Sunday Warm-Up: shtruddle savors sweet $64K victory

More often than not, coming to the final table with the short stack is a ticket for a quick exit. Even catching a break or two early on can will usually still leave you vulnerable enough that surviving long enough to move up a pay spot or two can be considered a win. But every now and then a short stack will end up making a real run, despite the long odds. And sometimes - like today - the short stack will be the last one standing. shtruddle, who faced long odds from the very first deal of today's final table, ended up the triumphant underdog thanks to a little bit of luck followed by some very good timing.

The 2,250 players who showed up for a shot at this week's Sunday Warm-Up title combined for a $450,000 prize pool. That set a $72,000 prize for first place and at least $315 to everyone who finished in the top 324 places.

By 7:24 p.m. ET the field had been narrowed to just these nine players:

Seat 1: Nicolau "nicofellow" Villa-Lobos (4,380,389 in chips)
Seat 2: 0$kar15 (1,983,308 in chips)
Seat 3: pr0fes0rul (1,753,444 in chips)
Seat 4: Pokerfan89Gr (3,732,545 in chips)
Seat 5: arturuz77 (964,868 in chips)
Seat 6: shtruddle (841,076 in chips)
Seat 7: Steve "Illini213" Barshak (2,752,022 in chips)
Seat 8: Caz_Carneiro (5,082,999 in chips)
Seat 9: LlKE A G6 (1,009,349 in chips)

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Flying high

The possibility of a repeat Sunday Warm-Up winner was present at today's final in the form of Steve "Illini213" Barshak, a 2012 WCOOP winner who won this tournament exactly four years ago this weekend. He came in with more than 30 big blinds in fourth place, more than enough to put him in good position for a chance at repeating as champion, but his stay at the final table would be short and chaotic.

Barshak saw action on the first hand, re-raising all-in with A♥ Q♥ to isolate shtruddle, who had jammed for 833K under the gun with A♠ J♥. Barshak was a 3-to-1 favorite before the flop but ended up splitting the pot when the board fell K♦ A♣ 4♣ 6♥ 6♣ to give both players aces and sixes with a king kicker.

Eight hands later he held A♠ Q♠ against a short stack again, but LlKE A G6's A♣ A♦ took the 2.2M-chip pot and dropped Barshak to 2M chips himself. After folding five hands and losing 570K on the sixth after calling shtruddle's bets on the K♦ T♣ 6♠ flop and 5♥ turn but folding on the 2♦ river, he caught a break, shoving with K♠ Q♦ and flopping two pair to crack pr0fes0rul's A♥ A♠.

Following all of that, Barshak was actually a few big blinds ahead of where he'd begun the final table. He immediately lost half of it after putting Caz_Carneiro all-in, his 4-to-1 lead before the flop no good after Caz_Carneiro caught the 8♥ on the turn for a set to crack Barshak's T♣ T♠. Another pair of tens four hands after that left him in a race against LlKE A G6's A♦ K♥, but the A♠ Q♠ A♣ K♠ Q♣ board closed the door hard on the pre-flop favorite. And with that, Steve "Illini213" Barshak's 23-minute stay at the final table ended in 9th place ($4,050).

LlKE A G6 scored another knockout eight hands later in a cooler for Caz_Carneiro. The Brazilian player open-shoved with A♦ K♠ and only got action from LlKE A G6, who re-shoved with A♥ A♠. There was a glimmer of hope in the form of a gutshot wheel draw on the 4♣ 5♥ 3♠ flop, but the J♥ turn and 8♥ river sent Caz_Carneiro to the rail in 8th place ($6,525).

LlKE A G6 ran that stack up to 7.8M before finally dropping a significant pot, losing with 8♦ 8♥ to 0$kar15's Q♥ Q♠ to give the latter a double to 2.4M. Another dominated starting hand would cost pr0fes0rul, who re-raised all-in for 1.27M on the next hand after LlKE A G6 opened the pot for a minimum raise. shtruddle re-raised with A♠ K♥ and successfully isolated pr0fes0rul, taking the pot with three aces after the board came 5♣ A♣ 3♣ 4♥ A♥.

Lead change, lead change, lead change

With the table now six-handed and blinds and antes at 65K/130K/13K, the chip counts looked like this:

Seat 1: Nicolau "nicofellow" Villa-Lobos (4,420,837 in chips)
Seat 2: 0$kar15 (2,400,984 in chips)
Seat 4: Pokerfan89Gr (4,590,395 in chips)
Seat 5: arturuz77 (833,736 in chips)
Seat 6: shtruddle (3,772,767 in chips)
Seat 9: LlKE A G6 (6,481,281 in chips)

Pokerfan89Gr, a TCOOP finalist just last month, upped the aggression and started chipping up quickly, stealing blinds and antes and taking down one 2M-chip pot with an all-in three bet after being check-raised by shtruddle on a K♣ A♠ 5♠ flop. But an opening raise with J♣ 5♣ a few hands later committed Pokerfan89Gr to calling after arturuz77 jammed with T♣ T♠, giving arturuz77 a double to 1.86M. Six hands later arturuz77 got the better of Pokerfan89Gr a second time, re-raising before the flop with Q♥ Q♦ and then calling all-in after original opener Pokerfan89Gr made it four bets with A♥ J♣. A queen on the flop gave arturuz77 the set and 3.49M chips.

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Six more hands passed before arturuz77 opened for a minimum raise to 320K with A♠ Q♣ and 0$kar15 called with J♣ 6♣ in the big blind. 0$kar15 shoved for 1.04M on the 3♠ 4♠ 5♣ flop, holding a two-way straight draw with a backdoor chance at a club flush, but arturuz77 called and won the pot when nobody improved on the 4♦ turn or T♠ river. That spelled the end for 0$kar15 in 6th place ($15,525).

arturuz77 was poised to take over the chip lead just five hands later after min-raising to 320K under the gun with K♣ K♣ and getting Pokerfan89Gr to three-bet all-in with 9♣ 9♠. arturuz77 called and stayed ahead on the 2♠ 3♠ 7♠ flop and T♥ turn, but the 8♠ river made a spade flush, giving Pokerfan89Gr an escape hatch and 5.83M chips. From there the blinds and antes advanced to 100K/200K/20K, and after shtruddle took down the first pot uncontested after LlKE A G6 folded to a bet on the river of the 5♦ K♣ 6♥ 3♥ 6♣, everyone left at the table was within 15 big blinds of one another.

There was no room to sit back on a hand so when two strong starters ran into one another it meant someone's stack was on the line, as when shtruddle picked up J♣ J♦ and doubled through Nicolau "nicofellow" Villa-Lobos when the 2013 SCOOP Medium Main Event winner held 8♣ 8♦. That loss left nicofellow with 1.53M chips, which was whittled down to 1.08M by blinds and antes by the time he was able to attempt a steal in the cutoff with K♠ 4♥. arturuz77 called in the small blind with 4♠ 4♦, though, and with no kings on the 2♣ 9♠ 8♦ 8♥ 7♣ board Villa-Lobos was eliminated in 5th place ($20,250).

Like Icarus

That gave arturuz77 the lead at 7.29M chips, but it was short-lived as LlKE A G6 won 8.14M with a big call on the river of the very next hand. Pokerfan89Gr opened the hand with a minimum raise to 500K and LlKE A G6 called with J♥ T♦ in the big blind, catching bottom two pair on the J♠ T♣ K♣ flop. LlKE A G6 check-called 372K there and 667K on the 3♦ turn, building a 3.3M-chip pot before the 5♣ came on the river. LlKE A G6 checked and this time Pokerfan89Gr moved all-in for 4.1M, a bet that covered LlKE A G6's remaining stack. The Czech player used the time bank and thought for around 90 seconds before calling, taking down the pot when Pokerfan89Gr showed down 9♠ 6♠ for a stone cold bluff.

LlKE A G6 would have no more luck with the lead than arturuz77 had. Pokerfan89Gr got the first win, calling all-in for 1.4M in the big blind with J♣ 9♥ and winning unimproved on the 5♦ K♦ A♥ 5♣ 3♦ against LlKE A G6's attempted steal with 9♦ 6♥. A few hands later two stabs at the pot on the turn and river of a Q♠ 8♦ T♦ 5♦ 6♠ board, after checking in the big blind before the flop and then again on it, couldn't make shtruddle fold top pair with Q♥ 9♦.

The crippling blow came in a race against Pokerfan89Gr, whose 7♦ 7♥ beat LlKE A G6's A♣ J♥ for 7.3M. That left LlKE A G6 with 2.2M chips, all of which went in the middle under the gun on the next hand. shtruddle called with A♥ 8♣ and was a 58-percent favorite against LlKE A G6's K♥ J♦ before catching top pair on the 8♦ 7♠ 5♥ flop to move up to 74 percent. The 5♦ and 4♦ on the turn and river brought no help, and LlKE A G6 departed in 4th place ($27,000).

Going out with a bang

With 200K/400K blinds and 40K antes applying maximum pressure to the remaining three players, the time for making a deal had arrived. They didn't take long to come to an agreement - just nine minutes after pausing for discussion they were back to play. And within two minutes of that, they would all three participate in the sort of final hand that might finish out a Hollywood film.

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Pokerfan89Gr opened the final hand with a min-raise to 800K on the button, holding A♦ K♦. Then arturuz77 moved all-in for 3.7M in the small blind, holding T♦ 9♦. shtruddle re-shoved with enough chips to cover Pokerfan89Gr, holding 8♠ 8♥, and Pokerfan89Gr called all-in, building a 20.7M-chip pot. All three players caught a strong piece of the 8♦ Q♦ T♥ flop: shtruddle the strongest with a set of eights, arturuz77 with an inside straight flush draw, and Pokerfan89Gr with a combo straight/nut-flush draw. The 2♣ turn left everyone with a chance to win, but shtruddle earned the win with four of a kind when the 8♣ came on the river.

That closed out the tournament with a bang, giving shtruddle the extra $8,000 on the table for a total prize of $64,427.98. That's a new career best at PokerStars for the Swiss player, more than doubling the third-place prize from a 2014 Sunday 500 final table appearance. Pokerfan89Gr and arturuz77 also earned new career high prizes with their shares from the deal, as detailed below. Congratulations to all three players on making the most of the Sunday Warm-Up!

2/14/16 Sunday Warm-Up ($215 No-Limit Hold'em) results
Entrants:
 2,250
Total prize pool: $450,000
Places paid: 324

1. shtruddle (Switzerland) $64,427.98*
2. Pokerfan89Gr (Greece) $53,416.40*
3. arturuz77 (Uzbekistan) $46,293.12*
4. LlKE A G6 (Czech Republic) $27,000
5. Nicolau "nicofellow" Villa-Lobos (Brazil) $20,250
6. 0$kar15 (Germany) $15,525
7. pr0fes0rul (Romania) $11,025
8. Caz_Carneiro (Brazil) $6,525
9. Steve "Illini213" Barshak (Costa Rica) $4,050

*Reflects the results of a three-way deal that left $8,000 in play for the winner


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Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in Sunday Warm-Up