Sunday Million: Resilient Sr.Rouquinho rides out storm to $171K victory

Of all the qualities a poker player can have, none is more important than resilience. It lets you play the same quality game whether you're working with a big stack or a short one, whether you're playing a turbo structure or a deep one, and when you opt to hold out for more money when everyone else at the table wants to cut a deal. Sr.Rouquinho has encountered all those situations at the PokerStars tournament tables in recent weeks: first in January when the Czech player ruined the rest of the table's deal en route to a TCOOP title, and now after riding out a see-sawing stack to victory in the Sunday Million.

After three hours of late registration, the field for this week's Million was set at 5,494. That was good for $1,098,800 prize pool, split among the top 810 finishers with $171,854.75 up top. After 11 hours and 47 minutes of play there were just these nine players still in contention:

Seat 1: 163Andrey63 (6,636,738 in chips)
Seat 2: ismo<3seppo (14,803,165 in chips)
Seat 3: amar11111 (5,408,135 in chips)
Seat 4: Camari (2,250,640 in chips)
Seat 5: marcel389 (5,767,633 in chips)
Seat 6: woopwoopster (1,768,528 in chips)
Seat 7: sslazio904 (5,559,864 in chips)
Seat 8: NEMEZIS JT (3,665,000 in chips)
Seat 9: Sr.Rouquinho (9,080,297 in chips)

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Final table play started with 150K/300K/30K blinds and antes. After a few small pots, the real action got started on the fifth hand when sslazio904, a WCOOP finalist last fall, opened for a small raise on the button with J♣ J♠ and Sr.Rouquinho re-raised all-in for 10.3M, holding A♦ K♦. An ace on the flop and no jacks the rest of the way meant sslazio904 was out in 9th place ($8,790.40).

That gave Sr.Rouquinho the lead with 15.4M chips. Over the next 11 hands the Czech player stole the blinds and antes and won at showdown where necessary to pick up another 2.3M, extending the lead to almost 10M chips over second-place ismo<3seppo, winner of the PokerStars Tournament Leader Board for the last three years in a row. Norway's woopwoopster folded over that entire stretch and eventually ended up all-in for 228K on the big blind. Sr.Rouquinho min-raised to 800K, got a call from Camari, and then won the pot with A♦ 4♠ for a spade flush after checking down every street of the 3♠ T♣ 7♠ J♠ Q♠ board. Camari and woopwoopster both mucked, and woopwoopster finished in 8th place ($13,735).

The fortunes of the table's short stacks turned for a while. Camari managed to triple up to 4.5M with K♦ Q♦ against 163Andrey63's A♣ K♠ thanks to a friendly queen on the flop. 163Andrey63 turned around four hands later and doubled back to 6.3M, catching top two pair with Q♦ 7♣ on a Q♣ 4♣ 7♦ flop and outrunning Sr.Rouquinho's nut flush draw with A♣ 9♣.

Even the newly short stacks got in on the act. After NEMEZIS JT picked up A♠ A♥ on the same hand as marcel389 held 8♦ 8♥, flopping top set and turning a full house to chip up to 10.8M, marcel389 three-bet all-in with K♥ T♥ over the top of amar11111's opening raise with J♠ 8♠ and won unimproved to get back to 5.8M. And then amar11111 got back in the game by winning a pre-flop race with K♣ J♠ against Camari's T♦ T♥ with two pair on the K♦ 7♠ J♦ 9♠ 7♦ board.

Sooner or later the trend had to end, and Camari was the odd player out when it did. Down to 1.2M - less than three big blinds with blinds and antes freshly up to 250K/500K/50K - the Norwegian shoved with Q♣ 8♣ in the hijack and got action from Sr.Rouquinho in the small blind with Q♦ Q♥. The 4♥ 8♥ 7♣ 2♠ 5♥ didn't offer enough help, and Camari was gone in 7th place ($24,723).

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The Czech player had been slipping downward while the short stacks took turns doubling up, but that win was enough to reclaim the chip lead. Then Sr.Rouquinho took seven of the next eight pots, moving north of 25.4M with the last of them, a 7.5M-chip win earned by a river call of amar11111's 2M-chip bet into the 3.5M-chip pot. Sr.Rouquinho called with A♥ 4♠ for top pair, beating amar11111's stone bluff with 5♣ 4♥.

That left amar11111 against the ropes, but the German player's number wasn't up just yet. Instead it was marcel389 who would depart next, despite getting in well ahead on the final hand. marcel389 called for 5.5M with K♠ K♣ after Sr.Rouquinho opened for 1M and ismo<3seppo jammed for 7.9M. ismo<3seppo's A♠ K♦ was a 30-percent underdog before the 7♥ 2♣ T♠ flop and a 14-percent dog after it, but the A♣ turn put marcel389 on the verge of elimination. The 4♣ river meant the cowboys were officially cracked, and marcel389 let in 6th place ($35,711).

amar11111 avoided joining the castoffs with a double on the next hand, cracking ismo<3seppo's J♣ J♠ with K♥ Q♥ thanks to two pair on the flop. Three hands later 163Andrey63, down to 2.9M chips and holding A♠ T♣, moved all-in over the top of NEMEZIS JT's 1.25M-chip opener. 163Andrey63's hand was dominated by A♥ Q♦, and the 7♦ 6♥ J♦ 9♣ 6♦ board did nothing to change that, knocking out 163Andrey63 in 5th place ($46,699).

With only 13 big blinds, amar11111 was the shortest stack, but the German player stayed aggressive and managed to win four pots, bringing the four remaining players at the table to within just four big blinds of one another. Then NEMEZIS JT and ismo<3seppo both picked up pocked pairs and clashed before the flop, with NEMEZIS JT's T♥ T♠ holding up on the 6♣ K♦ K♥ 5♠ 4♥ board to beat ismo<3seppo's 3♣ 3♥ for 27.3M-chip pot.

Left with a scant million chips, ismo<3seppo called all-in on the big blind two hands later after NEMEZIS JT opened with A♥ 9♦ and Sr.Rouquinho called with J♠ T♣. The board came 6♣ Q♣ Q♥ 6♦ 8♣, NEMEZIS JT won with queens and sixes with an ace kicker, and ismo<3seppo mucked to leave in 4th place ($62,082.20).

A volatile mix

That left the chip counts looking like this with blinds and antes at 300K/600K/60K:

Seat 3: amar11111 (14,332,008 in chips)
Seat 8: NEMEZIS JT (29,249,623 in chips)
Seat 9: Sr.Rouquinho (11,358,369 in chips)

After having been so close to elimination just hands earlier, amar11111 went on a tear, winning eight out of 11 pots to chip up to the lead with 26.5M. The other three pots went to NEMEZIS JT, leaving Sr.Rouquinho with just 4.5M. The Czech player doubled that in a coin-flip situation, flopping a nine with A♦ 9♠ to survive an all-in against amar11111's 6♦ 6♠. That gave NEMEZIS JT possession of the lead again, and the Russian player used it to exert pressure and force amar11111 to fold on a J♠ 4♦ 3♠ flop, allowing NEMEZIS JT to stack up over 30.8M.

Sr.Rouquinho sat at 6.1M and, after a desperate shove from the small blind with Q♠ 4♠, ended up all-in when amar11111 called in the big blind with K♥ J♣. Things looked grim after the turn with the board reading 3♥ 7♦ 9♥ 3♠, but the 4♣ river delivered Sr.Rouquinho from danger with an 11M-chip pot. Revitalized, Sr.Rouquinho held strong for another 38 brutal rounds of three-handed play as NEMEZIS JT held a big lead and amar11111 refused to back down.

The tipping point came when Sr.Rouquinho picked up 9♥ 9♠ in the big blind. NEMEZIS JT had open-shoved with A♦ 3♠ in the small blind, and calling gave Sr.Rouquinho the 25.3M-chip pot after the board ended up K♦ J♠ 7♦ 4♣ 7♠. On the very next hand Sr.Rouquinho limped from the small blind with A♥ A♠ and called when amar11111 shoved in the big blind with J♥ 4♦. The J♠ 7♠ K♣ Q♥ 6♠ board didn't offer enough help, and amar11111 left in 3rd place ($90,486.18).

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Things were tight as heads-up play began, with NEMEZIS JT holding 26M chips to Sr.Rouquinho's 28.8M. Sr.Rouquinho won the first showdown, after having called in the big blind with Q♥ J♦, check-called 1.1M on the A♥ A♠ 6♦ flop, and checked the 2♣ turn and 3♣ river. With a lead of 10.1M chips, the Czech player had enough space to control the match for most of its 11-minute duration. NEMEZIS JT stayed within striking distance for most of it before three-betting all-in for 10.4M with K♥ T♦ over the top of Sr.Rouquinho's opening min-raise. Sr.Rouquinho called with A♥ Q♣ and caught top pair on the 4♣ T♣ Q♠ flop, holding on through the 9♠ turn and 8♥ river to bring the tournament to its end.

After an hour and 21 minutes of final table play and 12 hours and four minutes of total play time, NEMEZIS JT had earned $128,010.20 as the runner-up, a new career best at PokerStars by more than $110,000. Sr.Rouquinho, meanwhile, scored $171,854.75 and a Sunday Million title. It's also a new career best at PokerStars for the Czech player, topping last month's $41K TCOOP win for that honor. If the first two months are any indication, 2016 is shaping up to be quite the year at the tables for Sr.Rouquinho. Congratulations to both players on their fine performances!

2/14/16 Sunday Million ($215 No-Limit Hold'em) results
Entrants:
 5,494
Total prize pool: $1,098,800
Places paid: 810

1. Sr.Rouquinho (Czech Republic) $171,854.75
2. NEMEZIS JT (Russia) $128,010.20
3. amar11111 (Germany) $90,486.18
4. ismo<3seppo (Finland) $62,082.20
5. 163Andrey63 (Russia) $46,699
6. marcel389 (Canada) $35,711
7. Camari (Norway) $24,723
8. woopwoopster (Norway) $13,735
9. sslazio904 (Russia) $8,790.40


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Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in Sunday Million