Sunday Million: Bager1988 rules them all with $146k win

This year, we've certainly seen our fair share of folks earn their chance at a repeat Sunday Million win. Only last week, Brazil's Guilherme "VinceVegaMFR" Cheveau was a few spots away from taking down a historic third title. Tonight's candidate for a potential repeat was Canada's emjkemjk, who won the Million for $220k back in April 2014. And two others were back for a second trip to the final table-- FloweerBoy finished ninth this past May and elcoysa took fifth place back in 2010. However, tonight belonged to Bager1988, who brought the chip lead to the final table and rode it all the way to the finish. He faced a tough heads-up opponent in elcoysa, and the two battled it out for over 45 minutes with the lead changing over half a dozen times. Ultimately, Bager1988 prevailed and he captured his first Sunday Million title along with $146k.

The last regularly scheduled Million of 2016 (next week's falls on a Monday and carries a special $2 million guarantee), drew 5,494 players. 764 of them earned a share of the $1,098,800.00 prize pool with $156,241.83 set aside for first place.

When ten players remained and hand-for-hand play commenced, the shortest stack in the tournament, casati1990, was sitting out for the most part. Whether it was a strategic choice or technical difficulties, it's impossible to tell. Casati1990 was down to only 765,000 with the blinds up to 100,000/200,000 when emjkemjk opened for a min-raise to 400,000 and Nba-Slam three-bet shoved for 2.62 million from the small blind. Emjkemjk called, his A♥K♦ dominating Nba-Slam's K♣Q♣. Emjkemjk's hand held up on the T♦4♥2♣4♣K♥ board and sent the final nine, including a very fortunate casati1990, to the final table.

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Final table chip counts

Seat 1: elcoysa (4,881,895 in chips)
Seat 2: FloweerBoy (7,934,208 in chips)
Seat 3: vladik32 (8,381,734 in chips)
Seat 4: emjkemjk (8,788,174 in chips)
Seat 5: Charlottewbb (2,896,592 in chips)
Seat 6: casati1990 (745,040 in chips)
Seat 7: Henk88 (5,318,578 in chips)
Seat 8: pkcos (3,076,008 in chips)
Seat 9: Bager1988 (12,917,771 in chips)

Given the money jumps involved, not a whole lot could get accomplished at the final table until casati1990 either blinded out or decided to sit back in and play. After a trip through the blinds, casati1990 was down to 345,040 when FloweerBoy opened for a min-raise to 400,000. Emjkemjk called, and casati1990 called all-in. FloweerBoy and emjkemjk checked down the A♦3♦2♣2♥K♥ board. FloweerBoy's J♦7♣ had not improved, emjkemjk turned over 7♥7♠, but casati1990's K♦T♦ took down the pot with kings and threes, quadrupling his stack to 1.45 million.

Casati1990 resumed sitting out, popping back in on occasion for a few seconds at a time. With the blinds up to 150,000/300,000, it wasn't long before his stack was eaten up almost entirely by the blinds and antes. Ultimately, casati1990 was all-in from the big blind for 25,120 against four opponents. The flop fell Q♦7♣7♠ and FloweerBoy chased away the rest of the active players with a 412,890 lead bet. Casati1990 mucked his hand and FloweerBoy took down the pot, ending the Hungarian's run in ninth place.

There were still plenty of short stacks hanging around after casati1990's elimination. Charlottewbb managed to double up twice, while Henk88 found A♥A♣ and limped in from the small blind. Pkcos shoved from the big with A♦K♠ and Henk88 snap-called. Henk88's aces held up on the ten-high board and he doubled to 7.06 million, leaving pkcos on 2.22 million. A few hands later, pkcos picked up A♣J♠ under the gun and moved in for 2.6 million. Unfortunately, he ran straight into vladik32's A♥Q♥. Pkcos's dominated hand did not improve and he went out in eighth place.

With the blinds up to 200,000/400,000, Charlottewbb was in dire shape with only 1.45 million. The action folded to emjkemjk in the small blind and he moved in for 3.23 million. Charlottewbb called with A♠8♠. Emjkemjk trailed preflop with Q♥9♣ and did not improve on the T♦6♣2♥ flop, but the 9♠ turned making him second pair. Charlottewbb failed to catch an ace on the river and exited in seventh place.

Then, on the very next deal, the action folded to Henk88, who open-shoved for 8.9 million from the small blind with Q♦8♠. Bager1988 called from the big with K♣7♣. Bager1988's king-high held up on the T♠5♦4♣J♣6♠ board and he doubled to 9.14 million, leaving Henk88 on only 4.45 million.

Barely had the dust settled from that hand when emjkemjk picked up 7♣7♦ and open-shoved for 4.84 million from the cutoff. Bager1988 reshoved from the small blind and revealed A♦A♣. Emjkemjk needed a miracle seven to survive, but got no help from the T♠6♥5♠2♣2♠ board. Bager1988 moved up to 14.6 million, good for the chip lead, while emjkemjk hit the rail in sixth place.

Henk88 found no traction after doubling up Bager1988 and when vladik32 open-shoved from the small blind, he called off his remaining 3.09 million with K♦5♦. Henk88 had vladik32's Q♦5♥ dominated, and the T♣T♦8♠ flop didn't change anything. The 6♠ turn was another good card for Henk88, but disaster struck when the Q♠ rivered. Vladik32 made queens and tens and doubled to 7.2 million, while Henk88 went out in fifth place.

As the blinds rose to 250,000/500,000, chip leader Bager1988 picked up steam and took his stack over the 24 million mark, while his three opponents were all below 14 million in chips. Bager1988 ratcheted up the aggression, and with A♣2♣ in the cutoff, he open-shoved for 24 million. The button and small blind folded, but vladik32 was happy to call off the rest of his stack with Q♦Q♠ in the big blind. The flop fell Q♣J♣4♦-- making vladik32 top set, but giving Bager1988 an ace-high flush draw. The T♥ turn gave him a Broadway straight draw as well, and the 5♣ river filled Bager1988's flush. Vladik32's queens were snapped off and he had to settle for fourth place.

Two hands later, the final three agreed to pause the action and discuss a potential deal. Here's how they stacked up at the time:

Bager1988 37,816,154
elcoysa 11,351,390
FloweerBoy 5,772,456

The players requested both chip chop and ICM numbers, but it became apparent rather quickly that it would be an ICM chop or no chop at all. Bager1988's chip count share came to over $140k; tacking on the $20k left on the table to play for, he would end up earning more than the published first-place prize should he win. Elcoysa and FloweerBoy were willing to take ICM, and after a brief discussion, Bager1988 agreed as well. With $20,000 still to play for, cards went back in the air.

Elcoysa narrowed the vast gap between himself and Bager1988 by doubling through the chip leader, his A♣Q♦ holding up against Bager1988's A♥J♥. Elcoysa moved up to 22.5 million in chips. FloweerBoy, however, was not as fortunate, and with 9♥9♠ in the big blind, he called elcoysa's small blind shove. Elcoysa's A♠4♦ trailed FloweerBoy's nines, but the A♣T♥7♥ flop gave him the lead with a pair of aces. FloweerBoy picked up a straight draw when the J♠ turned, but the river blanked out with the 5♣ and sent him to the rail in third place.

Heads-up chip counts

Seat 1: elcoysa (29,775,236 in chips)
Seat 9: Bager1988 (25,164,764 in chips)

Bager1988's once-massive chip lead was completely erased, as elcoysa entered heads-up play with a slight advantage. The two battled it out for 45 minutes, the lead changing five times in the first half hour. Bager1988 was down to 12.9 million in chips when elcoysa limped in on the button. Bager1988 raised to 1.47 million, elcoysa shoved and Bager1988 called. It was a classic cooler, Bager1988's J♣J♦ up against elcoysa's T♠T♦. The jacks held up on the K♠8♥5♥2♦6♥ board and Bager1988 doubled to 25.9 million... putting them almost exactly at the stacks they started heads-up play with.

Bager1988 edged out to a 28 million to 27 million lead before elcoysa wrested it away and won two large pots to move up to 47 million in chips. Bager1988 was down to only 8.2 million when he moved in with 2♥2♣ and won a coinflip against elcoysa's A♦T♠ to double up to 16.4 million. Six hands later, Bager1988 doubled again-- this time his K♥Q♣ flopped trip kings against elcoysa's A♥J♠. Bager1988's hot streak continued when his K♠T♦ flopped only a backdoor straight draw on a J♦4♠3♥ flop. Undeterred, Bager1988 check-raised elcoysa's 800,000 bet to 2 million and elcoysa called. The turn brought the Q♥, giving Bager1988 an open-ended straight draw. He continued with a 2.4 million bet and elcoysa called. Bingo-bongo-bango the A♦ rivered and Bager1988 made it 7.04 million to go. Elcoysa called, but mucked at the sight of his Broadway straight. Bager1988 moved up to 45.5 million thanks to those running cards, leaving elcoysa on 9.4 million.

On the next hand, Bager1988 open-shoved on the button and elcoysa called all-in from the big blind.

Bager1988 7♦9♦
elcoysa Q♣J♣

It was all over on the 6♦4♦2♦ flop, which made Bager1988 a nine-high flush. The A♥ turn and the 5♦ river were of no consequence and Bager1988 locked up the win.

Congratulations to Serbia's Bager1988 on joining the ranks of Sunday Million champions! He banked $146,004.41 for the win, while runner-up elcoysa earned $104,193.00.

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PokerStars Sunday Million results for 12-18-2016
Players: 5,494
Prize pool: $1,098,800.00
Places paid: 764

1. Bager1988 (Serbia) $146,004.41*
2. elcoysa (Argentina) $104,193.00*
3. FloweerBoy (Poland) $90,760.61*
4. vladik32 (Greece) $52,852.28
5. Henk88 (Germany) $36,826.06
6. emjkemjk (Canada) $25,659.39
7. Charlottewbb (Norway) $17,878.90
8. pkcos (Chile) $12,457.53
9. casati1990 (Hungary) $8,680.19

*denotes a three-way deal

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in Sunday Million