Sunday Million: arkolino deals heads-up for $142K, tops Brazil-heavy final

Performing well in a PokerStars Sunday major can lead to more success in the future. Uruguay's Nec Arg won the Sunday Warm-Up for $60K back in 2015 after cutting a heads-up deal. One year later Nec Arg looked to be in position to add a Sunday Million title to his resume, entering the final table tonight as the chip leader.

But the title would go elsewhere.

After losing the lead early, Nec Arg played savvy poker and survived to heads-up play to once again cut a deal, this time for a six-figure score. Instead it was arkolino who played similarly patient poker before winning a few key pots late. He's now laid the groundwork for similar future success after taking the bigger share of the heads-up deal and becoming the latest winner of the Sunday Million.


Of this week's 5,331-player field a little more than 10 percent were from Brazil. That's no big surprise, given poker's popularity with Brazilians, but their representation at the final table was significantly higher. Four of the nine finalists hailed from Brazil, including the eventual champion.

With a $151,608.99 top prize set the race was on. As midnight came and went the bubble popped with the departure of Greece's attilas klmt in 765th place. Russia's LiveTogether popped one last bubble with an exit in 10th place, setting up this week's final lineup:

Seat 1: R3D**WOMEN (6,583,976 in chips)
Seat 2: Nec Arg (12,551,925 in chips)
Seat 3: arkolino (7,035,320 in chips)
Seat 4: xxDVDxx (2,315,096 in chips)
Seat 5: Pantoja RO (3,095,557 in chips)
Seat 6: LucasRj17 (10,752,431 in chips)
Seat 7: BrunoSAP (5,738,728 in chips)
Seat 8: sebastianelo (2,932,214 in chips)
Seat 9: AriFacha (2,304,753 in chips)

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AriFacha and xxDVDxx both came to the table with less than 10 big blinds, so there was no question that one or both would see action early. As it turned out, they butted heads with each other. On the seventh hand of the final table, xxDVDxx opened the action with an all-in raise from middle position with Q♠ J♦. AriFacha, already in for 250K in the big blind, was the only caller, with 8♠ 8♥. The 7♦ 7♥ 5♠ flop and 2♠ turn kept the Argentinian player ahead, but the J♠ hit the river to give xxDVDxx the pot and sink AriFacha in ninth.

Romania's R3D**WOMEN stayed active over the next 15 minutes and was paid well for the effort. That started with a 3M-chip pot earned by defending the big blind against LucasRj17's and then another 3M via Q♦ Q♥, after BrunoSAP defended the big blind and lost out on the T♥6♥A♠K♦J♠ board. But the biggest win came heads-up in the blinds against Nec Arg, when a diamond flush exposed Nec Arg's bluff to send an 8.7M-chip pot to R3D**WOMEN.

They returned from the break to 150K/300K/30K blinds and antes, which spelled trouble for Pantoja RO's 2M-chip stack. Within a few hands the Brazilian picked up A♥ T♦ in the big blind and moved all-in after LucasRj17 min-raised under the gun with A♠ 9♣. The kickers played and Pantoja RO doubled to 4.4M.

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Sebastianelo would end up in a similar situation after BrunoSAP min-raised on the button. Sebastianelo jammed for 2M in the small blind with A♠ 7♦ and R3D**WOMEN flat-called in the big blind with A♣ 9♣, scaring BrunoSAP off the pot. The 5♣ Q♣ K♠ 3♦ K♦ gave both players a pair of kings, but R3D**WOMEN's nine kicker took the 4.9M-chip pot, sending sebastianelo to the rail in eighth.

Mexico's xxDVDxx doubled up one orbit later, cracking Pantoja RO's T♦ T♥ with 9♣ 7♣. The loss left Pantoja RO with 906K, which was trimmed by a third on the next hand when he folded the big blind. The Brazilian player moved all-in from the small blind on the next hand with K♣2♠ and had an edge when LucasRj17 called with 8♠ 5♥ in the big. But another turned gutshot - this time eight-high when the board came 6♠ 4♦ J♣ 7♣ 4♣ - sent Pantoja RO to the rail in seventh.

BrunoSAP, going up...

Two hands later BrunoSAP doubled to 10M, his A♣4♥ getting the better of Nec Arg's A♠7♦ on a 4♠J♠3♠ flop. When BrunoSAP jammed Nec Arg checked, then called with the nut flush draw, but the turn and river brought no help.

That left Nec Arg as the short stack. He was soon eliminated when LucasRj17 picked up T♥T♠ in the small blind as BrunoSAP found A♦A♠ in the big blind. The aces held, doubling BrunoSAP's stack to 15.4M and leaving LucasRj17 with 2.2M. He then folded for nine hands, then managed to split a pot before a desperation shove with A♠4♣. LucasRj17 was in awful shape after Nec Arg called with K♣K♦, but an ace on the turn salvaged the 4.2M-chip pot.

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With the second break fast approaching xxDVDxx was now the short stack. He managed to stay afloat by stealing the blinds and antes twice before open shoving for 5.3~M with 6♣ 6♥. BrunoSAP called on the button with A♥ T♦ and caught top pair on the 7♦ A♦ 5♥ flop, leaving xxDVDxx hoping for a set or a backdoor straight. The 3♥ turn kept hope for the latter alive for a brief moment before the 8♦ river extinguished it, and xxDVDxx departed in sixth.

Winning those two pots had taken BrunoSAP up to 20.8M chips, twice as many as second-place Nec Arg, who was trailed by three other players within 10 big blinds of the Uruguayan player's stack. That lead would be extended further just a few hands later when LucasRj17 opened all-in for 4.5M from the small blind with J♦ 6♠. BrunoSAP called with 9♣ 7♣ in the big blind and made a flush by the turn of the A♣ Q♣ 5♦ J♣ 7♦, sending LucasRj17 to the rail in fifth.

There was talk of a potential deal as the tournament went on its next break, and the players even paused the clock to look at the numbers. But the negotiations got too complex too quickly and were quickly halted, putting the game back on with 250K/500K/25K blinds and antes.

BrunoSAP's rapid ascent was briefly halted after play resumed when the Brazilian moved all-in on the button with A♦ 4♥ over the top of arkolino's min-raise under the gun. arkolino called with J♣ J♥, which held up for a double to 16.1M chips.

But ten hands later, BrunoSAP got those chips back and then some. R3D**WOMEN opened the action all-in for 10M with 9♣ 9♠ and BrunoSAP called in the big blind with K♦ K♥, winning the pot when the board fell A♣ 2♦ T♦ 4♥ Q♥ and sending R3D**WOMEN to the rail in fourth.

...and then back down

Now holding 29.5M chips to the combined 23.7M of Nec Arg and arkolino, BrunoSAP now had enough leverage to put the game away quickly if things went right. Even after arkolino called and doubled with A♦ T♥ after BrunoSAP's open-shove with K♣ Q♦, BrunoSAP just hit the gas again and climbed back as high as 28.9M. But the stack BrunoSAP entered three-handed play with would prove to be his high point.

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The fall began with series of small losses that led to Nec Arg and arkolino falling within a big blind of each other, with BrunoSAP only three big blinds ahead of them. Then BrunoSAP min-raised on the button and checked behind on the J♣ 4♠ T♣ flop after arkolino called with K♥ 7♥ and checked it first. arkolino led for 1.4M with an open-ended straight draw, called BrunoSAP's min-raise, and made Broadway on the A♦ river. arkolino bet 3.5M for value and got paid, dropping BrunoSAP's stack to 10.9M chips and giving arkolino the lead with 25.5M.

arkolino was dealt J♦ J♥ in the small blind on the very next hand and limped in. BrunoSAP raised to 2.4M and then called arkolino's all-in bet with A♦ K♠, only to see arkolino catch top set on the 2♠ 3♦ J♣ flop. Drawing dead after the 9♣ turn, BrunosSAP ended a remarkable final table run in third.

A deal and done

With 36.5M chips to Nec Arg's 16.7M, arkolino took the bigger share of the deal, cut almost immediately after BrunoSAP's departure. Nec Arg was still within striking distance to reclaim the lead, and indeed managed to pull to within seven big blinds of arkolino after just a few minutes. Then Nec Arg picked up Q♣ Q♠ and was in a prime spot to double up when arkolino jammed on the button with 3♣ 3♠. Nec Arg called with 81.8-percent equity and watched the board run out A♠ 4♥ 5♥ 2♠ K♦. arkolino's pair of treys had become a wheel straight, bringing Nec Arg's bid for a second career Sunday major title to an abrupt end as the tournament's runner-up.

Nec Arg may have finished second this time around, but making the deal for $115K+ meant today's performance was worth nearly twice as much as winning the Sunday Warm-Up last year. As for arkolino, the Brazilian took the extra $20K on the table for a total prize of $142,200 and a first career Sunday major title. Congratulations to both players for seeing their patience rewarded so handsomely!

11/6/16 Sunday Million ($215 NL Hold'em) results
Entrants: 5,331
Total prize pool: $1,066,200
Places paid: 764

1. arkolino (Brazil) $142,200.99*
2. Nec Arg (Uruguay) $115,041.33*
3. BrunoSAP (Brazil) $73,602.55
4. R3D**WOMEN (Romania) $51,284.22
5. LucasRj17 (Brazil) $35,733.47
6. xxDVDxx (Mexico) $24,898.11
7. Pantoja RO (Brazil) $17,348.46
8. sebastianelo (Denmark) $12,087.93
9. AriFacha (Argentina) $8,422.66
* - denotes results of a heads-up deal

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Jason Kirk is a Freelance Contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in Sunday Million