Kevsteele stays strong to secure July 17 Sunday Million win

Sunday Million logo NEW.PNGIt was a day of nail-biting action. The Women's World Cup captured the attention of many soccer fans around the world, as Japan penalty kicked their way to victory over the United States. As that took place in Frankfurt, Germany, competition of a different kind took place in Las Vegas with a rather large poker tournament.

The World Series of Poker became filled with more tension as every level passed on Day 6 as the field dipped below 100 finalists. Luckily, the PokerStars blog team is there to capture the important moments and make poker fans everywhere feel as if they're at the Rio. Check out their updates here as play moves along this week toward the November Nine.

Adding even more action to this particular Sunday was a poker event that takes place every week. With its $1 million guarantee and largest tournament payouts on the Internet, the Sunday Million is not only played by thousands of people but watched by even more from all corners of the globe.

Today's Sunday Million saw a jump in attendance, as players returned home from Las Vegas and readjusted to their computer setups. The final numbers were:

Players: 6,182
Prize pool: $1,236,400
Paid players: 900

In that large crowd of players were a number of Team PokerStars players, though none of them made it into the money. The five who came closest were Juan Manuel "JUANPASTOR" Pastor in 1648th place, Georgios "gkap13" Kapalas in 1367th, Fatima Moreira de Melo in 1361st, Victoria Coren in 1337th, and Viktor "Isildur1" Blom in 1324th.

A bit later, the money bubble burst, and TR689 became the first player to cash in this week's Sunday Million for $321.46. And even longer into the tournament, MatchBalla became the first to cash for over $1K when he took home $1,038.57 for 126th place.

Play moved very slowly as the 10-hour mark approached, but just before that hour hit, three tables were reduced to two, and action sped up a bit.

Finally, after the elimination of pilf1 in 11th place, hand-for-hand play led to several double-ups before pleasepick pushed all-in from the big blind. Hvete and pyszalek called and checked down the board of K♥K♠7♣K♣3♣. Hvete showed A♠Q♥ for a kicker that beat the T♣8♥ of pyszalek, and pleasepick simply mucked before leaving in tenth place with $6,923.84.

Poland's pyszalek points the way

With only a few minutes left in Level 37, the final table set. Blinds remained at 125,000/250,000 with a 25,000 ante as action started, and players showed these chip counts:

Seat 1: hvete (6,970,330 in chips)
Seat 2: Drawzee (1,697,374 in chips)
Seat 3: pyszalek (15,050,467 in chips)
Seat 4: aricontre (6,183,193 in chips)
Seat 5: r0xer88 (3,771,778 in chips)
Seat 6: manuelmendes (6,736,868 in chips)
Seat 7: Renatoart (11,957,202 in chips)
Seat 8: DavoDam (6,369,844 in chips)
Seat 9: kevsteele (3,082,944 in chips)

2011 Sunday Million table pic 07.17.11.JPG

The first hand led to the 10.5-hour break, as well as some interest from some of the players in a nine-way chop. But others were not up for the early deal, so play simply went forward as scheduled.

Hvete took the opportunity to double through Renatoart. But it was the next hand that really moved hvete. The battle of the blinds started with an all-in move from hvete, and Drawzee called all-in with A♦8♣. Hvete showed Q♥8♥ but hit the board running as it came T♦9♣Q♠Q♦7♣. The trip queens was good enough to knock Drawzee out of the tournament in ninth place, which was worth $9,582.10.

And hvete climbed into first place on the leaderboard, though pyszalek stayed close behind.

R0xer88 decided to risk everything with K♦T♥, and manuelmendes reraised all-in to isolate, which worked. Manuelmendes showed J♦J♠, which turned into a straight draw on the 9♣Q♦T♣ flop. The Q♠ on the turn gave both players two pair, but the K♠ on the river made a straight for manuelmendes. That left r0xer88 out in eighth place with $14,836.80.

On the very next hand, DavoDam made the all-in move with K♦6♣, but original raiser pyszalek called with A♦4♠. The board revealed J♥9♦Q♥9♠5♦, and the ace kicker played to eliminate DavoDam in seventh place with $27,200.80.

Revolving chip lead

Kevsteele doubled through pyszalek, the latter lost a very temporary revisiting of the chip lead. And with a few significant pots, manuelmendes bypassed pyszalek and hvete to take over the top spot on the board. The three then proceeded to switch positions in the top three.

But another double for kevsteele through pyszalek put the former in first place and the latter in fourth. It was anyone's game.

Renatoart doubled through kevsteele, but aricontre doubled through Renatoart, which left the latter on a very short stack. The last 146,967 went all-in on the big blind of a subsequent hand, and kevsteele was there with 3♠3♥ against the K♠6♥ of Renatoart. The board of 9♦9♥6♠Q♥3♦ made a full house for kevsteele and left Renatoart out in sixth place with $39,564.80.

Pyszalek was on the short stack but doubled through kevsteele to stay alive. And aricontre doubled through hvete in grand fashion:

RSS readers click through to see replay

And it was at that time that the last five players agreed to look at chip-chop numbers. Without much discussion, they agreed to leave $20,000 aside for the eventual winner and accept the following payouts:

Seat 1: hvete (2,921,819 in chips) = $64,517.58
Seat 3: pyszalek (6,036,288 in chips) = $77,936.40
Seat 4: aricontre (26,296,324 in chips) = $165,227.63
Seat 6: manuelmendes (13,367,657 in chips) = $109,523.92
Seat 9: kevsteele (13,197,912 in chips) = $108,792.57

Short stacks shushed

It only took a few hands for hvete to make the push with Q♦J♣, and aricontre called with 8♣8♦. The board of A♥5♠6♦A♠K♠ was enough to eliminate hvete in fifth place with $64,517.58.

On the very next hand, pyszalek risked the last of his chips as well. The all-in move was made with 9♦9♥, and kevsteele was along for the ride with A♦5♦. The dealer produced a board of 7♣6♦T♥3♣A♥, which gave kevsteele the pair of aces. Pyszalek exited in fourth place with $77,936.40.

Kevsteele was on fire and continued to take large pots from the other two opponents, climbing well into the lead with over 33 million chips at the 11.5-hour break.

But manuelmendes found an opportunity to double up and did so, courtesy of kevsteele, as seen here:

RSS readers click through to see replay

Aricontre then risked it all with K♠J♦, but manuelmendes was able to make the call with a dominating K♦Q♣. Nothing about the 9♠K♣6♥8♠6♠ changed anything, and aricontre finished in third place with $165,227.63.

Player from Brazil versus player of steele

The last two players standing started their battle with these chip counts:

Seat 6: manuelmendes (38,263,457 in chips)
Seat 9: kevsteele (23,556,543 in chips)

And it only took a few hands for kevsteele to mount a comeback:

RSS readers click through to see replay

Manuelmendes made several all-in moves but wasn't called on most of them. Finally, when manuelmendes pushed with K♥K♠, kevsteele called with 9♦9♥. But the board came T♦5♠2♠9♠5♣, and kevsteele made a full house. Manuelmendes took second place and $109,523.92 in prize money.

Kevsteele won the Sunday Million, and the total prize for that victory was $128,792.58 to go with the title. Congrats!

Sunday Million Results for 07/17/11 (reflecting deal):

1st place: kevsteele ($128,792.58)*
2nd place: manuelmendes ($109,523.92)*
3rd place: aricontre ($165,227.63)*
4th place: pyszalek ($77,936.40)*
5th place: hvete ($64,517.58)*
6th place: Renatoart ($39,564.80)
7th place: DavoDam ($27,200.80)
8th place: r0xer88 ($14,836.80)
9th place: Drawzee ($9,582.10)

*based on five-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