MicroMillions 5: Eristo88 the hero of Event #64 ($3.30 NLHE)

With four days in MicroMillions 5 remaining, 9313 players sat down to battle for a $15,000 guaranteed prize, but as has been the case throughout the tournament series, the final prizepool was nearly doubled to $27,939 by the time registration ended. After eight hours of play the final table was set and in the ninety minutes that followed the representative of the Czech Republic, Eristo88, confounded his opponents with fantastic call-downs, timely all-ins, and well-judged attacks.

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Final table chip counts

Seat 1: DC#07 (2,252,202)
Seat 2: valeron&co (6,123,126)
Seat 3: drmkeeper88 (2,080,000)
Seat 4: Eristo88 (10,171,282)
Seat 5: alejotole2 (2,349,712)
Seat 6: zzaAKirr (4,938,252)
Seat 7: Natash0k (8,264,958)
Seat 8: ex-poacher- (6,404,213)
Seat 9: BuLA222 (3,981,255)

Everything went wrong for drmkeeper88 at this final table, on account of being knocked out the first hand. With two players already pitching their cards back to the electronic dealer the Russian short stack moved all-in for two million or ten big blinds with A♣ 8♠. The chip leader, also born in 1988, or perhaps also 88 years of age one supposes, moved all-in for ten million chips, next to act, with A♥ K♥. The Q♥ J♦ Q♦ flop gave three outs to a chop for the imperiled player, but also some nut outs to the ace-king. More outs to the nuts came on the 9♥ turn and Eristo88 was getting help they didn't need. The 5♥ river finished drmkeeper88's deep run in ninth, a short stay at the last table, but a nice score notwithstanding.

One orbit passed before cards were turned face up once again, this time prompted by an eleven big blind shove from the fabulous DC#07 and their Louis Vuitton avatar. The folding almost went all the way around the table but zzaAKirr woke up in the small blind with hooks, J♠ J♣, and was looking to swipe the purse of 5 million chips that had accumulated in the middle. The 4♥ 4♦ of DC#07 did not improve on the A♠ A♦ 9♣ flop, the Q♣ turn, or the 3♦ river, but they made a graceful exit in eighth, naturally.

Blind on blind violence

One theme of this final table was the intensity of blind versus blind battles and the first major clash featured BuLA222 (small blind) and valeron&co (big blind). BuLA222 began with just more than a minimum raise to 425,000, which was not enough wagering units for their opponent, who made it a cool 1,000,000. A flat call from BuLA222 produced a sopping wet J♣ 8♠ 9♣ flop with half of the effective stacks in the pot - surely if both players had a piece the money would be in the middle at some point. But how was the question, as BuLA222 check-called a 41% pot bet of 900,000 to see a A♣ turn. On this card they checked once again, their opponent moved all-in, and they called off for their tournament life with the absolute nuts K♣ 5♣. valeron&co had turned their Q♥ 8♦ into a bluff, hoping their gutshot and pair made for live outs should they be called. No luck this time as the 7♠ river fell and they were left with four big blinds, while BuLA222 scooped nearly 10 million chips and vaunted into a clear second place.

An orbit passed as valeron&co doubled and patiently plied their micro-stack. When Eristo88 opened in early position and they were dealt J♦ J♠ in the big blind they had a no decision and caught the chip leader opening a wide range, with A♣ 6♥ in it. The K♠ 9♣ 5♦ flop had valeron&co looking to solidify a comeback from their disastrous confrontation an orbit earlier. The 6♦ turn complicated that plan slightly, but it was the A♥ river that really put a lie to it. You have to be aggressive to win tournaments, and valeron&co would have to satisfy themselves with that or some other appropriate maxim, having departed in seventh.

The next elimination was what is somewhat derisively called a 'flip.' For those of you who haven't heard the term before, it is used when two overcards take on a pair in an all-in preflop confrontation. When BuLA222 opened under the gun with 8♥ 8♦, and called the sixteen big blind shove from zzaAKirr's A♦ K♣ on the button, we rushed to our poker dictionary to confirm this fit the flipping bill. The Q♦ 2♦ 3♥ flop produced all sorts of possibilities for the ace-king, which was actually only 45% before any community cards arrived, a figure now down to 30%. The 9♦ turn had everyone believing zzaAKirr had been punching their flip bag every day in preparation for this moment, but the Q♥ river proved they had trained more like Apollo Creed than Rocky. They hit the mat in sixth.

With eight big blinds under the gun ex-poacher- shoved with A♣ T♠ and was isolation raised by BuLA222 next to act, not the best news for the shortest stack. Indeed they were up against J♦ J♥, the 7♥ 7♠ Q♦ flop offering no help. The 2♦ turn had ex-poacher- down to their last three card draw and the 8♥ wasn't it, the reformed rapscallion would have to be comforted by fifth place.

Empty the clip at your own risk

BuLA222 and Eristo88 held the biggest stacks and looked to be playing for first when the most interesting pot of the final table played out. In the small blind BuLA222 opened for a minimum raise and was called, continuation betting 900,000 into 1,350,000 on A♦ Q♥ 4♣. After they were called they decided the 8♠ was good for another 1,500,000 chip wager and again they were called by the in position Eristo88. The J♦ completed the board and some straight draws, namely king-ten and ten-nine. No matter for the aggressor, it was 3,000,000 more on the river and Eristo88 would have to call for one third of their remaining stack. They did, with K♣ Q♦ no less, and the small blind could only muster the no equity K♠ 7♠. Perhaps Eristo88 thought a weak ace would have pot controlled one street, perhaps they simply anticipated the situation, either way, their hero call swung them into the chip lead and control of this final table.

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Blind versus blind is where the action is and playing eleven big blinds Natask0k didn't need much excuse to move in with A♦ 2♣. BuLA222 woke up with a veritable monster, J♥ J♠ and could pull even for the chip lead if they held up. The board was all good news for the favourite, 9♠ 8♦ 9♥, 5♣ 6♠, and Natask0k was out in fourth.

Facing a button steal from BuLA222 and down to just seven big blinds, alejotole2 committed themselves with K♦ 8♣. Players are allowed to be dealt real hands on the button though, and 9♣ 9♦ fit that bill. The 8♦ 7♦ 2♦ flop offered plenty of opportunities for an upset, with any diamond, eight, or king being good for a much needed double for the Venezeulan. The J♣ was not in that group and the river board pair, the 7♥ was of the wrong kind. Ousted in third was alejotole2 and BuLA222 would take even stacks into heads-up with Eristo88.

On the final hand of the tournament Eristo88 three-bet shoved all-in for effectively 9,948,202, nearly twenty big blinds, and BuLA222's whole stack. After opening to three big blinds, BuLA222 determined they were priced in with Q♣ T♣ and was in decent shape (48% equity) facing A♥ 2♦. Just hands earlier the chip leader called all-in with ace-deuce for the same stacks, but chopped when the short stack also showed ace-deuce offsuit. Chances of a chop this time were remote and nearly half the chips were in play. The flop rolled out K♠ 6♦ 4♦ and Eristo88 was looking to hold on with their naked ace for the title. The turn 4♠ paired the board and the river 9♣ bricked off for a surely disappointed BuLA222, out in second place.

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Congratulations to Eristo88 for besting a nearly five-figure field over nine and a half hours of mettle-testing cards. For their efforts they are $4,196.77 richer with a MicroMillions 5 title served as the cherry on top!

PokerStars MicroMillions 5 Event #64 ($3.30 NLHE) results:

Entrants: 9,313
Prize pool: $27,939
Places paid: 1,170

1. Eristo88 (Czech Republic) -- $4,196.77
2. BuLA222 (Russia) -- $3,073.29
3. alejotole2 (Venezeula) -- $2,095.42
4. Natash0k (Ukraine) -- $1,408.12
5. ex-poacher- (United Kingdom)-- $1,117.56
6. zzaAKirr (Mauritius) -- $838.17
7. valeron&co (Russia) -- $558.78
8. DC#07 (Germany) -- $321.29
9. drmkeeper88 (Russia) -- $216.52

Gareth Chantler is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars blog.

Gareth Chantler
@PokerStars in MicroMillions 5