Sunday Million: Artem "veeea" Vezhenkov bags second title, $166K (7-9-17)

There are few things more dangerous in a poker tournament than letting Artem "veeea" Vezhenkov get hold of a chip lead. The Russian player has won after bringing the lead to the final table of several high-profile tournaments in the past, including his SCOOP 2015 victory and one of his Super Tuesday wins. He has won even more after entering the final table in the middle of the chip counts, seizing the top spot, and holding on the rest of the way. His first Sunday Million title was won in just that manner back in November 2015 - and tonight, so was his second.

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For most of this Sunday Million, veeea was nowhere near the chip lead. His first glimpse of it came with 48 players left but the field shifted quickly and he wouldn't reclaim the lead for another three hours, well after he and these eight other players had advanced to the final table:

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Seat 1: Ysjah (9,343,413 in chips)
Seat 2: the_eel_89 (2,854,129 in chips)
Seat 3: David "[Esmone_PT]" Abreu (6,148,288 in chips)
Seat 4: oldfandango (8,244,718 in chips)
Seat 5: KumoZing (4,573,924 in chips)
Seat 6: Artem "veeea" Vezhenkov (5,161,942 in chips)
Seat 7: Penny280190 (5,806,941 in chips)
Seat 8: Lui Martins (5,011,018 in chips)
Seat 9: Posti (8,395,627 in chips)

The pace of play was brisk but there were no knockouts in the first hour of play, which saw the blinds and antes jump from 50,000/100,000/10,000 to 125,000/250,000/25,000. Instead the short stacks doubled up without fail. Penny280190's K♣ K♦ held up against Posti's A♣ K♥; the_eel_89's 8♦ 8♥ beat Ysjah's A♣ 9♦; and Posti's K♣ J♣ flopped two jacks to beat Penny280190's T♣ T♥.

The one player who couldn't seem to win a pot was the only one at the table who'd won this tournament before. veeea's first break didn't come until more than half an hour into the final table, when he open-shoved for 1.39 million with K♥ 6♣ in the small blind and flopped a pair of sixes to top Penny280190's K♣ 3♣ in the big blind. Eight hands later veeea defended the big blind for another 240,000 chips with 7♥ 6♦ against oldfandango's button raise, made top pair on the 4♥ 7♦ 3♠ flop, and check-called all-in. oldfandango's K♣ J♦ didn't improve and veeea won the 5.02-million-chip pot to get back close to where he'd been when the final table began.

The next two orbits were relatively quiet, but the first hour of play would end with a bang. It started with veeea opening with a min-raise to 500,000 chips. Posti (in the small blind) and Ysjah (in the big) came along and then all three players checked the Q♣ 9♠ K♠ flop. Ysjah, a past runner-up in both the Sunday Warm-Up and Sunday Million, folded after Posti led for 862,500 chips on the A♠ turn, but veeea called and the 9♣ came on the river. Posti led for 1.72 million chips - half the pot - and then called when veeea re-raised all-in for 4.62 million total. Posti's 6♠ 5♠ had turned a flush, but the German was left with just 903,079 chips when veeea turned over Q♦ 9♦ for nines full of queens.

From there, veeea would never look back. With just under four big blinds' worth of chips left, Posti didn't have the same good fortune. The German player picked up K♦ J♥ two later and re-raised all-in for 853,079 chips over the top of oldfandango's under-the-gun 550,000-chip opener. oldfandango called with T♣ T♠, which held up on the 3♣ 2♣ 3♦ 2♠ 9♣ board to end Posti's tournament in ninth.

Five hands later Penny280190 called in the small blind and survived all-in with J♦ J♥ against cutoff raiser KumoZing's A♠ Q♥, flopping a set to beat Kumozing's flopped pair of queens. KumoZing's remaining 1.47 million chips went in the middle three hands after that, moved in as a re-raise with Q♥ Q♠ after oldfandango opened for 550,000 chips under the gun. oldfandango called with Q♣ Q♣, asked for "one more time!!!" in the chat box, and then got it with the turn card of the 9♥ 4♥ 2♦ A♥ 8♦ board. That made a pair of aces to sink KumoZing's queens and bust the Irish player in eighth, two spots behind where KumoZing finished the 11-27-11 Sunday Million.

None of the next 14 hands went past the turn card. Then Penny280190 was dealt J♣ J♥ and moved in over the top of veeea's opening raise, and the_eel_89, who bubbled the Sunday Million final in December 2012, was dealt Q♣ Q♥. the_eel_89 moved in over that bet on the button, veeea cleared out of the way, the queens held up on the 4♠ 4♥ A♦ 3♥ 2♣ board, and Penny280190 was out in seventh.

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the_eel_89 wasn't able to enjoy the fruits of that hand for long. Seven hands later the Swedish player was dealt J♥ J♠ in the cutoff seat, re-raised Ysjah, and then called when Ysjah shoved for 6.18 million chips with A♣ A♥. The A♦ on the flop made top set for Ysjah and locked up the 13-million-chip pot, leaving the_eel_89 with just under five big blinds' worth of chips. A double-up came a few hands later after defending the big blind with 6♦ 6♥ against chip leader veeea's cutoff steal with 3♠ 2♠, which wasn't worth much in chips but ended up buying enough time for the_eel_89 to avoid being the next player out.

The unlucky player to step into that role was oldfandango, who opened the action a few hands later all-in for 2.33 million chips with A♣ 4♣. Ysjah called in the big blind with A♠ K♣ and made Broadway on the 3♥ J♥ Q♣ 8♣ T♦ board - despite oldfandango's plea in the chat box for "one more time please!!!" - to eliminate oldfandango in sixth.

the_eel_89 avoided elimination again a few hands later. The Swedish player jammed for 2.85 million chips with K♦ J♦, which had original raiser Ysjah's Q♥ J♥ dominated, and then dodged a royal flush draw to win with trip jacks on the K♥ A♥ J♠ J♣ 7♠ board. the_eel_89 was still in last place after that 6.4-million-chip win and stayed there for the next four orbits, but then Ysjah and [Esmone_PT] were dealt Q♣ Q♦ and A♥ K♣, respectively. [Esmone_PT] re-raised on the button, Ysjah called all-in, the board fell K♠ 4♣ 7♣ J♦ 8♥, and Ysjah left in fifth.


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the_eel_89 slipped past Lui Martins on the next hand to climb out of last place, calling all-in with Q♦ Q♠ in the big blind and winning the 10.3-million-chip pot when Lui Martins's J♥ T♦ was still unimproved after the river. The Brazilian player's 537,995-chip stack was worth under two big blinds, but two consecutive doubles through veeea - with K♦ 8♠ against 8♥ 4♣ and then K♣ Q♥ against T♣ 8♦ - and a third through [Esmone_PT] a few minutes later gave Lui Martins enough chips to remain competitive.

Meanwhile veeea continued to dominate the table. The Russian player's 29.7-million-chip stack was two and a half times as large as the nearest competitor's and even a loss with A♦ K♠ to [Esmone_PT]'s A♥ 8♥, when an ace and an eight both hit the flop, was offset by millions of chips won without showdown as the short stacks all tried to avoid being the next player out. Then veeea got those chips back anyway. The chip leader called with A♥ 5♥ in the small blind and beat the_eel_89's A♣ 7♠ with sixes and fives on a 5♦ 4♦ 6♥ 6♠ Q♣ board, finally ending the Swede's tournament in fourth.

veeea had 24 big blinds more than the other two players combined. Lui Martins looked less likely to survive to heads-up play, but then the Brazilian got in with 5♦ 5♠ and flopped a set against [Esmone_PT]'s A♠ K♠ for the double to 13.8 million chips. [Esmone_PT] looked to make up for that loss three hands later by jamming for 7.7 million chips on the button with A♥ 8♥; Lui Martins called with K♦ J♠, made a pair of jacks on the river of the 6♦ 8♦ Q♠ 5♣ J♣ board, and knocked [Esmone_PT] out in third.

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Lui Martins had the momentum as heads-up play began and was within striking distance of a major comeback, but it wasn't to be. veeea won 10 of the first 13 pots of heads-up play to reduce Lui Martins's stack to 15.3 million before what turned out to be the final pot of this week's Sunday Million.

Lui Martins limped in on the button and the ncalled veeea's re-raise to 1 million chips, bringing a T♠ A♠ T♦ flop. veeea bet the minimum of 500,000 chips and Lui Martins called, bringing the K♣ on the turn. veeea led for 500,000 again. Lui Martins raised to 1.75 million, and then veeea re-raised the minimum to 3 million; Lui Martins bumped it to 4.25 million and then called when veeea re-raised to 5.5 million, bringing the 3♣ on the river. veeea checked and called instantly when Lui Martins jammed for 8.29 million with T♥ 8♠ for trip tens; veeea's A♦ A♥ had flopped aces full of tens, which took down the 30.6-million-chip pot and brought the tournament to a close.

Congratulations to Artem "veeea" Vezhenkov on bagging a second career Sunday Million title tonight, adding another six-figure score to an already impressive tournament resume.

7/9/17 Sunday Million ($215 NL Hold'em) results
Entrants: 5,554 (4,626 entries, 928 re-entries)
Total prize pool: $1,110,800
Places paid: 899

1. Artem "veeea" Vezhenkov (Russia) $166,530.76
2. Lui Martins (Brazil) $115,248.27
3. David "[Esmone_PT]" Abreu (Malta) $79,760.99
4. the_eel_89 (Sweden) $55,200.98
5. Ysjah (Netherlands) $38,203.52
6. oldfandango (United Kingdom) $26,439.92
7. Penny280190 (Germany) $18,298.54
8. KumoZing (Ireland) $12,664.11
9. Posti (Germany) $8,764.65


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Jason Kirk is a Freelance Contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in Sunday Million