Sunday Million: Tarmooo tops tough table, earns $91K in deal (1-22-17)

Chip leaders get all the glory, and it's easy to see why. They make the big plays, they make the headlines, and they generally make the action go 'round the poker table. But holding the chip lead, even at the final table of a tournament, is certainly no guarantee of a win. Every player at every table is capable of going on a hot streak at the right time, even those who you'd least expect because of stack size or reputation. Just ask Tarmooo. The player from Estonia came to this week's Sunday Million with the second-shortest stack and found a way to survive long enough to stake out the smallest share of a four-handed deal. Then Tarmooo made it to heads-up play facing a big chip deficit, managing to top it all off by roaring back for a first career Sunday Million victory.

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As TCOOP 2017 tournaments raged on across the PokerStars schedule today, the Sunday Million and its relatively sedate 15-minute levels got started at 2 p.m. ET. Three hours of late registration yielded a 5,229-player field, good for a $1,045,800 prize pool split among the top 728 finishers.

Team PokerStars Pro's Liv Boeree was in the running for most of the day. She ended up bowing out six hours in, earning $841.97 in 177th place. It would take another five hours of poker to reduce the field to the final table bubble, which arrived just before the 12:55 a.m. break.

Within minutes of returning from the break, the 10th-place finisher would be determined. Two-time COOP winner Tim "1BigAceHole" Ulmer opened all-in from the small blind, looking to steal the 600K in chips already in the pot with T♠ 7♣. veiobala called for 3.4M chips with A♥ 9♠ but lost out when the J♦ 3♦ T♦ 6♦ Q♠ board gave 1BigAceHole a pair of tens, setting up this final table lineup:

Seat 1: Martin "martinshev" Diaz (3,531,744 in chips)
Seat 2: Tim "1BigAceHole" Ulmer (10,323,979 in chips)
Seat 3: olipetra (8,496,758 in chips)
Seat 4: lordzefiro (4,427,146 in chips)
Seat 5: WestCliff21 (5,496,272 in chips)
Seat 6: Tarmooo (3,501,752 in chips)
Seat 7: Phil "takechip" D'Auteuil (2,170,510 in chips)
Seat 8: ZuzanaM (5,516,113 in chips)
Seat 9: zaxoscy (8,825,726 in chips)

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The first knockout didn't take long at all - in fact, it came on the first hand of the final table. French-Canadian pro Phil "takechip" D'Auteuil, who has appeared at two Super Tuesday finals in the last month, opened the action all-in for 2.1M on the button with J♥ T♠. zaxoscy called with A♥ K♣ in the big blind and made the better pair on the 9♣ T♦ K♦ flop. The A♣ turn left takechip in need of a ten and a ten only, but the 2♣ came instead, sending him to the rail in ninth.

The table remained eight-handed for more than 20 minutes. Most of the pots were of the raise-and-take-it variety, though Tarmooo 9♦ 9♠ held up against lordzefiro's A♣ K♠ during that stretch for a double to 5.7M. 1BigAceHole won a string of uncontested pots on the 175K/350K/35K level, climbing into the chip lead with 14.6M, before Martin "martinshev" Diaz opened the action all-in for 2.7M with 8♠ 8♦. 1BigAceHole successfully isolated with 9♣ 9♠ and took down the pot after the board came 5♥ 6♠ Q♠ 2♦ 4♥, busting martinshev in eighth.

1BigAceHole stole the next four pots in a row after that win to close out the level. On the first hand of 200K/400K/40K, he re-raised zaxoscy's 800K opener to 1.7M with Q♦ T♦, shutting zaxoscy out to end up heads-up with lordzefiro, who called all-in from the big blind with A♠ 3♠. lordzefiro made a pair of aces on the 6♦ A♦ 9♣ flop and dodged 1BigAceHole's flush draw on the 3♥ turn, but the 2♦ river brought the flush home and sent lordzefiro packing in seventh.


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Tarmooo broke up the streak on the next hand by doubling to 6.8M with 5♦ 5♠ against ZuzanaM's K♠ Q♦. ZuzanaM called all-in from the big blind with K♠ 8♠ on the next hand after 1BigAceHole opened with a min-raise, but this time he was holding A♥ A♠. The aces dodged an open-ended straight draw on the 7♠ 5♥ 6♣ 5♠ 5♣ board, and ZuzanaM was out in sixth.

Six hands later, WestCliff21, a SCOOP 2013 runner-up who won the Sunday Million four week ago, opened the betting all-in for 5.2M in the cutoff seat with A♥ T♠. zaxoscy isolated from the small blind with A♦ Q♣ but immediately fell behind to WestCliff21's pair of tens on the T♣ 9♣ J♠ flop. The 9♥ changed nothing, but the K♦ river gave zaxoscy a Broadway straight, good enough to take the 11M-chip pot and knock out WestCliff21 in fifth.

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Not long after that, the remaining players started talking over a deal. Within minutes they had come to an agreement that gave 1BigAceHole the largest share as chip leader and left $20,000 on the table for the eventual winner. With everyone's share accounted for, the game got back under way.

They remained four-handed for a few more minutes until the 2:55 a.m. ET break, but the first hand back saw the biggest pot of the tournament so far. Tarmooo opened all-in under the gun for 10.8M with K♦ J♥, and zaxoscy called for 450K less on the button, holding A♥ Q♣. Tarmooo made top pair on the 3♥ J♠ 6♠ and never looked back; the 6♦ turn and T♣ river locked up the 21.7M-chip pot, and zaxoscy left in fourth.

Four minutes later, olipetra won an even larger pot. The Polish player re-raised all-in for 11.2M in the small blind with J♦ T♠ after 1BigAceHole opened with a min-raise to 1M on the button. 1BigAceHole called with 8♣ 8♥ and made a set of eights on the 8♦ T♦ 5♦ flop, but the 7♥ turn and 9♠ river combined to make a jack-high straight for olipetra. That earned the 23.2M-chip pot and dropped 1BigAceHole's stack to just seven big blinds.

olipetra called in the big blind two hands later, holding 5♠ 4♠, and picked up a combination draw on the 7♣ T♠ 6♠ flop. Tarmooo's check behind olipetra let the latter hit a spade flush with the A♠ turn card, but olipetra simply called 1.5M there before check-raising to 7.5M on the 4♥ river. Tarmooo called the bet, and olipetra's flush won the 20.4M chips in the middle.

Three hands later, 1BigAceHole re-raised all-in for 5.8M with A♣ T♠ after Tarmooo opened for 2M on the button. Then olipetra made it four bets all-in with J♦ J♥ in the big blind, scaring off Tarmooo to get heads-up with the advantage. But the T♣ A♠ 3♣ K♦ 4♣ board made aces and tens to keep 1BigAceHole in the game with 13.7M chips. He min-raised on the next hand and then called all-in with J♦ J♠ of his ownafter olipetra jammed from the small blind with A♣ Q♥. This time it was olipetra who made two pair, hitting aces and queens on the 5♥ A♥ Q♣ 2♦ T♥ board to knock 1BigAceHole out in third.

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olipetra held the lead as heads-up play began, with 85 big blinds to Tarmooo's 20, and used it to put extreme pressure on the Estonian player. Win after win for olipetra dropped Tarmooo's stack to just eight big blinds before the two collided, olipetra with A♣ J♠ and Tarmooo with A♦ T♠. The K♥ 8♥ 9♥ Q♥ 7♥ board gave both players a heart flush, though, so the game kept going. Another win with a dominated ace a few hands later - this time A♣ 6♥ to olipetra's A♥ Q♠ thanks to a six on the flop - gave Tarmooo a helping hand back to 24 big blinds.

The comeback for Tarmooo started two hands later. After raising the button with A♣ 8♣, the Estonian player called olipetra's all-in re-raise with J♥ 9♥ and made aces and fours on the 4♥ 4♦ A♠ 3♠ 7♦ board to trim the deficit to less than 20 big blinds. An all-in re-raise on the T♠ T♦ 8♦ flop two hands later knocked olipetra off the pot and trimmed the lead to just four big blinds, and Tarmooo finally moved ahead on the next hand after flopping a pair of queens and rivering kings and queens with K♠ Q♥.

The two players split the pot a few minutes alter when both had A-Q in the hole, but Tarmooo used the newly acquired chip lead to maximum effectiveness and steadily trimmed olipetra's stack down until it was worth less than 10 big blinds. Then olipetra moved all-in for 6M over the top of Tarmooo's 1.4M-chip opener, holding Q♠ T♥, and Tarmooo called with K♦ 9♠. The board came 2♥ 8♦ 6♣ 9♥ 5♠, Tarmooo won with a pair of nines, and this week's Sunday Million reached its conclusion.

olipetra's share of the deal was $83,882.77, slightly less than the scheduled second-place prize but more than what had been scheduled for third. Tarmooo, who held the shortest stack at the table when the deal was struck, earned the extra cash on the table for a total prize of $91,853.23, not to mention that highly coveted Sunday Million title. Congratulations to both players, plus 1BigAceHole and zaxoscy, for outlasting another tough field to share in the four-way deal!

1/22/17 Sunday Million ($215 NL Hold'em) results
Entrants: 5,229
Total prize pool: $1,045,800
Places paid: 728

1. Tarmooo (Estonia) $91,853.23*
2. olipetra (Poland) $83,882.77*
3. Tim "1BigAceHole" Ulmer (Australia) $113,330*
4. zaxoscy (Cyprus) $88,767.08*
5. WestCliff21 (Austria) $36,079.78
6. ZuzanaM (United Kingdom) $25,319.75
7. lordzefiro (Colombia) $17,768.56
8. martinshev (Argentina) $12,469.38
9. Phil "takechip" D'Auteuil (Canada) $8,750.73
* - denotes results of a four-way deal leaving $20,000 for first place


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Jason Kirk is a Freelance Contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in Sunday Million