Sunday Million: CantWinAFlip can win the Million, banks $174k

Can't win a flip. We've all muttered it in disgust or frustration in the middle of a bad run. Can't. Win. A. Flip. Patience, keen reads, sound play, and good judgment can take a player far in tournaments, but when all is said and done, thousands of dollars in equity can hang on one classic race. Ace-king beating queens. Pocket fives holding against ace-jack. That ten on the flop. That queen on the river. There's no doubt how the U.K.'s CantWinAFlip arrived at this screen name, but after tonight's performance, it might be time to retire it. When everything was on the line, CantWinAFlip won quite a few flips, and banked a hearty $174k to show for it.

5,593 players entered this week's Million, taking the prize pool up to $1,118,600.00. 810 of them earned a share of it, with $174,951.74 set aside for the champion.

Exactly ten hours after cards went in the air, the field was down to its final ten players. With the blinds up to 100,000/200,000, the action folded to CantWinAFlip, who moved in for 9.7 million from the small blind with K♠7♣. Daveyboy_197 called off his remaining 2.8 million from the big and revealed A♥T♦. However, CantWinAFlip picked up a pair of sevens on the 9♣7♠3♥ flop. Daveyboy_197 couldn't catch up on the 6♥ turn or the J♣ river and exited one spot short of the final table, while CantWinAFlip moved in to the chip lead.

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Final table chip counts

Seat 1: spearjohn (7,256,143 in chips)
Seat 2: CantWinAFlip (12,847,220 in chips)
Seat 3: Breakchips (1,726,134 in chips)
Seat 4: dirty.brasil (4,526,406 in chips)
Seat 5: M.Strelskaya (8,372,000 in chips)
Seat 6: trajna (2,526,096 in chips)
Seat 7: cxde (4,239,688 in chips)
Seat 8: david owie (5,883,620 in chips)
Seat 9: anjuli777 (8,552,693 in chips)

Cxde took an early hit when Breakchips moved all-in for 2.1 million with A♣K♦ and he called with A♠Q♣. Breakchips's dominating hand held up and he doubled to 4.7 million while cxde slipped to 1.7 million. A few hands later, cxde made his last stand with A♠T♦, but david owie woke up with A♣Q♦ and sent cxde to the rail in ninth place. Later in the 100,000/200,000 level, trajna three-bet shoved for 1.58 million from the small blind and Breakchips called, his A♦Q♥ dominating trajna's A♣T♥. Hoever, trajna turned a pair of tens and doubled to 3.53 million, leaving Breakchips on 4.4 million. Two hands later, CantWinAFlip opened for 400,000 from UTG and Breakchips shoved from UTG+1 with pocket tens. CantWinAFlip called with A♥K♥ and defied his screen name, winning this coinflip with a pair of kings when the board ran out K♠7♥6♥5♣3♦, while Breakchips had to settle for eighth place.

After the hand, CantWinAFlip was sitting pretty on 21.2 million in chips, but became everyone's favorite target for a double-through. M.Strelskaya did it with A♦Q♠ vs. Q♥T♣ and moved up to 4.27 million. Dirty.brasil did it twice; first his pocket aces held against K♦J♠ for a 2.7 million pot, then A♥Q♠ hung on vs. A♠9♦ to take him up to 5.5 million. Then, M.Strelskaya came back for seconds, his pocket sevens prevailing against K♣Q♦ to take him up to 8.2 million. Dirty.brasil, however, could not hang on to those newfound chips for long and open-shoved for 4.8 million with A♠6♥. M.Strelskaya reshoved with A♣J♦ and his hand held up on the 7♠5♠4♣J♣Q♣ board, ending dirty.brasil's run in seventh place.

With the blinds up to 200,000/400,000, trajna was below 2 million in chips and called all-in with J♥T♠ when M.Strelskaya made a button raise to 1.84 million. Unfortunately, trajna ran headlong into M.Strelskaya's A♣A♥. M.Strelskaya made top set on the A♠J♦6♥Q♠2♦ board and assumed the chip lead with 17.1 million, while trajna departed in sixth place. David owie soon followed trajna to the rail after three-bet shoving pre-flop with A♦Q♦. Spearjohn called with A♠K♦ and ran into some trouble when the Q♣6♠2♦ flop made david owie top pair. However, spearjohn was saved by a river king and david owie went out in fifth place.

With four players remaining, M.Strelskaya still led the pack with 21.5 million, spearjohn hot on his heels with 17.4 million. CantWinAFlip picked up 3♦3♥ on the button and moved in for 9.8 million, M.Strelskaya answering the call with 6♥6♣ in the small blind. It looked like curtains for CantWinAFlip when the flop came down Q♣J♠8♦, but miraculously, the 3♣ turned, making CantWinAFlip a set. The J♥ river improved him to threes full and CantWinAFlip doubled to 20.3 million, leaving M.Strelskaya on 11.7 million.

M.Strelskaya slipped all the way to 3.1 million before staging a comeback. First, he doubled back through CantWinAFlip when his J♠T♦ topped 6♠8♥, then did the same with spearjohn, his pocket jacks holding up against pocket eights. Meanwhile, anjuli777 was down to 8 million in chips with the blinds up to 300,000/600,000. Anjuli777 picked up A♠6♠ and three-bet shoved, but CantWinAFlip made the call with 7♠7♥. The pocket sevens held up on the Q♦9♦4♣2♦Q♣ board and anjuli777 departed in fourth place.

When three-handed play commenced, CantWinAFlip was the chip leader with 32.6 million, M.Strelskaya held 15.2 million and spearjohn was the short stack with 8.2 million. However, over the course of the next 20 hands, M.Strelskaya closed the gap and took a narrow chip lead with 25.8 million to CantWinAFlip's 23 million. Then, in the largest pot of the tournament, M.Strelskaya opened for 1.8 million with 6♦6♣ and CantWinAFlip shoved for 22.9 million from the big blind. M.Strelskaya called, and much to his disappointment, CantWinAFlip revealed J♠J♦. CantWinAFlip rivered a set of jacks on the A♣8♥7♦3♦J♥ board and rocketed to 46.4 million in chips, while M.Strelskaya was left with only 2.75 million.

Undeterred, M.Strelskaya doubled twice through CantWinAFlip and rebounded to 9.65 million in chips. Then, with the action folded to him in the small blind, M.Strelskaya moved all-in with 7♥8♥, putting pressure on spearjohn in the big blind. Spearjohn had a legitimate hand, though, and called off his remaining 5.5 million with A♥T♠. M.Strelskaya's good run wasn't over, and the J♣8♣5♣ flop gave him middle pair. Spearjohn did not improve on the K♠ turn or the 9♦ river and his run came to an end in third place.

Heads-up chip counts

Seat 2: CantWinAFlip (38,349,950 in chips)
Seat 5: M.Strelskaya (17,580,050 in chips)

The chip counts barely budged for the first ten hands heads-up. Then, on Hand #11, M.Strelskaya opened for a min-raise to 1.6 million and CantWinAFlip called from the big blind. Both palyers checked the T♣5♦2♣ flop. The turn came the 4♠ and CantWinAFlip led out for 1,411,200. M.Strelskaya called. The river was the K♣ and CantWinAFlip fired another 4.8 million. M.Strelskaya looked him up, only to muck in the face of his Q♣8♣, for a king-high flush.

M.Strelskaya fell to 10 million in chips and on the next deal, CantWinAFlip open-shoved on the button with 4♥4♦. M.Strelskaya looked down at A♣J♦ and called. Fittingly, CantWinAFlip had to fade one last coinflip. The board ran out T♦6♠5♠K♣T♥ and CantWinAFlip's pocket fours held up to win the Sunday Million title.

Congratulations to CantWinAFlip on joining the ranks of Sunday Million champions. He banked $174,951.74 for the win, while runner-up M.Strelskaya earned $130,316.90.

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PokerStars Sunday Million results for 3/5/2016

Players: 5,593
Prize pool: $1,118,600.00
Places paid: 810

1. CantWinAFlip (United Kingdom) $174,951.74
2. M.Strelskaya (Russia) $130,316.90
3. spearjohn (Greece) $92,116.71
4. anjuli777 (Germany) $63,200.90
5. david owie (United Kingdom) $47,540.50
6. trajna (Slovenia) $36,354.50
7. Noah "dirty.brasil" Vaillancourt (Canada) $25,168.50
8. Breakchips (Netherlands) $13,982.50
9. cxde (Slovakia) $8,948.80

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in Sunday Million