Eureka2 Latvia: Day 3, Level 24 - 26 updates (blinds 20,000 - 40,000 ante 4,000)
8.20pm: Valtteri Merikallio wins Eureka Latvia (€ 68,800); Sam Macdonald eliminated in second place (€ 43,700)
It's all over here in `Riga, Valtteri Merikallio has won Eureka Latvia.
In the final hand Sam Macdonald limped on the button, Merikallio made it 150,000 to go, Macdonald jammed for around 700,000 and, after a pause so pregnant you wanted to give it your seat on the bus, Merikallio made the call.
"Lots of diamonds and threes in the deck," said a Brit watching on the rail.
The Q♣4♦9♥ flop all but ended it, that was until the 3♠ came on the turn to give Macdonald two outs. But the 7♥ came on the river to seal the deal for Merikallio.
The Finn wins € 68,800, whilst Macdonald picks up € 43,700 for finishing second. A full wrap of today's play is on the way.
8.15pm: Macdonald slips further
No big pots of note in the last 10 minutes, but Sam Macdonald has been grinded down a little further and now has about 750,000. He's shoved all-in over the top of Merikallio's button open on one occasion.
8.05pm: Macdonald down to a million
Valtteri Merikallio now has a three to one chip lead after winning a big pot. He opened to 105,000 and Sam Macdonald made it 241,000 to go, call from Merikallio. On the 2♦Q♠Q♣ flop Macdonald c-bet 206,000, call from Merikallio. The 2♣ hit the turn and Macdonald check-folded to a bet of 200,000.
He's now down to just under a million, whilst Merikallio has just over 3,000,000.
7.55pm: Merikallio back in the lead
Valtteri Merikallio just won a big pot to re-take the chip lead.
He raised to 95,000 on the button and Sam Macdonald made the call. On the 3♥J♥8♣ flop Merikallio c-bet 110,000 and Macdonald looked him up. The J♠ turn was checked through and the J♦ completed the board.
Now Macdonald changed tactics, leading out for 236,000, it didn't take long for Merikallio to call, he showed the 8♦ and then the 3♣ to win the pot. Chip counts now 2,400,000 plays 1,600,000.
7.50pm: Back from the break
The two remaining players are back in their seats and play is back underway.
LEVEL UP: BLINDS 20,000-40,000 ante 4,000
7.36pm: Break time
The players are now on a 15 minute break.
7.35pm: Another one for Macdonald
Another big pot has gone the way of Sam Macdonald and he's now back in the chip lead.
From the button Valtteri Merikallio made it 70,000 to go, Macdonald made it 175,000 and Merikallio made the call. The flop fell 4♣9♠[10d] bet of 131,000 from Macdonald, call from Merikallio. The 8♠ fell on the turn, Macdonald checked it to Merikallio who bet 175,000, call from Macdonald.
This was already a sizable pot, the 2♠ completed the board, it was checked to Merikallio and he bet 400,000, after about 10 seconds thought Macdonald announced call and his K♦[10h] was good against Merikallio's A♣7♣.
After that hand Macdonald has a 2,350,000 to 1,771,000 advantage.
7.25pm: Macdonald makes a good river call
Sam Macdonald made his standard raise to 70,000 and Valtteri Merikallio flicked in the extra. Both players checked the [10d]A♠[6♦ flop. On the 4♥ turn Merikallio check-called a bet of 55,000. The 5♦ completed the board, Merikallio led for 150,000 and Macdonald made the call. The Finn showed 9♠7♣ for a missed draw, whilst Macdonald had pocket twos and took the pot.
7.10pm: Another one for Merikallio
It's now Valtteri Merikallio who has a near two to one chip lead. He bet 225,000 on the river of a 9♣4♠5♠5♦[10d] board and Macdonald made the call. The Finn showed Q♠5♥ to take the pot, as he mucked Macdonald turned over the 5♣.
7pm: Finn now looking most likely to win
And just like that the momentum and chip lead swings back to Valtteri Merikallio. On the turn of a Q♥2♥J♣K♣ board he bet 200,000 and Macdonald called. The [10c] completed the board, Merikallio fired 500,000 and Macdonald announced call, Merikallio showed Q♣7♣ and Macdonald looked on in disgust and mucked his hand.
Chip counts now 2,300,000 to Merikallio, 1,700,000 for Macdoanld.
6.55pm: More for Macdonald
A couple of small pots for Sam Macdonald has seen him stretch his lead, he's almost up two to one now and has the biggest lead anyone has had during heads-up play. It's 2,600,000 plays 1,400,000 right now.
6.50pm: Big pot alert!
However it was a chopped pot...
Pre-flop Sam Macdonald made it 70,000 and Valtteri Merikallio made the cal. The Finn then check-called bets of 55,000 and 136,000 on a 6♦J♥K♦9♣ board. The Q♣ completed the board and Merikallio led for 200,000. This sent Macdonald into the tank, when he emerged he bet 486,000.
This was not what Merikallio was expecting, he let out an audible sigh before calling, Macdonald showed K♠[10d] for a rivered straight, whilst Merikallio had made his one street earlier as he showed Q♦[10s].
6.45pm: More for Macdonald
Sam Macdonald has noticeably upped his three-bet percentage in level 25 and it's proved successful. He's got his nose in front yet again, he's up to 2,300,000 whilst Valtteri Merikallio has slipped to 1,650,000.
LEVEL UP: BLINDS 15,000-30,000 ante 3,000
6.32pm: Back to evens
As soon as one player gets a lead, the other claws it back.
Valtteri Merikallio opened for 50,000 and Sam Macdonald made the call. The Finn bet 55,000 on the flop and 125,000 on the turn before both players checked the river of a J♠2♥4♦9♣A♥ board, Merikallio showed J♥7♥ to win the pot.
You just get the feeling that this heads-up contest is going to be settled by a massive cooler.
6.30pm: Chip counts
Rough chip counts at the moment are:
Sam Macdonald: 2,250,000
Valtteri Merikallio: 1,750,000
6.20pm: Biggest pot of the level?
There haven't been too many big pots this level, but one just occurred and it was Sam Macdonald who won it.
Pre-flop Valtteri Merikallio made it 55,000 to go and called when Macdonald three-bet to 136,000. Macdonald then fired on all three streets of a K♥A♣8♣7♥5♣ board, bets of 86,000, 156,000 and 375,000 respectively. It was only the last of these that went uncalled.
6.05pm: Even money
The two players are almost exactly even in chips right now, this is a real back and forth contest.
5.55pm: Straight for Macdonald
Sam Macdonald has got some back, but he made a head-shake river call to do so, the last few pots that have gone against him perhaps playing on his mind.
Valtteri Merikallio opened to 50,000 on the button and Macdonald called. Both players checked the 5♥4♣K♣ flop to see the 2♥ hit the turn, bet of 69,000 from Macdonald, call from Merikallio.
The 3♠ completed the board, Macdonald led for 136,000 only for Merikallio to bump it to 300,000. Macdonald grimaced but quickly announced call and showed A♣5♠, which was ahead of Merikallio's 9♠4♠.
Rough chip counts are now Macdonald 2,000,000 plays Merikallio's 2,150,000.
5.50pm: Another one for Merikallio
Sam Macdonald made it 50,000 pre-flop and Valtteri Merikallio made the call. On the 5♥[10c]4♥ flop Merikallio check-called Macdonald's c-bet. The 9♣ fell on the turn and Merikallio check-called a bet of 132,000. The 6♠ completed the board, both players checked it down, Macdonald showed 8♣5♠ but Merikallio had A♦9♥ and won the pot.
5.40pm: Merikallio takes the lead
Through a series of small pots and a medium sized one where he rivered a straight, Valtteri Merikallio has taken the chip lead, it's roughly 2,200,000 plays 1,900,000 in his favour.
5.33pm: Sparks are there but no fireworks yet
Although we're yet to have an all-in and call during this heads-up battle, that's perhaps no surprise. Both players started more than 100 big blinds deep and even though they've now gone through two blind increases, for this stage of a Eureka Poker tour event they're still relatively deep stacked.
That's not to say this heads-up has been pedestrian, far from it. There's been plenty of three-betting, four betting and min check-raise river bluffs to keep the rail birds happy. Despite the swings on individual hands being fairly sizable, the overall chip movement has been negligible. As the players return to their seats the current chip situation is that Sam Macdonald has 2,375,000, whilst Valtteri Merikallio has 1,751,000.
PokerStars Blog reporting team in Lativa: Nick Wright. Photos by Rene Velli.