Sunday Warm-Up: krebou cracks the code, unlocks $94K score

It might fool you if you weren't aware of its reputation, being named the Sunday Warm-Up as it is, but the earlier of PokerStars' $215 Sunday majors is a giant in its own right. Routinely drawing thousands of players, it regularly produces bankroll-changing prizes for its winners (and occasionally some of the other final tablists, too).

A Sunday Warm-Up win on any resume is a pretty solid sign of a talented poker player. This week the final featured two past Sunday major winners looking to add to theirs, and the heads-up match sported an incoming chip leader facing off with an incoming short stack. But before we could get there, a lot of poker had to be played.

The first cards were dealt at 11:00 a.m. ET and by the time late registration closed the field had grown to 3,024. That built a $604,800 prize pool, with the top 432 finishers scheduled to earn at least $320.54 and a top prize of $94,954.29 awaiting the victor. Estonia's jarlop busted on the bubble and started the process of narrowing the field to the where the big pay jumps came in.

It was Canada's Le_Blem1 who missed out on the first of those big jumps at 8:11 p.m. ET, finishing in 10th place ($3,780). With that, the finalists were seated like so to 50K/100K/10K blinds and antes:

Seat 1: vgolfer (2,653,159 in chips)
Seat 2: glissario (940,773 in chips)
Seat 3: Aloysius P57 (2,388,771 in chips)
Seat 4: krebou (6,995,005 in chips)
Seat 5: chess87 (3,796,882 in chips)
Seat 6: jason13-2008 (3,184,388 in chips)
Seat 7: RW86 (3,250,414 in chips)
Seat 8: JARIFF1 (2,233,302 in chips)
Seat 9: Nick "caecilius" Petrangelo (4,797,306 in chips)

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Nobody was in a hurry to challenge for the pot without much of a hand. The first flop didn't come until Hand #7. Then the first turn came on Hand #8. That pattern of escalation continued and produced a knockout on Hand #9.

Germany's chess87 opened the betting with a raise to 200K in middle position. The action folded around to the button and Israel's JARIFF1 jammed for just over 2M, only to be met with an all-in re-raise to 4.1M from caecilius in the small blind. chess87 got out of the way and JARIFF1's T♦ T♥ was up against past Sunday Million champ caecilius' K♦ K♥. With no hope for a backdoor flush, JARIFF1 was left hoping for a set or a straight. The J♣ 7♦ 3♦ 2♣ 5♦ board provided neither, and the Israeli player was gone in 9th place ($4,838.40).

As it had been at the start of the final table, Austria's glissario was now on the short stack with just 590K chips, worth less than six big blinds, but a double two hands later with A♦ 7♦ against Aloysius P57's K♦ Q♦ provided some much-needed breathing room.

The action continued on Hand #11 when Brazil's jason13-2008 opened in early position with K♦ T♦ and called a re-raise to 420K from the cutoff by China's vgolfer. The J♣ 9♥ 7♥ flop made a two-way straight draw for the Brazilian, who check-raised vgolfer's 535K-chip bet to 1.6M and then called all-in for 2.4M total after vgolfer jammed. The Chinese player's A♥ J♥ was good for top pair with the nut flush draw, but the 8♦ turn gave jason13-2008 a straight and the 3♣ river the 6M-chip pot.

Left with 578K, vgolfer would see the 65K/130K/13K blinds and antes whittle that stack by more than half before another suitable opportunity arose on Hand #23. caecilius opened the betting with an under-the-gun raise to 275K, and vgolfer was the only taker, calling all-in for 240K. The Chinese player's T♦ 9♦ was up dominated by caecilius' A♦ T♣ but did pick up two pair on the 6♠ 9♣ 6♥ flop to seize the lead. The A♣ on the turn put caecilius back ahead, though, and the 8♦ on the river brought vgolfer's tournament to an end in 8th place ($7,862.40).

The lead was now up for grabs between krebou (7.26M) and caecilius (7.75M). The latter would grab the chip lead on Hand #33, without even entering the hand. The action folded to the button and caecilius, holding 4♣ 4♥, moved all-in. Aloysius P57 woke up with T♥ T♠ and called all-in for 2.3M, stacking up to 4.9M after both players caught sets on the 4♦ 6♥ T♣ flop and caecilius failed to catch quads the rest of the way.

That took caecilius down to 5.3M, still in the hunt. But 11 hands later a confrontation with krebou would trim that count to 2.2M. caecilius opened that hand for 320K under the gun and got calls from krebou in the cutoff and from both blinds. They all checked the 8♣ K♣ 9♠ flop, and the blinds folded after caecilius bet 392K on the 2♣ turn and krebou called. caecilius led again on the T♠ river, this time for 480K, and called when krebou raised to 2M, but mucked after krebou turned over A♣ 9♣ for the nut flush.

krebou held 10.8M but didn't press the advantage too much. Instead the small and medium stacks would run into one another. Dutch player RW86 doubled to 2.2M with J♣ J♥ against chess87's 7♠ 7♣, dropping the German player to 1M chips. Then RW86 picked up A♥ K♠ and doubled again, this time to 4.7M against jason13-2008's 9♠ 9♦. krebou finally did play one middling hand, J♣ 5♣, for a raise in late position on the 100K/200K/20K level, and had to call after chess87 moved in 967K with 6♣ 6♠. A blank board gave chess87 that pot and reduced krebou's leading stack ever so slightly to 9.5M.

krebou quickly got those chips back, but chess87 waited for big cards before making another play and thus slipped to 1.5M. So when chess87 was dealt A♣ Q♠ on the button on Hand #72, the German was happy to call all-in after glissario jammed for 2M in early position. RW86 called in the big blind and also showed A♦ Q♦, which left both players with just four outs against glissario's J♦ J♣. The board came down 7♦ 3♠ 7♣ 4♠ 6♥ to give glissario the 5.9M-chip pot, drop RW86 to 3.5M, and knock chess87 out in 7th place ($13,910.40).

Three down, five to go

With one-third of the finalists out of contention, krebou still enjoyed a significant lead:

Seat 2: glissario (5,900,320 in chips)
Seat 3: Aloysius P57 (4,189,996 in chips)
Seat 4: krebou (10,769,891 in chips)
Seat 6: jason13-2008 (2,702,348 in chips)
Seat 7: RW86 (3,503,164 in chips)
Seat 9: Nick "caecilius" Petrangelo (3,174,281 in chips)

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krebou began pressing a bit more now and managed to move north of 12.5M. Then caecilius either decided to get aggressive or picked up a few good hands, climbing into second place with 5.4M after winning four out of six pots without showdown.

RW86 then moved ahead of caecilius into second after picking up A♣ Q♥ in the big blind on Hand #96. The Dutch player called Aloysius P57's all-in raise, leaving just 38K behind, and had the Austrian's Q♣ T♣ dominated. Aloysius P57 picked up a flush draw by the turn but ultimately failed to catch a winner on the 5♠ 3♣ 8♦ 5♣ J♠ board, and the past Sunday Rebuy winner bowed out in 6th place ($19,958.40).

RW86 moved up to 6.3M with that win, but about two-thirds of that stack would be redirected to jason13-2008's seven hands later after the Brazilian picked up K♠ K♦ while RW86 had A♥ J♣.

While those two fought to stay out of the basement, caecilius was looking for a way to climb into the lead. He looked to have found it at least part of that solution on Hand #107, moving all-in for 4.3M with A♣ 8♦ after krebou made the minimum raise to 500K. krebou called with 5♥ 5♣ and took the lead, one the Swiss player never relinquished as the board fell 7♥ 2♣ 6♥ 4♠ 6♦. Losing that race denied caecilius another Sunday major title, sending him to the rail in a hard-fought 5th place ($26,006.40).

The next knockout blow came just three hands later, on Hand #110, after another all-in re-raise over the top of an opening min-raise by krebou. This time it was RW86 moving in for 1.6M, holding A♦ 2♣, on a mistimed steal met by krebou's call with J♦ J♠. The 5♦ Q♦ 5♥ 4♥ T♦ never offered any hope, and RW86 departed in 4th place ($34,766).

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The largest stack still belonged to krebou, whose 17.3M could easily take out either jason13-2008 (7.5M) or glissario (5.2M). jason13-2008 managed to pull even after turning top pair with A♦ 9♣ to beat krebou's flopped top pair with K♣ Q♣ in a 5.8M-chip pot. Then, on Hand #128, glissario doubled through krebou with A♥ 9♦ against A♦ K♦. That moved the formerly short-stacked Austrian into the lead with 12.3M, jason13-2008 into second place with 9.4M, and krebou trailing with 8.4M.

Soon enough krebou had moved back into the lead through taking multiple small pots from the other players. Then came Hand #148, and krebou got another chance with A♥ K♣. This time the Swiss player min-raised in the small blind and called when jason13-2008 jammed for 7.3M in the big blind with A♠ Q♥. The board came 3♦ 5♥ 4♣ 9♠ J♣, Big Slick held up unimproved, and jason13-2008 said goodbye in 3rd place ($50,210.49).

Alpha and omega

Heads-up play began at 9:45 p.m. ET between the two players who had been chip leader and short stack when the final nine originally took their seats:

Seat 2: glissario (9,340,640 in chips)
Seat 4: krebou (20,899,360 in chips)

Despite krebou's 2-to-1 advantage, the two would end up dueling for 34 minutes and nearly 100 hands. glissario made that possible with a double-up on just the fourth hand of the match. The Austrian player opened the betting with a minimum raise to 800K and then called all-in when krebou jammed, showing 6♣ 6♥. That quickly fell behind krebou's A♥ 7♣ when the flop came 7♦ 2♠ 4♠. The 5♣ turn left glissario on the edge of quick defeat, but the river delivered the 6♦ and suddenly the Austrian had a 16.6M-to-13.6M lead.

krebou narrowed that lead over the next stretch of play until the two were nearly even, but Hand #170 saw glissario move back ahead. The Austrian raised on the button with A♥ 4♥ and caught second pair on the T♥ 4♠ 2♠ flop after krebou called. The Swiss player check-raised glissario's 588K-chip bet to 1.8M, then led for 2.2M on the 5♠ turn and 3.8M on the 2♣ river.glissario called both bets and showed the wheel straight, topping krebou's stone-cold bluff with Q♦ 9♠.

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That gave glissario 24.2M chips to krebou's 6M, but within 15 hands the latter had doubled up with A♣ 9♦ against A♥ 6♠ to retake the lead with 16.8M chips. There was then some talk of a deal, but negotiations hung up when the two couldn't agree on where to split the money. glissario came out ahead after the negotiations failed, managing to whittle krebou's stack all the way down to 3.5M at one point. But a fortunate turn card while all-in with T♦ 9♦ against Q♦ 5♠ kept the Swiss player in the game. Picking up K♣ K♠ a few hands later while glissario held A♦ 2♠ completed the comeback, giving krebou a lead of a little more than two big blinds.

The final major confrontation came on Hand #243, when glissario had moved back into a small lead and opened for 1M on the button. krebou made it 2.25M to go, leaving 12.2M behind, with 6♠ 6♣ and called that remaining stack off after glissario jammed for 15.6M with A♥ 6♦. The 4♣ J♥ K♥ flop and T♦ turn gave glissario four inside straight outs to go with the three aces left in the deck, but the K♦ on the river shipped the 29.1M-chip pot to krebou. glissario got the remaining 1M chips in the middle on the next hand with 9♠ 2♠, a modest hand than nonetheless led against krebou's 6♣ 4♠. But running cards on the turn and river of the A♠ 8♣ A♦ 5♣ 7♠ board gave krebou a straight and brought the tournament to an end.

Though the title remained elusive, glissario's comeback from ninth place at the final table's start was quite profitable. Instead of taking home a little under $5K, or about half as big as the Austrian player's previous personal best score, glissario walked with a new personal best $70,761.60 as runner-up. As for krebou, the chip lead at the start of the final table may not have led directly to the win, but it certainly helped pave a roundabout path to the Sunday Warm-Up title and $94,954.29. That's almost 15 times larger than the Swiss player's previous best score, making for a very good day indeed. Congratulations to both players for their fine performances!

12/7/14 Sunday Warm-Up ($215 No-Limit Hold'em) results
Entrants: 3,024
Prize pool: $604,800
Places paid: 432

1. krebou (Switzerland) $94,954.29
2. glissario (Austria) $70,761.60
3. jason13-2008 (Brazil) $50,210.49
4. RW86 (Netherlands) $34,766
5. caecilius (Canada) $26,006.40
6. Aloysius P57 (Austria) $19,958.40
7. chess87 (Germany) $13,910.40
8. vgolfer (China) $7,862.40
9. JARIFF1 (Israel) $4,838.40

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in Sunday Warm-Up