Winter Series: onebrl breaks through with $119K win in Monday Million (Event #1-M)

After six years of playing small-stakes poker, onebrl of the Netherlands enjoyed a breakthrough this October by winning an $11 tournament for a career-best cash of $4,216. If the year had ended without another sizable score that probably would have been plenty for the Dutch player. Instead onebrl entered the Winter Series Monday Million on Christmas Day and overcame a field of more than 11,000 entrants for a life-changing score of more than $119,000.

Day 1 of this special holiday Monday Million ended with 208 players still in the field, led by Poland's CzasNaWas. That stack kept the Polish player in the game until 27th place; EugeneShev, owner of the second-largest stack at the start of the day, held on for 25th. In fact, the only player from the top 10 at the day's start to make the final table would be the United Kingdom's LJim4, who started off in fourth place.

The Day 2 journey for onebrl started off in 40th place with about 50 big blinds' worth of chips. One big pot early in the day boosted the Dutch player's stack above the average, but the blinds and antes combined with a few losses to leave onebrl near the back of the pack when eddy1988613 cracked ribooon's K♦ K♥ with pocket sixes, busting the Czech player in 10th and setting up our final table.

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Seat 1: Cardanus (30,164,396 in chips)
Seat 2: eddy1988613 (103,238,821 in chips)
Seat 3: LJim4 (61,563,126 in chips)
Seat 4: MaraudBreizh (73,540,776 in chips)
Seat 5: onebrl (41,262,704 in chips)
Seat 6: por6a (54,098,503 in chips)
Seat 7: timurbaik (69,929,334 in chips)
Seat 8: JIM_BALLAS (87,781,187 in chips) past Sunday Warm-Up finalist with $1 million in PokerStars cashes
Seat 9: frostizetv (48,021,153 in chips)

Minutes into the final table, MaraudBreizh opened the betting for 2.9 million chips in middle position with Q♠ Q♣ and only por6a called. MaraudBreizh checked a full house on the Q♥ 9♣ 9♥ and then called por6a's 4.2-million-chip bet, bringing the 2♥ on the turn. Both players checked and then MaraudBreizh led for 10.5 million after the 8♥ river. por6a's 8♣ 8♠ had made eights full of nines so the Bulgarian player re-raised all-in, but MaraudBreizh's queens full took the 105-million-chip pot to eliminate por6a in ninth.

Incoming chip leader eddy1988613's chances suffered a big blow on the following orbit. Sitting in the hijack seat, eddy1988613 was the second of three callers after JIM_BALLAS opened for 2.9 million chips. But the Austrian player was the only one who stuck around after JIM_BALLAS bet 10.5 million on the T♠ Q♣ 6♠ flop. eddy1988613 called another 18.8 million after the 2♦ turn and then, when JIM_BALLAS checked after the T♥ river, bet 32.2 million - about half the pot. JIM_BALLAS quickly called and showed down A♣ A♦, good enough to win the 136 million chips at stake when eddy1988613 showed K♥ J♦ for a busted straight draw and king-high.

That loss proved too much for eddy1988613 to overcome. The Austrian player raised all-in for 25.7 million chips from the small blind with K♥ Q♥ five hands later, coming over the top of onebrl's early-position raise to 3.3 million. onebrl called with A♠ J♦ and fell behind after the 4♠ K♣ 2♠ flop, but the A♦ gave the Dutch player a pair of aces. The T♣ came on the river and eddy1988613's tournament ended in eighth.

With 182 million chips in hand, JIM_BALLAS's lead was at nearly 100 million chips now. JIM_BALLAS lost a little bit of ground as the first hour closed out but remained ahead even after frostizetv's J♦ [H] held up against Cardanus's T♥ T♠, sending Cardanus to the rail in seventh. Things were much closer than before - frostizetv was only three big blinds back, and onebrl seven behind that - but that didn't mean JIM_BALLAS was ready to cut a deal. The other players were agitating to chop up the prize money but when they asked JIM_BALLAS to come along the player from Luxembourg replied, "maybe later boys, gl."

One of the players most in need of some good luck was timurbaik, whose stack had been slowly dwindling since the final table began. The Russian player finally made a stand for a few big blinds with A♣ 7♠ on the button, but frostizetv's K♥ J♥ paired with the J♠ on the river to bust timurbaik in sixth.

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Five-handed play looked like it might not last long, but it ended up occupying an hour of the final table. frostizetv doubled to 130 million chips through MaraudBreizh's A♦ K♣ with T♠ T♣ two hands in, leaving four of the remaining five players within 11 big blinds of one another. onebrl was the outlier with a stack worth 20 big blinds but the Dutch player managed to steal the blinds and antes for a bit before finally taking down two consecutive pots worth more than 60 million chips apiece. That put onebrl just behind JIM_BALLAS for the lead - and then JIM_BALLAS began to tumble.

First JIM_BALLAS opened on the button and then bet after LJim4 called in the big blind and checked the 5♠ 9♣ 2♠ flop. JIM_BALLAS called LJim4's check-raise to 16.6 million and then called another 36.4 million after the 6♦ hit the turn, but LJim4 took down the pot uncontested with an all-in bet of 50.3 million after the 2♥ river. Eight hands later JIM_BALLAS defended the big blind against a raise from onebrl in the small blind. Both players checked the K♦ J♠ 4♣ flop and JIM_BALLAS called a 9.1-million-chip bet after the 6♦ to bring the 8♥ on the river. onebrl checked and then took down the pot with a min-raise after JIM_BALLAS bet a little over half his remaining stack.


Despite being left with just six big blinds, JIM_BALLAS was back in the chip lead 20 minutes later.


Folding there left JIM_BALLAS with about six big blinds' worth of chips but he managed to triple up on the next hand, making jacks full of deuces with J♥ J♠ against two callers who mucked at showdown. Ten hands later JIM_BALLAS was dealt A♦ A♠ in the small blind and doubled back into second place through onebrl, who shoved with K♠ 5♠ for a pair of fives when checked to on the 2♦ 5♥ 9♣ flop. JIM_BALLAS finally returned to the lead 15 minutes later after open-shoving on the button with Q♥ 3♥. LJim4 called all-in with the dominant A♠ Q♠ from the big blind and remained ahead until the river of the J♣ 4♠ K♦ 2♠ 3♦ board gave JIM_BALLAS a pair of treys. JIM_BALLAS took the 127-million-chip pot and LJim4 departed in fifth.

The next bustout came much more quickly, though by similar means. onebrl opened the action under the gun with a min-raise to 8 million chips, holding A♠ 8♠, and was the only caller when frostizetv jammed for 64.6 million in the small blind. frostizetv was the favorite with A♥ Q♥ but onebrl made a ten-high straight on the 9♠ 5♠ 7♣ 6♦ T♣ board, earning the pot and busting frostizetv in fourth.

"Maybe later" turned into "yes, right now" at this point as the three remaining players cut a deal that left two percent of the prize pool in play. Minutes later another dominant hand fell - this time MaraudBreizh opened on the button with A♣ Q♦ and called when JIM_BALLAS re-raised all-in with A♠ 6♣, only to leave in third place when the 6♦ fell on the turn to make a pair of sixes.

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That win gave JIM_BALLAS 370 million chips to onebrl's 199 million. The stage was set for what could have been a long heads-up match, but onebrl would end up putting it away early.

After the Dutch player won 13 of the first 15 pots the two players' chip positions were almost exactly reversed from where they had been minutes earlier. Then onebrl called a JIM_BALLAS raise to 10.4 million chips to see a 9♦ 3♠ 7♥ flop. The Dutch player check-called 7.5 million there before leading for 20 million after the T♦ flop. JIM_BALLAS called and then bet 41.6 million whne onebrl checked the K♣ river, but onebrl's all-in check-raise earned the 160-million-chip pot.

JIM_BALLAS went on the offensive after that loss and made up about 100 million chips over the next 11 hands. Then JIM_BALLAS opened on the button with J♥ 7♥, called when onebrl re-raised to 33.5 million from the big blind, and made top pair on the 2♣ J♣ 4♣ flop. JIM_BALLAS called onebrl's 35-million-chip bet there and then called all-in for 182 million more when onebrl shoved following the 9♥ turn. onebrl was ahead with K♦ K♥ and stayed there after the T♠ river, taking down the pot and closing out the first Medium-tier event of the Winter Series.

Congratulations to all three players who shared in the deal, especially onebrl, who made the most of a magnificent opportunity when the pressure was at its greatest.

Winter Series Event #01-Medium ($109 NL Hold'em Monday Million) results
Entrants: 11,392 (8,688 entries, 2,704 re-entries)
Total prize pool: $1,139,200
Places paid: 1,628

1. onebrl (Netherlands) $119,112.24*
2. JIM_BALLAS (Luxembourg) $116,720.78*
3. MaraudBreizh (Germany) $90,096.11*
4. frostizetv (United Kingdom) $51,334.40
5. LJim4 (United Kingdom) $36,024.92
6. timurbaik (Russia) $25,281.24
7. Cardanus (Ukraine) $17,741.67
8. eddy1988613 (Austria) $12,450.54
9. por6a (Bulgaria) $8,737.55
* - denotes results of a three-way deal leaving $22,784 for the winner


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Jason Kirk is a Freelance Contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in Sunday Million