Sunday Million: Rhyno2008 charges to the top, Jon "apestyles" Van Fleet takes third

For the better part of a decade, Jon "apestyles" Van Fleet has been an online MTT force, racking up over $4.3 million in cashes on PokerStars. Although he's won the Super Tuesday and recently saw one of his students win the Million, he has yet to capture the title for himself. This week, Van Fleet was right on the brink, sharing the chip lead with Pablo "Rhyno2008" Nerro, with three players remaining. Nerro has put away large fields before, but only on the micro-stakes level, finishing 2nd out of 15,481 players in a $1.10+R turbo MTT and winning the Ante Up NLHE event in the MicroMillions 2. However, this week, Nerro graduated to the big time, taking out Van Fleet in third place and going on to win the Sunday Million for over $217k.

The first Million of Double Vision Sunday drew 7,420 players and the prize pool topped out at $1,484,000.00. 1,044 places were paid with the champion set to earn $217,717.64.

When the field narrowed to the top 100, Rhyno2008 and apestyles traded the chip lead back and forth until apestyles dropped an 11.8 million pot to KK_Killer_AA with ten players remaining. Apestyles slipped to third in chips, while Rhyno2008 held steady at 20 million. Then, with the blinds up to 125,000/250,000, KK_Killer_AA min-raised on the button and gregior shoved for 3.42 million from the small blind. JoaoMathias called off his remaining 649,000 from the big and KK_Killer_AA gave up his hand. Gregior's 4♥4♦ flopped a set against joaoMathias's K♥5♦ and sent him to the rail on the final table bubble.


Final table chip counts

Seat 1: Armaan007 (9,940,305 in chips)
Seat 2: Dowgh-Santos (3,627,045 in chips)
Seat 3: gregior (4,951,609 in chips)
Seat 4: KK_Killer_AA (10,642,372 in chips)
Seat 5: apestyles (10,841,818 in chips)
Seat 6: kostelo (3,912,368 in chips)
Seat 7: Rhyno2008 (21,413,671 in chips)
Seat 8: eurowinner1 (4,516,042 in chips)
Seat 9: RUS_FISH (4,354,770 in chips)

Short stack Dowgh-Santos didn't last long at the final table. He three-bet shoved for his remaining 1.98 million with pocket jacks, but Rhyo2008's Q♣T♠ hit a queen on the turn to bust him in ninth place. Five hands later, Armaan007 three-bet shoved for 8.26 million from the small blind and gregior called all-in from the big, chasing away initial raiser Rhyno2008. Armaan007's 2♦2♣ held up against A♦K♠ and gregior exited in eighth place.

Early in the next level, the action folded to KK_Killer_AA in the small blind and he opened for 1,000,000. Apestyles shoved for 14.7 million from the big blind and KK_Killer_AA looked him up with A♣T♣. Apestyles was in bad shape with 3♦7♦, but flopped a seven on the 8♣7♠6♠2♦8♠ board to eliminate KK_Killer_AA in seventh place. Three hands later, eurowinner1 was out in sixth when his K♥Q♥ did not improve vs. Rhyno2008's A♦8♥.

A careful slowplay helped apestyles reclaim the chip lead with five players remaining. Rhyno2008 opened for 840,155 from the cutoff, and apestyles defended his big blind with A♠6♥. Apestyles hit the jackpot when the 7♠6♣6♦ flop brought him trip sixes. Apestyles check-called Rhyno2008's 800,155 continuation bet, then led out for 1,619,472 on the 8♠ turn. Rhyno2008 called and the river fell the 4♦. Apestyles checked, Rhyno2008 bet 4,731,555 and apestyles looked him up. Rhyno2008 could only show a busted straight draw with Q♠9♥ and apestyles moved up to 28.7 million. Rhyno2008 sank to 20.3 million.

In easily the most brutal beat of the night, RUS_FISH three-bet shoved for 4.44 million and took his A♦A♠ up against Rhyno2008's A♥9♣. The flop came all hearts, K♥7♥6♥, giving Rhyno2008 the nut flush draw. The 9♦ turn was safe for RUS_FISH, but the 2♥ river was a dagger through his heart, ending his run in fifth place.

Rhyno2008 moved up to 31.8 million after that hand, while apestyles lost ground, doubling kostelo to 7.2 million when his A♣J♥ fell to A♦K♦. However, four hands later, apestyles went to war pre-flop with Armaan007 and all the chips ended up in the middle-- apestyles with A♣J♠ and Armaan007 with K♠Q♣. Apestyles kept the lead on the T♣9♣8♣ flop, but it swung to Armaan007 when the K♦ turned. Apestyles needed a club, a seven, a queen or an ace and got the latter on the river with the A♦, ending Armaan007's tournament in fourth place.

As play turned three-handed, apestyles and Rhyno2008 were neck and neck while kostelo was hanging on with ten big blinds.

apestyles - 34.5m
Rhyno2008 - 33.4m
kostelo - 6.2m

Nevertheless, kostelo inquired about a potential deal, which apestyles politely declined.

kostelo: deal?
apestyles: no thanks
apestyles: gamble gamble

With the action folded to apestyles in the small blind, he shoved holding only J♣2♣, while kostelo found A♣2♠ in the big blind and called. Kostelo's ace-high held up on the K♣K♠5♦3♦5♠ board and he doubled to 10 million. Apestyles slipped to 21.4 million and relinquished even more to Rhyno2008. On a 9♦6♠5♦ flop, Rhyno2008 checked, apestyles bet 1.45 million and Rhyno2008 called. The turn came the K♦ and Rhyno2008 check-called an additional 3.8 million. The river fell the T♠ and both players checked, Rhyno2008 revealing K♥Q♥ for the win. Apestyles fell to 14.8 million and kostelo nearly caught up to him a few hands later when he doubled through Rhyno2008. With both himself and apestyles holding about 13 million apiece, kostelo again broached the subject of a deal, but got no response from either opponent.

Holding A♣J♦, apestyles opened for 1,266,000 from the button and Rhyno2008 three-bet to 2.7 million. Apestyles snap-shoved and Rhyno2008 snap-called, displaying Q♥Q♠. It was all but over on the Q♣9♠7♥ flop and apestyles's only hope for a comeback lay with running cards. The 5♦ turn, however, left him drawing dead, and apestyles ended his run in third place with a hefty $102,959.92 score.

Van Fleet_Million.jpg

Jon "apestyles" Van Fleet, third place

Heads-up chip counts

Seat 6: kostelo (11,147,888 in chips)
Seat 7: Rhyno2008 (63,052,112 in chips)

It was already miraculous enough that kostelo had landed in the top two after entering the final table eighth in chips. But despite the 5.5 to 1 chip defecit, he wasn't about to go down without a fight. Kostelo doubled up on the third hand of the heads-up match when his pocket eights held up against Rhyno2008's A♦7♠, good for 19 million in chips. Then, with the blinds up to 400,000/800,000, kostelo led all three streets on a Q♣6♠2♠3♦2♣ board, Rhyno2008 calling him down. Kostelo turned up 6♦2♥ for a full house and moved up to 27 million, while Rhyno2008 slipped to 47 million.

Watching his once insurmountable lead slip away, Rhyno2008 kicked it into another gear and attacked kostelo, whittling him back down to 14.7 million. Holding 4♦4♥, Rhyno2008 open-shoved from the small blind and kostelo called all-in with K♣Q♣, setting up a showdown coinflip for the title. It was Rhyno2008's day, as a four hit the flop making him a set. The board paired on the river and Rhyno2008 locked up the Sunday Million title with fours full of eights.

Congratulations to Pablo "Rhyno2008" Nerro, our newest Sunday Million titleholder! He banked $217,717.64 for the win while runner-up (and comeback kid) kostelo earned $149,735.60.

PokerStars Sunday Million results for 12-21-2014

Players: 7,420
Prizepool: $1,484,000.00
Places paid: 1,044

1. Pablo "Rhyno2008" Nerro (Uruguay) $217,717.64
2. kostelo (Russia) $149,735.60
3. Jon "apestyles" Van Fleet (Canada) $102,959.92
4. Armaan007 (Singapore) $70,816.48
5. RUS_FISH (Russia) $48,704.88
6. eurowinner1 (Germany) $33,493.88
7. KK_Killer_AA (Netherlands) $23,046.52
8. gregior (United Kingdom) $15,863.96
9. Dowgh-Santos (Brazil) $10,907.40

Kristin Bihr is a freelance contributor to the PokerStars Blog.

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in Sunday Million