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Sunday Warm-Up: No joke! nowayyaright goes worst-to-first for the win

The PokerStars Sunday Majors are already the best value in online poker, but today's promotion gave them a serious boost. Million Dollar Sunday kicked off here at PokerStars with a special $1,000,000 guarantee in the Sunday Warm-Up. The promise of twice the already formidable guarantee brought out the crowds. There were 6,412 runners in all, building a total prize pool of $1,282,400 to be split between the top 990 finishers.

With a scheduled top prize of $195,057.09 there was plenty to fight over. Unsurprisingly, that brought out a contingent of Team PokerStars Pro and Team Online players. Bryan Huang (971st place, $294.95) and Jonathan Duhamel (410th, $461.66) both cashed for Team Pro, while Naoya "nkeyno" Kihara (333rd, $512.96) and Shane "shaniac" Schleger (310th, $525.78) represented Team Online. But the rest of the leaderboard remained Red Spade-free.

It took ten and a half hours of 15-minute levels to reduce the field to the final table. As it began at 9:30 p.m. ET the blinds and antes were at 150K/300K/30K and these nine players were still in the hunt for the top prize:

Sunday Warm-Up 12-8-13 ft.jpeg

Seat 1: Shiko21 (12,199,608 in chips)
Seat 2: KingOfThe$ea (13,203,189 in chips)
Seat 3: hav0cLOL (10,497,837 in chips)
Seat 4: ju3lz3 (4,966,495 in chips)
Seat 5: nirnes (4,968,797 in chips)
Seat 6: pain-bg (7,985,806 in chips)
Seat 7: jus2awsum (4,874,756 in chips)
Seat 8: nitanasita (2,857,588 in chips)
Seat 9: nowayyaright (2,565,924 in chips)

The Netherlands' nowayyaright came to the table with the shortest stack at 2.85M chips and didn't waste any time getting it all into the middle. The Dutch player moved in on the third hand over the top of Canadian player jus2awsum's opening bet of 600K. The rest of the table folded and jus2awsum called with A♥ J♠, chopping the pot with nowwayyaright's A♣ J♦.

Bulgaria's pain-bg had quite a few more chips at 7.8M, but after picking up A♦ J♣ in the big blind on the sixth hand and facing a min-raise and call in late position, pain-bg moved in for 7.2M over the bet. Original raiser KingOfThe$ea from Thailand folded but New Zealand's hav0cLOL made the call with T♥ T♠ and 2.06M left behind. The board fell 2♣ 9♠ 7♠ 9♥ 4♥, giving hav0cLOL the 16.63M-chip pot and eliminating pain-bg in 9th place ($9,938.60).

The table's two shortest stacks would collide on the next hand. nowwayyaright shoved under the gun for 3.28M, just 81K less than Sloevnia's nitanasita held in the big blind. The rest of the table folded an nitanasita made the call with A♣ K♠, which was flipping with nowwayyaright's 4♠ 4♥ until the flop came 7♠ 4♣ 2♥. There was still hope in the form of a back-door straight draw, but the 8♥ extinguished it and the K♥ gave nowwayyaright a double to 6.96M. nitanasita was forced all-in from the small blind on the next hand with K♦ 7♣ and lost out to jus2awsum's Q♠ 7♠, leaving in 8th place ($15,388.80).

Wreaking hav0cLOL

With seven hands in the books the field was also at seven. hav0cLOL took a shot at reducing that count by one on Hand #16, calling with T♦ T♠ after opening for 800K and being re-raised all-in for 2.87M by Israel's nirnes. But the Israeli player's A♠ Q♣ caught the flop and held up on a full board of 9♦ A♣ K♠ 3♠ 3♥ to double up to 6.62M, good for fourth place if not exactly out of harm's way.

hav0cLOL took another stab in a similar situation four hands later, calling for 2.81M total after opening for 800K and being re-raised all-in by Canada's ju3lz3. The New Zealander's Q♦ 7♠ wasn't in great shape against A♣ T♠ before the 9♣ 9♠ 2♦ flop, and by the J♣ turn it had just a 13.6 percent chance to win. But the 7♥ on the river was one of hav0cLOL's outs, sending ju3lz3 to the rail in 7th place ($28,212.80).

Only three more hands would pass before the next elimination. Jus2awsum opened the betting on Hand #23 with an all-in bet of 4.18M in the cutoff seat, prompting a re-raise to 5.6M by nowayyaright, who was also now all-in. The rest of the table folded and nowayyaright was left with 1.41M chips behind. The Dutch player showed A♥ Q♦, which was ahead of jus2awsum's K♠ 5♣ but no lock to win the hand. The 3♣ J♥ 6♣ 8♥ 9♥ board helped neither player, though, and jus2awsum was out in 6th place ($41,036.80).

Evening things out

With half of the final table gone, the chip counts now looked like so:

Sunday Warm-Up 12-8-13 ft five-handed.jpeg

Seat 1: Shiko21 (8,959,608 in chips)
Seat 2: KingOfThe$ea (10,473,189 in chips)
Seat 3: hav0cLOL (28,306,786 in chips)
Seat 5: nirnes (5,746,704 in chips)
Seat 9: nowayyaright (10,633,713 in chips)

hav0cLOL's lead was 44 big blinds with the blinds and antes at 200K/400K/40K, but it quickly shrank to less than 12 after losses to nowayyaright and KingOfThe$ea. Another small loss to KingOfThe$ea just after the start of the 250K/500K/50K level reduced the margin to a slim two big blinds, but this pot on Hand #43 would move nowayyaright into the lead:

RSS readers, please click through for replay

The cowboys held up against the sixes and nirnes was gone in 5th place ($53,860.80).

Now nowayyaright, hav0cLOL, and KingOfThe$ea were crowded together at the top of the leaderboard, all within five big blinds of one another, while Shiko21 trailed with 8.75M chips. KingOfThe$ea pushed the action, winning seven of the next 13 pots - several of them at hav0cLOL's expense - to climb to 26.8M chips. Shiko21 managed to win two in that stretch to stay ahead of the blinds, and the second one, taken down with an all-in bet over hav0cLOL's opening bet of 1M, moved Shiko21 ahead of the New Zealander into third place by just two big blinds.

That small margin proved to be significant four hands later. hav0cLOL opened the betting for a minimum raise of 1.2M on the button and Shiko21 moved all-in from the big blind. hav0cLOL was covered and called with A♥ J♦, which needed some help against Shiko21's J♣ J♥. There was no aid from the 8♥ 7♠ 5♥ 7♣ 2♦ board, though, and hav0cLOL's run ended in 4th place ($70,532.00).

The final push

With hav0cLOL's departure the table was now three-handed, and everyone agreed to look at the numbers for a deal based on these chip counts:

Seat 1: Shiko21 (18,373,696 in chips)
Seat 2: KingOfThe$ea (29,699,073 in chips)
Seat 9: nowayyaright (16,047,231 in chips)

KingOfThe$ea had the chip lead and was set to take the largest share of the deal even before driving a hard bargain and demanding a few thousand dollars more from each opponent. They eventually agreed on those numbers, leaving $20,000 on the table for the winner, and play resumed. With $165,000 locked up KingOfThe$ea hit the gas, winning the first five pots before taking the sixth in a big showdown with Shiko21:

RSS readers, please click through for replay

Pair-over-pair was good for KingOfThe$ea, who raked in the 32.4M-chip pot, but bad for Shiko21, who walked in 3rd place with $129,966.22 from the deal.

An unexpected duel

KingOfThe$ea now had 53.1M to nowayyaright's 10.9M, a good enough lead to take a knockout swing on the first hand of heads-up, moving all-in with Q♣ J♠ after nowayyaright opened for 1.2M on the button. The Dutch player called with the dominating A♥ J♣ and promptly caught the 5♣ 2♥ A♦ flop, doubling to 21.8M after the board ran out K♥ 8♠.

KingOfThe$ea began chipping back up immediately, winning five of the next six pots to get back over 44M. But then nowayyaright struck back with a five-pot winning streak, including one worth 21M won by extracting value on every street of a 6♦ 3♠ T♦ 5♣ 3♣ board. That moved nowayyaright into the chip lead for the first time since the table was four-handed, with 13 big blinds more than KingOfThe$ea.

Six of the next seven pots went to KingOfThe$ea, bringing the players to within one big blind of one another, and they chopped the eighth:

RSS readers, please click through for replay

After that KingOfThe$ea appeared eager to bring the show to a close. "20K flip?" the player from Thailand asked. "Next hand all-in blind? Who cares about 20, we're rich." nowayyaright cared enough to say no so play continued, with KingOfThe$ea maintaining a small chip lead on the 400K/800K/80K level. The 29th hand of heads-up, won by nowayyaright before the flop with an all-in four-bet, would see the Dutch player move into the lead for the final time.

Sunday Warm-Up 12-8-13 ft hu.jpeg

That lead was extended two hands later after nowayyaright opened for 1.6M on the button and called a re-raise to 4.09M to see a flop of 6♣ 3♠ 5♣. KingOfThe$ea led out for 2.95M into the 8.34M-chip pot, nowayyaright made the call after some thought, and both players checked the 9♥ turn. The river brought the 8♣ and after thinking it over KingOfThe$ea bet 8.4M into the 14.2M in the middle. nowayyaright went into the time bank and found a call, which turned out to be good: A♥ 8♥ for a pair of eights beat KingOfThe$ea's busted straight draw with T♠ 4♦.

With that pot nowayyaright had a lead of 49.3M to KingOfThe$ea's 14.7M, and though the player from Thailand won the next three pots it wouldn't be enough. The 35th hand of heads-up proved to be the last after nowayyaright opened for 1.6M with 8♣ 8♥ and then called for 17.7M total to put KingOfThe$ea's tournament on the line. KingOfThe$ea's A♦ 6♠ picked up outs to a flush on the 2♠ 8♠ 4♠ flop, but nowayyaright's set held up on the 7♣ turn and 6♣ river to close out the tournament.

KingOfThe$ea lost out on the Sunday Warm-Up title but still walked with $165,000 from the three-way deal, the largest prize for anyone in the tournament - and the largest ever in a long line of cashes for the player from Thailand dating back to 2008. Meanwhile nowayyaright grabbed the extra $20,000 on the title for a total winner's purse of $146,922.87 - more than nine times the Dutch player's previous best. Not bad for a first major tournament win!

12/8/13 Sunday Warm-Up ($215 No-Limit Hold'em) results
Entrants: 6,412
Prize pool: $1,282,400
Places paid: 990

1. nowayyaright (Netherlands) $146,922.87*
2. KingOfThe$ea (Thailand) $165,000*
3. Shiko21 (Israel) $129,996.22*
4. hav0cLOL (New Zealand) $70,532.00
5. nirnes (Israel) $53,860.80
6. jus2awsum (Canada) $41,036.80
7. ju3lz3 (Canada) $28,212.80
8. nitanasita (Slovenia) $15,388.80
9. pain-bg (Bulgaria) $9,938.60
* - denotes results of a three-way deal

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

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