Sunday Million: Kesjan runs down a $157K dream (10-8-17)

Starting a final table with plenty of chips is always helpful, but it's far from a requirement for winning - even if you had them in your possession just a few minutes earlier.

Kesjan proved the rule in this week's Sunday Million having entered the final with the third-shortest stack. The Finn recovered from a bubble misstep, scoring a few small knockouts early on for a slim chip lead. A huge win in a race against the other biggest stack at the table then left Kesjan with nearly half the chips, clearing a path that led less than an hour later to a career-defining win.

Kesjan's final table story very nearly began as the chip leader.

The Finn took the lead with three tables remaining and held it all the way to the last ten. Then a pre-flop raise with 7♣ 7♠ in the small blind spiraled into a situation that had Kesjan calling behind with just seven big blinds behind against past SCOOP High Roller Heads-Up runner-up and Super Tuesday finalist Also11, who had K♣ K♥ in the big blind. The kings held to boost Also11 into the top spot and within 15 minutes the final was underway:

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Seat 1: Kesjan (4,587,917 in chips)
Seat 2: Melo Jr (8,785,294 in chips)
Seat 3: Also11 (13,306,514 in chips)
Seat 4: FshnIsMyPrfn (2,740,398 in chips)
Seat 5: Ofbravetight (5,440,251 in chips)
Seat 6: ante_geia_AA (6,604,234 in chips)
Seat 7: Jollymakky (2,771,669 in chips)
Seat 8: Andre "AndreBusato" Busato (8,726,815 in chips)
Seat 9: enigma2018 (5,356,908 in chips)

Jollymakky, owner of an avatar of new Calgary Flames signing Jaromir Jagr, didn't have much of a stack to work with as the final table began. Even the losers get lucky sometimes but the two-time past Sunday Warm-Up finalist wouldn't keep them company. Jollymakky open-shoved for 1.5 million with J♠ 9♠ from the cutoff seat, just missing a straight on the T♦ Q♠ 7♥ T♣ A♠ board. That gave Kesjan's Q♥ J♥ a much-needed win, and busted Jollymakky in ninth.

FshnIsMyPrfn, a SCOOP-Low champion back in 2016, earned a pay jump thanks to that bustout despite not picking up any chips in the first half-hour of play. But a breakdown wasn't far away. The Belorussian opened the action all-in for 2.4 million with A♦ 9♠ in middle position. Former Sunday Warm-Up finalist Andre "AndreBusato" Busato, fresh off a third-place finish in a WCOOP 2017 Sunday Kickoff Special Edition, successfully isolated in the cutoff seat with A♠ K♣ and won unimproved to end FshnIsMyPrfn's run in eighth.


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Nourished by stealing a few blinds and antes, half the stack of past $215 Saturday Scuffle champion Ofbravetight had evaporated before the Chilean moved all-in for 2.6 million - this over the top of Kesjan's 700,000-chip opening raise. Ofbravetight had the heavy side of a coin flip with 9♦ 9♣ in the big blind. Kesjan's K♣ J♦ turned the light side into trip kings on the K♦ 2♥ 8♥ K♥ 3♥ board. Ofbravetight was gone in seventh.

That put Kesjan and Melo Jr ahead, within one big blind of each other. That was less than ten big blinds ahead of AndreBusato and Also11.

Five minutes later both leaders picked up big starting hands, decided "I need to know," and got all their chips in before the flop. Kesjan opened things on the button with A♣ K♠ and four-bet-shoved when Melo Jr re-raised from the small blind with Q♦ Q♥. Melo Jr came along and made top set on the Q♣ 5♣ 7♣ flop. Kesjan made an ace-high flush on the 2♣ turn and took down the 26.7-million-chip pot when the A♦ came on the river. That sent Melo Jr to the rail in sixth.

The only player at the table to have been this far before defeated nearly 8,300 players en route to a Sunday Million win in 2012.

This time around ante_geia_AA found the waiting to be the hardest part - his raises met with indifference by the opposition for nothing more than blinds and antes. Two hands after Melo Jr was eliminated ante_geia_AA raised again, this time all-in for 4.5 million with A♠ J♥ over the top of Also11's min-raise. Also11 got out of the way when AndreBusato isolated with A♦ Q♣ in the small blind and AndreBusato made queens and tens on the 5♠ Q♦ T♦ 7♣ T♠, ending ante_geia_AA's bid for a second victory in fifth.

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Worth less than 15 big blinds with four players remaining, enigma2018's stack said "likely to be the next out". But the Russian player's call all-in with A♣ 9♦ after AndreBusato jammed with K♥ 9♠ in the small blind said "I won't back down." Both made nines on the river of the T♠ Q♠ 4♣ 4♠ 9♣ board and enigma2018 doubled his way out of immediate trouble with 11.1 million chips. More than half of those chips bled away over the next half-hour before enigma2018 moved in for ten big blinds before the flop with Q♥ 5♥. Kesjan called with A♦ 6♥ but enigma2018 stayed alive thanks to a queen on the turn.

Also11 was at the bottom of the chip counts now. Hope appeared via a double with A♥ 9♠ for a pair of aces, which put AndreBusato - who had called in the big blind with K♠ J♣ - into last place. But then enigma2018 open-shoved with A♣ 5♠ and cracked Also11's J♣ J♥, leaving the Austrian with six big blinds. Minutes later Also11 open-shoved with 8♣ 5♠ in the small blind and AndreBusato called with A♥ T♥ and five big blinds behind. The favorite made a pair of aces on the river, topping a flopped pair of eights to bust Also11 - who was perhaps thinking "you got lucky" - in fourth.

Even with that win, AndreBusato was trailing both of the other remaining players. Five minutes later he called all-in from the big blind with A♠ 2♠ after Kesjan open-shoved from the small blind. The T♣ 9♦ 4♦ 6♠ K♠ board gave Kesjan tens and nines and left AndreBusato free fallin' in third.

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Kesjan had started the final table with one of the shortest stacks, but learning to fly as seven opponents fell away left the Finn with a 4-to-1 chip lead as heads-up play began. It wasn't an insurmountable lead but enigma2018 had to open up to overcome it - and the result was re-raising all-in with A♣ 7♠ after Kesjan min-raised with K♦ K♣ on the button. enigma2018 had dodged plenty of bullets throughout the final table but this time there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Kesjan made kings full of sixes on the 3♣ 6♥ 5♠ K♠ 6♦ board and finally ran down the dream of a Sunday Million victory.

Congratulations to Kesjan, who set a new career best score here at PokerStars, beating a seven-year old win for that honor by more than $143,000.

10/8/17 Sunday Million ($215 NL Hold'em) results
Entrants: 5,832 (4,712 entries, 1,120 re-entries)
Total prize pool: $1,166,400
Places paid: 1,052

1. Kesjan (Finland) $157,485.71
2. enigma2018 (Russia) $110,514.76
3. Andre "AndreBusato" Busato (Brazil) $77,555.80
4. Also11 (Austria) $54,426.32
5. ante_geia_AA (Cyprus) $38,194.81
6. Melo Jr (Brazil) $26,803.98
7. Ofbravetight (Chile) $18,810.29
8. FshnIsMyPrfn (Belarus) $13,200.61
9. Jollymakky (Austria) $9,263.89


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Jason Kirk is a Freelance Contributor to PokerStars Blog.

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