2011 PCA $25K High Roller: Day 3, level 26 - 29 updates (60,000-120,000, 10,000 ante)

PCA-2010-thumbnail.jpg10:49pm: Will Molson breaks his curse, wins PCA $25K High Roller
Will Molson has finally broken his runner-up curse. After two straight years of taking second in this very event, he's won it all. The final hand came moments ago when Leo Fernandez shoved all-in with J♦2♥. Molson called with A♦5♠. The board ran out 5♥3♦7♣K♥Q♥. Molson shook Fernandez's hand then ran for the rail to hug his supporters. His take for the win? $1,072,850.

Fernandez picked up $554,925 for second place. --BW

10.40pm: Wait! Fernandez doubles again
This could go on for hours. Just when it looked like Leo Fernandez was on his last legs, he goes and doubles up to 1.9million. He raised to 285,000, William Molson moved all-in and Fernandez called:

Molson: A♠5♣
Fernandez: Q♣7♠

It was a sweet spot for Molson who only had to fade a seven or a queen (barring any unlikely straight) to finally win this PCA High Roller at the third time of asking.

The flop was 7♥6♣K♣.

So much for that. The 5♥ turn offered Molson some hope of adding running trips to his three ace outs, but the 4♦ failed to deliver.

On we go. -- SY

10:34pm--Molson crushes Fernandez
Will Molson has been looking for a reason to be happy all day long. He just got it. Leo Fernandez came in for a raise to 275,000. Molson cut out 620,000 and slid it in front of him. Fernandez didn't think long before moving all in. Molson beat him into the pot and flipped up A♦A♥. Fernandez was way behind with A♠3♦. The board run 8♠6♦J♥A♣8♣. Fernandez had Molson covered, but not by much. Molson doubled his 3,450,000 stack. He now has a huge lead on Fernandez.

Involuntarily, Molson's poker face finally cracked into a wide grin. "Now I can smile," he said.--BW

10.20pm: All quiet
It's all a bit cagey at the moment. Nothing to see here.

10.10pm: Off we go again
Leo Fernandez and William Molson are back in their seats. This is level 29 and blinds are now a meaty 60,000-120,000 with a 10,000 ante. -- SY

9.56pm: Break
That's the end of the level and players have gone on a 15-minute break. -- SY

9.55pm: Did the five help
Leo Fernadez made it 250,000 and William Molson called. The flop was 5♠A♦9♥ and Molson check-called Fernadez' 250,000. Both then checked the 2♥ turn, and on the 5♦ river Fernandez made it 500,000. Molson did not like that. "So the five helped you, did it?" No reply from the man from Argentina. Molson mucked. -- SY

Here are the current counts:
Leo Fernandez, 4,365,000
William Molson, 3,185,000

9:52pm: Cagey
The game dynamic has shifted a bit. The hands aren't going far very often. The biggest hand we've seen came just a moment ago. Leo Fernandez opened to 250,000, Will Molson three-bet to 475,000, and Fernandez called. Both players checked the 7♥4♠J♥ flop. On the 5♠ turn, Molson checked again, and Leo announced "All-in."

Molson sighed audibly and run his hands through his hair. "All-in?" he asked. "Wow."

A few more seconds ticked by before Molson muttered, "Nice hand," and folded.--BW

9.30pm: Molson doubles back up
After that brutal beat a little while ago, William Molson has now doubled back up to 3.5million, only 400,000 less than Leo Fernandez.

Fernandez had been open-shoving a lot, four times in recent hands, but this time Molson said: "I guess I have to call."

He showed K♥J♥ against Fernandez' pocket fives. The flop was a teasing [10h]2♠6♥ while the 8♥ turn filled his flush. The 3♠ mattered not.
We're back to close to even. -- SY


Leo Fernandez spots the flush

9:11pm: Confirmed: Will Molson is cursed
Let's be clear here. We don't feel bad for anybody in poker. We're way beyond the point of sympathy for anyone. That said, anyone who doesn't currently feel a little pain for Will Molson is probably dead. As you probably know by now, Molson has finished second in this event two times in as many years. Moments ago, it looked like he'd bagged the win, then Fernandez spiked the deuce on the turn to double up.

And now this:

Will Molson min-raised from the button to 200,000 and Leo Fernandez shoved for 2,570,000. Molson called in a shot with Q♦Q♠, way out ahead of Fernandez's ugly nine-seven. And then the flop...K♦9♣7♠. That's right. Fernandez flopped two pair, Molson didn't catch up, and now Fernandez has a commanding chip lead. He's holding more than five million chips and has a 2-1 advantage on Molson's 2.5 million.--BW


Realizing the curse


9pm: Level up
We're now on level 28, with blinds at 50,000-100,000 with a 10,000 ante. -- SY

8.50pm: Fernandez doubles
After two hands in which Molson shoved, the first a re-raise to Leo Fernandez and the second an open-shove, Leo Fernandez decided it was his turn. He moved all-in for 1,550,000 and Molson made the call:

Molson K♥Q♦
Fernandez: 2♣2♥

It was a classic race for the tournament, one that Molson looked to have won when the flop came 9♥Q♣A♣. He let out a huge cheer as he paired his ace, but it was Fernandez' turn to shout when the 2♦ turn made his set. The river was 8♠.

Fernandez now on more than 3million to around 4.5million for Molson. -- SY


Heads-up with Leo Fernandez, left, and William Molson

8:41pm: Lykov eliminated, Molson leads heads up
Will Molson came in for a small raise from the button. Leo Fernandez folded the small blind, but Max Lykov announced all-in. It's been a long time since I've heard a call snap so loudly. Molson tabled T♣T♦ to Lykov's 6♥6♣. The flop was a drama bomb: 8♥5♠7♠. The dealer woudn't be that nasty, would he? No, he would not. He put out the 5♥ on the turn and J♦ on the river. Lykov went out in third place for $369,490.

Molson now has a better than 3 to 1 chip lead on Fernandez heads-up.--BW


Max Lykov busts

8.35pm: Molson vs. Lykov
Max Lykov raised to 180,000 from the small blind and William Molson called from the big. On the 3♠8♦Q♣ flop Lykov bet 225,000 and Molson called. On the 4♣ turn Lykov slowed down to a check and Molson bet 250,000. Call. On the 3♣ river Lykov bet once more, then mucked when Molson made it 550,000. -- SY

8:29pm: Where did everybody go?
The 2011 is all but over. By the time this room closes down tonight, there will be no more poker at Atlantis until next January. At this hour, there are two cash games, two side event final tables, the Bounty Shootout final table, and this $25K High Roller three-handed match-up still playing. After more than a week of needing a cattle prod to get across the ballroom floor, this place has finally cleared out. You almost wouldn't know that one of the guys in the foreground of this picture will win more than $1 million before he leaves the room. --BW


8:24pm: Rough counts
Eyeballing the players stacks a second ago revealed these approximate standings:

Will Molson: 2.4 million
Leo Fernandez: 1.8 million
Max Lykov: 3.3 million

In the first 25 minutes of play since the game resumed, Lykov has done all he can to force Leo Fernandez into a confrontation. Fernandez has established his opening raise at 200,000. That bet has been met with all-in shoves, three-bets, and calls. No matter which of the three it's been, Fernandez has not raked one of the pots. This may come to a head sooner than it at fist appeared. --BW


8.10pm: Pressure on Fernandez
Leo Fernandez is going to come under some pressure after turning down a deal. The first time he raised after the dinner break, to 200,000 from the small blind, Max Lykov re-raised all-in from the big blind without a moment's hesitation.

Fernandez went deep into the tank and then Lykov called the clock. The full count down to zero came and went, and Fernandez' hand was declared dead. -- SY

8:01pm: Deal scuttled
While we're not privy to the details of the last hour, here's what we've inferred from the conversation among the final three players: with the chip counts basically even and the blinds now up to 40,000-80,000-10,000, there was talk of a deal during that last hour of break time. We don't know the terms of the discussion, but it's clear that Leo Fernandez is the dissenter. "It's better for the sport," he explained.

There is currently around $2 million left to be awarded, which means that if they chopped it evenly, everybody would get better than second place money. Regardless, that's not happening and play has resumed.

"If you want to gamble, we'll gamble," Max Lykov said.

The next player out will earn $369,490.--BW

8pm: Playing again
Players are back at the felt.

7:30pm: Obviously...
The 15-minute break turned into a longer one. The players decided to go have a bite to eat. They are scheduled to return at 8pm ET.--BW

6.40pm: Break
That's the end of the level. Players are on a 15-minute break. Here's how they stand right now: -- SY

Leo Fernandez, 2,675,000
Will Molson, 2,600,000
Max Lykov, 2,260,000

6.31pm: Hellooooooo Kyrgyzstan
Yes, it's that time again when we pay homage to our far-flung readers who are isolated in strange places. Today, we are proud to say hello to our one reader in Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia who, according to our analytics, has already looked at 17 PokerStars Blog pages today and enjoyed spending 22 minutes reading the best poker tournament reporting in the world.

Sir/Madam, we salute you. Please spread the word around your lovely city of Bishkek. -- SY

6.25pm: Fernandez ahead
Leo Fernandez has inched ahead in this three-way race. Their reasonably even, which means I am starting to get a little worried about making my flight home tomorrow. -- SY

Leo Fernandez, 2.9million
Will Molson, 2.4million
Max Lykov, 2million

6.20pm: Lykov all-in
Will Molson made it 120,000 from the button and Max Lykov re-raised all-in from the big blind. Molson seemed to be reasonably interested, but after thinking things over he elected to fold. -- SY

6.15pm: Good few minutes for Fernandez
Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez seems to have moved through the gears and has moved up to a stack of 2.3million, level with Max Lykov. He raised to 175,000 from the small blind and Lykov called from the big. On the 6♥5♣8♠ flop, Fernandez checked, Lykov bet 160,000 and Fernandez announced he was all-in. The Russian mucked in surprise.

Soon after that Fernandez made it 150,000 from the button and Will Molson defended his big blind. On the 4♥4♠8♦ flop Molson checked and Fernandez bet 150,000 to take it down. -- SY

6:04pm: Fernandez all-in...all the time
Leo Fernandez isn't necessarily short-stacked now, but he's loathe to see a flop. Three out of the last four hands he's played have been all-in re-raises or all-in four-bets. He's not been called yet and managed to pick up more than half a million in chips without seeing a flop. --BW

5.42pm: Molson motoring
William Molson can't stop taking pots at the moment. Here he raised to 100,000 from the button and Max Lykov defended his big blind. On the A♦6♣A♠ flop, Lykov checked then folded quickly when Molson bet 130,000. -- SY

5.40pm: On we go
Straight into level 26, then. Blinds are now 30,000-60,000 with a 5,000 ante. Molson is still our chip leader with approaching four million, followed by Max Lykov on 2.2million and his fellow Team PokerStars Pro Leo Fernandez on around one million. -- SY


Max Lykov

PokerStars Blog reporting team (in order of ability to stay away): None (although Stephen Bartley, Brad Willis and Simon Young are here in spirit)