4/3/11 Sunday Warm-Up: Slam Dunk for MatchBalla

sunday-warmup-thumb.jpgThe first Sunday Warm-Up of April saw 4,629 players lay down the $200+$15 entry fee, together building a total prize pool of $925,800 -- well above the tourney's $750K guarantee. The top 675 finishers got paid in this one, with the winner due $145,241.61 barring any late night deal-making.

When the money bubble burst simmsux sat atop the leaderboard, followed by sharikuna, isanocut, Gribnogrib, and Retr083. At that point Team PokerStars U.S. member Vanessa Selbst was in the top 20, and Ruben "rubenrtv" Visser of Team PokerStars Netherlands was just inside the top 30.

Also still in and cashing were Angel Guillen (Team PokerStars Mexico), Juan Maceiras (Team PokerStars Spain), Arnaud "frenchkiss" Mattern (Team PokerStars France), Juan Manuel Pastor (Team PokerStars Spain), Vadim Markushevski (Team PokerStars Russia), Mattias "mattidm" de Meulder (Team PokerStars Belguim), and Victor Ramdin (Team PokerStars U.S.)

Of that group, five went out over the next hour: Guillen (583rd; $333.28), de Meulder (551st; $333.28), Ramdin (519th; $342.54), Pastor (506th; $342.54), and Markushevski (497th; $342.54).

Selbst continued to build her stack up over 200,000, then took a couple of big hits in rapid succession against Big Mac Frac and Mr. Buster to find herself down below 35,000. With the blinds at 2,500/5,000, Selbst was all in with A♦Q♥ against Miegstroem who held 8♦7♦ when the board came 4♠3♣6♣2♠7♠, that river seven knocking her out in 398th ($379.57)

Maceiras was out soon afterwards when his K♠7♠ failed to catch versus farfromfear's 4♦4♠, sending the Spaniard to the rail in 358th ($407.35). And a little while later it was Visser who found himself below average and pushing with J♠7♠ only to run into cryllin's K♥K♠. The board brought no help to Visser who was eliminated in 221st ($536.96).

That left just the Frenchman Mattern to represent Team PokerStars. Once the field shrunk below 100 players, Mattern slowly began to accumulate chips, then came a big double-up with pocket aces versus MOERTE101 to push his stack up over 900,000 and into the top 10.

As the tourney moved past the seven-hour mark just 50 players remained, with Rens02 out in front with more than 2.4 million, followed by davidv1213 (2.04 million), and benchballa17 (1.91 million). Mattern remained at just under 900,000 in 24th with a slightly below-average stack.

The next hour saw 20 more players hit the rail while Mattern's chip stack fell into the danger zone. Finally he pushed all in with A♣9♠ and was hoping to hold versus EZz_GAME's K♦J♣. A king flopped, as did a nine, but Mattern couldn't catch another good card and was out in 28th ($2,036.76).


Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud "frenchkiss" Mattern

Three tables remained, with jvbizz now the leader with more than 5 million, with benchballa17 and JayP-AA in second and third respectively. It only took 20 minutes for nine more to fall, leaving 18 players sitting around two tables. A couple of big pots during that stretch had moved JayP-AA out ahead of the field with more than 8.8 million, followed by benchballa17 with 6.32 million and jvbizz with 5.27 million.

Play continued for nearly an hour as the field was trimmed to 10. Then benchballa17 open-raised on the button and a short-stacked pw1788 called all in from the big blind. pw1788 had the preflop advantage with Q♠7♠ versus benchballa17's Q♦5♦, but a five flopped and pw1788 couldn't catch up, thus sending pw1788 out in 10th ($5,554.80). Nine remained.


Seat 1: twirlpro -- 2,647,693
Seat 2: JayP-AA -- 8,885,423
Seat 3: EZz_GAME -- 4,223,115
Seat 4: jvbizz -- 8,498,778
Seat 5: lynum -- 2,375,588
Seat 6: MatchBalla -- 5,729,467
Seat 7: benchballa17 -- 8,010,859
Seat 8: elchwarrior -- 2,586,751
Seat 9: cardlo69 -- 3,332,326

Seemed almost fitting, on this weekend of the NCAA basketball Final Four, that not one but two "ballas" made the final table. And as it happened, one of those two would be making it all of the way to the final buzzer, so to speak.

As you can see from that screen shot above, just as jvbizz was wishing "gl everyone" lynum was open-shoving all in for 2,355,588 from under the gun. It would fold around to JayP-AA -- up there smiling in the right corner -- who would reraise over the top from the button, knocking out the blinds. lynum showed 8♦8♣ while JayP-AA had A♥T♠. The board came Q♥A♣3♥T♥J♥, ultimately giving JayP-AA a heart flush. lynum had been lined up and knocked down in ninth.

With that 5 million-plus chip pot, JayP-AA quickly grabbed the chip lead with eight remaining with more than 11.7 million.

About 15 minutes later the blinds were at 125,000/250,000 when MatchBalla opened for 504,250 from the hijack seat, then elchwarrior reraised all in for 3,603,502 from the button. The blinds stepped aside, and MatchBalla called with J♣J♠. elchwarrior had chosen to go to battle with A♦Q♦. The flop came 6♣J♦A♣, pairing elchwarrior but giving MatchBalla a set of jacks. The turn was the 3♣, making the river 2♥ no matter, and elchwarrior was slain in eighth.

Just three hands later it was JayP-AA opening for 524,423 from the button, then EZz_GAME reraised all in from the small blind for exactly 3.6 million. jvbizz folded the BB, then JayP-AA called showing Q♠Q♦ versus EZz_GAME's A♣8♥. The five community cards came K♣5♦9♦7♦J♣, and EZz_GAME was over in seventh.

That hand helped JayP-AA increase his lead with six players left. He sat with nearly 16.1 million, with MatchBalla next with a little under 9 million. Meanwhile twirlpro had become the short stack with about 2.06 million. twirlpro would soon manage a double-up through MatchBalla, however, to pull back closer to the pack.

It was around that time that benchballa17 asked the other five when they thought it might be appropriate to start discussing a possible deal. No one was jumping to respond, then suddenly came a big hand between twirlpro and benchballa17 in which the former was all in with A♥Q♠ against benchballa17's A♣9♦. twirlpro's hand held, and benchballa17 had plunged down below 1 million.

Not long after that benchballa17 open-pushed all in from the button for 767,838 with 7♥5♦ and twirlpro called from the big blind with K♦9♠. The board came 3♦K♥6♣6♠J♦, and benchballa17 bounced out in sixth.

twirlpro's prospects had rapidly improved, having in just a few hands gone from the table's short stack to more than 10 million. That was good enough for second behind JayP-AA, still with more than 16 million, when the following hand took place.

The blinds were 150,000/300,000 when the table folded around to the two leaders in the blinds. twirlpro opened with a raise to 745,000 from the small, then JayP-AA made it 1,721,111 in the big. twirlpro responded by pushing all in, and JayP-AA snap-called. The pot was over 20 million! The pair showed their hands:

twirlpro T♦T♥
JayP-AA A♥A♠

Bad timing for twirlpro. The board came 5♣4♦J♣4♠3♥, and just like that twirlpro's fortunes had spun back around, hurtling him out in fifth.

RSS readers click through to see replay

With that hand, JayP-AA moved over 26 million, putting him in possession of more than half of the chips in play with four left. jvbizz was nearest with 7.37 million, MatchBalla next with 7.09 million, and cardlo69 last with 5.11 million.

Those four made it to the 10-hour break, then MatchBalla won a big all-in with A♣K♠ versus cardlo69's A♥Q♠ to move up over 16 million while leaving cardlo69 with less than 550,000 with the blinds at 200,000/400,000.

All those chips would go in the middle on the next hand for cardlo69, with JayP-AA and jvbizz calling from the blinds. Those two would check down the K♦2♥9♥4♠Q♣ board, jvbizz would show a queen for second pair, JayP-AA a deuce for bottom pair, and cardlo69 mucked. His stack as low as it goes, cardlo69 was out in fourth.

The remaining three began to talk about a possible deal, and in fact the tourney was just about to be paused when a hand arose that ended with another elimination.

After MatchBalla folded on the button, JayP-AA raised to 844,423 from the small blind. jvbizz made it 1,792,005 from the big blind, prompting another raise from JayP-AA, this time to 11.6 million. jvbizz called with the 7,313,826 he had left, turning over A♥T♣ to JayP-AA's K♠4♠. All was okay for jvbizz through the turn as the board showed 2♥8♠T♥J♠. But the river was the T♠, giving JayP-AA the flush and causing jvbizz to fizzle in third.

The tourney paused as that hand concluded, with JayP-AA typing "sorry" and "gg" to the recently-vanquished jvbizz. At that point JayP-AA had 29,511,024 to MatchBalla's 16,778,976. "Chip chop" numbers were proposed -- a little over $125k to JayP-AA, almost $118K for MatchBalla, and $10K left on the table -- but the pair quickly and amiably decided against the deal. The tourney was unpaused and heads-up play was underway!

Within a dozen hands, MatchBalla had chipped back to close the gap, then took the lead away from JayP-AA. Soon MatchBalla was asking if JayP-AA was interested in perhaps looking at the numbers once more, but JayP-AA declined.

JayP-AA had retaken the advantage when a tourney-deciding hand took place. Both players had put in chips before the flop, on the flop, then on the turn as the board came 4♦T♣J♦T♦. By then MatchBalla was all in with Q♣T♠ for trip tens, but had to fade a diamond or a king as JayP-AA had A♠Q♦. The river brought the 8♣, and MatchBalla had more than 43.8 million while JayP-AA had tumbled to about 2.4 million.

JayP-AA would manage to double up twice and had a little more than 7.3 million when -- nearly 10-and-a-half hours after the tourney had tipped off -- the final hand took place.

MatchBalla minimum-raised to 1 million, JayP-AA shoved, and MatchBalla called. MatchBalla had A♠9♥, but JayP-AA had a couple of live cards with 7♦5♦. The flop paired both, coming 9♣5♠2♥. The turn was the J♥ and the river the A♣, and MatchBalla was cutting down the nets.

RSS readers click through to see replay

Congratulations to MatchBalla, the first Sunday Warm-Up winner of April!

Sunday Warm-Up results for 4/3/11:
1st: MatchBalla ($145,241.61)
2nd: JayP-AA ($107,855.70)
3rd: jvbizz ($76,378.50)
4th: cardlo69 ($52,307.70)
5th: twirlpro ($39,346.50)
6th: benchballa17 ($30,088.50)
7th: EZz_GAME ($20,830.50)
8th: elchwarrior ($11,572.50)
9th: lynum ($7,406.40)

For more reports on all the biggest events on PokerStars, check out the Online Tournaments page here on the PokerStars blog.

Martin Harris
@hardboiledpoker in Sunday Warm-Up