Super Tuesday: Ivan Banic steamrolls final table for redemption, $67K

The last time Ivan "BanicIvan" Banic found himself heads-up for a Super Tuesday title, back in October 2016, it was as the underdog. After fighting uphill for the entire final table, Banic managed to steal the lead from Andoni "Pollopopeye" Larrabe Sanchez before eventually falling as Larrabe Sanchez earned his second Super Tuesday victory. Tonight the flip side of the coin came around for Banic, who arrived at the final table as one of the biggest stacks and walked away with his first career Super Tuesday title just over an hour and a half later.

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Ivan "BanicIvan" Banic, Super Tuesday champ

This week's tournament drew Banic and 367 other players, good for a total prize pool of $368,000. That was split among the top 53 finishers, with more than $67,000 set aside for first place. By 7:30 p.m. ET they had popped the money bubble with rounder3989's departure, and after another three hours of poker, hand-for-hand started with a spot in the final table lineup hanging in the balance.

The bubble stayed intact for more than half an hour, taking the tournament to its 11 p.m. ET break without a single short-stacked player facing an all-in situation. Seven minutes after returning that finally happened when past Sunday Million runner-up Guntis "poker@luffyD" Aleskins shoved in the small blind with A♣ 3♣ and micide, a two-time Super Tuesday finalist (with a runner-up finish in 2012) and final table appearances in every COOP series and the Sunday Million, called with A♦ K♣. poker@luffyD's prospects improved slightly on the flop but died when the full board came 5♥ 2♠ J♣ 5♣ A♠, depriving the final of a Latvian presence as it kicked off with the blinds and antes at 12.5K/25K/2.5K.

Seat 1: Andrei "ragAAAila19" Boghean (580,528 in chips)
Seat 2: Hope_Flooky (868,335 in chips)
Seat 3: Ivan "BanicIvan" Banic (1,521,832 in chips)
Seat 4: micide (1,219,294 in chips)
Seat 5: MuckCallOK (1,005,087 in chips)
Seat 6: edwinnn74 (626,674 in chips)
Seat 7: Phlipper31 (382,246 in chips)
Seat 8: jocorral (1,671,537 in chips)
Seat 9: zaki74 (1,324,467 in chips)

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What turned out to be a clear storyline by the end of the tournament was a still a plot twist in waiting with the table nine-handed. The first half-hour of play was dominated by not any one player but a competitive atmosphere. micide, WCOOP 2016 finalist zaki74, and jocorral all won sizable pots in the early going, and the chip lead was up for grabs among three competitors before Ivan Banic claimed his first significant pot 20 minutes into the final.

Banic opened the action on the hand in question by limping from the small blind with Q♥ T♦. He called a re-raise to 90K from micide in the big blind, bringing a 8♦ J♥ J♣ flop. Banic check-raised micide's 90K-chip bet to 196K behind his gutshot draw, and micide called to bring the T♠ on the turn. Banic checked his pair of tens and micide checked behind, bringing the 4♥ river. Banic bet 201K this time and micide called, mucking when Banic showed down the tens to claim the 1M-chip pot.

Another 20 minutes of back-and-forth action passed at the nine-handed table before zaki74 opened the action for 77K in middle position. zaki74 was also the lone caller, with A♦ J♣, after past Sunday Million finalist, Super Tuesday finalist, and SCOOP runner-up Andrei "ragAAAila19" Boghean moved all-in for 344K. ragAAAila19's A♣ K♣ was a dominant favorite before the flop but zaki74 connected for a pair of jacks on the 3♥ J♦ 2♥ 8♠ 7♥ board, sending ragAAAila19 to the rail in ninth.


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The players went on break from a relatively sedate Super Tuesday final 10 minutes later, but they returned to the Ivan Banic Show. The biggest pot of the tournament erupted just hands after they returned. Banic opened the action with a small raise to 96K and called after past Sunday Warm-Up winner and Super Tuesday finalist MuckCallOK re-raised to 240K in the small blind, bringing a 6♥ 9♦ 2♦ flop. MuckCallOK led for 140K and Banic called; MuckCallOK check-called 162K on the A♦ turn and then check-called all-in for 384K after the K♠ hit the river. Banic's A♠ 6♠ had two pair, aces and sixes, which topped MuckCallOK's J♣ J♥ to knock the Austrian out in eighth.

SCOOP 2013-Medium winner Hope_Flooky survived a close call minutes later after jamming on a steal in the small blind with Q♠ 8♣ and getting a call from Ivan Banic in the big blind with K♥ Q♣. The 7♦ 6♣ 5♦ 9♦ 9♣ gave Hope_Flooky a nine-high straight and the 870K-chip pot, good enough to climb out of last place. The new short stack was Phlipper31, who picked up J♥ J♠ in the cutoff six hand later and shoved for 455K. zaki74 called with A♣ A♠ in the small blind, the board came 5♣ 2♣ 2♠ K♣ Q♠, and Phlipper31 departed in seventh.

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The pace of play sped up with the table six-handed, with the pots staying small and just six hands in the next 12 minutes going as far as the flop. jocorral, who had come to the final table with a slim chip lead over Ivan Banic, hadn't won a pot worth more than the blinds and antes since the table was still nine-handed. So when the big-stacked Banic opened for 100K in the cutoff, jocorral defended the big blind with A♠ 7♣ and jammed for 370K. Banic called re-raise with A♦ 5♠ and immediately jumped ahead when the flop came J♦ 6♥ 5♣. That pair of fives held up as the turn and river came Q♠-3♣, and jocorral was gone in sixth.

Ivan Banic's hot streak continued three minutes later. This time he was in the big blind with A♥ 2♥ and defended when Hope_Flooky opened the action all-in for 527K in the small blind. Hope_Flooky had received a bailout from the deck against Banic earlier at this table, but a second wasn't in store. The board came 3♥ 2♣ 6♣ T♥ J♣, Banic took the 1.07M-chip pot with a pair of deuces, and Hope_Flooky bowed out in fifth.

The chip leader's stack had grown to 5.6 million chips by this point, about 40 percent more than the other three players' stacks combined. micide was able to peel some of those chips off a few hands later after Banic opened the action all-in from the small blind with K♣ J♥. micide called with J♦ J♠ in the big blind and dodged all the tens in the deck as the board fell 2♥ A♣ Q♦ 8♠ A♥.

That boosted micide's stack to 1.8M, ammunition the Austrian player used to open for 117K on the button two minutes later. zaki74 re-raised to 300K in the big blind and then put the tournament on the line for 1.6M after micide made the fourth bet all-in. zaki74's J♣ J♠ fell behind on the flop and never caught up as the board came 4♣ 9♦ A♠ K♠ 8♦, sending the Hungarian player out in fourth.

micide's stack was now up to 3.2M chips, but the tide would rise no higher for the Austrian player. A pre-flop raising war on the next hand followed by a fold to Ivan Banic's leading bet on the 4♦ 7♥ A♥ cost 14 big blinds, and defending the big blind with A♥ 9♠ minutes later against edwinnn74's button aggression with T♣ T♦ dropped micide back into last place with 1.8M chips. micide only slid further back over the next 10 minutes, but a stand in the big blind with A♦ J♠ provided a chance to double back through Banic, who had jammed in the small blind with A♠ 5♦.

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Ivan Banic's steamroller impression continued through the heads-up portion of play, which lasted just seven hands. The deciding moment came after Ivan Banic opened for 120K on the button with K♣ Q♥. He called edwinnn74's re-raise to 360K, bringing a pair of kings with the 2♦ 6♦ K♦ flop. Banic called edwinnn74's 480K-chip bet there, and then called once more for 1.4M after edwinnn74 jammed on the 4♥ turn. edwinnn74 needed a two-outer with 9♦ 9♠, but the 3♠ came on the river instead, bringing the tournament to its end.

edwinnn74's runner-up finish was worth $49,447.97, a new career high at PokerStars by more than $42K for the Romanian player. As for Ivan Banic, who now has two heads-up appearances for Banic within the last six months, his first career Super Tuesday victory was worth $67,341.30, a worthy cash that fits nicely between his previous two best PokerStars scores. Congratulations to him on a fine performance!

3/21/17 Super Tuesday ($1,050 NL Hold'em) results
Entrants: 368
Total prize pool: $368,000
Places paid: 53

1. Ivan "BanicIvan" Banic (Croatia) $67,341.30
2. edwinnn74 (Romania) $49,447.97
3. micide (Austria) $36,309.27
4. zaki74 (Hungary) $26,661.67
5. Hope_Flooky (Germany) $19,577.48
6. jocorral (Mexico) $14,375.62
7. Phlipper31 (Germany) $10,555.89
8. MuckCallOK (Austria) $7,751.14
9. Andrei "ragAAAila19" Boghean (Romania) $5,691.59


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Jason Kirk is a Freelance Contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in Super Tuesday