swiss player departed in 5th place ($6,495.57).

The next nine hands were good to Namepo, who was able to claim the chip lead by the time they finished up. First came a 40.1M-chip pot in another blind-versus-blind battle with Kruemmel111, won after raising before the flop and firing bullets on both the 6♣ 6♦ 8♦ flop and the 7♥ turn. Six hands later Kruemmel111 was unsuccessful in trying to knock out ThVioli.7 with T♦ 8♦ against A♦ 9♦, dropping the German player's lead over Namepo to just two big blinds.

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Then came the biggest showdown yet between the two big stacks. Namepo limped in from the small blind and Kruemmel111 checked to bring a 2♠ 7♥ 4♣ flop. The Japanese player led for 5.2M there and Kruemmel111 called, and the two repeated the same action for 9.9M apiece on the T♠ turn. And when the 6♣ hit the river, Namepo fired a 32.6M-chip bet into the 42.4M-chip pot, getting another call from Kruemmel111. But the German player mucked when Namepo showed 8♣ 5♥ for the rivered eight-high straight, giving Namepo the 107M-chip pot and an 18-big-blind lead.

Only two of the next 22 pots would see a flop, a lull in the action that coincided with the blinds and antes rising to 2.75M/5.5M/500K. Without a big stack to work with, Kruemmel111 backed off the action a bit, and Tenzor333 stepped it up to move into second place. Just before the end of the level Tenzor333 and ThVioli.7 would clash when the latter moved all-in for 60.6M from the small blind, holding A♦ T♠. Tenzor333 called with K♣ T♥ and was dominated, but the 8♦ K♥ 6♣ flop turned things around so ThVioli.7 was the one searching for a three-outer. The T♦ on the turn changed nothing, and the 2♣ on the river spelled the end of the line for ThVioli.7 in 4th place ($8,251.14).

That 123M-chip pot left Tenzor333 and Namepo neck-and-neck for the lead with just under 200M apiece, with Kruemmel111 holding on to 71.7M and looking for an opening. As it turned out the three-handed portion of play would last just four hands, with the last one featuring yet another blind-versus-blind confrontation between Kruemmel111 and Namepo. The latter opened by moving all-in in the small blind, holding K♠ J♥, and Kruemmel111 called all-in with a dominated Q♦ J♦. Kruemmel111 needed running queens after the 7♦ 5♠ K♥ flop and got one when the Q♥ arrived on the turn. But the 7♣ on the river didn't help, and Kruemmel111 left in 3rd place ($11,762.26).

Heads-up and a deal

The 3M/6M/600K blinds and antes meant there was a 12-big-blind gap between the two players as the heads-up portion of the tournament began:

Seat 2: Tenzor333 (198,494,078 in chips)
Seat 7: Namepo (270,078,922 in chips)

After the first hand they agreed to talk over a possible deal. In just five minutes they were back at the table with a split based on ICM on the books and $300 left aside for whichever player came out on top. Tenzor333 won the first 10-big-blind pot a few hands later, but Namepo quickly struck back with one worth 11 big blinds to keep things roughly where they'd started. Three hands later, though, with the blinds and antes up to 3.5M/7M/700K, Tenzor333 seized the lead without having to go past the flop. The Belarussian player opened for 14M on the button and then bet 16.7M after Namepo called and checked the 3♠ 8♠ 6♠ flop. Namepo check-raised to 37.5M there but gave up the chase when Tenzor333 three-bet to 58.8M.

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That gave Tenzor333 266M to Namepo's 201M, but the Japanese player won the next two pots in a row - 29.4M on the first with a bet in position on the T♥ K♣ 5♠ flop, and 48.8M on the second after calling out of position before the A♣ 6♦ 9♣ flop and leading out there and on the 4♣ turn - to move back ahead by two big blinds. The lead remained volatile over the next three hands, but then Namepo took the lead for good after check-calling a bet on the 4♦ A♥ 6♦ flop, checking the 6♠ turn and having Tenzor333 check behind, and firing out 18.6M on the 4♥ river. The Japanese player showed J♦ 4♠ for the rivered full house and collected the 93.7M chips in the middle, moving into a 10-big-blind lead.

Six hands later, Tenzor333 opened with a raise to 14M on the button and Namepo called, bringing a T♣ 6♦ J♠ flop. The Japanese player checked and then raised to 38.3M after Tenzor333 bet 13.5M, a bet Tenzor333 called to bring the 3♣ on the turn. This time Namepo decided to move all-in, and Tenzor333 immediately called with J♦ T♥ for top two pair. Namepo's Q♦ 9♥ had eight outs going to the river, and the 8♣ that appeared was one of them. That gave Namepo the 369M-chip pot and brought the tournament to its conclusion.

Tenzor333 collected $16,811.51 from the heads-up deal, a new career-best PokerStars score by more than $10,000 for a player whose resume already included 48 cashes of at least $1,000, mostly in small-buy-in tournaments. The $20,467.83 payday that came with winning this Saturday Splash was an even bigger deal for Namepo, whose previous best PokerStars cash was $320. Congratulations to both players on their successes in this final Saturday Splash of MicroMillions 8.

MicroMillions 8: Event #85, $2.22+R No-Limit Hold'em (3x-Turbo, Saturday Splash Special Edition)
15,474 entries, 63,737 re-buys, 7,698 add-ons
$175,556.18 prize pool
2,025 places paid

1st place: Namepo (Japan) $20,467.83*
2nd place: Tenzor333 (Belarus) $16,811.51*
3rd place: Kruemmel111 (Germany) $11,762.26
4th place: ThVioli.7 (Czech Republic) $8,251.14
5th place: SLBenficaa7 (Switzerland) $6,495.57
6th place: pfeifer228 (Germany) $4,740.01
7th place: mike_best25 (United Kingdom) $3,072.23
8th place: barvee (Sweden) $1,580
9th place: Julia7187 (Germany) $1,053.33
* - denotes results of a heads-up deal

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in MicroMillions