Tuffy Cat scratches and claws way to Sunday Million victory

Following the conclusion of the World Championship of Online Poker last week, Sunday saw the return of PokerStars’ $215 Sunday Million tourney. A total of 7,133 runners came out this week to try their luck, meaning they enjoyed a bit of an overlay in order for Stars to honor the $1,500,000 prize pool guarantee. The top 1,080 finishers got paid, with the winner scheduled to score a cool $184,500.

It took about three hours and 45 minutes of play before the cash bubble burst. By Level 24 (nearly six hours of play), the field had been reduced to 100. At the six-hour break, 88 players remained, with minspin holding a commanding chip advantage. minspin’s stack of 4,169,369 was more than twice that of his nearest competitor, drackar, who had just a little more than 2 million. But from such giddy heights minspin went into a precipitous tailspin, and would ultimately be eliminated in 61st.

At the seven-hour break, just 32 players were left gathered around four tables. hechtemichl7 had pulled ahead of the pack with more than 7.51 million chips, with natebelt11 in 2nd (5.74 million) and Boretony in 3rd (4.57 million). None of those three would still be around, however, when during Level 33, sometime after the eight-hour break, AceBonG, holding Ad-7d, spiked an ace on the river to beat irons21’s pocket fours and eliminate him in 10th place.

Here’s what the final table looked like shortly after it had been assembled:


Chip counts at start of final table:
Seat 1: agiletto -- 1,722,272
Seat 2: WatchOutSir -- 4,655,177
Seat 3: SantiagoRain -- 6,499,207
Seat 4: Tuffy Cat -- 8,991,714
Seat 5: Assassinato -- 17,485,447
Seat 6: londanuk -- 10,335,993
Seat 7: AceBonG -- 9,542,218
Seat 8: amichaiKK -- 1,850,436
Seat 9: hustln_ps -- 10,247,536

Before players had gotten comfortable in their virtual final table seats, agiletto picked up a nice more-than-double up with As-Qh versus WatchOutSir’s pocket jacks. A queen on the flop and no subsequent jack meant a large transfer of chips from WatchOutSir’s stack over to agiletto’s. Just a few minutes later, we would see our first elimination of the final table. Down to just 1.2 million, amichaiKK open-pushed all in from UTG+1 and SantiagoRain called from the cutoff seat. amichaiKK showed 2h-2c and was hoping to outlast SantiagoRain's Ad-9d. The flop was fine -- Kh-3h-6s. The Qd on the turn was, too. But the Ah fell on the river, eliminating amichaiKK in 9th place.

"Nice catch," typed agiletto. "For all of us," noting the sizable pay jumps with each successive elimination (see payouts below). “ez game” SantiagoRain responded.

The table would enjoy another nice catch, so to speak, just six hands later when WatchOutSir became the next to fall. AceBonG had raised to 723,889 from middle position, then WatchOutSir reraised all in for 2,772,905 behind. It folded to Tuffy Cat who then repopped it all in for 9.2 million from the big blind, and AceBonG stepped aside. Tuffy Cat showed pocket tens, and WatchOutSir pocket eights. The board came As-3c-5d-7d-Qh, and WatchOutSir was out in 8th. One orbit later, agiletto would shove his last 1.7 million with Ac-4c only to find himself up against AceBonG's Ad-9s. There was some hope for agiletto as the flop brought one club -- 3c-7h-Ts -- and the turn another -- Qc. But the river was the 2h, and we were down to six.

AceBonG’s good fortune continued when he took a huge, 17 million-plus chip pot off of Assassinato when his pocket kings held up versus Assassinato’s Ah-Qd. That hand gave AceBonG the slight chip lead over Tuffy Cat, and he soon began using those chips to pressure the shorter stacks. Play had reached Level 36 (blinds 250,000/500,000, antes 50,000) when londanuk would catch a brief rush, knocking out two players in successive hands.

First to go was hustlin_ps who had shoved all in for 8.5 million with Ah-Qh and was called by londanuk who held 6d-6h. The community cards came 4s-2s-Ks-Kc-8h, and hustlin_ps hustled to the rail in 6th. On the very next hand, the table folded around to Assassinato who pushed all in from the small blind for 6,217,574 with Qh-Ts and londanuk called from the big blind with As-9s. The flop was a killer for Assassinato -- Ts-Ad-Ac. The Jd on the turn gave him a slight ray of hope, but the 9h gave londanuk a boat, sending Assassinato out in 5th.

Soon afterwards, Tuffy Cat would take a 19-million chip pot off of londanuk to assume a sizable chip lead. With four players left, Tuffy Cat's 34.6 million represented nearly half the total chips, with AceBonG (14.8 million), londanuk (12.6 million), and SantiagoRain (9.2 million) all trailing. SantiagoRain suggested making a deal on a couple of occasions, but none of the others responded and play continued.

AceBonG would then take the lead away from Tuffy Cat after getting it all in preflop with Big Slick, getting called by Tuffy Cat who held Ad-9s. Two kings on the flop assured AceBonG of securing the 27 million-chip pot and the lead. Soon after that, in the very last hand of Level 36, Tuffy Cat would knock out SantiagoRain in fourth place when his pocket eights outran SantiagoRain’s As-Jc. Here’s how that hand played out:

During the break following that hand, AceBonG -- chip leader with 30,788,778 -- suggested a chop, but Tuffy Cat, just behind AceBonG with 29,721,428 said “not yet.” londanuk was now the short stack with 10,819,794.

Those stack sizes remained fairly steady for the first five minutes of Level 37, then came an interesting showdown between londanuk and Tuffy Cat. AceBonG had folded his button, Tuffy Cat completed from the small blind, and londanuk checked his option from the big blind. Both players checked the 6h-8h-5c flop. The turn was the Jh. Tuffy Cat checked, londanuk bet 1.2 million, and Tuffy Cat called. The river was the 6s, pairing the board. This time Tuffy Cat bet out 3 million, and after hesitating londanuk raised all in for 6,829,794. Tuffy Cat called, showing the surprising Ah-Ad. londanuk held Js-9s for the lesser two pair, and was out in third place.

Heads up play began with Tuffy Cat having the advantage with 41.8 million to AceBonG's 29.5 million. Neither player made any mention of a possible deal, meaning there was a $60K difference riding on who would come out ahead in their battle.

By the time Level 38 began (blinds 400,000/800,000, antes 80,000), the tide had turned with AceBonG enjoying an almost 2-to-1 chip advantage over Tuffy Cat, 47.1 million to 24.1 million. Then came a huge hand in which the pair essentially traded stacks.

On a flop of Qd-6d-Ad, AceBong checked, Tuffy Cat be 2.4 million, AceBong check-raised to 7.2 million, then Tuffy Cat pushed all in. AceBong called, showing Jd-Tc for the flush draw and gutshot draw to Broadway. Tuffy Cat turned over Qc-Ts for middle pair and little else. Another queen came on the turn, and the 4h on the river meant Tuffy Cat claimed the 48 million-chip pot and retook the lead.

Fifty-five hands later, Tuffy Cat still maintained roughly the same advantage when the following hand took place. Tuffy Cat raised to 7 million from the small blind/button, and AceBonG deliberated a bit before shoving all in for 19,907,556. Tuffy Cat took a few seconds, then made the call, turning over As-5c. AceBonG showed As-4s, setting up the sort of match-up that often ends in a split pot. However, the flop brought a five -- Jh-5d-Qh -- and AceBong was in dire circumstances. The turn was the Qs, and the river another five, giving Tuffy Cat the pot and that first place prize money.

Congratulations to Tuffy Cat, AceBonG, and everyone else who cashed in Sunday's event!

Sunday Million results for 9/28/08:

1. Tuffy Cat -- $184,500.00
2. AceBonG -- $124,950.00
3. londanuk -- $84,000.00
4. SantiagoRain -- $69,000.00
5. Assassinato -- $54,000.00
6. hustin_ps -- $39,000.00
7. agiletto -- $26,500.00
8. WatchOutSir -- $17,250.00
9. amichaiKK -- $10,500.00

Martin Harris
@hardboiledpoker in Sunday Million