Sunday Warm-Up: Late surge boosts Merin09 to $80K win

The best thing about coming to a final table with a big stack is the number of options it gives you. You can go on the offensive, or you can take the occasional pot and hold your ground while you wait for a big opening. Merin09 took the latter of those paths in today's Sunday Warm-Up, and then took advantage of a late surge to win $80,232.

This week's field was a touch higher than last week's at 2,539 players, building a $507,800 prize pool split among the top 378 finishers. Team Online's Marc-Andre Ladouceur cashed out in 292nd place ($355.46), while Team PokerStars Pro's Liv Boeree's efforts ended in 70th place ($863.26). After nine hours and 20 minutes, and with the poker world's focus on the November Nine in Las Vegas, nine players remained in the hunt for a Sunday Major title:

Seat 1: unfrosya (5,954,642 in chips)
Seat 2: mendieta19 (2,073,778 in chips)
Seat 3: DeLaBijen (3,388,539 in chips)
Seat 4: Carter "cswidler" Swidler (2,485,587 in chips)
Seat 5: Gambler4444 (2,662,064 in chips)
Seat 6: dynamicnag (1,795,634 in chips)
Seat 7: Andrey "ThePateychuk" Pateychuk (1,509,043 in chips)
Seat 8: EspenasApart (963,717 in chips)
Seat 9: Merin09 (4,556,996 in chips)

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Past Sunday Million finalist ThePateychuk got the final table action going on Hand #9 by open-shoving from the small blind. Short-stacked EspenasApart, a past WCOOP and SCOOP finalist, called with Q♦ 9♥ and had a fighting chance against ThePateychuk's K♣ 8♣, but nothing changed once the board came 7♦ 2♦ 6♠ 7♠ 5♥ and EspenasApart left the tournament in 9th place ($4,316.30).

Raise-and-take-it poker took hold for the next orbit and a half before Carter "cswidler" Swidler repeated the play by open-shoving for 1.99M in the small blind with K♣ 2♥. Gambler4444 called with A♦ J♥ in the big blind and won the 4.08M-chip pot with a pair of jacks when the board came 4♣ T♠ J♦ 3♦ 5♠, sending cswidler to the rail in 8th place ($7,363.10).

dynamicnag was on the bubble now, working with just over six big blinds on the 65K/130K/13K level. That bled away to 573K over the next orbit before dynamicnag moved all-in to steal the pot and get right back to 829K. Halfway through the next orbit the player from India picked up A♥ T♦ and opened with an all-in bet, called only by unfrosya with A♠ J♥. The 4♠ 6♥ T♠ flop made a pair of tens for dynamicnag, though, and the T♣ on the turn made trips to win the 1.88M-chip pot.

The past MicroMillions champion's next confrontation would see the Indian player in much better shape ahead of the flop, after re-raising all-in with A♦ Q♦ against original raiser Gambler4444's J♥ T♥. Gambler4444 had 15 big blinds left behind after the call, but the buffer turned out to be unnecessary. Two hearts on the flop and a third on the turn of the 2♥ 4♥ 5♣ K♥ 5♦ board made a flush, giving Gambler4444 the 2.77M chips in the middle and knocking dynamicnag out in 7th place ($11,933.30).

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Three down

That win moved past Super Tuesday champion Gambler4444 into third place at the table with 32 big blinds on the 80K/160K/16K level:

Seat 1: unfrosya (7,024,574 in chips)
Seat 2: mendieta19 (2,474,444 in chips)
Seat 3: DeLaBijen (3,063,039 in chips)
Seat 5: Gambler4444 (5,109,520 in chips)
Seat 7: ThePateychuk (2,479,871 in chips)
Seat 9: Merin09 (5,238,552 in chips)

Short-stacked mendieta19, another past WCOOP and SCOOP finalist, survived an all-in scare just a few hands later after re-raising with A♠ 8♥ in the small blind against unfrosya's button raise with A♥ J♣, thanks to the board delivering two aces and two nines to make both players a full house. Then mendieta19 got two streets of value out of top pair with A♦ T♣ before checking down the river of the A♣ 7♠ K♣ 5♥ 6♦ to win 2.33M against Gambler4444's 5♣ 4♣.

Gambler4444 got all that back and then some an orbit later, but not without dodging nearly half the deck first. DeLaBijen opened the hand in question by raising all-in for 2.98M in the cutoff, holding A♣ J♣. Gambler4444 re-raised all-in on the button to isolate, successfully, and showed down T♣ T♦. The K♣ 6♣ Q♥ flop gave past Sunday Million and Super Tuesday finalist DeLaBijen so many outs that the Dutch player went from a pre-flop underdog at 46 percent to a post-flop favorite at 56 percent. But neither the 8♥ on the turn nor the K♦ on the river were any danger, giving Gambler4444 the 6.38M chips in the middle and busting DeLaBijen in 6th place ($17,011.30).

The action on the next hand folded around to the button and ThePateychuk, now working with a little less than 10 big blinds, moved all-in for 1.91M with T♠ 9♠. Merin09 re-shoved to isolate and, when unfrosya folded, turned over K♥ K♠. No miracle arrived on the 2♥ A♣ 7♠ 7♣ 6♥ board, eliminating ThePateychuk in 5th place ($22,089.30).

That moved Merin09 from a middling stack to a contender, just two big blinds out of second place behind unfrosya. Three hands later a pre-flop confrontation with mendieta19 would lead to Merin09 seizing the chip lead. mendieta19 opened the action with a minimum raise to 400K on the button, holding K♦ T♦, and re-raised all-in for 4.48M total after Merin09 re-raised to 1M with K♣ K♥. mendieta19 got help in making it a race from the 6♠ J♦ 3♦ flop and T♣ turn, but the 6♥ on the river gave Merin09 the biggest pot of the tournament at 9.15M and sent mendieta19 to the rail in 4th place ($29,701.22).

Endgame

In the span of just 62 hands, two-third of the table had been knocked out, leaving just these players in the hunt for this week's Sunday Warm-Up title:

Seat 1: unfrosya (7,633,018 in chips)
Seat 5: Gambler4444 (6,621,114 in chips)
Seat 9: Merin09 (11,135,868 in chips)

Nobody was particularly desperate with blinds and antes still at 100K/200K/20K, so the pace of play backed away from the edge. But a drawn-out battle wasn't in the cards. Just 15 hands, most with very little action, passed before Gambler4444 came over the top of unfrosya's minimum raise on the button for 5.03M. A♦ T♥ was plenty strong for the move, but Merin09 woke up with J♣ J♠ and re-raised all-in from the small blind. That got unfrosya out of the way and Merin09 locked up the pot with top set on the 5♥ 7♦ J♦ 2♠ 8♣ board. That knocked out Gambler4444 in 3rd place ($42,655.20).

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Merin09 and unfrosya agreed to look at a deal after the conclusion of their first hand heads-up, but within eights they'd agreed to disagree, and the game resumed with the original payouts still in play. After 14 hands of the opening raiser taking the pot or both player checking down to the river, both players finally picked up hands worth going to battle with. unfrosya opened all-in with A♥ 9♦, Merin09 called with 9♣ 9♥, and both players improved when the case nine hit the 6♥ T♦ 9♠ flop. Running aces could have saved unfrosya, but the 5♥ and Q♣ came instead to end the tournament.

Congratulations to both players for outlasting a tough field!

11/8/15 Sunday Warm-Up ($215 No-Limit Hold'em) results
Entrants: 2,539
Prize pool: $507,800
Places paid: 378

1. Merin09 (Poland) $80,232.69
2. unfrosya (Russia) $59,920.40
3. Gambler4444 (Austria) $42,655.20
4. mendieta19 (Sweden) $29,701.22
5. ThePateychuk (Russia) $22,089.30
6. DeLaBijen (Netherlands) $17,011.30
7. dynamicnag (India) $11,933.30
8. cswilder (Canada) $7,363.10
9. EspenasApart (Norway) $4,316.30

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in Sunday Warm-Up