Sunday Million: After NL_Profit dominates, HITTHEPANDA hits the $159K jackpot
Anatoly "NL_Profit" Filatov entered tonight's Sunday Million final table with the chip lead, and went from strength to strength, scoring a dramatic double-knockout with quad jacks to lay claim to more than half the chips with just four players left.
At that point one of the short stacks suggested a deal and another was willing to look. But the third was having none of it.
"no," said Ryan "HITTHEPANDA" Franklin in the chat box. "fight to the death."
And so they did - everyone but HITTHEPANDA, anyway. NL_Profit quickly cleared the would-be dealmakers from the field and had the title within reach. But three key pots played out in the final 25 minutes and all broke for HITTHEPANDA, earning him this week's title.
After cruising through much of the tournament, NL_Profit leapt into the lead with 11 players left, a set of sixes beating the jacks of Faxe07. He picked off short-stacked LOBAXHiNO a few minutes later to set up the final table.
Seat 1: cojones2010 (2,692,175 in chips)
Seat 2: BongadasVN (2,419,790 in chips) past Sunday Storm finalist
Seat 3: AchoBogdanov (3,593,735 in chips) $22 Mini Sunday Million & $33+R Sunday Rebuy finalist in 2017
Seat 4: Alexey5758 (13,617,258 in chips)
Seat 5: Anatoly "NL_Profit" Filatov (17,849,151 in chips) WCOOP 2013 champ
Seat 6: s0nny_bLacCk (4,632,888 in chips) SCOOP 2016 Main Event third-place finisher
Seat 7: Ryan "HITTHEPANDA" Franklin (4,149,869 in chips) EPT6 Vilamoura finalist & past SCOOP-High runner-up
Seat 8: vip25459 (7,921,172 in chips) past TCOOP and Sunday Warm-Up champ
Seat 9: flong78 (2,263,962 in chips) SCOOP-High FL Triple Draw champ this spring
The early going went as you'd expect at a table with an experienced champion leading. NL_Profit put his chips to work and earned the first knockout when 9♣ 9♠ held up against cojones2010's K♥ Q♦, eliminating the Canadian player in ninth.
BongadasVN followed three minutes later, three-betting all-in for 959,790 chips with Q♠ J♠ over the top of vip25459's opener with A♥ J♣ and leaving in eighth when a turned flush draw failed to materialize on the river.
Three more minutes produced a third elimination. NL_Profit min-raised in early position with Q♣ J♦ and made a pair of jacks with the same flop card as AchoBogdanov's J♥ 7♦ in the big blind; no sevens hit the board and AchoBogdanov was gone in seventh.
NL_Profit had gone from chip leader to dominant favorite in the first 12 minutes of play, building a stack worth more than 25 million with blinds still at 125,000/250,000/25,000. It suggested the final table might be heading for an early end 2am break approached. Then NL_Profit struck again, taking out two players in one hand.
flong78 opened the action with a min-raise to 600,000 chips in the cutoff seat with A♦ K♦ and NL_Profit re-raised to 1.5 million with J♣ J♦ in the small blind; NL_Profit then called after s0nny_bLacCk jammed in the big blind for 5.8 million with Q♣ Q♥ and flong78 moved in for one big blind more. NL_Profit took down the 18.3-million-chip pot with quads after the board came J♠ 9♥ 5♠ 2♥ J♥, busting s0nny_bLacCk in sixth and flong78 in fifth.
That gave NL_Profit more than half the chips in play, with the other three players roughly equally stacked. That situation made for a quietest 15-minute stretch of poker before HITTHEPANDA put the tournament on the line with J♥ J♠ against Alexey5758's A♣ Q♦. He doubled to 17.7 million chips when the board delivered jacks full of sixes, leaving Alexey5758 with a stack worth ten big blinds.
Alexey5758 held on for a few more minutes before limping in from the small blind with Q♠ J♦ and flopping jacks and nines. The river delivered the Q♥ to make it queens and jacks, good enough for Alexey5758 to get all-in, but NL_Profit's Q♦ 9♥ made nines full with the same card to send the player from Belarus packing in fourth.
Both HITTHEPANDA and vip25459 had their work cut out for them three-handed. NL_Profit applied maximum pressure with a guaranteed $34,000+ pay jump awaiting whichever player could make it to heads-up play. They bided their time until meeting in a coin-flip. vip25459's 5♣ 5♥ won out over K♣ J♣ to drop HITTHEPANDA into short-stack status, but they switched places three hands later after HITTHEPANDA's K♦ 8♦ made the nut flush on the flop, check-calling the whole way as vip25459 triple-barrel bluffed with K♣ Q♣.
vip25459 called a NL_Profit min-raise with 6♠ 4♠ in the big blind a few minutes later and made bottom pair on the J♦ 9♠ 6♥ flop. vip25459 check-called 800,000 chips and both checked the T♦ turn to see the 6♣ hit the river. vip25459 led for 3.2 million chips and then called all-in for 4.2 million more with trips sixes after NL_Profit moved all-in. Once again NL_Profit showed down a winner - this time A♣ 6♦ for trip sixes with a better kicker - and vip25459's run was done in third.
Outchipped, HITTHEPANDA came out swinging.
With roughly 23 percent of the chips in play heads-up, HITTHEPANDA's best chance was to come out swinging. He did just that, taking down the first 7.1-million-chip pot with an all-in three-bet before the flop. The aggressive approach paid off four hands later after opening for 1.1 million on the button with J♥ T♣ and calling NL_Profit's re-raise to 3.4 million. HITTHEPANDA bet for value when checked to on the 2♠ J♦ 6♠ flop and then moved all-in after NL_Profit checked again on the 2♣ turn. NL_Profit called with a pair of sixes that didn't improve after the 9♣ river, and suddenly HITTHEPANDA was the chip leader by a margin of about 20 big blinds.
NL_Profit began hitting back right away, whittling HITTHEPANDA's lead down to about six big blinds before opening for 1.3 million chips on the button. HITTHEPANDA re-raised to 4.5 million in the big blind and then led for 3.9 million on the 3♣ 3♠ 9♦ flop. NL_Profit called and bet 3.9 million when checked to after the 3♦ turn. But he folded to HITTHEPANDA's 7.2-million-chip bet after the 3♥ river put quads on the board, giving HITTHEPANDA the 22.7-million-chip pot. They played for another 12 minutes without much changing before NL_Profit was dealt A♦ J♦ in the big blind and moved all-in over the top of HITTHEPANDA's button opener. HITTHEPANDA called with A♥ Q♠ and paired the queen on the flop, which was all it took to bring the tournament to its conclusion.
The last half-hour was one continuous tough break for NL_Profit, but his six-figure score for second place is still his largest in a decade of playing tournaments at PokerStars. The same was true for HITTHEPANDA, whose late-game turnaround bagged the title and about $7,000 more than his previous best cash here at PokerStars. Congratulations to both players on a very big Sunday!
12/3/17 Sunday Million ($215 NL Hold'em) results
Entrants: 5,914 (4,770 entries, 1,144 re-entries)
Total prize pool: $1,182,800
Places paid: 1,052
1. Ryan "HITTHEPANDA" Franklin (Canada) $159,701.07
2. Anatoly "NL_Profit" Filatov (Russia) $112,068.64
3. vip25459 (Kazakhstan) $78,646.26
4. Alexey5758 (Belarus) $55,191.57
5. flong78 (United Kingdom) $38,731.85
6. s0nny_bLacCk (Thailand) $27,180.86
7. AchoBogdanov (Bulgaria) $19,074.77
8. BongadasVN (Germany) $13,386.22
9. cojones2010 (Canada) $9,394.15
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Jason Kirk is a Freelance Contributor to PokerStars Blog.