MicroMillions III: Turkey's koraykor88 takes the crown in Event 73 ($3.30 NLHE)
Though it's hasn't cracked the world top 10 in population, Turkey isn't a particularly small country. More than 74 million people, or one out of roughly every 95 people on Earth, lives there, and in one form or another it's been a regional (and sometimes worldwide) political force for many hundreds of years.
In the poker world, though, Turkey has always been a bit underrepresented. Case in point: of all the countries where players have entered events during MicroMillions III, fewer have been from Turkey than from any other country. Before today they had cashed for a combined total of $8,353 - less than all but four other countries (the Faroe Islands, Cyprus, Moldova, and Chile) - and had zero final table appearances or bracelets.
It's important to point out that this is less an implication of Turkish poker players' skills and more a side effect of math: with far fewer of them playing than players in, say, Russia or the United Kingdom, they're going to be overshadowed to a large degree. For today, though, Turkey is finally getting its moment in the online poker spotlight, thanks to a $3,990.70 win by koraykor88 in Event 73.
Out of the gates with a bang
The final table began on the 125K/250K/31.25K level with these nine players holding stacks ranging from five to 43 big blinds:
Seat 1: cacaca25 (1,341,676 in chips)
Seat 2: koraykor88 (8,407,194 in chips)
Seat 3: MaXFed79 (2,705,672 in chips)
Seat 4: Acezonfire (10,852,302 in chips)
Seat 5: Open_Mike85 (2,669,116 in chips)
Seat 6: NickJonk87 (1,829,020 in chips)
Seat 7: JohnMcline (3,766,160 in chips)
Seat 8: roganyosh1 (3,499,041 in chips)
Seat 9: roller55444 (9,204,819 in chips)
It wasn't long at all before the action got going. On just the second hand of the final table the Netherlands' NickJonk87, holding A♥ 5♥, opened in middle position with an all-in bet of 1.76M. That cleared out everybody but koraykor88, who made a reraise from the small blind to isolate with A♣ T♣. The isolation play worked, and after the board ran out 2♥ K♦ 3♦ 9♠ 7♦ NickJonk87 was done for the day in 9th place ($205.87).
Only five hands later another player would end up on the rail, though the knockout came in a different kind of situation. The action opened with koraykor opening in early position for the minimum of 500K, and the United Kingdom's Open_Mike85 (in the cutoff) and roller55444 (in the small blind) making the call to build a pot worth 1.87M. The flop fell 7♥ 4♣ K♠, and after roller55444 checked koraykor continued the betting by leading for 656K. Open_Mike85 called that bet before roller55444 check-raised to 1.75M; that move got koraykor out of the way, but Open_Mike85 called with 1.1M chips behind. Open_Mike85 then called all-in after a bet from roller55444 on the 8♣ turn and showed K♦ Q♥ for top pair, queen kicker. But roller55444 held 4♠ 4♥ for a set of fours and Open_Mike85 was drawing dead. After the formality of the 3♠ river, Open_Mike85 left in 8th place ($305.49).
Jockeying for position
The blinds and antes soon jumped to 150K/300K/37.5K and the pace of bustouts slowed down for a while. It wasn't for a lack of action, though. Within the first seven hands after Open_Mike85's departure, the Turk had taken down two pots preflop with three-bets and doubling up Russia's short-stacked cacaca25 when A♥ J♦ failed to crack A♠ Q♦. Another seven hands later another short-stacked Russian, MaXFed79, grabbed a much-needed pot worth 4.76M on this hand:
Three hands later the blinds would rise to 200K/400K, meaning the table's shortest stack - the one worth 878K belonging to Ukraine's JohnMcline - was now worth only a bit over two big blinds. The Ukrainian actually managed to those chips in action in a very favorable situation: K♦ K♣ in the hole, a little bit of dead money left in the pot by koraykor88 after opening the betting and folding to a reraise by the United Kingdom's Acezonfire, and just A♦ 9♣ in Acezonfire's hand. After the flop and turn had the board showing Q♣ Q♥ 6♥ 6♣ it looked like the cowboys would hold up to win the 2.72M-chip pot, but the river was the cruel A♣ and JohnMcline died hard in 7th place ($531.30).
Rounding the corner
The brisk pace of play continued a few hands later with another double-up for cacaca25, this time with A♣ 9♣ against Acezonfire's Q♥ T♠ for a pot worth 5.56M. The lone Turk at the table continued to stay active, too: koraykor88 pulled down one pot preflop with a blind steal and another with a three-bet to climb as high as 10.58M chips before surging to the chip lead with another knockout on the last hand of the level.
Sitting in the small blind, koraykor88 opened the betting for minimum raise of 800K when the action folded there. MaXFed79 opted to call with 2.28M chips left behind and see a flop of J♣ 9♠ 2♣. After koraykor88 checked, MaXFed79 bet 1.2M; then the Turk check-raised enough to set MaXFed79 all in and the Russian called. The A♦ Q♠ in koraykor88's hand was behind MaXFed79's K♣ 2♥ momentarily, but the Q♥ on the turn put the Turk in the lead. MaXFed79 still had outs to two pair, three of a kind, or a straight, but the 7♠ on the river wasn't one of them. The 6.46M-chip pot went to koraykor88, and MaXFed79 was on the rail in 6th place ($796.95).
Now holding the chip lead with blinds and antes at 250K/500K/62.5K, koraykor88 eased off the gas just a bit. The United Kingdom's roganyosh1 and roller55444 each grabbed multiple pots via blind steals before the flop, but koraykor88 and Acezonfire both won bigger pots with preflop three-bets and continuation bets on the flop. Nobody would end up all-in until 15 hands after MaXFed79's departure, when cacaca25 doubled up to 7.59M with Q♥ T♠ against koraykor88's 8♥ 8♠.
With everyone a bit closer to each other in chips at that point, play looked like it was settling into a standoff period where all the pots would be taken down by preflop raises. Then cacaca25 ran into a cooler, moving all-in before the flop with Q♥ Q♣ only to have Acezonfire wake up with K♥ K♣. A queen-free board of J♣ 2♦ A♣ 9♠ 9♥ meant the end of the line for cacaca25 in 5th place ($1,062.60).
The home stretch
The remaining four players were stacked like so:
Seat 2: koraykor88 (10,721,006 in chips)
Seat 4: Acezonfire (20,606,403 in chips)
Seat 8: roganyosh1 (4,531,496 in chips)
Seat 9: roller55444 (8,416,095 in chips)
Now that three out of every four chips in play belonged to a player from the United Kingdom, the odds were pretty strong that this event's bracelet would go to that country. But poker is still an individual game, and the players went after the chips without regard for nationality. Over the course of the next 17 hands Acezonfire paid for double-ups by both roganyosh1 and roller55444. Eight hands after that, the blind and antes now up to 300K/600K/75K, the U.K. player to guarantee a British win with A♠ K♠ against koraykor88's 8♥ 8♦. The 3♠ Q♣ 7♠ 3♣ 9♦ board provided too little cooperation, though, and koraykor88 stayed alive.
The chip stacks had mostly evened out now, though roganyosh1 trailed the pack with 5.26M, and the players traded blind steals back and forth. Finally koraykor88 broke through, picking up A♥ T♠ on the same hand as roganyosh1 was dealt A♠ 9♣. Three bets saw all of roganyosh1's chips get in the middle, but the J♣ Q♦ J♠ K♥ 6♠ board gave koraykor88 a Broadway straight to end roganyosh1's run in 4th place ($1,338.87).
The odds were still against a Turkish win, but koraykor88 had managed to grab a slim chip lead and had just two opponents to get past now. Neither was ready to make it easy for the Turk, though. None of the three players was able to make a big change to the status quo for the next 13 hands, but on the 14th the last two British players would collide in a huge preflop coin-flip situation. The action started with roller44555 opening on the button for a minimum raise to 1.2M. Then Acezonfire jammed for 11.13M in the big blind, which covered roller55444 by just 52K; roller55444 called with T♥ T♠, and Acezonfire showed K♦ J♠. The overcards got a sniff of help from the 3♥ 7♣ 3♠ 2♥ 8♥ board and Acezonfire was crippled. After being forced all-in by the ante on the next hand while holding 7♣ 6♥ and losing to roller55444's Q♦ 9♣, Acezonfire left in 3rd place ($1,992.37).
Down to the wire
It was still the United Kingdom versus Turkey for the win, but the odds weren't so heavy against the underdog anymore:
Seat 2: koraykor88 (19,048,508 in chips)
Seat 9: roller55444 (25,226,492 in chips)
After the third hand, when koraykor88 won a 9.13M-chip pot with an uncalled bet on the river of a board reading K♣ Q♣ T♥ 2♣ Q♠, the odds had actually shifted to favor the Turk. They flipped back to roller55444 only 10 hands later, after a preflop standoff saw koraykor put in a fourth bet for 6M chips before folding to roller55444's all-in five-bet. But on the very next hand koraykor88 jumped back ahead:
As it turned out, that was the last time koraykor88 would have to reclaim the lead. There was some more back on forth for the next six hands as roller55444 did everything possible to claw back, but on the seventh hand both players picked up hands they were willing to go all the way with seeing a flop. After the board came 6♣ 3♦ 8♥ 7♦ 5♣, koraykor88's A♦ 2♠ had held up for ace-high against roller55444's K♥ Q♣ and the tournament was complete.
The United Kingdom might have been denied its sixth bracelet, but roller55444 still earned a healthy payday of $2,922.15. As for koraykor88, the player who brought Turkey into the fold of MicroMillions champions, the achievement was worth $3,990.70. And who knows? Once koraykor88's friends all hear about the win, we might start seeing a few more Turkish players at the tables.
MicroMillions III Event #73: $3.30 NL Hold'em
$15,000 guaranteed prize pool
1,170 places paid
$26,565 total prize pool
1st place: koraykor88 (Turkey) $3,990.70
2nd place: roller55444 (United Kingdom) $2,922.15
3rd place: Acesonfire (United Kingdom) $1,992.37
4th place: roganyosh1 (United Kingdom) $1,338.87
5th place: cacaca25 (Russia) $1,062.60
6th place: MaXFed79 (Russia) $796.95
7th place: JohnMcline (Ukraine) $531.30
8th place: Open_Mike85 (United Kingdom) $305.49
9th place: NickJonk87 (Netherlands) $205.87
We're nearing the end of MicroMillions III, and the award for the best player of the series is still up for grabs. Team PokerStars Pro's own Marcin "Goral" Horecki is at the top of the leaderboard right now, making him the favorite with two days left to win the champion's trophy and a 2013 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. There are still several players within one win of overtaking him, though. You can check up on the race over at the MicroMillions III Leaderboard.
Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.