MicroMillions III: Barthold09 bowls over Event 8 ($4.40 NLHE, 2X Chance)
Anyone who's played tournament poker for a while has had occasion to take advantage of a second chance. Maybe you ran into a cooler with queens against kings but caught a lady on the river; maybe you were involved in one of those suck-resuck situations where your pair was cracked but ran out a four-flush for the win. Or perhaps you were caught with your hand in the cookie jar, only to slip away without a scratch thanks to a particularly kind board. It's not hard to remember those instances because they're rare enough that they stick in your mind.
In today's event all those unpredictable second chances were still available to players, but every single one of them had a more stable version to fall back on if things didn't go according to plan: a one-time option to buy back in. Certainly not as memorable, that option was still welcomed by 4,322 players over the course of the first two hours of play. It's unclear whether the eventual winner, Barthold09 of the Netherlands, ever had to resort to the single rebuy; what is clear is that the Dutch player walked away with $6,442.65, a hefty profit in either case.
After nearly nine hours of play, the starting field of 9,346 players had been reduced to just ten. After the elimination of Russia's DenisK_2004 in 10th place at 12:43 p.m. ET, the final table lineup was set to begin. With blinds and antes at 150K/300K/37.5K, these nine players were in contention:
Seat 1: wachan100 (8,059,627 in chips)
Seat 2: rose_gnr (15,052,857 in chips)
Seat 3: ProgressorCD (7,349,700 in chips)
Seat 4: 4ibetS (926,491 in chips)
Seat 5: Barthold09 (8,691,009 in chips)
Seat 6: guus2007 (6,488,014 in chips)
Seat 7: Virix (2,472,221 in chips)
Seat 8: mpax77 (15,627,296 in chips)
Seat 9: jickgh_ty (3,672,785 in chips)
A quick start...
On just the second hand of the table, the first player was eliminated. Ukraine's 4ibetS had just managed to survive with a little under three big blinds, so Q♠ J♣ in second position was good enough to move all-in. That got the rest of the table out with one exception: rose_gnr of Argentina was in the big blind holding 3♦ 2♠ and made the call, getting almost exactly 3-to-1 pot odds to do so. The K♠ A♠ 5♥ flop presented the chance of a wheel straight for rose_gnr, and it came home on the 4♣ turn. Though any ten would have given 4ibetS a Broadway straight and the pot, the river was the A♥, busting the Ukrainian player in 9th place ($423.70).
...before the standoff begins
Hand #4 saw another short stack battling to survive. Poland's Virix got in behind with A♣ 6♣ against mpax77's A♦ J♦ but managed to stay alive thanks to a six on the flop. If anyone expected a brisk final table from the first four hands, though, they ended up disappointed. The next 17 straight hands ended without seeing a flop, either via blind steals or re-steals, as the blinds advanced to 200K/400K with 50K antes.
The most active player during that stretch was rose_gnr, who was involved in the next clash. The Argentine player had opened for three big blinds in the hijack with A♣ Q♦ and wasted no time calling a shove for 6.01M chips from the Netherlands' guus2007 in the big blind. The Dutch player held the advantage with A♥ K♠, but that only lasted until the flop came 8♠ 8♥ Q♣. The 2♣ turn and A♠ river offered no help, and just like that guus2007 was out in 8th place ($628.72).
After another three hands without a flop, rose_gnr tried to score another knockout with some tricky play in this hand, but the Netherlands' Barthold09 was having none of it:
That catapulted Barthold09 right back into the thick of it, and as the table went back to its old pattern of blind steals and resteals for the next 12 hands the Dutch player would actually move up into the lead with 21.7M chips as blinds and antes moved up to 250K/500K/62.5K. The nearest competition was rose_gnr (16.91M) and mpax77(13.13M), with the other four players holding on to stacks worth 13 big blinds or less.
With so little willingness on everyone's part to butt heads out in the open, it was perhaps inevitable that the next elimination would come in a blind-versus-blind situation. As it happened, the two shortest stacks were in the blinds on the hand, and both had just enough to get their chips in the middle, Iran's jickgh_ty shoving with K♦ 6♠ and Paraguay's wachan100 calling with Q♣ T♦. The board came 4♣ 9♠ 7♣ 8♦ 8♣, jickgh_ty's hand held up, and the only player from South America at the final table was out in 7th place ($1,093.44).
Still relatively short with 5.7M chips, jickgh_ty would be involved again on the very next hand, flat-calling on the button with A♣ A♠ after Virix moved all-in for 4.23M chips under the gun with K♦ T♥. The 3♣ 7♦ J♥ 2♣ 2♥ board never came within a threatening distance of the rockets; jickgh_ty won the 9.6M-chip pot, and Virix was out in 6th place ($1,640.16).
Five for fighting
Now down to five, the tournament's chip were distributed like this:
Seat 2: rose_gnr (16,603,853 in chips)
Seat 3: ProgressorCD (5,937,700 in chips)
Seat 5: Barthold09 (21,647,018 in chips)
Seat 8: mpax77 (13,067,575 in chips)
Seat 9: jickgh_ty (11,083,854 in chips)
The next two orbits saw a return to the standoff mentality, with only one re-steal and one flop with a continuation bet in that span. The first hand in some time to see a fourth bet before the flop saw a major shift in the standings:
With that 26.37M-chip pot, the largest of the tournament so far, mpax77 seized the chip lead. And rose_gnr, easily the most active player at the table, fell into last place with a stack worth just 11 big blinds. When the action folded to the Argentine player in the small blind on the very next hand, a shove was in order despite holding the meager J♥ 8♠. It looked like the timing couldn't have been any worse, as Russia's ProgressorCD woke up in the big blind with J♦ J♣ and called all-in. But the board fell A♠ 3♦ 9♠ J♠ 4♠, rose_gnr's flush beat ProgressorCD's set of jacks, and the Russian was out in 5th place.
With the table now four-handed, talk of a deal began. But one of those players wouldn't survive long enough to get in on splitting up the remaining prize pool. Working with the shortest stack at the table, jickgh_ty moved all in for 9.27M chips when the action folded to the small blind. Normally A♥ 8♦ would be in a pretty good spot there, but it turned out that rose_gnr held 8♣ 8♠ in the big blind, good enough for a snap call. The 9♦ 5♣ Q♦ 6♠ 4♦ board brought no aces and no crazy running cards, making jickgh_ty our 4th place finisher for $2,755.46.
Deal or no d-- OK, deal!
Everybody still wanted to look at the numbers for a possible deal - and once presented with them, the three players agreed nearly instantaneously. Play was back up and running within four minutes, making it the fastest deal this reporter has seen in quite some time. With the deal complete only the winner would walk away with more money, so the Mexican standoff pattern that had held up throughout the final table fell by the wayside pretty quickly.
On just the fifth hand after that deal two players looked down at an ace in the hole and opted to get their stacks in the middle. It was rose_gnr at risk, covered by less than one ante by mpax77's stack, but rose_gnr held the dominating hand with A♥ K♣ to mpax77's A♠ 9♥. That lead would hold up through the river as the board came 8♠ 3♠ 5♣ K♠ 5♦, leaving mpax77 up against the ropes. The next hand was won by rose_gnr as well, with J♠ T♥ against A♠ 3♥, sending mpax77 to the rail in 3rd place ($6,018.43).
Two to tango
Despite having been almost down to the felt just minutes earlier, it was rose_gnr holding the lead as heads-up play began:
Seat 2: rose_gnr (46,662,982 in chips)
Seat 5: Barthold09 (21,677,018 in chips)
The two would spar for a total of 38 hands, only 16 of which went as far as a flop. The early going saw plenty of back and forth, but rose_gnr's chip lead expanded until Barthold09 was down to less than 20 big blinds. Then the Dutch player picked up 9♠ 9♦ when rose_gnr held A♦ T♥, and a nine on the flop brought things back to roughly where they'd been at the start of heads-up play. On the hand after that Barthold09 made it three bets before the flop and half the pot on the 6♣ 7♣ J♠ flop before taking down the 17.85M-chip pot on the T♦ turn. Suddenly the two players were nearly even, with rose_gnr holding a slim lead of about four big blinds.
Two hands later came the confrontation that was the beginning of the end, as rose_gnr's aggression ran into Barthold09's big hand:
That left rose_gnr with a little more than one big blind and one ante. The Argentine player actually managed to double up three times and even got in ahead on the final hand, holding 9♥ 8♣ against Barthold09's 8♥ 2♣. But the board came Q♥ 4♦ 6♥ 5♦ 2♥, bringing a long battle to a close.
Per their deal, rose_gnr walked away with $5,859.73 for second place. And Barthold09 earned the predetermined amount plus a little extra for coming out on top, good for a total prize of $6,442.65. Their heads-up battle was a fitting close to a hard-fought final table, and both of them deserve congratulations for their efforts.
MicroMillions III Event #8: $4.40 NL Hold'em [2X Chance]
$25,000 guaranteed prize pool
9,346 entrants, 4,322 re-buys
1,170 places paid
$54,672 total prize pool
1st place: Barthold09 (Netherlands) $6,442.65*
2nd place: rose_gnr (Argentina) $5,859.73*
3rd place: mpax77 (Greece) $6,018.43*
4th place: jickgh_ty (Iran) $2,755.46
5th place: ProgressorCD (Russia) $2,186.88
6th place: Virix (Poland) $1,640.16
7th place: wachan100 (Paraguay) $1,093.44
8th place: guus2007 (Netherlands) $628.72
9th place: 4ibetS (Ukraine) $423.70
* - denotes results of a three-way deal
Fancy making a lot of money for a little investment? With another 87 events still left to play as of this writing, here's still plenty of time to get in on the MicroMillions III action.
Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.