Whether he's playing live or online, Diego "Die Ventura" Ventura is plenty familiar with tournament success. The PCA 2015 runner-up and SCOOP 2016 champion tops Peru's all-time money list for live tourneys and has booked more than $2.25 million in earnings at the PokerStars tables since 2009. Tonight the flow of his long and prosperous career continued as he hit all the right cards at the right times, derailing a rags-to-riches comeback by Anthony "OempaLoempah" Chimkovitch and earning a $67,707.29 victory in this week's Super Tuesday.
Sweden's IsnapUcry was the last of this week's 370 entrants to miss out on the final table. The Swede jammed from the small blind for 318K and ended up in close to an ideal spot when Diego Ventura called in the big blind with K♠ 6♦. They both flopped a pair of sixes and by the turn Ventura's chances of taking the pot were down to just 6.8 percent, but the river of the Q♠ 8♦ 6♥ T♦ K♥ board gave him the unlikely two pair and sank IsnapUcry in 10th.
That set the lineup for this week's final with two co-leaders, a pack five players clustered around 40 big blinds apiece, and two short stacks looking to pick up chips in any way possible.
Seat 1: quiditbear (1,002,622 in chips)
Seat 2: ROBBED6969 (1,090,764 in chips)
Seat 3: Varaldor (1,020,732 in chips)
Seat 4: idy14 (1,608,361 in chips)
Seat 5: gurgs84 (208,654 in chips)
Seat 6: Anthony "OempaLoempah" Chimkovitch (404,770 in chips)
Seat 7: hylke1980 (1,004,247 in chips)
Seat 8: Diego "Die Ventura" Ventura (1,270,488 in chips)
Seat 9: Renato "bauruzito" Valentim (1,639,362 in chips)
Australia's gurgs84, crippled by a late loss that doubled up OempaLoempah on the final table bubble, didn't bring many chips to the final table. What there was went in the middle on the third hand, defending the big blind with A♣ 2♣ against idy14's small-blind raise. idy14's dominant A♠ 8♠ got no extra help from the 3♥ 6♣ J♠ 4♠ 6♦ board, but neither did gurgs84, sending the Aussie to the rail in ninth.
Golden ticket time
OempaLoempah, who finished sixth in the Sunday Million this January, fought off elimination a bit later despite being in a similar situation to the one that had eliminated gurgs84. OempaLoempah's A♦ 8♦ was bailed out by a third diamond on the river of a 5♦ T♣ T♦ K♣ 4♦ board, squeaking past hylke1980's A♣ Q♦ at the last moment for the double to 612K. That shifted hylke1980 into last place with 565K.
The bigger stacks laid claim to small pots for the last 15 minutes before the 11:55 p.m. ET break and again after returning from it. Meanwhile OempaLoempah and hylke1980 both looked for any opportunity to pick up chips. hylke1980 mistimed a steal from the small blind, though, and got caught all-in for 393K with J♥ 3♦ against Die Ventura's J♦ J♠. Drawing dead by the turn of the 7♠ T♠ 4♠ Q♠ 7♦ board, hylke1980 left in eighth.
OempaLoempah was still the short stack, but that wouldn't last long. He doubled back to 625K again thanks to A♣ A♠, then won a race with K♣ T♣ minutes later, topping TCOOP 2017 Ultra-Deep finalist quiditbear's 6♣ 6♦ thanks to a ten on the turn. After 15 minutes the roles would be reversed but the end result was the same: quiditbear's A♥ K♥ fell to OempaLoempah's set of sevens with 7♣ 7♠.
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Suddenly the former short stack was the chip leader, holding 2.1M with the blinds and antes still at 25K/50K/5K. And five minutes later that advantage would grow as another race went OempaLoempah's way. He hit an ace on the turn and a queen on the river to make two pair with A♦ Q♥ against ROBBED6969's J♥ J♠, sending the player from Finland to the rail in seventh.
Flush with chips and nearly 25 big blinds ahead of the nearest competition, OempaLoempah tried to keep the streak going on the next hand, calling with A♠ J♥ in the big blind after Diego Ventura opened all-in for 701K under the gun. But Ventura's J♦ J♠ held up on the 9♣ 9♦ Q♦ 5♠ Q♠ board, giving him a 1.47M-chip ticket back to the middle of the pack.
OempaLoempah got those lost chips back two hands later, though. He re-raised to 294K on the button with A♣ K♠ after quiditbear opened for 132K under the gun, then called when the Belgian player shoved for 1.04M. The Q♦ 2♥ 7♠ K♦ Q♥ board made kings and queens for OempaLoempah, topping quiditbear's 9♦ 9♠ and knocking the Belgian out in sixth.
Just two hands elapsed before another classic race between a pair and two overcards. Varaldor opened with A♦ K♠ on the button and called when idy14 jammed in the small blind with 4♦ 4♥. A king on the flop was all the help Varaldor needed to take the 1.74M-chip win, and idy14 was out in fifth.
Three of the four remaining players had taken down pots within the previous five minutes. The lone exception was Renato "bauruzito" Valentim. Looking to collect a second Super Tuesday title to go with the one he earned just three weeks ago, he re-raised on a bluff with 7♥ 4♥ on the very next hand after OempaLoempah opened for 124K on the button. Unfortunately for the apsiring two-time winner, OempaLoempah had opened with A♦ K♦ and called as a big favorite. bauruzito actually grabbed the lead on the 7♣ 6♥ 6♦ flop, but the 5♦ turn and Q♦ river completed a diamond flush for OempaLoempah. He grabbed yet another 2.1M-chip pot, and bauruzito left in fourth.
A late comeback
What had been a seven-handed table just 12 minutes earlier was now down to just three competitors - and after the 12:55 a.m. ET break came and went, two key pots would trim the field to its final duel. The first, just two minutes after returning from the break, saw Die Ventura limp with A♠ 9♠ in the small blind and then jam after Varaldor raised in the big blind with A♦ 8♦. Varaldor called as a 2-to-1 dog but was drawing next to dead after the K♠ 7♠ 8♠ flop. Running cards for a full house didn't appear, the 6♠ turn and K♦ river instead solidifying Ventura's 2.7M-chip win.
Three minutes later the same two players clashed once again, this time both with pocket pairs. Die Ventura limped with 6♠ 6♥ and then called when Varaldor jammed for 1.56M with 9♣ 9♦. Better than a 4-to-1 favorite to win at that point, Varaldor's fortunes took a turn when the flop fell 6♣ Q♦ K♠. Either of the other two nines or running cards for a straight would have kept the Dutch player in the game, but the 4♦ turn and 5♣ river ended Varaldor's tournament in third.
That flopped two-outer left Ventura with 3.15M chips, rather than the 572K he would've had left over if Varaldor's pair had held. That was still 2.4M chips less than OempaLoempah as heads-up play started, ceding a big advantage to the player who had arrived at the final table as the second-shortest stack. But of the five pots they would play worth at least seven figures, all went Ventura's way, leading to a relatively short match.
The first of those wins came just two minutes into the match when Ventura's 9♣ 7♣ made the nuts on a 6♣ 8♠ T♥ flop. That straight was no longer the nuts after the 6♥ turn, but it remained enough to take down a 3M-chip pot after the K♥ river. Now ahead by 1.1M chips, Ventura applied some pressure with a big bet on the river of a 7♣ 5♣ 8♥ T♣ 8♣ board that he had attacked in position on every street so far. OempaLoempah eventually folded, ceding the pot and giving Ventura a 6M-to-3.25M lead.
OempaLoempah managed to claw some of those lost chips back over the next 12 minutes, trimming his deficit to less than a million with the blinds and antes at 35K/70K/7K, but then Ventura flopped a pair of fours with 4♣ 3♣ on the button and made three of a kind with the 4♥ on the river, squeezing out a value raise to earn the 2.04M-chip pot. Another 1.66M-chip pot came minutes later after calling a big pre-flop raise and post-flop continuation bet from OempaLoempah, then betting on the river after OempaLoempah checked the river of the T♣ Q♥ 3♠ 5♣ 7♣ board.
Still thoroughly in the game with 2.27M chips, OempaLoempah continued to look for opportunities to attack. He raised to 235K out of position with Q♥ J♣ after Ventura limped on the button with K♣ 8♣, and Ventura called to bring a 4♦ K♥ T♦ flop. OempaLoempah led for 165K with the open-ended straight draw and then jammed after Ventura's raise to 480K on the button. Ventura called with top pair, eight kicker, and the 7♥ turn and 2♠ river locked up his first career Super Tuesday title.
He might have fallen short after the tournament got heads-up, but Anthony "OempaLoempah" Chimkovitch's improbable final table run after starting as a short stack still earned him $49,716.71, the biggest cash of his PokerStars career. As for Diego "Die Ventura" Ventura, the $67,707.29 victory marked the second-largest cash of his PokerStars career, trailing only his third-place finish in the Sunday Million back in 2013. Congratulations to both players for setting the bar for personal success a little higher against some tough competition!
4/18/17 Super Tuesday ($1,050 NL Hold'em) results
Total prize pool: $370,000
Places paid: 53
1. Diego "Die Ventura" Ventura (Peru) $67,707.29
2. Anthony "OempaLoempah" Chimkovitch (Belgium) $49,716.71
3. Varaldor (Netherlands) $36,506.60
4. Renato "bauruzito" Valentim (Brazil) $26,806.57
5. idy14 (United Kingdom) $19,683.88
6. quiditbear (Belgium) $14,453.75
7. ROBBED6969 (Finland) $10,613.26
8. hylke1980 (Netherlands) $7,793.27
9. gurgs84 (Australia) $5,722.53
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Jason Kirk is a Freelance Contributor to PokerStars Blog.