Sunday Million: Ymobad rallies late for heads-up chop, $136K

In poker, as in life, there's definitely something to be said for being in the right place at the right time.

The beauty of a no-limit hold'em tournament is that there's no one path to victory. Every tourney is different, and as long as you're still holding on to chips, no matter how few, you're technically in a position to win. Sure, most of the time holding on to a short stack with a handful of players left means you're going to be run over when you finally pick up a hand worth defending. But every now and then, just staying alive with a short stack is all it takes to go deep when the rest of the table is colliding head-on every other hand. And if you can come out on the right side of one of those collisions yourself after the field narrows, you can find yourself appreciating the chaotic beauty of the game from a whole new perspective. The United Kingdom's Ymobad did just that tonight, going from "hanging on by a thread" to "just chopped the Sunday Million heads-up" in about the same amount of time it takes to register for a tournament.


The 5,543-strong field for this week's tourney, up significantly from last week's 5,041 players, built a $1,108,600 prize pool to be split among the top 764 finishers. It took four and a half hours for the money bubble to pop with the elimination of Russia's Bekalion8 in 765th place, setting off a cascade of cash for the next seven hours. The blinds and antes climbed all the way to 80K/160K/16K, and the calendar turned over to Monday morning Eastern Time, before the Czech Republic's NNNQQQ fell in 10th place to set up this week's Sunday Million final:

Seat 1: CROSA COLL (10,205,873 in chips)
Seat 2: w3dkarz (4,658,219 in chips)
Seat 3: Mariachi (2,736,416 in chips)
Seat 4: jacu131 (9,802,716 in chips)
Seat 5: Leitnant (7,074,100 in chips)
Seat 6: Ymobad (6,518,534 in chips)
Seat 7: DeviesPro (9,464,370 in chips)
Seat 8: newbieaa33 (3,004,161 in chips)
Seat 9: Simon "DaDumon" Grabenschweiger (1,965,611 in chips)

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Mariachi and past Sunday Million finalist Simon "DaDumon" Grabenschweiger had clashed on the final table bubble, with Mariachi coming out ahead with 7♣ 7♠ to double up to 3M chips at DaDumon's expense. They arrived at the final a few hands later as the two shortest stacks, and eight hands later Mariachi doubled up with another pocket pair, this time A♣ A♦ against DeviesPro's K♣ Q♥ for a 5.1M-chip pot.

That win moved Mariachi squarely into the middle of the leaderboard. DaDumon, who once won $10,000 on a one-penny buy-in, tried to keep pace on the next hand, moving in for 2M on the button with Q♥ J♠ when the action folded around. CROSA COLL moved all-in over the top to isolate with A♥ 8♣ made two pair on the T♠ A♠ T♦ flop, and dodged DaDumon's Broadway straight draw on the Q♣ turn and 6♠ river to send the player from Austria to the rail in ninth.

Taking down that pot gave CROSA COLL 13M in chips and a license to attack pots at will. The past Sunday Warm-Up and SCOOP 2011 finalist from Uruguay climbed as high as 18M before dropping a pot to DeviesPro and setting back in around 16M. Mariachi, meanwhile, had only won one pot out of the last 25, and that was a blind steal just a few hands before. When the Norwegian player picked up A♥ 9♠ in the cutoff and moved all-in, though, Ymobad was waiting in the big blind with the dominating A♦ K♦. Neither player improved on the 3♠ 2♣ 8♦ T♣ 6♥ board, giving Ymobad the pot and knocking out Mariachi in eighth.

After going without a pot bigger than the blinds and antes for more than 45 hands, newbieaa33 was similarly desperate for a chance to chip up. The Slovakian player held J♥ T♥ in the big blind 10 hands after Maricachi's departure, perfect for re-raising a late-position opener, and shoved for 3M after Leitnant opened in the cutoff. Leitnant called with Q♣ J♦ and made two pair on the turn of the J♠ 3♣ 2♣ Q♦ 9♠ board to lock up the pot. The river was a technicality, and newbieaa33 left in seventh.

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With play six-handed, CROSA COLL took center stage once again. The Uruguayan player dropped 1.7M two hands later without seeing a flop, folding after re-raising Leitnant's under-the-gun bet and having Leitnant jam for 8.9M in response. It looked for a moment like all those chips and more were coming right back on the next hand when DeviesPro opened all-in for 3.7M with A♦ T♥ and CROSA COLL called with Q♣ Q♥, but the 3♠ A♥ 8♠ 8♣ 7♣ board gave DeviesPro the 8.2M-chip pot.

After taking a breather for two hands, CROSA COLL took down the next three in a row to get back to 8.8M and then, on the hand that followed, re-raised DeviesPro's 700K opener to 1.6M. DeviesPro jammed for 6.4M with A♣ Q♠ and again got the best of the A♥ Q♦ 7♠ flop after CROSA COLL called with J♣ J♦, making two pair to jump ahead. But the K♦ turn and T♥ river made a Broadway straight, giving CROSA COLL the 13.6M-chip pot and busting DeviesPro in sixth.

jacu131 picked up A♣ A♦ on the button on the very next hand and raised to isolate after CROSA COLL opened for 715K under the gun and w3dkarz jammed for 6.2M in the cutoff. CROSA COLL folded, leaving jacu131's aces to take the pot from w3dkarz's K♦ Q♠ with a set after the board came 8♥ 9♣ Q♣ A♠ 8♦ to bust w3karz in fifth.

That win moved jacu131 firmly into the lead with four players left and blinds and antes at 175K/350K/35K:

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CROSA COLL looked to climb into contention for the lead early on with 9♣ 9♦, but Ymobad turned a king with A♥ K♥ to stay alive and double up to 11.6M. Ymobad continued to sit back after that, but CROSA COLL went on a rampage, taking down five of the next seven pots - including one worth 10.7M - to finally reclaim the chip lead at 26.6M. The lead only lasted one hand, though - a heads-up pot with jacu131 on the next hand ended with the Polish player making a flush on the river and earning 16.1M chips.

With the two big stacks duking it out, Ymobad and Leitnant were left looking for strong hands to move with before the flop. Ymobad managed to dodge an open-ended draw to win unimproved with A♠ 4♣ against jacu131's K♥ J♣, but even getting back to 8M chips left a lot of work ahead with the blinds and antes now at 250K/500K/50K. Then Leitnant opened all-in for 2.5M with A♦ 5♣ and jacu131, sitting in the big blind with 30M chips and K♣ Q♥ in the hole, made the call. The 9♠ K♥ 5♦ J♠ 9♣ made pairs for both players; jacu131's kings won the 5.6M chips in the middle, and Leitnant's fives left the Estonian player on the outside in fourth.

jacu131 now had 11 million chips more than both the other players combined, but like CROSA COLL's four-handed chip lead, the situation would last for a single hand. jacu131 opened the action from the small blind on the first hand of three-handed player by moving in with 8♠ 5♠. Ymobad called with K♦ J♠, made a pair of jacks on the flop, and dodged another straight draw after the turn of the 2♥ J♥ 6♣ 7♣ 2♣ board to double to 14.2M. CROSA COLL managed to double to 16.5M a few hands later with A♥ 9♥ against jacu131's A♦ 8♥, flopping a nine before running out to a full house on the 2♠ Q♠ 9♠ A♣ A♠ board.

jacu131 was still in the lead, though no longer with a dominant edge over both opponents. But taking down eight of the next 10 pots, mostly via two key wins, would both restore the Polish player's stack and trim the field by one more player. In the first pot, jacu131 min-raised to 1.2M on the button and called when CROSA COLL re-raised to 3.7M form the big blind. CROSA COLL led for 915K on the A♥ 6♦ 3♦ flop and then called when jacu131 raised to 3M straight, then check-folded to jacu131's 9.5M-chip bet on the 5♥ turn.

That left CROSA COLL with 9.5M, which was cut in half two hands later after the Uruguayan player limped on the button with 3♦ 3♠. Both blinds came along and everyone checked the 8♠ 9♠ J♠ 6♦ flop, bringing the 6♦ on the turn. jacu131 led for 900K, which CROSA COLL called, and then bet another 1.4M on the Q♥ river. CROSA COLL bluff-raised to 4M and lost out on the 11.7M-chip pot when jacu131 called with T♣ 6♠ for a queen-high straight.

Left with 4.7M, CROSA COLL was whittled by blinds and antes to 3.4M by the time the Uruguayan player called all-in from the big blind with A♠ 5♣. jacu131 had made the original raise with A♦ K♣ and Big Slick stayed ahead on the T♠ 2♠ 2♣ Q♣ 9♠ board to knock CROSA COLL out in third.

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jacu131 and Ymobad took just two hands to agree to look at the numbers for a potential deal. They worked just as quickly in striking the deal, coming to an agreement that left $20,000 on the table for the winner in just two minutes. And in less time than that, they played out four hands that ended the tournament.

jacu131 raised the button on the first hand with K♥ 7♥ and called when Ymobad jammed with A♣ 3♥. The board fell T♠ 7♣ J♦ A♥ 5♣, giving Ymobad a pair of aces and a double to 26.9M chips. Ymobad stole the next pot after the 6♣ A♦ 2♦ flop, leaving the player from the U.K. within less than one ante's worth of chips of pulling even. jacu131 opened the following hand on the button with K♠ 6♠ and moved all-in after Ymobad re-raised to 4.2M. Ymobad called with A♠ K♥ and stayed ahead the whole way as the board fell K♦ Q♠ Q♣ 3♥ 2♣. jacu131's one-ante stack was forced in with Q♥ 9♥ on the next hand and lost out to Ymobad's K♦ 6♦ when the board came 9♠ T♣ 8♦ A♦ 5♦, and with that the tournament was all done.

It was a tough break for jacu131 at the end after playing dominant poker for much of the final, but having locked in the deal heads-up four hands before finishing in second place should soothe the pain. As for Ymobad, hanging tough for two hours and striking at exactly the right moment was good for $136K and a Sunday Million title - talk about expert timing. Congratulations to both players for outlasting a huge field!

10/30/16 Sunday Million ($215 NL Hold'em) results
Entrants: 5,543
Total prize pool: $1,108,600
Places paid: 764

1. Ymobad (United Kingdom) $136,196.74*
2. jacu131 (Poland) $131,273*
3. CROSA COLL (Uruguay) $76,529.54
4. Leitnant (Estonia) $53,323.66
5. w3dkarz (Poland) $37,154.50
6. DeviesPro (Poland) $25,888.24
7. newbieaa33 (Slovakia) $18,038.36
8. Mariachi (Norway) $12,568.64
9. Simon "DaDumon" Grabenschweiger (Austria) $8,757.60
* - 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