NickDandolos walks away a winner from 11/7/10 Sunday Million

Sunday Million logo.jpgOn a day when much of the poker world's attention remains fixed on Las Vegas -- site of the still-concluding final table of the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event (details here) -- a larger-than-average field of 8,260 players took to the mouse and keyboard for the first Sunday Million of the month, all with hopes of making their own November Nine.

Together that large group created a guarantee-eclipsing $1,652,000 prize pool. The top 1,260 finishers would earn the privilege of dividing up that booty, with the player finishing with all the chips scheduled to receive a healthy $243,009.20 deposit into his or her account.

Turning 200 FPPs into nearly $300

As happens every Sunday, eliminations came at a rapid clip over the first four hours of play, only slowing somewhat as the tourney began to approach the cash bubble. And, as also happens every Sunday, a number of super-short stacks began folding their hands, eyeing those blinds as they crept around the table towards them once again, hoping they'd hang on long enough to make the money.

Among that group this week was Bicman27s, down to just 2,566 chips as the tournament went hand-for-hand. His table having played its hand, he and his tablemates chatted as they waited for the other tables to conclude. When it became apparent there were enough eliminations elsewhere to ensure Bicman27s had cashed, his opponent An Croaibhin congratulated him.

"I GOT IN OFF 200FPP," typed Bicman27s in response. "Nice pay off," answered An Croaibhin. He'd be all in the very next hand with A♣6♥ against KKgeoroAA's Q♦J♥, and when he flopped trip sixes, then turned quads, the celebratory mood continued.

He'd only last a couple more hands, however, to finish in 1,171st place. Still, as An Croaibhin pointed out, $296.36 is not a bad return at all for having won a Sunday Million seat for just 200 Frequent Player Points!

The Travails of Team PokerStars

The eliminations continued, and with 1,000 players left suren180376, leboace, JoAnne, robots, and danger0us were sitting atop the chip counts.

At that juncture just four of the more than three dozen members of Team PokerStars who entered the Sunday Million had made the cash and still had chips -- Tom McEvoy (U.S.), Darus Suharto (Canada), Alexandre "Allingomes" Gomes (Brazil), and Martha "marene" Herrera (Team Online).

Of that group, Suharto would be the first to fall when his A♣9♦ failed to catch up to young_diam18's A♠K♣, sending the Canadian out in 820th place ($379.96). The other three would continue to accumulate chips, however, and were all still there with 300 players left, with Herrera having moved into the top 20.

Soon Herrera picked up pocket aces with which she scored a double-knockout of johanfbomb (279th) and mildog11 (278th), both of whom earned $677.32. That hand pushed her near the one million-chip mark and into fourth place behind leader mendieta19, ItalskyB, and gwaag.


Team Online pro Martha "marene" Herrera

A little while later "Allingomes" was all in with A♦T♦ and against tomaso_13's 3♠3♦. A ten flopped, but so did a trey, and two cards later Gomes was out in 240th place ($726.88). Next McEvoy would open-shove his stack of just under 15 big blinds with A♠9♠ and get called by dridrixs who showed J♥J♦. The jacks held, and McEvoy was out in 161st place ($952.12).

Shortly after crossing the seven-hour mark, 100 players remained, with "marene" still sporting an above-average stack of just over one million chips, good enough for 29th. Mihal Nutt had assumed the chip lead then with a little over 3 million, followed by mcst0002, izzy83, jaspun111, and naznarez2002.

Just about an hour later, with the blinds at 30,000/60,000, Herrera would open-raise all in for her last 326,006 with Q♠Q♣ and hoping to survive against toco who held A♥K♣. Herrera lost the race, however, as the community cards brought an ace, sending the last member of Team PokerStars out in 54th place ($2,808.40).

Finding the Final Nine

With 36 left, izzy83 led the way with more than 6.2 million chips, followed by NickDandolos and mcst0002, both of whom had more than 5 million. With 27 left, Jason "strassa2" Strasser had moved out in front with 6.87 million, followed by stacksanchez with 6.14 million and mcst0002 with 5.42 million. And as the tourney reached the nine-hour mark they were down to 18, with Strasser still in first, now with 8.82 million, followed by mcst0002 and NickDandolos.

With 11 players left, NickDandolos had moved into the chip lead with more than 13 million, but experienced some bad fortune, losing a big 10 million-plus chip pot to merzavets65. All in before the flop, merzavets65 had 8♠8♣ while NickDandolos had 9♥9♣. But an eight in the window gave merzavets65 a set and the hand held, sending NickDandolos back to short-stack status.

naznarez2002 was eliminated in 11th soon thereafter, knocked out by toco. Meanwhile, with the blinds at 200,000/400,000, leboace's stack had dwindled down to less than half of a single big blind when he was forced all in from the BB in a hand versus chip leader mcst0002. He'd survive that one, but was still super short, and would be knocked out by mcst0002 in the next hand in 10th.

Almost exactly 10 hours after the first hands of the tournament were dealt, the final table -- the first "November Nine" of this month's Sunday Million tourneys -- was set:


Seat 1: stacksanchez -- 3,250,991
Seat 2: toco -- 6,044,882
Seat 3: merzavets65 -- 11,513,926
Seat 4: mcst0002 -- 22,217,219
Seat 5: stuckndatrap -- 5,973,879
Seat 6: izzy83 -- 10,179,375
Seat 7: NickDandolos -- 8,561,998
Seat 8: reraiser89 -- 2,307,973
Seat 9: strassa2 -- 12,549,757

Nine Become Three

Soon after the final table began, stacksanchez doubled through NickDandolos, then, almost an orbit later, NickDandolos turned around and doubled back through stacksanchez.

Then, with the blinds still 200,000/400,000, mcst0002 opened for 950,000 from middle position. stuckndatrap, next to act, pushed all in over the top for 4,693,879 total, and it folded back to mcst0002 who made the call. mcst0002 had J♣J♠ while stuckndatrap had A♥K♥. The board came 5♦T♥7♦9♠2♠, and stuckndatrap was the table's first elimination, finishing in ninth place.

With eight left, stacksanchez was the short stack with 1,750,975, and on the very next hand he'd open shove that stack from UTG. It folded to reraiser89 in the small blind who, true to his name, reraised, though just for 36,998 more. strassa2, who had both players covered, called from the big blind, showing A♠4♥. reraiser89 tabled A♦Q♣, and stacksanchez Q♦J♦.

The board brought a couple of pairs -- 3♣2♣3♠K♥2♥ -- which meant reraiser89 and strassa2 chopped the pot, while stacksanchez hit the rail in eighth.

RSS readers click through to see replay

With the blinds up to 250,000/500,000, it folded to NickDandolos who minimum-raised to 1 million from the small blind. Then reraiser89 pushed all in for 3,353,461 from the BB, and NickDandolos made the call. Both players had woken up with big hands in the blinds, with reraiser89 showing Q♣Q♥ and NickDandolos A♠A♥. The board came 6♠K♠J♦9♦J♣, and reraiser89 was gone in seventh.

Ten hands later, Jason "strassa2" Strasser opened for 1.1 million from middle position, then merzavets65 reraised all in for 6,583,926 from the small blind. mcst0002 folded the BB, and Strasser called, showing K♥Q♣ to merzavets65's A♠Q♥.

Looked like a decent spot for merzavets65, but the flop came 2♣9♦K♠, putting Strasser in front. The turn was the 3♦ and the river the 5♦, and merzavets65 had been felted, leaving in sixth place.

Strasser was at it again just three hands later, open-raising all in from the small blind and getting toco to call from the big blind with his last 2,564,882. toco held A♦T♣ and needed help against strassa2's A♠J♥. The flop came an intriguing K♥Q♥9♦, then the T♦ gave Strasser a Broadway straight. The T♥ came on the end, and toco was out in fifth.

That little rush pushed strassa2 close to chip leader mcst0002. mcst0002 had a little over 27 million, while Strasser was up to almost 25.2 million. Meanwhile NickDandolos sat in third with 17.7 million and izzy83, who'd been staying mostly out of everyone's way thus far, was fourth with nearly 12.6 million.

Those four battled for a while until the tourney reached level 38 (blinds 300,000/600,000). NickDandolos then opened a hand with a 3x raise to 1.8 million from under the gun, and when it folded back to izzy83 in the big blind he called with the 978,750 he had left. izzy83 had but 5♦2♠, but both cards were live as NickDandolos held K♣T♠.

Then came the flop -- 7♣K♥K♠ -- and those two live cards were suddenly pronounced dead. izzy83 was out in fourth.

Let's Make a Deal

With three left strasser2 was in front with 35.2 million, barely ahead of mcst0002 with 32.5 million while NickDandolos had almost 14.8 million. After a few more hands, Strasser's stack had remained the same, NickDandolos had climbed to 24.1 million, and mcst0002 22.9 million. That's when the trio collectively decided to talk about making a deal, and the tourney was paused.

With assistance from Team Online pro Grayson "spacegravy" Physioc, the "chip chop" numbers were proposed and all readily agreed. $30,000 was set aside for the winner, and play quickly recommenced.

On the very first hand back, NickDandolos scored a double-up through Jason Strasser to claim a 48 million-plus chip pot. NickDandolos had A♦Q♥ and Strasser pocket nines, and while no ace or queen came, four hearts did, thereby catapulting NickDandolos into the lead.

Strasser kept battling, however. While NickDandolos maintained his stack of 48 million, strassa2 built back enough chips to have a slight edge over mcst0002 with 17.3 million to mcst0002's 16.99 million when the following hand took place.

With the blinds now 400,000/800,000, Strasser opened with a raise to 1.8 million from the small blind, then mcst0002 pushed all in from the big blind. Strasser called instantly, showing A♣K♠ to mcst0002's 6♠6♥. The flop came K♦9♦T♥, putting Strasser in front, and after the 3♠ turn and A♦ river they were down to the final two.

Heads-Up Play

The first hand of heads-up play saw NickDandolos with the advantage with 48,216,900 chips to Jason "strassa2" Strasser's 34,383,100.

After about 35 hands, the pair were nearly even, at which point NickDandolos asked Strasser if he were interested in splitting the remaining $30,000. To do so was not an option, both Strasser and Tourney host Physioc explained. NickDandolos wasn't too disappointed, though.

NickDandolos: sorry, im super excited.never won so much money

In a way, the line delivered here during the heads-up battle kind of recalled the well-known apology uttered by the historical Nick "the Greek" Dandolos at the end of his million-dollar heads-up match at Binion's Horseshoe with Johnny Moss over half a century ago. In that one, Dandolos walked away a loser, famously saying "Mr. Moss, I have to let you go" as he did.

But here was an apology of a different sort. Just as Bicman27s had been thrilled earlier in the evening to score nearly $300 from a 200 FPP investment, NickDandolos was also delighted about how his tourney had gone.

Then, about a half-dozen hands later -- a little over 11 hours after the tournament had begun -- the heads-up battle came to a swift conclusion. And if NickDandolos was "super excited" before, one imagines he was even more so after this hand.

After winning a couple of medium-sized pots, NickDandolos had built his stack up to 62,356,900 when he made a 2x raise to 2 million from the small blind/button. Strasser responded by shoving all in for 20,143,100 total. NickDandolos thought a beat, then made the call, turning over Q♠9♥ and strassa2 showed J♥8♦.

The flop came A♣5♥7♠, and NickDandolos was still ahead. Then came the Q♦ turn, pairing NickDandolos and making the 3♣ river inconsequential.

RSS readers click through to see replay

Unlike was the case for his namesake in that famous game at Binion's, NickDandolos was walking away from this one a winner!

Sunday Million Results for 11/7/10 (*reflects three-way deal):

1st: NickDandolos ($195,647.93)*
2nd: strassa2 ($185,266.58)*
3rd: mcst0002 ($163,584.69)*
4th: izzy83 $82,600
5th: toco ($66,080)
6th: merzavets65 ($49,560)
7th: reraiser89 ($33,040)
8th: stacksanchez ($18,172)
9th: stuckndatrap ($12,803)

It was another exciting Sunday at PokerStars. Be sure to come back to the PokerStars blog tomorrow for coverage of the conclusion of the 2010 WSOP Main Event. Then next weekend, log on to PokerStars and perhaps take yourself a seat at the Sunday Million, online poker's biggest weekly tournament. Check out the Sunday Million page to see how you could have yourself a fun, profitable Sunday like Bicman27s, NickDandolos, and 1,258 others did today.

Martin Harris
@hardboiledpoker in Sunday Million