Kalmuka collected $234,574.03 for 3/20/11 Sunday Million victory

Sunday Million logo.jpgCall it the Vernal Equinox. Call it the first day of spring. Or call it a Sunday that provided opportunities galore for big money and a title for one person to be dubbed this week's Sunday Million champion. Just don't call while I'm playing online poker. (Old joke. Apologies all around.)

In all seriousness, it was a solid day of poker for those who played the Sunday Million, and the registration number was a substantial one, not surprising for a tournament with a $1.5 million guarantee. With 9,594 players at the tables, the prize pool soared to $1,918,800.00, which allowed the powers-that-be to pay out the top 1,440 finishers.

Action started a bit late because of adjustments still being made for Daylight Savings Time, but no one in the action seemed to mind. And as the hours passed, the money bubble neared until 1,440 players were secure in the knowledge that they would walk away with at least a few more dollars than when they started. Among those players, there were a number of Team PokerStars Pros who cashed in the event, starting with Pat Pezzin, who exited in 1196th place. He was followed by Juan Manuel Pastor in 1155th, Jason Mercier in 1138th, Team Online's Clayton "cnew27" Newman in 1064th, JP Kelly in 870th, Online's Javier "El_Canonero" Dominguez in 853rd, George "gkap13" Kapalas in 787th, Tom McEvoy in 538th, Maxim Lykov in 457th, Marcello del Grosso in 338th, and Marcel Luske in 211th. The last Team Pro standing was Switzerland's Anton Allemann, though he ended up exiting well into the ninth hour of play - and just missing the final table - in 13th place.

Anton Allemann.jpg

It didn't take long to move on from that point, as the all-ins were aplenty. David_Wain decided to make his move from the big blind with A♥Q♥ on the bubble, and original raiser kalmuka showed with A♣2♣. The board cmae 8♠Q♠3♦4♣5♦ to give kalmuka that runner-runner straight, and David_Wain waned in tenth place, leaving with $9,594.00.

Upstrick77 on the uptick as final table begins

It was moments into Level 35, when blinds were set at 150,000/300,000 and the ante was 30,000, when the final table got underway. At about 9 hour and 40 minutes into the tournament, the players and their starting chip counts were as follows:

Seat 1: XBraumeister (10,977,808 in chips)
Seat 2: IkBenEenBaas (9,741,476 in chips)
Seat 3: BlackMojos (5,613,327 in chips)
Seat 4: upstrick77 (19,865,213 in chips)
Seat 5: dickkemp (3,741,434 in chips)
Seat 6: kalmuka (13,065,720 in chips)
Seat 7: Mr_BigQueso (18,893,216 in chips)
Seat 8: PureCash25 (5,533,184 in chips)
Seat 9: SeraphimV (8,508,622 in chips)

2011 Sunday Million table pic 03.20.11.JPG

The lone player from Belarus, upstrick77, led the pack as action got underway, though Mr_BigQueso from Spain was close behind and eventually took over the lead. Kalmuka started strong but lost quite a few chips when dickkemp doubled through to stay alive. But upstrick was set on taking the lead back and did it by taking a 10 million-chip pot from Mr_BigQueso. And this subsequent move by kalmuka put Mr_BigQueso in deeper trouble:

RSS readers click through to see replay

Meanwhile, short-stacked PureCash25 had been looking for a hand and eventually decided that K♥J♣ in the small blind was it. SeraphimV called from the big blind with a dominating K♦Q♠, and that kicker held up through the dealing of the 5♣A♠9♥8♣3♦ board. PureCash25 walked away with $13,047.84 in pure cash for the ninth place finish.

A few hands later, it was time for Mr_BigQueso to make his move, and he did it preflop with A♠T♥. SeraphimV was the caller holding Q♠Q♦, and that pair only grew as the Q♣6♥3♦ made a set and the 2♥ turn and 2♣ river put together a full house. That left Jim "Mr_BigQueso" Callopy cheesed off and out in eighth place with $19,188.00.

Kalmuka was on a roll and looking to move to the top spot and beyond, starting with a pot worth 15.2 million chips taken from IkBenEenBaas. Not long after, when XBraumeister tried to get into a hand with a raise, kalmuka reraised all-in from the big blind to put him to the test. XBraumeister wanted to take that test and called all-in for nearly 9 million more chips with A♠J♦. Kalmuka showed K♦6♦. The cards rolled off as if specifically for kalmuka, and the 5♣7♥8♠4♦3♣ board made the straight. XBraumeister was exed out in seventh place, which was worth a $38,376.00 payday.

Feisty finalists finally agree to a deal

The last six players standing took a break from the action to discuss the possibility of a deal, and though it took more than 30 minutes of sometimes-touchy discussions, the players finally agreed on some numbers. With $30,000 set aside for the eventual winner, the payouts were determined to be as follows:

Seat 2: IkBenEenBaas (8,343.081 in chips) = $108,438.49
Seat 3: BlackMojos (7,172,027 in chips) = $99,255.65
Seat 4: upstrick77 (14,744,082 in chips) = $135,354.39
Seat 5: dickkemp (9,231,868 in chips) = $109,075.66
Seat 6: kalmuka (39,457,880 in chips) = $204,574.03
Seat 9: SeraphimV (16,991,062 in chips) = $146,066.56

Play resumed a little more cautiously than expected, but it was upstrick77 who seemed anxious to get involved. After dickkemp took a reasonable pot from upstrick77, the latter took only a short time before getting involved in a raising war with SeraphimV. Upstrick77 was all-in holding K♣J♠, and SeraphimV showed A♥Q♣. The dealer gave them a T♠3♥5♥J♥K♦ board, and SeraphimV improved to a straight. Upstrick77 was down and out in sixth place with $135,354.39.

BlackMojos doubled through SeraphimV, which relegated the latter to second place on the leaderboard. But BlackMojos was on the move. Dickkemp pushed all-in with A♠4♣, and BlackMojos was there with Q♣Q♠, which only improved to a set on the J♥3♦8♣7♣Q♥ board. Dickkemp was kicked out in fifth place, for which he received $109,075.66. And that put BlackMojos in second place on the board.

Short-stacked IkBenEenBaas got involved with SeraphimV to see a flop of Q♠Q♣7♠, at which point IkBenEenBaas bet, SeraphimV check-raised, and IkBenEenBaas called all-in holding T♠T♣. SeraphimV had K♦7♦ but was saved by the A♥ turn and A♠ river that gave him the better two pair. IkBenEenBaas was booted in fourth place with $108,438.49.

Some changing of the chips took place over the next while, as BlackMojos doubled through kalmuka, who then doubled through SeraphimV. The three played quite selectively over the course of the next few rounds, but the following win by BlackMojos changed the scenery:

RSS readers click through to see replay

Two hands later, SeraphimV risked the remainder of his chips with T♦T♥, and kalmuka called with A♠J♠. The board of A♣2♠5♣J♣3♥ gave kalmuka the jacks. That meant that SeraphimV, who previously placed second in a Sunday Million in 2009 and fifth in another in 2010, was gone this time in third place. The prize amount for SeraphimV was $146,066.56.

Bulgaria battles US in heads-up duel

The final match of the night got underway at the 11.5 hour mark, and the players' counts were:

Seat 3: BlackMojos (64490288 in chips)
Seat 6: kalmuka (31449712 in chips)

Kalmuka worked quietly and finally found a double-up spot with pocket aces, which stood up to the A-10 offsuit of BlackMojos. That double put kalmuka in the lead, but the stacks were fairly close, and it was anyone's game. But BlackMojos climbed slowly but steadily back into the lead, though kalmuka found another ideal double-up spot and found that A-2 can handily beat pocket jacks.

At the half-hour mark of the battle, the stacks were nearly even once again. But as time went on, kalmuka found another chance and doubled again, that time with 6-4 offsuit against the A-K suited of BlackMojos. That pot, worth nearly 94.5 million chips, left BlackMojos crippled.

One double-up for BlackMojos led to another attempt, and all 1,528,368 chips went in holding 9♥3♦. Kalmuka showed 3♥2♥ and hit the 7♦6♠K♣2♠J♦ for the pair of deuces. That left BlackMojos out in second place with $99,255.65.

Kalmuka won the March 20 Sunday Million, and the Bulgarian won $234,574.03 and the title. Congratulations!

Sunday Million Results for 03/20/11:

1st place: kalmuka ($234,574.03)*
2nd place: BlackMojos ($99,255.65)*
3rd place: SeraphimV ($146,066.56)*
4th place: IkBenEenBaas ($108,438.49)*
5th place: dickkemp ($109,075.66)*
6th place: upstrick77 ($135,354.39)*
7th place: XBraumeister ($38,376.00)
8th place: Mr_BigQueso ($19,188.00)
9th place: PureCash25 ($13,047.84)

*results of a six-way deal

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