Sunday Million: Dannyz0r rides the chip lead to the winner's circle, earns $143k

Romania's Dannyz0r arrived at the final table of the Sunday Million in quite an advantageous position. Not only did he hold the chip lead, but most of his opponents were closely bunched together in the chip counts with less than 20 big blinds apiece. While they fought to move up the pay ladder, Dannyz0r continued to accumulate chips with relative ease. It was only when play turned three-handed that Dannyz0r suddenly found himself on the bottom. However, second-in-chips limonadik586 ran his pocket fours into Ekmalian's pocket sixes to go out third, leaving Dannyz0r heads-up at a 2.5 to 1 disadvantage. However, it didn't take long for Dannyz0r to completely dismantle Ekmalian and he emerged with his first Sunday Million title and a career-high online score of $143k.

5,038 players bought in to this week's Million, resulting in a $1,007,600.00 prize pool. 692 spots were paid with $143,420.37 up top.

If you made it to the final three tables tonight, you did so alongside a World Series of Poker Main Event champion. 2009 champion Joe "jcada99" Cada made it all the way to the final 21 players before open-shoving his last 8 big blinds from the small blind with K♦2♦. El kudos called with K♠J♥. Following a T♠5♠3♥ flop, Cada paired his deuce when the 2♥ turned, but el kudos caught the J♣ on the river to make a pair of jacks and eliminate Cada in 21st place. This was Cada's third top-35 finish in the Million-- he previously finished 13th and 34th in 2013.

With ten players remaining, the blinds were up to 125,000/250,000 and the average stack was only 20 big blinds. The action folded around to Zolta3D on the button, and he moved in for 3.77 million with 4♣4♥. Dannyz0r called with A♣9♣ in the big blind. One more double-up was not to be for Zolta3D, as Dannyz0r flopped an ace on the A♠Q♦8♥J♦7♦ board, ending Zolta3D's run one spot short of the final table.

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Final table chip counts

Seat 1: Terao90 (4,530,410 in chips)
Seat 2: pczxmg (3,861,118 in chips)
Seat 3: AerodynAmiKK (3,573,518 in chips)
Seat 4: glupakat (3,536,104 in chips)
Seat 5: Ekmalian (6,225,350 in chips)
Seat 6: impact69 (3,879,840 in chips)
Seat 7: Dannyz0r (10,930,420 in chips)
Seat 8: limonadik586 (6,411,147 in chips)
Seat 9: el kudos (7,432,093 in chips)

Only three hands passed before the final table lost its first player. On Hand #4, Dannyz0r opened for 520,000 from UTG+1 and AerodynAmiKK three-bet shoved for 3.09 million on the button. Dannyz0r called, his T♦T♣ up against A♣K♦. Dannyz0r's tens held up on the 8♦6♣6♥9♦2♣ board and AerodynAmiKK went out in ninth place. Dannyz0r extended his chip lead to 14.5 million on the hand. Then, on the very next deal, the action folded to Ekmalian in the small blind. He opened for 600,000, impact69 shoved for 4.35 million and Ekmalian called. Ekmalian's J♥J♠ was well ahead of impact69's A♥2♠, and the 7♦6♣3♣8♠7♥ board did nothing to change that. Ekmalian moved up to 11 million, good for second in chips, while impact69 exited in eighth place.

With seven players remaining and the blinds up to 150,000/300,000, Ekmalian and Dannyz0r were the only two players with eight-figure chip counts, while their five opponents all remained under 7 million in chips. Pczxmg hoped to change that when he picked up A♠8♦ and open-shoved for 3.03 million. Unfortunately for him, el kudos called from the big blind with A♥Q♥. El kudos kept his lead on the A♣J♣3♥ flop, but pczxmg struck gold when he paired his kicker with the 8♠ turn. The river was the 3♦ and pczxmg doubled to 6.43 million, leaving el kudos on only 3.66 million. Two hands later, el kudos found K♣T♣ and three-bet shoved over limonadik586's 660,000 opening raise. This time, he ran smack into A♦A♥. El kudos got no help on the 7♦5♥2♥6♥2♣ board and ended his run in seventh place.

When play turned six-handed, glupakat was still hanging on with less than five big blinds. Dealt pocket eights, glupakat got the rest of his chips in before the flop, but found himself up against Ekmalian's K♦K♥. Although the T♣7♦6♣ flop gave glupakat a glimmer of hope with a gutshot straight draw, the turn and river blanked with the Q♦ and the 2♦, sending him to the rail in sixth place.

Now that five were left, pczxmg was the short stack. With 5♦5♥ in hand, pczxmg open-shoved for 5.42 million from the cutoff and limonadik586 called from the big blind with 8♦8♣. Once again, the overpair prevailed as the board ran out T♥6♠3♦7♦3♠, and pczxmg departed in fifth place.

When four-handed play commenced, Ekmalian and limonadik586 were one-two in the chip counts with 17.2 million and 15.2 million respectively. Dannyz0r held 9.4 million and Terao90 had 8.6 million. While Dannyz0r managed to chip up to nearly 14 million over the course of the next two levels, Terao90 lost a lot of ground and dipped as low as 3.62 million before doubling up to 7.7 million through limonadik586, his pocket sevens holding up against K♦Q♣. Limonadik586 fell to third in chips, but wouldn't stay there for long. With the blinds up to 250,000/500,000, Ekmalian opened for 1,001,000 and limonadik586 smooth-called from the small blind. The flop came down 8♠8♦4♦ and limonadik586 checked to Ekmalian, who bet 1.3 million. Limonadik586 raised to 3 million, Ekmalian shoved for 17.2 million and limonadik586 snap-called with A♠A♦. Ekmalian turned over two red nines. The 2♦ turn and the 6♠ river were of no help to Ekmalian, and limonadik586 scored a huge double-up to 27.2 million, leaving Ekmalian on only 4.95 million.

Five hands later, the action folded to Terao90 in the small blind. He open-shoved for 3.49 million with J♠8♥ and Ekmalian called with K♣4♦ from the big. Ekmalian flopped a king on the A♠K♥7♦9♠8♠ board, sending Terao90 to the rail in fourth place. On the very next hand, Ekmalian found 9♥T♥ and moved in for 8.54 million on the button. Dannyz0r folded the small blind, but limonadik586 called from the big with A♦T♦. Limonadik586 had Ekmalian dominated and both players paired tens on the K♥T♠5♠ flop, limonadik586 with the higher kicker. The 7♣ turn was a blank, but Ekmalian's tournament life was saved by the 9♣ on the river, giving him nines and tens and a double-up to 17.5 million.

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

Ekmalian 20,644,812
limonadik586 16,128,890
Dannyz0r 13,606,298

The negotiations were brief and terse. Leaving $20,000 on the table for the winner, the ICM formula awarded Ekmalian $102,605.53, limonadik586 $97,757.69, and Dannyz0r $94,332.81. While limonadki586 quickly agreed to these shares, Ekmalian demanded at least $110k. His two opponents were more than willing to play, rather than give up any additional equity.

limonadik586: i agree
Ekmalian: no
Ekmalian: 110k
limonadik586: Ok! lets play
Dannyz0r: yea , keep being greedy

With no deal in place, cards went back in the air. However, only a few hands later, Ekmalian opened for a min-raise to 1,000,000, Dannyz0r called, and limonadik586 moved all-in for 13.78 million. Ekmalian reshoved for 21 million and Dannyz0r folded.

limonadik586 4♠4♥
Ekmalian 6♠6♣

Ekmalian's sixes held up on the 7♦5♥3♣3♥J♦ board and limonadik586's run came to an end in third place.

Heads-up chip counts

Seat 5: Ekmalian (35,923,702 in chips)
Seat 7: Dannyz0r (14,456,298 in chips)

Ekmalian had a 2.5 to 1 chip lead to start heads-up play, but Dannyz0r had other ideas. On the third hand of the match, he opened for 1,000,000 and Ekmalian called. The flop fell Q♥J♠7♥ and Ekmalian checked over to Dannyz0r, who bet 1,245,000. Ekmalian called. The turn came the 3♥ and Ekmalian checked again. Dannyz0r bet 2,865,500 and Ekmalian called. The river paried the board with the 3♠ and Ekmalian checked a third time. Dannyz0r moved all-in for 9.3 million and Ekmalian looked him up. Both players had queens and threes, but Dannyz0r's A♣Q♠ won the kicker war vs. Ekmalian's Q♦9♣ and he earned a massive double-up. Dannyz0r now held the chip lead with 28.9 million, while Ekmalian was down to 21.5 million.

Dannyz0r made more headway when he picked up an 11.9 million pot without a showdown. After raising Ekmalian's limp preflop and leading out on the J♣6♥3♠ flop for 1,736,000, Dannyz0r checked the 8♥ turn. Ekmalian bet 2,192,160 and Dannyz0r raised all-in for 29.9 million. Ekmalian folded and Dannyz0r took down the pot, taking his stack up to 39.68 million.

The blinds were up to 300,000/600,000 when Dannyz0r open-shoved for 42 million on the button and Ekmalian called off his last 7.6 million.

Dannyz0r A♦2♣
Ekmalian K♣9♠

Ekmalian needed help on the board to survive, but Dannyz0r's ace-high held up as it ran out 3♣5♦5♣7♠7♥ to clinch his victory.

Congratulations to Romania's Dannyz0r on joining the ranks of Sunday Million champions! He earned $143,420.37 for the win, while runner-up Ekmalian collected $100,645.73 for his efforts.

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PokerStars Sunday Million results for 11-27-2016
Players: 5,038
Prize pool: $1,007,600.00
Places paid: 692

1. Dannyz0r (Romania) $143,420.37
2. Ekmalian (Greece) $100,645.73
3. limonadik586 (Russia) $70,629.93
4. Terao90 (Brazil) $49,565.95
5. pczxmg (Belgium) $34,783.76
6. glupakat (Bulgaria) $24,410.11
7. el kudos (United Kingdom) $17,130.20
8. impact69 (Mexico) $12,021.37
9. AerodynAmiKK (Denmark) $8,436.23

Kristin Bihr
@PokerStars in Sunday Million