Sunday Million: doypaliza takes title, $196K in three-way deal

After last week's year-ending bash and $5 million guarantee, the Sunday Million returned for its 2015 debut this week with its normal $1 million prize pool on the line. The smaller numbers up top didn't stop a healthy field from showing up, though. After 12 hours and 14 minutes of play it was Argentina's doypaliza coming out on top of a three-way deal that saw three players from a field walk away with at least $148K apiece.

The first Sunday Million of 2015 kicked off at 2:30 p.m. ET and closed registration three hours later. The total field came to 7,614 players, only a bit more than half of whom remained at the tables at that point. The top 1,170 finishers made the money, earning at least $304.56 apiece, with a scheduled first-place prize of $228,424.32 awaiting the winner. And by 1:42 a.m. ET, just these nine players still had a chance to start the new year with a major tournament title:

Seat 1: doypaliza (14,203,042 in chips)
Seat 2: phil548 (8,076,701 in chips)
Seat 3: Phill "Grindation" Mcallister (9,619,726 in chips)
Seat 4: BDmaro (4,382,876 in chips)
Seat 5: DarkWinDuk (8,348,230 in chips)
Seat 6: shulman20 (7,854,390 in chips)
Seat 7: Scorpion0999 (5,736,622 in chips)
Seat 8: D0ntTiltOnMe (5,095,191 in chips)
Seat 9: Allantobias (12,823,222 in chips)

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Second chances missed

In the early going of the final, the action came around every third hand.

Germany's BDmaro was on the short stack and got a chance to double up on Hand #3, calling all-in for 4.2M from the big blind with A♠ 7♣, after Russia's phil248, appearing at a second career Sunday Million final table, jammed on the button for 7.1M with Q♥ J♥. The coin flip went BDmaro's way when neither player improved on the 6♥ 2♣ 3♣ 3♦ 8♥ board, and phil548 was left as the short stack with 2.9M chips.

All those chips went in the middle from middle position three hands later, also with A♥ 7♣, and the bet was matched by DarkWinDuck, who held Q♣ Q♠ on the button. The queens made a straight by the time the K♣ T♥ 9♥ J♣ 7♠ board was complete, and phil548, unable to improve on a 7th-place finish in the Sunday Million last July, was gone in 9th place ($11,801.70).

On Hand #9, two more pocket pairs would go to showdown. Germany's Scorpion0999 opened for 1M in the cutoff with J♠ J♣ and then shoved for 5.9M total when Brazil's Allantobias re-raised to 3M with 9♣ 9♦. Allantobias called but couldn't catch quads after Scorpion0999 caught top set on the J♥ 6♦ 3♥ flop, and suddenly the Brazilian was next to last with 6.1M.

From there the action only became more tense, as the blinds and antes rose to 300K/600K/60K. All but one hand went by without a flop until Hand #18, when Allantobias was dealt A♣ Q♥ on the button and moved all-in for 4.7M, a bet called only by Argentina's doypaliza with J♥ J♠. The board ran out 2♣ 5♦ 4♦ 6♥ 4♠, changing nothing, and Allantobias departed in 8th place ($17,512.20).

Two hands later, another pair of face cards came into play. This time it belonged to the United Kingdom's Phill "Grindation" Mcallister, another past Sunday Million final tablist. He opened for 1.2M on the button and was called by DarkWinDuk to bring a 3♠ Q♥ 9♠ flop. DarkWinDuk led for 1.8M and Grindation called with 5.8M left behind. DarkWinDuk checked when the J♠ came on the turn, then immediately called and showed A♠ 4♠ after grindation moved all-in with J♦ J♣. All Mcallister needed was for the board to pair, but the 5♣ came instead and his tournament came to an end in 7th place ($30,456).

Three down, five to go

That left the chips distributed like so:

Seat 1: doypaliza (16,769,642 in chips)
Seat 4: BDmaro (9,485,752 in chips)
Seat 5: DarkWinDuk (26,191,781 in chips)
Seat 6: shulman20 (9,194,390 in chips)
Seat 7: Scorpion0999 (10,963,244 in chips)
Seat 8: D0ntTiltOnMe (3,535,191 in chips)

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The next eight hands went by mostly without seeing any flops, with the three hands that got that far going to the two big stacks. That left them both close to 20 big blinds ahead of everyone else at the table. The only question was whether they would begin picking off the short stacks, or whether those short stacks would battle among themselves.

It turned out to be the latter. First, Scorpion0999 and Israel's shulman20 split a pot when they both turned over A-8. Then shulman20, who finished 9th in the Sunday Million just three weeks ago, opened Hand #31 for 1.2M in middle position and D0ntTiltOnMe jammed for 2.3M total, holding A♠ 9♠. BDmaro moved all-in from the big blind to isolate and showed down J♥ J♠, which held up on the 6♦ K♦ 6♥ T♣ 3♠ board to eliminate D0ntTiltOnMe in 6th place ($45,684).

There wouldn't be another flop card for 10 more hands, and even then it only came after all the action was complete. A desperate shulman20 moved in for 2.3M with A♠ 9♥ and second-place doypaliza called with 7♠ 2♠, giving the Israeli an easy double to 5.5M.

Then came a reversal of the trend toward small stacks taking each other on, resulting in the biggest pot of the tournament so far. With blinds and antes up to 400K/800K/80K, and DarkWinDuk holding a dominating 41.1M-chip stack, the Austrian player opened for 3.2M in the cutoff. doypaliza responded with an all-in move of 15.5M in the big blind, and DarkWinDuk called with A♥ Q♥, only to discover doypaliza's dominant A♣ K♥. DarkWinDuk needed help but never got it from the 4♦ T♣ 9♦ 7♠ T♠ board, and doypaliza moved into the lead with 31.8M chips.

Six more hands went by with no action before short-stacked shulman20 was forced to fight for survival once again. The Israeli player got in with A♠ T♠ against Scorpion0999's Q♠ J♣ but was at the mercy of the board, which gave Scorpion0999 a pair of queens when it came 3♠ K♥ 4♣ Q♣ 7♦. With that, shulman20 was gone in 5th place ($60,912).

A heavyweight slugfest

That left just these four players still in the hunt:

Seat 1: doypaliza (34,550,504 in chips)
Seat 4: BDmaro (5,920,943 in chips)
Seat 5: DarkWinDuk (27,176,529 in chips)
Seat 7: Scorpion0999 (8,492,024 in chips)

BDmaro quickly climbed out of the cellar, picking up T♣ T♥ on the same hand as DarkWinDuk held 7♣ 7♦ and flopping a full house to double to 14.8M. DarkWinDuk began scraping some of those chips back and had a chance to put Scorpion0999 away when the short-stacked German moved all-in with 8♥ 7♥ on an 8♦ Q♣ K♠ flop; DarkWinDuk called with Q♦ 4♥ but lost out to trip eights when the turn and river came 5♦-8♠.

Just a few hands later DarkWinDuk's stack had dipped to 14.8M. Then the Austrian was dealt A♣ Q♠ in the big blind and had doypaliza move all-in from the button with Q♦ Q♠. An instant call and one J♦ 7♠ 2♠ 6♣ A♦ board later, DarkWinDuk was back in front with 30.4M chips to doypaliza's 22M.

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BDmaro cut into that stack a few orbits later after picking up A♠ A♥ when DarkWinDuk held 4♠ 4♦. From there the blinds and antes rose to 500K/1M/100K and the Austrian's stack tumbled further until facing an all-in for 8.5M with A♠ 3♠ against doypaliza's 8♣ 7♥. doypaliza seized the lead with a pair of eights on the 2♦ 4♥ 8♥ flop and stayed there on the K♠ turn, but the 5♥ on the river made a wheel straight and kept DarkWinDuk alive with 17.9M chips.

Two hands later those chips all went in the middle in a situation that was almost note-for-note the same as earlier in the final table. doypaliza sat on the button and opened with an all-in bet of 17.4M, holding A♠ K♦, and DarkWinDuk called with A♣ Q♣ in the big blind, leaving just 288K left behind. Big Slick held up for doypaliza a second time, avoiding a split pot via a straight on the board when it fell 7♠ 9♦ 8♠ 5♦ 5♥.

DarkWinDuk was forced all-in on the next hand and actually got in ahead, with Q♦ 9♥ to BDmaro's T♦ 8♣, but the 4♠ 6♦ T♠ 3♠ J♥ board made a pair of tens for BDmaro. Just like that, DarkWinDuk's wild ride through the final table had come to an end in 4th place ($76,749.12).

The end run

The three remaining players were already set to talk about a deal before that unexpected major pot eliminated DarkWinDuk. They continued and came to a quick agreement based on ICM, leaving $20,000 on the table for the winner and getting right back to the action with these stacks:

Seat 1: doypaliza (35,723,408 in chips)
Seat 4: BDmaro (24,632,544 in chips)
Seat 7: Scorpion0999 (15,784,048 in chips)

Aside from one pot that went to BDmaro at Scorpion0999's expense, there wasn't too much action before BDmaro and doypaliza both flopped top pair with A-9, got all-in, and split the pot. That left them nearly tied with one another, so when doypaliza moved all-in from the small blind a few hands later, BDmaro's call with T♥ T♠ left the German player with just 1.5M behind. Those tens stayed ahead of doypaliza's Q♥ 9♦ on the 3♥ J♣ 6♠ flop, but the turn brought the Q♠ and suddenly doypaliza had gone from back-against-the-wall to being just one card from a big lead. The K♣ on the river gave doypaliza the 53.9M chip-pot with a pair of queens.

BDmaro had a climb ahead to get back into the game and had success with the first two steps, doubling first with Q♥ 7♠ against Scorpion0999's A♦ 8♠ and then with A♥ J♣ against doypaliza's 8♣ 4♦. Then, before the German could find another chance at doubling up, a big hand unexpectedly came up between the other two players at the table.

doypaliza opened for the minimum of 2M on the button and Scorpion0999 called in the big blind, bringing a T♦ 9♣ 2♦ flop. Scorpion0999 checked and then moved all-in for 16.3M after doypaliza made a pot-sized bet of 4.8M. doypaliza snap-called with K♦ K♠ but trailed Scorpion0999's flopped two pair with T♠ 9♦. The 4♥ on the turn left Scorpion0999 one card away from the chip lead, but the 2♠ on the river gave doypaliza kings and deuces. That bigger two pair won the 37.5M-chip pot, and Scorpion0999 was gone in 3rd place ($148,790.66).

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doypaliza now held 69.2M chips to BDmaro's 6.9M. BDmaro took the next two pots to climb to 8.6M, folded before the flop on the third, and then re-raised all-in for 7.9M on the fourth after doypaliza opened for 2M on the button. The Argnetinian player called and trailed with Q♣ T♥ to BDmaro's K♣ 4♣, but the 5♠ T♣ 9♥ turned that around. The 4♥ gave BDmaro a few more outs headed to the river, but the tournament ended when the 2♠ came, giving doypaliza the pot with a pair of tens.

BDmaro's share of the three-way deal came to $164,439.69 - a far cry from the $11K that looked likely when the German came to the final table as the shortest stack, and an enormous step up from a previous personal PokerStars best score of $1,823. doypaliza's journey to a $196,911.97 score (including the $20,000 on the table for the win) was a little more straightforward, thanks to holding the chip lead when the final table began. But it was just as much a career-defining triumph for the player from Argentina, who topped a previous PokerStars best of $7,656. Congratulations to both players for getting 2015 started on the right foot!

1/4/15 Sunday Million ($215 No-Limit Hold'em) results
Entrants: 7,614
Prize pool: $1,522,800
Places paid: 1,170

1. doypaliza (Argentina) $196,911.97*
2. BDmaro (Germany) $164,439.69*
3. Scorpion0999 (Germany) $148,790.66*
4. DarkWinDuk (Austria) $76,749.12
5. shulman20 (Israel) $60,912
6. D0ntTiltOnMe (Russia) $45,684
7. Phill "Grindation" Mcallister (United Kingdom) $30,456
8. Allantobias (Brazil) $17,512.20
9. phil548 (Russia) $11,801.70
* - denotes results of a three-way deal

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in Sunday Million