Super Tuesday: Vaga_Lion deals, holds off 1_conor_b_1 heads-up for $68K (1-10-17)

Rob Akery has been playing online poker at PokerStars since at least 2006, long before there were recaps of all the major weekly tournaments. When the player known as "Vaga_Lion" won the Sunday Million back in 2008, the only resulting documentation was a brief results round-up after the weekend was over. Not a big deal for somebody who's appeared at final tables in the Aussie Millions, World Poker Tour, and European Poker Tour, but still, it's nice when the biggest online victory of your career is memorialized. He won't face a problem of that sort with his second-largest online victory, though - it was this week's Super Tuesday.


The field for the second Super Tuesday of 2017 was nearly unchanged from last week, drawing 426 players for a $426,000 prize pool with more than $76,000 scheduled for the winner. Past Sunday Million winner Fred_Brink busted in 63rd place to pop the money bubble almost six hours into the tournament, and another two and a half hours of poker reduced the field to just these nine players:

Seat 1: PoluKalos (866,067 in chips)
Seat 2: Graftekkel (806,145 in chips)
Seat 3: bearsfan775 (1,590,249 in chips)
Seat 4: stfinpm (478,368 in chips)
Seat 5: Joep "Pappe_Ruk" van den Bigaart (527,490 in chips)
Seat 6: Katrin2793 (2,344,966 in chips)
Seat 7: Conor "1_conor_b_1" Beresford (2,208,600 in chips)
Seat 8: Rob "Vaga_Lion" Akery (1,192,837 in chips)
Seat 9: manokippa2 (635,278 in chips)

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There was plenty of action in the first 45 minutes of play, and it didn't take long to get started. Romania's stfinpm came into the final table with the shortest stack and was happy to re-raise all-in with A♥ J♠ from the big blind on the third hand when two-time Sunday Million finalist and past Super Tuesday finalist Graftekkel opened for 64K. Graftekkel called with 9♣ 9♠, which held up through the K♠ 3♦ 2♥ 4♦ K♥ board to knock stfinpm out in ninth.

A dozen hands passed before past SCOOP-High winner Conor "1_conor_b_1" Beresford doubled up with K♣ K♠. The unlucky player on the other side of the equation was past Super Tuesday finalist bearsfan775, who was left with just nine big blinds after Q♣ Q♥ couldn't catch a two-outer on the 9♣ 3♠ 3♦ A♣ 3♥ board. Beresford won the next hand too, calling in the big blind with K♠ J♦ when past WCOOP and TCOOP champion and Super Tuesday finalist Joep "Pappe_Ruk" van den Bigaart opened all-in for 428K on the button. van den Bigaart's A♣ 7♥ had the lead, but Beresford made kings and jacks on the 4♥ K♦ Q♣ 2♣ J♥ board to eliminate Pappe_Ruk in eighth.

Joep van den Bigaart

Joep "Pappe_Ruk" van den Bigaart, out in eighth

bearsfan775 managed a double five hands after that, winning a coin flip with 3♦ 3♠ against Graftekkel's K♦ Q♦. But a second chance at doubling up wouldn't go quite as well. bearsfan775 opened the action all-in for 495K in the hijack seat and Vaga_Lion gave action from the small blind with K♣ K♠. Every chance bearsfan775 had for an upset disappeared when the 8♠ K♦ K♥ flop made four kings for Vaga_Lion. The board ran out Q♠-4♦, and bearsfan775 left in seventh.

Another premium pair held up for Conor Beresford just two hands later. This time it was Q♣ Q♦, which he opened with in the hijack seat before calling an all-in re-raise from Graftekkel in the big blind. Graftekkel's steal attempt with J♥ 7♥ came close to making a flush but ultimately failed on the K♠ 4♥ T♥ 3♦ T♣ board, giving 1_conor_b_1 the 1.46M-chip pot and sending Graftekkel to the rail in sixth.

The calendar rolled over from Tuesday to Wednesday as the five remaining players took their break, with blinds and antes going up to 20K/40K/4K and Conor Beresford leading the way:

Seat 1: PoluKalos (1,781,184 in chips)
Seat 6: Katrin2793 (2,376,761 in chips)
Seat 7: 1_conor_b_1 (4,388,937 in chips)
Seat 8: Vaga_Lion (1,128,963 in chips)
Seat 9: manokippa2 (974,155 in chips)

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Things would remain basically the same when the next break rolled around an hour later, though not without some action in between. Two-time SCOOP finalist manokippa2 doubled through Beresford for 2.2M chips early, flopping a set in position with 8♦ 8♠ and calmly calling as Beresford fired off three barrels' worth of bluffs with an unimproved Q♥ 4♥. Beresford got some of that bad from PoluKalos, who won Super Tuesday in November 2016, a few hands later with A♥ A♠. He climbed to nearly 5 million chips another orbit after that, re-raising from the small blind with A♥ 3♦ and then flopping a pair of aces, winning at showdown on the A♣ Q♦ 4♠ J♣ 4♥ board when button raiser Katrin2793 mucked.

Katrin2793 managed to stay alive after seeing a cheap flop from the small blind with 8♣ 7♦, flopping an open-ended straight draw, and getting there on the river to beat PoluKalos's flopped pair of jacks with Q♥ J♥. And by the time the next break arrived, the player from Greece was actually in the lead with 3.6M chips, good for 60 big blinds - 10 big blinds ahead of Conor Beresford and another 15 ahead of everyone else. The question was which of the shorter stacks would get pinned down first, and the answer was PoluKalos. The player from the U.K.'s bid for a second career Super Tuesday title came up short after opening all-in from the cutoff seat with A♦ 8♥ and being called by Conor Beresford with K♣ K♥. Beresford made a set on the flop, rendering the ace on the turn of the K♠ 7♣ 5♦ A♣ 8♣ board useless and knocking PoluKalos out in fifth.

An hour of five-handed play had raised the blinds and antes enough to make the situation at the table quite volatile. The two short stacks recognized the situation well and got to work on chipping up immediately. manokippa2 was first, winning a race with A♦ 8♠ against Vaga_Lion's 3♦ 3♠ with an ace on the flop to double to 1.87M. Then Vaga_Lion turned around two hands later and chipped back to 2.3M, calling all-in from the big blind with A♦ Q♠ when Beresford jammed from the small blind with A♣ 7♠. Beresford had a chance to get those chips back a few hands later with Q♥ Q♠, but manokippa2 called in the small blind with 7♦ 6♦ and made two pair on the 6♣ 7♣ J♠ flop, enough to take down the 3.2M-chip pot.

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That moved Beresford into last place, but he doubled back through manokippa2 after defending the big blind with K♠ 5♥, calling with a pair of fives on the flop, sandbagging when a king hit the turn, and check-raising all-in with two pair on the river. Flopping two jacks with Q♣ J♣ on the next hand moved Beresford back into second place - first behind Katrin2793, and then behind Vaga_Lion after the latter's A♥ T♥ held up against the Greek player's Q♦ 8♥ after both players caught pairs with their lower cards on the flop.

The 20-minute deadlock finally broke after Katrin2793 opened for 140K on the button and called Cononr Beresford's small blind re-raise to 399K, bringing a J♥ 3♦ Q♣ flop. Both players checked there and Katrin2793 called Beresford's 398K-chip bet on the 4♣ turn before calling all-in for 1.33M on the 6♦ river, showing down A♦ 4♦ for a turned pair of fours. Beresford showed A♥ A♠, the aces took the 4.35M-chip pot, and Katrin2793 departed in fourth.

Three-handed play was no less volatile than the four-handed sequence had been, but rather than seeing a lot of back-and-forth with short stacks doubling up, it was mostly a battle between Vaga_Lion and 1_conor_b_1 that manokippa2 avoided where possible. That took the tournament through to the break before 2:00 a.m. ET, but three minutes after the players returned, Vaga_Lion folded on the button and manokippa2 moved all-in for 1.25M from the small blind with Q♥ 9♥. 1_conor_b_1 called with K♦ 2♦ in the big blind and held on as the board fell 4♣ 8♦ 4♦ 3♥ 2♥, sending manokippa2 to the rail in third.

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The long road to heads-up play had left Conor "1_conor_b_1" Beresford as the leader with 5.99M chips to Rob "Vaga_Lion" Akery's 4.65M, but that margin was only a difference of 15 big blinds. No surprise, then, that the two immediately agreed to look at numbers for a deal - or that they almost as quickly agreed to take the ICM numbers, leave $6,500 on the table for the winner, and get back to the game.

Once they did, Akery just over half the pots. But more importantly, he won all the pots where there was any kind of action. First he flopped a pair of aces with A♥ 8♦ and turned three of a kind; then he three-bet out of position before the 2♦ 7♦ 5♦ flop and check-raised after it to drive Beresford off his hand. Two more pots taken away on the turn took Beresford's stack down to 2.99M before Akery flopped a gutshot straight draw that got there on the turn, good for a 2.73M-chip pot.

Conor Beresford

Conor "1_conor_b_1" Beresford

That loss left Conor Beresford with 18 big blinds. He limped with K♠ J♠ on the button next hand, then bet the minimum when Vaga_Lion checked to him on the 2♠ 6♥ T♠ flop. He called all-in when Vaga_Lion raised all-in, a favorite with a flush draw and two overcards even though Vaga_Lion's T♣ 7♣ had made top pair on the flop. But the 8♣ turn and 9♠ were blanks for Conor Beresford, taking away the last of his chips and bringing the tournament to a close.

Rob Akery

Your champion, Rob Akery

The heads-up split meant the spread between the top two finishers' prize wasn't particularly large. Conor "1_conor_b_1" Beresford took down $63,980.56 after being ahead when the deal was struck, while the extra $6,500 for the winner made Rob "Vaga_Lion" Akery's final take worth $68,463.20. Congratulations to both players on outlasting another highly skilled field in this week's Super Tuesday!

1/10/17 Super Tuesday ($1,050 NL Hold'em) results
Entrants: 426
Total prize pool: $426,000
Places paid: 62

1. Rob "Vaga_Lion" Akery (United Kingdom) $68,463.20*
2. Conor "1_conor_b_1" Beresford (Netherlands) $63,980.56*
3. manokippa2 (Brazil) $41,061.75
4. Katrin2793 (Greece) $30,098.13
5. PoluKalos (United Kingdom) $22,061.85
6. Graftekkel (Netherlands) $16,171.25
7. bearsfan775 (Mexico) $11,853.49
8. Joep "Pappe_Ruk" van den Bigaart (Netherlands) $8,688.56
9. stfinpm (Romania) $6,368.65
* - denotes heads-up deal that left $6,500 for the winner

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Jason Kirk is a Freelance Contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in Super Tuesday