Sunday Million: birs320 banks $158K after big comeback (1/8/17)

Hungarian poker player Balazs "birs320" Botond is no stranger to tournament success with big money on the line. Just ask the other players who faced him at the final table of the Eureka Poker Tour Prague in 2014. He took down the title and more than 200,000 euros at that event despite beginning the final day as the second-shortest stack.

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Botond had been close to similar success a few times on PokerStars, notably during two Super Tuesday final table appearances and similar runs during TCOOP and WCOOP, but he had not yet claimed a major online title.

Maybe what Botond had needed all this time was simply to rekindle that old Prague magic. Re-trace his steps, starting by arriving at the final table as the second-shortest stack again, just like he did in this week's Sunday Million. After an hour and a half of final table play had eliminated four players, he went on a blistering run that took him from middle of the pack to champion in just 15 hands - a stunning Sunday Million comeback worth more than $158,000.

The second Sunday Million of 2017 drew a healthy field of 5,592 players, good for a $1,118,400 prize pool to be split among the top 800 finishers. One hour after late registration was closed the money bubble popped with caaarlsberg's exit in 801st place. Slowly the field dwindled from there, until after 11 hours of players there were just 16 players remaining. One hour after that bianchettibh moved all-in with J♥ T♥ and made a pair of tens with the same card that gave OempaLoempah's A♣ K♦ a club flush, busting in 10th place to set up this final table lineup:

Seat 1: cmajli (10,073,246 in chips)
Seat 2: hondacivic66 (4,992,350 in chips)
Seat 3: sica26 (5,673,524 in chips)
Seat 4: brysch22 (8,240,968 in chips)
Seat 5: OempaLoempah (8,507,748 in chips)
Seat 6: DubleVV (2,142,712 in chips)
Seat 7: Balazs "birs320" Botond (2,774,001 in chips)
Seat 8: Greyhairs (6,296,197 in chips)
Seat 9: keba91 (7,219,254 in chips)

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The first player to put the tournament on the line was Russia's DubleVV, who moved all-in for 1.5M on the button on the sixth hand after brysch22 opened with a min-raise to 500K. brysch22 was the lone caller with K♠ J♣ and moved ahead with top pair on the 8♣ 4♠ J♥ flop. None of DubleVV's six outs came in on the 5♥ turn or 8♦ river, and the Russian player left in ninth.

Blinds and antes went up to 150K/300K/30K two hands later, after the break, leaving short-stacked birs320 with just seven big blinds. But he quickly doubled up, calling with A♠ 2♣ in the big blind when OempaLomepah raised with Q♦ 9♠ in the small and making two pair by the turn.

Seven hands later, hondacivic66 opened the action in the cutoff seat with a 5.4M-chip all-in bet. OempaLoepmah called in the big blind with Q♣ Q♠ and less than five big blinds left behind, going from a 70-30 favorite over hondacivic66's A♥ Q♦ to a 90-percent favorite with a set of queens on the T♣ Q♥ A♦ flop. Either of the two aces in the deck could have saved honacivic66, but the 4♠ and T♥ came instead and hondacivic66 parked in eighth.


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The win there gave OempaLoempah 12.5M chips, just a few big blinds back of cmajli's leading stack of 13.8M. Just under 10 minutes later, though, another pair of queens would severely impair the Belgian player's chances. OempaLoempah opened with Q♦ Q♠ and called when keba91 moved all-in for 6.7M with K♣ K♥, being left with 3.7M chips after the board fell 3♠ 4♦ T♥ 7♠ 9♥.

Another four hands passed before brysch22 lost a tough hand. The player from Colombia opened for a min-raise with A♣ Q♠ and called with two big blinds behind once Greyhairs moved all-in with A♦ Q♦. In most circumstances the two would have chopped the pot, but this time the board fell 2♦ 6♦ 7♦ 6♠ 2♠, shutting brysch22 out of the pot after the flop as Greyhairs doubled to 14.3M with the nut flush. Three hands later brysch22 got in with 8♠ 6♣ but couldn't pair up to top cmajli's A♠ K♥ and bowed out in seventh.

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birs320 doubled up for a second time at the final table right before brysch22 busted, surviving a race with A♥ T♦ against keba91's 8♣ 8♠ to chip up to 9.5M. Two orbits after that, OempaLomepah opened for 2M chips under the gun with 7♣ 5♣, leaving 176K behind. The Belgian called when keba91 jammed with Q♣ Q♦ but never caught up on the 6♠ 2♦ T♣ A♥ J♦ board and left in sixth place.

sica26 started five-handed play as the short stack but turned that around with a double to 10.2M, thanks for picking A♥ J♥ in the small blind when cmajli was dealt A♦ 4♥ on the button. That evened things out a bit, giving everyone at the table a minimum of 10 million chips to work with, so a few post-flop pots broke out. cmajli took the better of them while Greyhairs and sica26 dropped a few million chips apiece, but then cmajli open-shoved on a steal from the small blind with Q♥ 2♦ and ran into sica26's A♠ T♠. Both players paired on hte Q♦ 6♣ A♥ flop but cmajli didn't improve with the 7♣ turn or J♦ river, and suddenly sica26 was the chip leader with 15 million.

Apart from short-stacked Greyhairs winning a race with pocket sixes against sica26's overcards, the relatively even chip distribution kept the next 36 hands mostly quiet, though not drama-free. With an hour and a half of final table poker now in the books, the blinds and antes were up to 350K/700K/70K and so many pots taken down via uncontested pre-flop raises that even the leaders were no more than two bad hands away from an exit. The atmosphere was tense in the absence of any deal talk with big pay jumps on the line. Then came a 12-minute stretch of poker that rendered any deal unnecessary.

sica26 opened things by jamming for 8.5M with T♣ 7♣ when the action folded to the small blind, looking to add 1.4M chips with a quick steal. birs320 woke up with J♣ J♠ and called in the big blind, then promptly made a full house on the J♦ T♦ T♥ flop. sica26 still could have made quads, but neither the 8♣ turn nor the 5♠ made that dream materialize and the Romanian player departed in fifth.

Boosted to a chip-leading 19 million by that win, birs320 would climb even higher two hands later. He opened for 1.54M with A♦ Q♥ under the gun and then called when keba91 jammed for 12.4M with A♠ T♣, making two pair on the 9♣ Q♦ 9♠ 2♥ 4♠ board to eliminate keba91 in fourth.

Now holding a dominant stack of 27.3M chips to cmajli's 17.1M and Greyhairs's 11.3M, birs320 re-raised all-in with A♣ 9♥ two orbits later and original raiser cmajli called the re-raise with K♥ Q♥. The 9♦ 6♠ T♠ flop gave cmajli straight outs to go with the two overcards, but none of those outs came home on the 7♥ turn or T♥ river and suddenly cmajli was gone in third.

The end arrived almost as quickly as the previous three knockouts. Just five hands into heads-up play, birs320 opened all-in on the button with A♣ 7♦ and Greyhairs called for 11.2M total with A♦ Q♥. A win would have left Greyhairs with a deficit of just 15 big blinds to make up, and it looked the most likely outcome after the flop came J♦ J♠ K♣, but then the turn card was the 7♥. A pair of sevens put birs320 in the lead, and the J♣ sealed the lead for good, bringing the tournament to a close.

Balazs Botond

Balazs "birs320" and friends in Prague

Such a quick end to heads-up play after getting in ahead might have disappointed Greyhairs, who earned $110,025.06 as the runner-up, but probably not - after all, the New Zealander had been the short stack in line for $74K less than that only 12 minutes earlier. As for Balazs "birs320" Botond, who came in as the second-shortest stack before striking lightning-quick for the final four knockouts of the tournament, the win was worth $158,981.69. Congratulations to both players for earning those big scores against another big Sunday Million field!

1/8/17 Sunday Million ($215 NL Hold'em) results
Entrants: 5,592
Total prize pool: $1,118,400
Places paid: 800

1. Balazs "birs320" Botond (Hungary) $158,981.69
2. Greyhairs (New Zealand) $110,025.06
3. cmajli (Serbia) $76,146.04
4. keba91 (Germany) $52,699.11
5. sica26 (Romania) $36,471.91
6. OempaLoempah (Belgium) $25,241.50
7. brysch22 (Colombia) $17,469.18
8. hondacivic66 (Canada) $12,090.12
9. DubleVV (Russia) $8,367.30


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Jason Kirk is a Freelance Contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in Sunday Million