Sunday Million: stragerpoker tops five-way deal for $86K victory (1-29-17)

It took 11 and a half hours to reach the final table of this week's Sunday Million, and another two and a half to finish it from there. Russia's stragerpoker entered second to last in chips and held on with a few double-ups in the early going to make it to the five-handed deal as one of the short stacks. Now at a safe cruising altitude, the Russian player turned on the afterburners and streaked past three other finalists before emerging from a 35-minute heads-up duel as this week's Sunday Million champion.


While TCOOP 2017's final day raged on, the Sunday Million kicked off at 2:15 p.m. ET with its standard structure and million-dollar guarantee. The 5,236 players who turned out boosted that prize pool to a total of $1,047,200, split among the top 728 finishers with nearly $149,000 scheduled for first place. Team Pro's Leo Fernandez was among their number this week, finishing in 239th place.

The calendar ticked over into Monday with three tables' worth of players still remaining. It took nearly two more hours to take out 18 of those players, ending with Uzbekistan's Drakosha Z, whose A♥ 6♣ lost out to marakana1965's A♠ 7♥ in 10th place to set up this final table:

Seat 1: quasselinho (2,242,252 in chips)
Seat 2: InduceM3 (6,482,661 in chips)
Seat 3: marakana1965 (9,582,611 in chips)
Seat 4: igorcampanha (7,899,464 in chips)
Seat 5: smir9david (6,333,149 in chips)
Seat 6: stragerpoker (3,066,653 in chips)
Seat 7: mionir (3,335,325 in chips)
Seat 8: Rocco "Sephirot88" Palumbo (7,483,939 in chips)
Seat 9: Airdraken (5,933,946 in chips)

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Aside from an early 2.5M-chip win defending the blind with K♦ T♠ by past Super Tuesday champ and WPT Venice champion Rocco "Sephirot88" Palumbo, none of the pots leading up to the 1:55 a.m. ET break were worth more than 1M chips on the 100K/200K/20K level. But right after the break, stragerpoker turned that trend around.

stragerpoker raised all-in for 2.5M under the gun with T♣ T♠ and mionir, holding A♥ K♣, isolated with an all-in raise to 2.7M. The 5♠ 7♣ 5♣ 4♥ 5♥ board gave stragerpoker the double to 5.5M. mionir, left with 268K, called all-in on the next hand. Sephirot88 raised to 600K in early position and stragerpoker called with A♦ T♥ to see an 8♠ A♣ 2♥ flop, which both players checked. stragerpoker check-called 570K more on the 9♠ turn before both players again checked on the 8♣ river. stragerpoker showed aces and eights to take the pot, Sephirot88 mucked, and mionir departed the table in ninth.

mionir's elimination notwithstanding, stragerpoker's win set off a cascade off double-ups for the table's short stacks that would last for more than half an hour. Germany's quasselinho doubled with A♣ A♦ against marakana1985's 8♦ 8♣, and then again with K♣ K♠ against past MicroMillions finalist Airdraken's T♣ T♠. Airdraken's 9♦ 9♠ rivered a set to stay alive against Sephirot88's K♥ K♠, InduceM3's A♦ K♥ held up against quasselinho's A♥ 5♥, and then Sephirot88 picked up K♣ K♦ again to better effect, topping InduceM3's K♥ 5♣ to climb back to 11.9M chips.

It was another pair-versus-pair confrontation that finally broke the deadlock on the 175K/350K/35K level. smir9david open-shoved for 4.8M in middle position, holding 8♦ 8♥, and ended up heads-up with Sephirot88, who successfully isolated from the cutoff with A♥ A♠. The board came 9♦ Q♥ J♠ 5♠ Q♣, the aces held, and smir9david left in eighth.

The next knockout wouldn't take nearly as long to arrive. InduceM3 moved in for a bit less than eight big blinds on the button two hands later with A♦ 2♠, and marakana1965 called with A♣ 6♣. InduceM3 had made a wheel straight after the 7♥ 3♠ 4♣ flop and 5♠ turn, but markana1965's hand made a seven-high straight. The 7♦ river came and went, and InduceM3 bowed out in seventh.

Half the table was still holding onto stacks worth less than 20 big blinds, with Sephirot88's stack hovering nearly 50 BB and igorcampanha and quasselinho stuck in between. Airdraken survived all-in with 4♦ 4♥ quasselinho's K♣ J♣ a few minutes later, but marakana1965 wouldn't be as fortunate. The Greek player called all-in from the big blind with A♠ 2♣ after quasselinho shoved in the small blind with 9♠ 8♠, but the 5♠ K♦ T♥ 9♥ 6♥ board paired quasselinho's nine and sank marakana1965 in sixth.

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The action died down for a few minutes after that, before Sephirot88 opened the action all-in on a steal from the small blind with J♣ 5♣. Airdraken called with A♥ J♦, which held up for the 11.1M chips when neither player improved. That took the players to the 2:55 a.m. ET break, and then it paused for nearly 20 minutes as the players hammered out a deal.

Sephirot88, who was ahead in chips, asked for ICM and chip chop numbers before taking the lead in negotiations. The negotiations among the five players, all from different countries, were exceptionally orderly and good-natured - a breath of fresh air for 2017. Sephirot88 sealed the deal when he trimmed $5,000 off his chip chop numbers to distribute to the rest of the table, which got the action going again with $20,000 left on the table for the winner.

stragerpoker had been in a virtual tie for last when the deal was cut, but the first confrontation after it boosted the Russian player to second in chips. stragerpoker called all-in for 6.2M on the button with 7♣ 7♥, which beat original raiser igorcampanha's 3♦ 3♠ to leave the Brazilian player with just 1M in chips. Then igorcampanha doubled through Sephirot88 twice and Airdraken a third time, to move out of the cellar and into third place with 10.7M.

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Airdraken's attempt to get those chips back a few hands later didn't go well. The player from the U.K. re-raised all-in from the small blind, holding A♣ 7♠, after stragerpoker min-raised to 800K with A♥ K♠. stragerpoker called, the board fell Q♦ 4♦ Q♣ 5♠ J♥, and Airdraken was gone in fifth.

Sephirot88 picked up Big Slick again a few hands later and attacked igorcampanha's big blind with a raise to 1.1M. The Brazilian re-raised all-in for 5.1M and then won with K♠ T♣ on the 4♠ T♦ 5♦ J♥ 6♦ board to stay alive once again. Seven hands later quasselinho tried to pull off a similar feat with a dominated hand but fell short. Sephirot88 opened for 1.1M on the button with A♣ Q♣ and called quasselinho's small-blind re-raise to 8.1M, winning with a pair of fives on the T♦ 4♦ 5♦ 6♦ 5♥ board to end quasselinho's run in fourth.

With just two opponents left now, Sephirot88 had as many chips as both of them combined, but that advantage would be short-lived. Just 10 hands into three-handed play, he called with 7♥ 7♠ in the big blind after stragerpoker open-shoved for 19.1M in the small. stragerpoker's A♥ Q♦ was a slight underdog before the flop but became a big favorite after tif ell T♣ A♣ J♦. The Q♥ turn made two pair and left Sephirot88 hoping to split the pot with aking on the river, but the 5♥ came instead. stragerpoker doubled to 38.4M, and Sephirot88 was left with 6.6M, or about 13 big blinds.

Sephirot88 promptly stole the next two pots and then doubled to 16.1M, defending the big blind all-in with K♥ T♣ and making a pair of kings to stay ahead of stragerpoker's 6♣ 2♣. Then he opened for 1.1M on the button with A♠ 7♥, called when igorcampanha shoved for 8.5M in the small blind with 9♦ 9♥, and failed to outdraw the pair on the 2♦ T♠ 3♣ J♥ 2♠ board.

Sephirot88 wasn't done yet - he doubled back through igorcampanha a few hands later, hitting a set with 7♦ 7♠ to outrace J♦ 9♦ - but his time was short. He and igorcampanha split the pot two hands later with A♥ 6♥ and A♠ 9♠, respectively, but another dominated ace on the next hand was his downfall. Sephirot88 open-shoved with A♥ 7♣ in the small blind, igorcampanha called with A♠ J♦ in the big, the board came 3♠ 9♣ T♠ A♦ 6♣, and Sephirot88 walked in third.

Rocco Palumbo

Rocco "Sephirot88" Palumbo, out in third

The final two competitors were separated by just over two big blinds as heads-up play began on the 250K/500K/50K level, and the closeness of their stacks was an indication of how hard-fought the final duel would be.

stragerpoker jumped into a firm lead early, taking down a 22.4M-chip pot after min-raising and calling a three-bet before the 4♦ J♦ 4♥ flop, calling igorcampanha's continuation bet on it, and then raising all-in over the top of another leading bet on the 2♥ turn. stragerpoker tried to close the tournament out on the next hand, re-raising all-in with T♣ 3♣, but igorcampanha's A♣ 5♣ held up to double back to 24.7M.

igorcampanha turned the tables a few minutes later, moving into the lead with 40.8M after getting all-in with 9♦ 9♥ against stragerpoker's 4♣ 4♥. Then stragerpoker flopped nines full of kings with K♠ 9♦ to beat the Brazilian player's A♥ 2♥ and slip back into a two-big-blind lead. The pots stayed small but the balance of them went igorcampanha's way from there to the 3:55 a.m. ET break.

stragerpoker returned from that break to flop another full house, this time deuces full of treys with 3♣ 2♣ on the button to bring the player back to within three big blinds of each other. One minute later flopping sixes and fours with 6♠ 4♣ was stragerpoker's entry back into the lead, cutting igorcampanha's stack to just 6.5M chips and opening up a flurry of action that would last for 10 more minutes.

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First the Brazilian's 8♥ 5♥ turned an eight to top stragerpoker's pocket fives. Then K♦ T♦ won unimproved against T♣ 9♣ to draw the two players back to even. igorcampanha followed that up by flopping a flush with J♦ 6♦, but stragerpoker turned things back around moments later when K♥ K♠ held up against A♥ J♣. igorcampnha's own T♥ T♠ topped A♥ 6♥ a few hands later for 20M, but that would be igorcampanha's final win.

stragerpoker opened the final hand with A♣ T♣ in the hole and min-raised to 1.4M on the button. The Russian player four-bet all-in when igorcampanha re-raised to 4.8M, and igorcampanha called as better than a 2-to-1 favorite with A♦ J♠. That caught a gutshot draw to a Broadway straight on the T♣ K♣ 7♦ flop, but stragerpoker had moved ahead with a pair of tens. The 4♣ turn and 5♠ river changed nothing, and the tournament came to its end.

igorcampnha's share of the five-handed deal was worth $80,745.30, while stragerpoker grabbed the extra $20K on the table for a $86,733.04 total prize. Congratulations to both of them, as well as the other three dealmakers, for outlasting another tough Sunday Million field!

1/29/17 Sunday Million ($215 NL Hold'em) results
Entrants: 5,236
Total prize pool: $1,047,200
Places paid: 728

1. stragerpoker (Russia) $86,733.04*
2. igorcampanha (Brazil) $80,745.30*
3. Rocco "Sephirot88" Palumbo (Switzerland) $95,068.31*
4. quasselinho (Germany) $64,714.08*
5. Airdraken (United Kingdom) $87,206.02*
6. marakana1985 (Greece) $25,353.65
7. InduceM3 (United Kingdom) $17,792.34
8. smir9david (Germany) $12,486.07
9. mionir (Romania) $8,762.44
* - denotes results of a five-handed deal that left $20,000 for the winner

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Jason Kirk is a Freelance Contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in Sunday Million