Shamandez conjures up a Sunday Million win

Sunday Million logo NEW.PNGThere's a bar on the ground floor of the Atlantis' Coral Tower. As hotel bars go, it's nothing out of the ordinary. The overstuffed chairs are sufficiently comfortable, the cocktails priced a bit higher than one would like, and the internet is as consistent as you'll get on Paradise Island. Every January, it transforms into poker's version of Cheers. Everybody knows your name at the Coral Bar and if you're any sort of serious online player, chances are you've spent your Sunday grind in its confines at least once. With the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in full swing, the Coral Bar comes alive with the whir of mouse clicks and the incessant beepbeepbeeps of hands nearing timeout. Today was no different, with seats in the lounge at a premium as grinders eschewed the Bahamian sun and set up for an afternoon on the virtual felt. Even the PCA can't keep them away from a shot at six figures.

2012's second Sunday Million saw a better than 5% uptick in entries this week over last, with 7,710 players in the fray. 1,170 of them earned a chunk of the $1,542,000 prize pool with first place set to earn $231,300. Although most of the Red Spade Army was busy with PCA events, a dozen of them found time on their calendars for the Million including Victor Ramdin, Angel Guillen, Chad Brown, Theo Jorgensen and Team Online's Shane "shaniac" Schleger, who tweeted this photo of his enviable Sunday setup.

Regular Sunday Million denizens will tell you that this tournament typically reaches the final table around Level 37, when the blinds are at 125,000/250,000 and the average stack around 30 big blinds. Tonight was a different story, with the blinds climbing all the way up to 200,000/400,000 before the final table bubble burst. At this point akzack was hanging on with 945,000 in chips and decided to throw his lot in with A♣7♣, moving all-in behind TheFish9999's 888,000 opening raise. TheFish9999 called the small balance and turned up K♥8♥. Although akzack kept the lead on the Q♥T♠3♣ flop, a king on the turn dashed his hopes for a double-up. The 9♥ on the river sealed the deal and akzack ended his run in tenth place, at long last leaving us with our final nine.

Sunday Million FT 1-8-12.jpg

Final table chip counts:

Seat 1: dave798111 (4,001,353 in chips)
Seat 2: A.A.KATALO (9,947,916 in chips)
Seat 3: Mackkapackka (9,131,402 in chips)
Seat 4: blablonae (18,056,844 in chips)
Seat 5: shamandez (9,797,510 in chips)
Seat 6: @RXIDI@ (3,021,308 in chips)
Seat 7: 26071985 (5,053,692 in chips)
Seat 8: hoefi73 (11,106,359 in chips)
Seat 9: TheFish9999 (6,983,616 in chips)

Short stacks survive, TheFish9999 and 26071985 fall

The blinds moved up to 250,000/500,000 after only a few more hands, reducing the average stack to 17 big blinds. The two shortest stacks didn't waste any time getting their chips in the middle and both saw favorable results. First, dave798111's 6♠8♠ turned two pair against blablonae's K♠5♣ to take him up to more than 8 million in chips. Only a few hands later, TheFish9999 open-shoved for 4.58 million with 9♦T♦ only to run straight into @RXIDI@'s pocket queens in the big blind. The ladies held, leaving TheFish9999 with only 732,000 while @RXIDI@ enjoyed a crucial double-up.

The last of TheFish9999's chips went in the middle on the next deal. TheFish9999 had to be delighted to pick up A♦9♠ in a must-shove situation, but A.A.KATALO was lying in wait with a dominating A♣Q♠. TheFish9999 did not improve and exited in ninth place, earning $11,950.50.

One orbit later it was moving day for 26071985, who three-bet shoved for his remaining 3.4 million with pocket deuces in the small blind. Original raiser blabonae called with K♣Q♠ and they were off to the races for our numerically named friend's tournament life. This one was a sweat to the end, the deuces holding through the turn on the A♠9♠6♥8♠ board. The Q♦ on the river, however, sent him to the rail with an eighth-place finish and $17,733 in earnings.

Shallow-stacked shenanigans

With 16.7 million in chips and the blinds up to 400,000/800,000 blablonae had only a bit more than 20 big blinds, but it was still good for the chip lead. He switched gears and started pounding the short stacks, who seemed more concerned with moving up the pay ladder than acquiring more chips. After A.A.KATALO opened for 1.65 million and Mackkapackka three-bet to 3.2 million, blablonae cold four-bet all-in, eliciting folds from both his opponents. We won't know his cards until the replay, but the move earned him a 9.8 million pot, one of the largest thus far at the final table.

Unfortunately, blablonae's aggression got the best of him in a hand against @RXIDI@. With the action folded to him on the button, blablonae open-shoved for 21.4 million holding K♦5♦ and @RXIDI@ called all-in for 3.8 million from the big blind with A♥K♥. Blablonae caught lucky on the flop, pairing his kicker as it came down Q♥T♥5♣, but @RXIDI@ spiked the J♣ on the turn to make Broadway and double to 10.2 million.

Play was still seven-handed when the blinds rose to 500,000/1,000,000 and the average stack fell to 11 BB. With only 4 million left, shamandez open-shoved from under-the-gun, hoefi73 called all-in for 2.6 million and A.A.KATALO re-shoved for 9.5 million on the button. Both blinds folded and the cards went on their backs:

shamandez A♠J♠
hoefi73 9♦9♥

Hoefi73 was in deep trouble when the flop came down Q♠J♦2♥, pairing shamandez's jack. The 2♣ on the turn was no help and the 5♦ on the river sealed his seventh-place elimination. Hoefi73 collected $30,840 for his efforts while shamandez found new life, moving up to 13 million in chips. A.A.KATALO was left with 5.4 million and moved in a few hands later with Q♠9♦. Dave798111 called with A♣J♣, the board running out 6♦4♣3♥T♠5♦ to send A.A.KATALO to the rail in sixth place ($46,260).

Blablonae coolered, @RXIDI@ rivered

Two minutes later, Mackkapackka opened for 3 million from the small blind and blablonae found pocket sevens in the big. Naturally, blablonae shoved for his last 11.8 million but to his horror, Mackkapackka called and turned over two eights, a nasty cooler if there ever was one. Blablonae couldn't find a miracle set on the Q♠2♠2♥T♦9♣ board and departed in fifth place, $61,680 richer.

@RXIDI@ was next to put his tournament life on the line, three-bet shoving for 8.7 million with A♥K♣ and earning a call from Mackkapackka with A♦7♥. But as we all know too well, getting it in good doesn't guarantee anything. Check it out:

Done deal

With only 77 big blinds were left in play, the final three agreed to look at chip count chop numbers. When the action was paused, Mackkapackka held 32.2 million, dave798111 had 23 million and shamandez had 21.9 million. Although dave798111 balked at the numbers at first, they quickly came to terms and struck a deal, leaving $20,000 on the table for the champion.

Shamandez picked up pocket queens at the perfect time and doubled through dave798111, who three-bet shoved for 29.5 million with A♣T♦. Shamandez rocketed up to 45 million while dave798111 was left with 7.2 million. Six hands later, dave798111 went for it again, three-bet shoving with A♥3♦. This time, shamandez called with pocket sevens and hit top set when the flop fell 7♦5♥2♥. The 3♥ on the turn gave dave798111 more outs with a flush draw, but the river safely fell the T♠. Shamandez moved into the chip lead while dave798111 bowed out in third, collecting $160,298.47.

Heads-up chip counts

Seat 3: Mackkapackka (23,495,558 in chips)
Seat 5: shamandez (53,604,442 in chips)

Heads-up play lasted all of two hands. Mackkapackka stole the blinds on the first one and on the second, shamandez opened for a min-raise to 2.4 million holding A♣4♠. Mackkapackka three-bet to 6 million with A♥T♣ and shamandez called. Both players hit top pair when the flop fell A♠8♥7♥. The money was going in, it was just a matter of how. Mackkapackka led out for 2.4 million, shamandez raised to 19.4 million and Mackkapackka made the call. The K♦ on the turn brought Mackkapackka one step closer to a crucial double-up; all he needed to fade was a four on the river.

And the river was... the 4♦. After being down to only four big blinds, shamandez had all the chips in front of him and earned his first Sunday Million title along with $178,192.36. For his runner-up finish, Mackkapackka took home $178,079.17-- only $113.19 less.

Sunday Million results for January 8, 2012

1. shamandez (Russia) $178,192.36*
2. Mackkapackka (Australia) $178,079.17*
3. dave798111 (Australia) $160,298.47*
4. @RXIDI@ (Greece) $77,716.80
5. blablonae (Spain) $61,680.00
6. A.A.KATALO (Russia) $46,260.00
7. hoefi73 (Switzerland) $30,840.00
8. 26071985 (United Kingdom) $17,733.00
9. TheFish9999 (Netherlands) $11,950.50

*= reflects the results of a three-way deal that left an additional $20,000 to the winner

Are you ready to take a shot at six figures? Head over to the Sunday Million page for more information.

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in Sunday Million