punisher03 prevails after epic HU battle in 7/16/13 Super Tuesday

It was a battle for the ages. A war of attrition. Two opponents who had dominated the rest and were now standing before each other just one blow away from victory. It was a story of vengeance after a near certain elimination was foiled by the drop of a river card. One was known as a stealer, the other was called a punisher, and for a while it seemed that nothing was going to budge these two titans. 219 hands of heads-up play over 90 minutes was nothing short of epic. Yet the poker Gods eventually found a way with Mexico's punisher03 emerging triumphant to celebrate victory in today's PokerStars Super Tuesday.

The dust may still be settling at the Rio following the World Series of Poker, but that didn't stop a strong field of 485 players from getting amongst the action in today's $1,050 Super Tuesday. That number was up on the numbers we've seen during the WSOP period, which indicates that everyone is keen to get back into the online grind (aka get themselves unstuck from WSOP losses). The prize pool swelled to $485,000 which would be enjoyed by the top 54 players with our winner set to receive over $90,000.

Caio Pessagno and Nacho Barbero were the only two red spades from Team PokerStars spotted in the tournament lobby, but unfortunately both were eliminated well short of the money.

The bubble was an interesting time as psyhoagromor was crippled to barely one big blind after a crushing kings versus aces hand, but managed to outlast tablemate getbutnaked who ran pocket fours into pocket aces to bubble the money in 55th place. psyhoagromor and 53 others were guaranteed at least $2,425 in prize money.

Psyhoagromor (54th - $2,425) was soon to the cashier and was quickly joined by the likes of Jesse Johnson (52nd - $2,425) and Marty Matthis (25th - $3,395). When RLOG's ace-queen was brutally rivered by a four-card flush for Festivuss' dominated ace-jack, RLOG was out in 10th place ($6,305) and our final table line up was set:


Final Table Line up
Seat 1: hamanof (159,255 in chips)
Seat 2: TryToExploit (277,204 in chips)
Seat 3: punisher03 (414,952 in chips)
Seat 4: kleopl (167,437 in chips)
Seat 5: Matias "Festivuss" Gabrenja (329,099 in chips)
Seat 6: j.thaddeus (58,467 in chips)
Seat 7: Andrew "stato_1" Hulme (330,994 in chips)
Seat 8: FaceStealer (618,584 in chips)
Seat 9: Paris Dedes (69,008 in chips)

It was a cracking final table line up with some of the true heavy-hitters of the online MTT world. FaceStealer was a healthy chip leader with short stacks Paris Dedes and j.thaddeus under pressure from the 2,800/5,600/700 blinds and antes.

j.thaddeus was able to relieve some pressure with an early double up with pocket tens against Festivuss' ace-jack, while punisher03 jumped into the chip lead after catching a big bluff from TryToExploit.

However it was Festivuss who was responsible for the first elimination as hamanof squeezed all in from the big blind with K♠J♠ only to fall as Festivuss called with A♠Q♣ which improved on the 5♥Q♦4♥J♣7♠ board. hamanof picked up $8,051 for 9th place.

Paris Dedes got lucky to stay alive with ace-jack making a straight to pip stato_1's ace-queen, before j.thaddeus inflicted more pain on stato_1, winning a race with pocket nines against ace-king.

stato_1 was on the short stack, but managed to outlast kleopl who was cruelly denied what would've been a huge double up with pocket kings:

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A lethal ace on the turn spelt the end for kleopl in 8th place for $10,912.50 in prize money.

One hand later and Andrew "stato_1" Hulme was on the canvas. stato_1 won the Super Tuesday back in May so it would've been a remarkable feat to land another title, but it wasn't to be. stato_1 tried a steal with a little over six big blinds holding Q♠2♠ but it was no match for FaceStealer's 8♠8♦ on the board of 3♥A♥A♦5♥6♥. stato_1 took home $15,762.50 for his 7th place finish.

FaceStealer was back into the chip lead but the short stacks continued to fight. Paris Dedes again got very lucky, this time with K♥3♥ rivering the bottom end of a straight to top TryToExploit's suited ace-jack. But it wasn't a case of third time lucky for Paris Dedes. Just moments later, and finally with a workable stack, Paris Dedes three-bet jammed K♠Q♠ smack-bang into the A♥A♦ of j.thaddeus. The board rolled off 5♦9♦3♥9♠2♠ to leave Paris Dedes on the rail in 6th place for $20,612.50.

Next to go was TryToExploit as the eliminations continued at a steady rate. TryToExploit was getting short and shoved A♥5♠, only to be dominated by Festivuss' A♦Q♠. The board brought no surprises as it landed 8♦2♥J♣3♥Q♣ to pair Festivuss for the exclamation point on the elimination of TryToExploit in 5th place for a $27,160 collect.

With four players left, FaceStealer was still well in front, but suffered a flesh wound when Festivuss caught the perfect river for a welcomed triple up:

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If that triple up was big, it was nothing compared to the cooler which unfolded moments later between our two chip leaders in the biggest pot of the tournament. The chips were in preflop. It was aces versus queens. And you can probably guess what happened next:

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The punisher03 certainly punished with a brutal, brutal river card to snatch the chip lead from a desperately unlucky FaceStealer.

While FaceStealer was still reeling former SCOOP Main Event winner j.thaddeus made a move at a pot with bets on the turn and river on the board of 5♦8♣T♣A♠K♠. j.thaddeus was all in on the river with A♦J♠ for top pair but Festivuss has sneakily checked the nuts on the river, making the easy, insta-call with Q♣J♦ for the Broadway straight. j.thaddeus was unable to add another online title to his impressive resume, but still pocketed $38,800 for 4th place.

Three-handed play was intense until punisher03 broke the shackles. After a preflop raise and single bet on the flop of J♦A♦5♦ by punisher03, the action erupted against Festivuss when the Q♣ card hit the turn. punisher03 checked and Festivuss bet before punisher03 moved all in. Festivuss made the call with Q♦5♣ for two pair with a Royal Flush draw as punisher03 opened K♥T♠ for a straight. The river was a very brick-like 2♣ to see Matias "Festivuss" Gabrenja bundled out in 3rd place for a score of $50,925.

Heads-up chip counts
Seat 3: punisher03 (2,003,913 in chips)
Seat 8: FaceStealer (421,087 in chips)

The two players who had dominated proceedings on this final table were left fighting for the title. FaceStealer had done everything right on this final table, with only a two-outer river card halting the momentum. FaceStealer was after the ultimate vengeance against punisher03, who was doing exactly as the name suggested.

With a near five-to-one chip lead, punisher03 was in prime position to go all the way, but that lead was never extended as FaceStealer won the first significant pot, before the two entered into a battle for the ages. It was a war of attrition to see who would be first to crack. The relatively small blinds allowed both players to tread carefully and see plenty of flops. There were no crazy overbet preflop shoves. There was no overplaying hands. The play was extremely solid by both, with neither giving an inch.

It meant that there were very few major hands to report. In fact, in the first sixty minutes of heads up play, there was only one all-in hand to speak of. That hand saw FaceStealer crank things up preflop with A♣2♥ after getting short, with punisher03 taking a shot at the win holding J♦T♣. The board bricked out 5♦Q♥7♠Q♦9♥ to keep FaceStealer in the game.

A short time later, a board of 3♦8♥K♥4♦ looked likely to produce the cooler that would be required to break these two. punisher03 held 8♣4♣ for two pair, and raised the turn before betting the T♠ river, but FaceStealer played some pot control with K♣8♠ with a flat call to take the pot with a better two pair.

Enter hour two and the war continued. punisher03 stepped it up a little and started to push more of the action, winning more pots than FaceStealer to increase the lead. But that plan backfired with a big river shove holding 5♣4♥ on a board of 2♦Q♣5♠8♠7♠. punisher03 had a pair, but it wasn't a value bet as punisher03 was looking to force a fold, however FaceStealer made the call with A♣Q♦ for a big double up to take a two-to-one chip lead.

punisher03 didn't relent with the aggression and slowly chipped away at the lead by winning more small pots to close the gap and then reclaim the lead once again before the final hand appeared, almost out of nowhere.

Just when we thought it would never end, it all came down to a coin flip when punisher03 four-bet shoved A♠K♥ and FaceStealer made the call with 9♠9♥ - two relatively monster heads-up hands. FaceStealer needed a clean board to stay alive but it fell 5♥4♣K♦6♣Q♦ to pair the king of punisher03 for an epic victory. FaceStealer collected $69,112.50 for 2nd place as punisher03 claimed the Super Tuesday crown along with $93,071.50 in prize money. Congratulations!

Super Tuesday Final Table Results
Entrants: 485
Prize pool: $485,000.00
Place paid: 54

1st punisher03 (Mexico) - $93,071.50
2nd FaceStealer (Costa Rica) - $69,112.50
3rd Matias "Festivuss" Gabrenja (Mexico) - $50,925.00
4th j.thaddeus (Ireland) - $38,800.00
5th TryToExploit (Poland) - $27,160.00
6th Paris Dedes (Greece) - $20,612.50
7th Andrew "stato_1" Hulme (United Kingdom) - $15,762.50
8th kleopl (Poland) - $10,912.50
9th hamanof (Israel) - $8,051.00

Heath "TassieDevil" Chick is a Freelance Contributor for the PokerStars Blog.