Victory for VanDerPelto in April 24 Sunday Million

Thumbnail image for ps_news_thn.jpgVery few holidays or religious observances put a dent in normal Sunday online poker tournament play, but when Easter Sunday calls families together, some players will respond to the call and turn their computers off. On the other hand, most players did show up for the festivities, especially for the biggest weekly tournament dubbed the Sunday Million on PokerStars

The $215 Sunday Million offered players a $1 million guaranteed prize pool, and there were 6,552 players who clicked the "register" button and joined the excitement. That allowed the prize pool to far surpass the guarantee when it arrived at its final $1,310,400 amount. That was enough to pay out the top 990 players and reserve six-figure paydays for the top three finishers.

It seemed that many of the Team PokerStars Pros took the day to spend with family or friends - or to simply enjoy a spring day - and only a few names made it deep in this week's Sunday Million. Johnny Lodden ran strong but hit the wall just outside the money bubble, finishing in 994th place. Alex "Allingomes" Gomes of Brazil finished in the money in 552nd place, Matthias "mattidm" de Meulder of Belgium took 524th, and Maxim Lykov departed in 350th place. The last Team Pro standing was Humberto Brenes (pictured here), who cashed out in 269th place.

Humberto Brenes.JPG

Ultimately, it came down to ten players, only nine of whom would make it to the final table. During hand-for-hand play, freeisland was so low on chips that the big blind equaled an all-in move. Susakh and VenDerPelto both called, but after the T♣A♠A♦9♦ cards were dealt, VanDerPelto folded to a bet. The Q♠ on the river completed the hand, and susakh had A♥5♠ for trip aces, which bested the J♣2♣ of freeisland, who exited in tenth place with $7,338.24.

VanDerPelto procures strong lead at the start

The final table was reached in Level 33, with blinds at 100,000/200,000 and a 20,000 ante. The players' starting chip counts were as follows:

Seat 1: zokete (2,724,318 in chips)
Seat 2: tanktown82 (1,430,456 in chips)
Seat 3: susakh (4,846,221 in chips)
Seat 4: oskar0610 (4,697,282 in chips)
Seat 5: Belabacsi (14,514,581 in chips)
Seat 6: VanDerPelto (22,628,399 in chips)
Seat 7: steintommy (10,712,241 in chips)
Seat 8: DreamOnDream (3,113,706 in chips)
Seat 9: orexx75 (852,796 in chips)

2011 Sunday Million table pic 04.24.11.JPG

And ... action! On the very first hand, major action ensued when DreamOnDream pushed all-in for little more than 3 million, orexx75 called all-in, and tanktown82 moved all-in over the top from the big blind. DreamOnDream had the others covered and held A♣6♣, but tanktown82 showed T♦T♠ and orexx75 was still alive with 7♦7♠. But the board came 3♣3♠9♦A♦4♦, and that eliminated two players. Orexx75 left in ninth place with $10,155.60, and tanktown82 walked away with $15,724.80 for eighth place.

Zokete doubled through VanDerPelto, but oscar0610 doubled through zokete to leave the latter with the shortest stack at the table by more than 3 million chips. The two largest stacks at the table then tangled in a big hand that gave Belabacsi the double-up, courtesy of VanDerPelto:

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Belabacsi bursts into a bold lead

With Belabacsi above the 26 million mark, the lead was substantial over the rest of the crowd. And former chip leader VanDerPelto had a far way to go for any hopes of gaining ground from that disastrous hand.

Susakh was the next player to be at risk. It happened when VanDerPelto started the hand with an all-in move, and susakh called all-in with A♠J♣. VanDerPelto had susakh covered but only showed K♥J♥, though the king came on the K♣4♥9♥ flop. The 8♦ turn and 6♠ river ended the hand and eliminated susakh in seventh place with $28,828.80.

Two hand later, short-stacked zokete moved all-in with Q♣J♥, and VanDerPelto called from the small blind with A♦8♣. The board produced 2♥7♥9♠A♥A♣, and the trip aces solidified the win for VanDerPelto while sending zokete home in sixth place with $41,932.80.

VanDerPelto was on the rise and in a solid third place of the five remaining players.

Five for chopping

Players paused the tournament in Level 35 in order to discuss a deal for the last of the prize money. It took nearly 30 minutes to come to any agreement after moving the numbers around several times, but they accomplished their goal. With $20,000 set aside for the ultimate winner, the deal numbers were as follows:

Seat 4: oskar0610 (5,199,564 in chips) = $88,500
Seat 5: Belabacsi (35,506,662 in chips) = $156,000
Seat 6: VanDerPelto (10,079,575 in chips) = $111,000
Seat 7: steintommy (9,252,241 in chips) = $106,176.69
Seat 8: DreamOnDream (5,481,958 in chips) = $97,000

Only a few hands after resuming play, short-stacked oskar0610 decided to push all-in with Q♥J♠ against the A♥7♥ of steintommy. The board of A♠4♦8♣2♥3♥ gave the pot to steintommy and sent oskar0610 out in fifth place with $88,500.00.

DreamOnDream doubled through Belabacsi, and though VanDerPelto doubled through steintommy, the latter did the same through the former.

But steintommy had a rough time gaining much momentum, and the all-in move was made holding Q♥9♥ on a 9♠T♠6♣ flop. But DreamOnDream called with A♦T♣ and top pair, and the 6♥ turn and 8♣ river changed nothing. Steintommy was gone in fourth place with $106,176.69.

VanDerPelto hit a big double through Belabacsi, and when DreamOnDream wanted to tangle on the next hand, VanDerPelto was ready with A♥T♣. DreamOnDream had the advantage with K♠J♦, but the board came 2♠5♦7♦T♠A♥ to give VanDerPelto the pair of tens. DreamOnDream exited in third place with $97,000.00.

Fight to the finish

The last two players were the ones who controlled much of the final table action. And they were geared up for battle, with starting counts listed as:

Seat 5: Belabacsi (30,377,784 in chips)
Seat 6: VanDerPelto (35,142,216 in chips)

VanDerPelto put on the pressure from the start of the match, and Belabacsi could do little to gain any ground. After 15 minutes, Belabacsi finally found a double-up opportunity, though even that success left him with less than half the chips of VanDerPelto.

Finally, with Belabacsi down to less than 15 million, the all-in move was made again, that time with 9♠9♣. VanDerPelto called with A♠K♦, which looked like it was going to lose the race after the 6♣8♥Q♥ flop and 7♥ turn. But the K♠ dropped on the river, leaving Belabacsi out in second place. The previous winner of a 2010 SCOOP tournament took home $156,000.00 for the runner-up spot.

VanDerPelto of Finland started the final table as the chip leader, experienced some rough waters along the way, but rose back to the top to claim victory and $131,000.00. Congrats!

Sunday Million Results for 04/24/11:

1st place: VanDerPelto ($131,000.00)*
2nd place: Belabacsi ($156,000.00)*
3rd place: DreamOnDream ($97,000.00)*
4th place: steintommy ($106,176.69)*
5th place: oskar0610 ($88,500.00)*
6th place: zokete ($41,932.80)
7th place: susakh ($28,828.80)
8th place: tanktown82 ($15,724.80)
9th place: orexx75 ($10,155.60)

*reflects a 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