Team Online's Naoya "nkeyno" Kihara on two deep runs in last week's Sunday Majors
Last Sunday I finished as runner-up in the Sunday Million tournament, which is the biggest online tournament of the week.
Every week it has around 7,000 players, which is almost same number of entries as the WSOP main event. Of course, the buy-in is $215, so it is like a smaller WSOP main event! But winning the Sunday Million really is a great honour for all online poker players.
When I'm not playing a live event abroad, I never miss playing it. I've made the top 100 three times now, but up to last weekend my best score was about 50th place. I was running really badly before I made both a deep run in the Sunday Million and also the Sunday Second Chance.
But finally, on Sunday, I reached the last 50 of the Sunday Million, although I had only 690,000 chips, which was half the average. Meanwhile I had over half in the Sunday Second Chance with 20 players remaining.
Then I almost doubled up to an average stack in the Sunday Million but a sick river left me down to 2.5bb!
But in poker we have the expression 'a chip and chair', which is sometimes true. I then won with JJ against QQ, then 55 against 99, then TT against AQ, and again with TT against AJ. In ten hands I was suddenly over the average.
Running deep in the Sunday Million is a rare experience. That's why people play too tight to protect their stack. So I tried twice as many times to steal as I would usually, getting my stack up.
But then short stacks began re-stealing, moving all-in with big hands, but I got enough good hands to call. I won those flips and was in second place with over 7 million chips, which was double the average with 17 players remaining.
I was doing well in Sunday Second Chance also. I had 630k with 15 remaining. There I was alongside Joe Cada on my right, the Team PokerStars Pro and WSOP main event winner. He had a healthy stack and we got our huge stacks in with this hand:
I lost the main pot against the short stack, but I won a huge side pot and busted Joe, making me chip leader! I kept this stack and made the final table bubble with ten remaining.
After I won this hand I became the chip leader with this hand.
I won this hand and then busted two guys at the same time, becoming the huge chip leader with more than three times the average. But it's impossible to have only lucky hands. I was chip leader in Sunday second chance, but after I lost 55 vs. AJ I was back to average. I lost this hand to bubble the final.
This left just the Sunday Million to play. I figured if I play tight, it is easy for me to make the final table with a more than average stack.
Should I play tight here?
Everybody want to make final table of Sunday Million, just like everybody wants to be a November Niner!
Sometimes it takes more than 30 min before bursting the final table bubble. So at this point I figured now is the time to apply some pressure and use my big stack. Then the final table suddenly began when three short stacks busted very quickly.
Now we were back to nine handed at the final table. It's always possible somebody is going to get a monster hand, so trying to steal as much as before is a bad idea. Instead, my strategy changes and I aim for the middle stacked players, because they know they can earn a bigger prize by waiting for the short stacks to bust. So I play my usual game against short stacks, but apply big pressure against the middle ones.
I kept my stack over 20 million while at the final table, and you can see how it went by using the replay or on the pokerstars.tv video.
I got lucky to win with A6s against AQ, hitting a 6 on the river. Down to three-handed I had 43 million, while the other players had 19 million and 5 million. At this point I strongly felt I could win the Sunday Million title.
But then I doubled my opponent, 55 against AK in the first hand of three-handed play. I lost again with 88 against A7s on the very next hand against the other guy. I tried my best after that but I got no more luck. I managed to make second place but lost heads-up.
A lot of people cheered for me on twitter and Skype while I was playing, and I got a lot of congratulations after finishing second. I really want to thank all those people for that. I'm really happy to have played in such a big game, and I'll try my best to do it again!
And I hope to win, not finish in second place again next time.
Pokerstars Team Online Pro Naoya 'nkeyno' Kihara