Half-Price Sunday Million: mdf92 soars to $212K victory (8-20-17)

It was about this time last year when mdf92 made a relatively deep run in the Sunday Million. Finishing in 75th place that day was good for $1,150 - not a huge cash in the big scheme of things, but a lot for somebody who usually played in tournaments with much smaller buy-ins. The year that followed was a good one for mdf92, who earned five more larger cashes than that one, including three outright wins. But now, in hindsight, it was all just one big prelude to tonight's victory in the Sunday Million.

The third special Half-Price edition of the Sunday Million this summer drew another enthusiastic crowd and once again topped $2 million in prize money. mdf92 cruised along with an average-to-slightly-above-average stack for the first 10 hours of play, eventually moving into the lead with three tables remaining. The player from Uruguay was still ahead of the pack when two-time Sunday Million champ Artem "veeea" Vezhenkov's 5♣ 5♠ held up against 2♠ 2♥ to eliminate SlowDoke in 10th place, setting up this final table:


Seat 1: Vai_q_bate (8,203,556 in chips)
Seat 2: ladygambiti (18,469,986 in chips)
Seat 3: 18055433805 (23,585,138 in chips)
Seat 4: AJFC6819 (18,249,166 in chips)
Seat 5: DimaRu777 (31,151,841 in chips)
Seat 6: carinokid (25,551,448 in chips)
Seat 7: Artem "veeea" Vezhenkov (29,749,375 in chips)
Seat 8: nutty_hamish (18,117,380 in chips)
Seat 9: mdf92 (32,322,110 in chips)

With the lone short stack on the 300,000/600,000/60,000 level mostly folding, there wasn't too much action in the early going. mdf92 and Chinese player 18055433805, a finalist in last week's Half-Price Sunday Storm, had a tense stand-off with Q♣ Q♠ and 9♣ 9♥. They played to keep the pot small and mdf92's queens took down a 12.9-million-chip pot, but the last 10 minutes before the hourly break saw nothing past pre-flop action.

It wasn't until they returned from the break and ladygambiti re-raised to 4.9 million chips on the button with A♥ K♦ that things got interesting. Original raiser nutty_hamish jammed for 21.7 million with 9♦ 9♣ and was left with less than a quarter of that after ladygambiti made a pair of aces on the 4♠ J♦ A♦ 5♣ 4♥ board. nutty_hamish folded the next six hands before open-shoving for 2.6 million with 9♠ 7♠ in the cutoff seat. mdf92 isolated on the button with A♣ 5♣ and won unimproved after the board came Q♦ 8♦ 4♥ 2♥ T♣, ending nutty_hamish's tournament in ninth.

veeea got involved one orbit later when he opened the action for 1.4 million in the cutoff seat with 5♠ 4♠. Then he called, getting 2-to-1 from the pot, when Vai_q_bate jammed for 5.3 million in the small blind. The Brazilian player was the favorite with A♥ Q♦ but veeea made three of a kind on the 5♣ J♥ 9♠ 8♣ 5♥ board to knock Vai_q_bate out in eighth.

mdf92 opened the action four hands later under the gun with a raise to 800,000. ladygambiti, next to act, re-raised to 3.2 million and then became the lone caller when AJFC6819, a Sunday Warm-Up Special Edition finalist during SCOOP 2016, jammed for 10.1 million in the cutoff seat with A♥ K♣. ladygambiti's A♦ A♠ dodged a possible split on the river of the 4♦ J♥ 5♦ 3♦ 6♥ board to win the 22.8-million-chip pot outright and eliminate AJFC6819 in seventh.


The six-handed table settled into a steady rhythm for the next 10 minutes. The blinds and antes were up to 400,000/800,000/80,000 now and the action was mostly low-key other than one pot where mdf92 folded on the river of the 2♠ Q♦ T♥ 5♣ 7♥ board to DimaRu777's all-in bet, surrendering a 22.1-million-chip pot.

Then mdf92 and veeea tangled.

It was veeea who got things started, opening the action for 1.7 million on the button. mdf92 called in the small blind and check-raised to 3.2 million after the 4♦ 9♠ 7♥ flop. veeea fired back with a third bet for 6.8 million and mdf92 called, bringing the Q♦ turn; mdf92 led for 3.7 million and this time veeea just called. The K♠ came on the river and mdf92 checked on more time - and then raised to 12 million when veeea took the bait and bet 5.2 million. veeea called but then mucked when mdf92 showed down 9♣ 9♥ for a set of nines to earn the 49.8-million-chip pot.

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Left with only 11 big blinds, veeea's opening all-in bet in the cutoff on the next hand looked desperate, so mdf92 called with A♦ 8♥ on the button. But veeea had K♣ K♥, which held up for 19.5 million. Two hands later he opened for 1.8 million chips under the gun with 7♦ 7♠ and called for 5.5 million more when 18055433805 jammed on the button, but the Chinese player flopped a set with K♣ K♠ to earn to 16.7-million-chip pot and drop veeea back into last place.

In desperation mode now, veeea folded the next 13 hands in a row before finally picking up K♥ Q♠ in the small blind and moving in for 7 million chips over the top of ladygambiti's 2.2-million-chip opener. ladygambiti called with K♦ K♣ and dodged a back-door flush draw as the board fell 6♠ 3♥ 4♥ A♥ 7♠, earning the 15.5-million-chip pot and ending veeea's bid for a third career Sunday Million title in sixth.


That win moved ladygambiti into second place with 50.6 million chips, well behind mdf92's leading 84.6 million but more than twice as much as the other three remaining players. DimaRu777 kept mdf92 from running away with the tournament by raising the button with 7♠ 6♠, then turning three of a kind and rivering a full house on the 6♣ 2♥ 8♠ 6♦ 2♣; DimaRu777 jammed for 15.1 million chips when checked to on the river and mdf92, holding A♥ 5♣ for top kicker if DimaRu777 had been bluffing, called.

The other two short stacks collided five hands later when 18055433805 open-shoved for 16.7 million under the gun with 6♦ 6♠ and carinokid called all-in for 12.8 million in the small blind with T♠ T♦. The underdog became the favorite on the 6♥ A♥ 9♠ flop and the 8♣ turn and 2♣ river sealed carinokid's fate in fifth.

The remaining four players took their second break minutes later. When they returned, mdf92 took control. The Uruguayan player climbed from 73.8 million chips to 98.9 million over the next 17 minutes of play mostly by applying pressure to the other, shorter-stacked players and taking down lots of small pots. Then back-to-back wins against DimaRu777 - first calling down two bets with 7♥ 6♥ for a pair of sevens against an unimproved K♣ J♦, then flopping three tens with A♣ T♦ - took the Russian player's stack all the way down under 10 big blinds.

DimaRu777 managed to double up once and eventually took a stand a few minutes later, calling all-in for 15.8 million chips with 6♦ 6♠ in the big blind after mdf92 opened under the gun with 7♥ 7♠. There was no two-outer waiting on the 8♠ 4♦ 2♠ A♦ 2♣ board, sending DimaRu777 to the rail in fourth.

mdf92 struck again four minutes later, successfully raising to isolate with J♦ J♠ in the small blind after 18055433805 opened all-in for 8.1 million chips on the button. 18055433805 ended up with two pair after the board ran out Q♣ A♦ J♥ K♥ 2♥, but mdf92's set of jacks took the 18.3-million-chip pot and knocked out 18055433805 in third.


ladygambiti entered heads-up play with 36.1 million chips to mdf92's 169 million and got to work on trimming that deficit on the very first hand. The Brazilian called a min-raise to 3.2 million in the big blind and led for 3.3 million on the 5♣ 8♥ 7♥ flop. mdf92 called and then raised from 6.7 million to 14.4 million on the A♦ turn, which ladygambiti called, but then folded when the A♠ hit the river and ladygambiti opened all-in for 14.9 million.

Eight hands later things hadn't changed much. That's when mdf92 raised the button to 3.2 million and ladygambiti called in the big blind with J♥ 7♠, hitting top pair on the 4♣ 6♦ 7♥ flop. ladygambiti led for 3.3 million and mdf92 called, and then they repeated for 6.7 million after the K♣ turn to build the pot to 26.8 million chips. ladygambiti tried to steal the pot by open-shoving for 47.1 million when the 9♦ hit the river, but mdf92 snap-called with 8♠ 5♣, winning the 121-million-chip pot - and the tournament - with a nine-high straight.

This cash marks a major milestone for mdf92, whose previous best cash was for a little more than $3,600. It's a similar milestone moment for ladygambiti, whose previous best PokerStars cash was just under $1,800. Congratulations to both players for breaking through in very convincing fashion!

8/20/17 Half-Price Sunday Million ($107.50 NL Hold'em) results
Entrants: 20,540 (17,228 entries, 3,312 re-entries)
Total prize pool: $2,054,000
Places paid: 3,428

1. mdf92 (Uruguay) $212,109.80
2. ladygambiti (Brazil) $151,188.77
3. 18055433805 (China) $107,772.35
4. DimaRu777 (Russia) $76,823.70
5. carinokid (Canada) $54,762.31
6. Artem "veeea" Vezhenkov (Russia) $39,036.27
7. AJFC6819 (United Kingdom) $27,826.35
8. Vai_q_bate (Brazil) $19,835.47
9. nutty_hamish (Canada) $14,139.32

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Jason Kirk is a Freelance Contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in Sunday Million