Slow and Steady Won the Race for Highway51, Winner of $271K in March 14th Sunday Million

Sunday Million logo.jpgPlayers hailing from the United States may have been a bit groggy on Sunday, March 14. Daylight Savings Time kicked in the night before, and everyone lost an hour of time. It simply vanished because someone (a scientist?) told us to make it happen. We oblige, mostly because we don't understand enough to question it and ultimately like the result of having sunset at a later hour each day. But most of us are a little out of sorts on the day that the hour disappears.

Nevertheless, enough players got themselves together and hit up the tables on PokerStars for the Sunday Million. Not even the absence of time itself will keep most players away. Registration showed a total of 9,687 of them in the event, which propelled the prize pool to soar past the $1.5 million guarantee and land at $1,937,400. That allowed the last 1,440 players to be paid from that chunk of cash.

Several members of Team PokerStars looked to make deep runs in the tournament. Tuning in at the five-hour mark, one noticed a certain Daniel Negreanu in first place on the leaderboard and a certain Jason Mercier in second. An hour later, both remained in the top ten. But it in almost no time at all, Negreanu was out of the tournament. According to his Twitter account,

Out in 137th. Lost JJ to 88 AQ to 99 then K10 to 66. And there ya go :-)

It was then that we checked on Mercier, who dropped to about 44th place, and he ultimately finished in 76th. Despite the absence of Team PokerStars, action proceeded, and on the way to the final two tables, Mike "Timex" McDonald ended up eliminated in 22nd place. Around the nine-hour mark, there were two tables remaining, and it took more than an hour to reach the final table. It finally happened when Gindependent pushed a short stack with pocket jacks but ran into the pocket aces of jfyjfy6. The board blanked with 3♦2♦8♥5♦T♣, and Gindependent was gone in tenth place with $9,687.00.

SingleFileD and Soltari84 started in solid position

Action got underway at the final table just into Level 37, with blinds at 250,000/500,000 and a 50,000 ante. The players took their seats with the following starting chip counts:

Seat 1: Klauss8s (6,545,314 in chips)
Seat 2: Highway51 (15,263,886 in chips)
Seat 3: jfyjfy6 (14,305,972 in chips)
Seat 4: popimaiorca (2,374,136 in chips)
Seat 5: Snort4eva (7,457,616 in chips)
Seat 6: rakeinfools (6,657,954 in chips)
Seat 7: SingleFileD (19,335,800 in chips)
Seat 8: Soltari84 (18,393,274 in chips)
Seat 9: THE CUBE (6,536,048 in chips)

2010 Million final table 03.14.10.JPG

SingleFileD promptly lost the lead but regained it through the winning of a 16 million-chip pot involving jfyjfy6 that went all the way to the river before the jfyjfy6 folded. A bit later, it was Soltari84 who took a 7 million-chip pot from jfyjfy6, leaving the latter with little more than 2 million chips.

The double-ups were abundant within the first half hour of play. The first was popimaiorca, who doubled through SingleFileD on the third hand of the final table, Snort4eva did it via Highway51, and then the aforementioned jfyjfy6 doubled up through Soltari84 to stay alive.

Highway51 cruising until pulled over

As other players at the table struggled for their tournament lives, Highway51 smoothly and quietly moved up the leaderboard into its top spot. So when Klauss8s decided to risk it all from the button, Highway51 called from the small blind with pocket fives, which dominated the pocket deuces of Klauss8s. The board was dealt as 4♥6♣8♥T♦T♠, which eliminated Klauss8s in ninth place, for which he received $13,174.32 in prize money.

Highway51 then proceeded to lose the chip lead via a 32 million-chip pot. And Soltari84 took that lead with a vengeance and the following hand:

RSS readers click through to see replay

Despite consistent connectivity issues for Soltari84, coming back into the game at key moments paid off for the player's chip stack to that point, which was twice the size that of Highway51 in second place on the leaderboard.

Thinning the field

As the 11th hour of the tournament approached, there were some eliminations to be had. It started with Snort4eva who pushed all-in from the big blind with A♥5♥. Original raiser SingleFileD called with A♦K♥, and the cards were dealt 9♥3♠J♠4♦4♥ onto the table. SingleFileD had the ace with king kickers, which sent Snort3eva packing in eighth place with $19,374.00.

SingleFileD took some hits over the past few levels, as THE CUBE and popimaiorca both doubled through him. But then it happened. The hand started when SingleFileD raised, Soltari84 reraised all-in, and SingleFileD called for 14,654,059 chips with pocket kings. Soltari84 showed A♥T♦, and the two watched the flop come T♥A♦T♠ to give Soltari84 the immediate full house. The J♦ on the turn and 2♠ on the river changed nothing, and SingleFileD was suddenly gone in seventh place with $38,748.00.

A battle of the blinds and shorter stacks ensued between jfyjfy6 and popimaiorca. From the small blind, jfyjfy6 pushed all-in with pocket sixes, and popimaiorca called from the big blind with A♣7♦. The board came 4♣Q♦8♥A♥T♦, and the ace on the turn gave popimaiorca the best hand, eliminating jfyjfy6 from the tournament in sixth place with $58,122.00.

THE CUBE had been successful in doubling up several times, most recently through rakeinfools and Highway51, so the tendency to want to do it again came on strong. THE CUBE moved all-in with A♦J♥, but this time, Highway51 happened to have pocket aces. The board was an uneventful 7♦6♠2♣K♦3♣, and THE CUBE was gone in fifth place, which was worth a payout of $77,496.00.

The short-stack at the table during four-handed play was rakeinfools, and the move was made preflop with J♠9♠. Soltari84 was the caller holding pocket nines, and the board came T♥T♣Q♣T♦4♥, giving Soltari84 the full house. With that, rakeinfools was ousted in fourth place with $96,870.00.

No deal

Three-handed found popimaiorca on the short stack and battling against players who each had more than double the stacks. Several attempts were made by popimaiorca in the chat box to initiate deal talks, but Soltari84 was quick to shoot down the idea.

Time passed, and eventually popimaiorca found a spot to make a move. It played out as follows:

RSS readers click through to see replay

That double-up left Soltari84 as the short-stack, and a renewed plea by popimaiorca to talk about a possible deal was met with a positive response from Soltari84. But Highway51 wanted no part of it.

It wasn't long after thatSoltari84 pushed his last 17,107,176 chips all-in with A♠3♦, and Highway51 called with Q♦J♠. The flop of T♣K♣9♠ gave Highway51 the straight, and the 6♠ turn and T♠ river let it be. That left Soltari84 out of the tournament in third place with $139,492.80.

No rest stops along this highway

The final two players began their match with the following chip counts:

Seat 2: Highway51 (51,836,592 in chips)
Seat 4: popimaiorca (45,033,408 in chips)

On the second hand of heads-up play, the two battled with some preflop raises to see the first three cards dealt as 7♥A♦Q♠. Highway51 bet, and popimaiorca check-called. It was the K♠ turn card that prompted an all-in bet from popimaiorca with K♦Q♦ for the two pair. But Highway51 called with A♥A♣ and the flopped set. The T♠ on the river ended it with popimaiorca finishing the tournament in second place with $197,614.80.

Highway51 cruised right into the winner's circle, where $271,241.22 in prize money awaited to accompany the coveted Sunday Million title.

Sunday Million Results for 03/14/10:

1st place: Highway51 ($271,241.22)
2nd place: popimaiorca ($197,614.80)
3rd place: Soltari84 ($139,492.80)
4th place: rakeinfools ($96,870.00)
5th place: THE CUBE ($77,496.00)
6th place: jfyjfy6 ($58,122.00)
7th place: SingleFileD ($38,748.00)
8th place: Snort4eva ($19,374.00)
9th place: Klauss8s ($13,174.32)

For more information on ways to register and qualify for upcoming Sunday Million tournaments, visit the Sunday Million page.

Jen Newell
@PokerStars in Sunday Million