GDAM Day 3: Level 15-17 updates - 1m-2m (300,000 ante)

6.30pm: Niklas Heinecker wins GDAM main event and $34,600,000 HKD ($4,464,516 USD)
Jeff Rossiter out in second, winning $24,500,000 ($3,161,290)

Heads up lasted precisely three hands. Niklas Heinecker limped from the button and Jeff Rossiter shoved his 18 big blind stack in the middle. Heinecker called instantly.

Heinecker: A♥9♥
Rossiter: Q♦[10s]

"It's difficult to fault either player's play," said Isaac Haxton in the PokerStars.tv commentary booth.

The board ran K♥5♦4♣3♦J♠ and the ace high remained good. Niklas Heinecker, from Germany, is our champion. Full wrap to follow soon.

6.25pm: No deal
The slight delay now is so that the players can have their photos taken heads up. There's still not much talk of a deal between these two, which I think is very strange. There's approximately $1.3m difference between first and second place.

6.15pm: Heads up
And so we go heads up, with the approximate stacks as follows:

Niklas Heinecker: 90,150,000
Jeff Rossiter: 34,850,000

6.10pm: Sorel Mizzi out in third, winning $16,100,000 HKD (US$2,077,419)
Sorel Mizzi open shoved from the small blind for 23,200,000 and Niklas Heineker called very quickly from the big blind. Heineker had a huge stack and a pocket pair: 6♦6♠. Mizzi was in a spot of bother with K♥7♣.

The flop was terrible news for Mizzi. It came [10s]5♠6♣. By the time the J♣ turned, it was all over for Mizzi. He leaves in third place, taking $16,100,000 HKD (US$2,077,419).

6pm: Zheng Tang out in fourth for $12,525,000 HKD ($1,616,129)
Two big hands, chips in the middle, Zheng Tang out in fourth. That's about the size of it as Niklas Heinecker found A♦K♦ and Zheng Tang found 5♠5♣. The A♥ on the flop helped only Heinecker and there was no re-draw for Zheng. He busts in fourth, leaving Sorel Mizzi, Jeff Rossiter and Heinecker, who is now chip leader.

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Zheng Tang: Last local player out in fourth

5.55pm: Mizzi back in it
First hand back and Sorel Mizzi open-shoved from under-the-gun for his near 17m stack. Jeff Rossiter dwelled for a moment in the big blind, but then called and Mizzi's tournament was on the line.

Mizzi: A♠J♦
Rossiter: A♥3♥

The flop was pretty good for Mizzi. It came K♠Q♠[10c]. There were some chop outs, but the K♣ turn and 7♠ river were not them. Mizzi doubles up to about 36m.

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Fist-pumping Sorel Mizzi

LEVEL UP. PLAYING BLINDS OF 1M-2M (300,000 ANTE) IN LEVEL 17

5.35pm: Heinecker lives to fight another day
We have got the final table we were kind of expecting, with chips flying in the pot pretty much every hand. Niklas Heinecker, one of the two short stacks, shoved with [10d]7♦ and was snap-called by Tang Zheng with A♣8♣.

Heinecker was at risk, especially since Zheng had the "lucky" eight. But when the board came K♠[10h]6♥Q♥2♦, it was Heinecker pulling off the outdraw and the double up and leaving Tang back on the short stack.

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Tang Zheng: stunned that lucky eight didn't win

That's the end of the level, with the approximate stacks as follows:

Jeff Rossiter: 53m
Niklas Heinecker: 42.7m
Sorel Mizzi: 17.25m
Tang Zheng: 11.35m

The blinds are now going up to 1m-2m (300,000 ante).

5.30pm: Zheng Tang doubles back through Mizzi
Read that last post, then reverse it. Tang Zheng has just found [10s][10c] at the same time Sorel Mizzi had A♣Q♦ and the Chinese player won the flip when they got it in pre-flop.

Zheng is now up to 32,700, Mizzi is down to 19.1m. Rossiter still out front with 54m.

5.25pm: Huge double up for Sorel Mizzi
In truth, all double ups are huge here, but the day-start chip leader Sorel Mizzi has now moved back to more than his opening stack. He check-raised Zheng Tang on a flop of Q♥2♣4♣ and Tang called.

Mizzi by this stage had Q♦9♠, ie, top pair and Tang's K♥J♣ was in trouble. The A♣ on the turn gave the Chinese player plenty of outs, but the 7♦ river was not one of them.

Mizzi is now up to 36m and Tang is down to 15.6m. The other two, Jeff Rossiter and Niklas Heinecker, have 54m and 19.1m respectively.

5.15pm: Four for it
Four players left, representing Australasia, Europe, North America and Asia. It's Niklas Heinecker representing Europe after Igor Kurganov bust, a moment caught by our photographer here, Kenneth Lim.

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Niklas Heinecker and Igor Kurganov, after the latter's elimination

5pm: Isaac Haxton out in fifth, winning $10,200,000 HKD ($1,316,129)
Isaac Haxton had laddered up from one big blind to 14m chips, but he couldn't pull off one last outdraw. He is now out in fifth, winning 10.2m HKD. That's $1.3m US.

Haxton moved all in from the small blind and Tang Zheng called from the big. This was always likely to mean a good hand for Zheng as he has been the only player apparently willing to fold anything but monsters. It was indeed.

Zheng: A♠Q♥
Haxton: J♠3♥

The flop came 7♥9♠A♣, which was good only for Zheng. But there was hope for Haxton on the 3♠ turn, only to be quashed on the 6♥ river. That was the end of Haxton's charge. He takes another $1m+ payday, however, and remains the man in form in world poker.

4.55pm: Igor Kurganov out in sixth, winning $10,200,000 ($1,316,129)
There was an enormous roar from the rail as Zheng Tang, unfortunate on the last hand, just pulled off an outdraw of his own to send Igor Kurganov out in sixth.

Isaac Haxton sat silently, but he has just survived a $300,000 pay jump with his micro-stack. I imagine there was a silent roar going on inside Haxton too.

Zheng and Kurganov got it all in pre-flop. Kurganov had A♣[10c] and Zheng had A♦8♥ and the flop came 2♠A♠Q♠. The river was 7♥ and Kurganov was all but certain to double up until the 8♠ came on the river.

Kurganov, who has been chip leader at this final is now out in sixth, taking $10,200,000 HKD ($1,316,129).

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Igor Kurganov

4.50pm: Haxton clings on, doubles again
They love a bit of gamble over here in Macau, but they didn't like this one so much. The local favourite Zheng Tang has just been the unfortunate player to double up Isaac Haxton, in one of those come-from-behind pots that has kept Haxton alive.

Haxton was all in for less than three big blinds and Zheng called. Haxton had 6♦2♥ to Zheng's A♣[10s]. The flop came A♦7♣5♦ and even though the [10d] looked like it favoured Zheng, it actually gave Haxton the flush draw. Then the J♦ rivered and Haxton completed the outdraw. He now has about 7 big blinds and is still kicking.

4.45pm: Rossiter doubles through Kurganov, takes huge lead
Everyone was waiting for Isaac Haxton to get his chips in the middle and almost certainly bust in sixth. But Igor Kurganov and Jeff Rossiter had other ideas; those two big stacks got involved in the biggest pot of the tournament so far.

Kurganov open shoved for more than 30m and Rossiter took a while, but then called all in behind. Rossiter's 28m was the effective stack, and this was for the huge chip lead.

Kurganov: Q♠8♣
Rossiter: [10s][10d]

Tens haven't been hugely lucky at this final table, but this time they would hold up. The board ran A♠5♦6♣K♣8♦ and Rossiter takes a massive lead.

4.43pm: Haxton doubles plus
Isaac Haxton had little choice but to get his chips in. He had less than one big blind after all. He had 8♥6♠ and was called by Igor Kurganov's [10c]4♦, but this time it was Haxton getting the luck of the gods on the river. The board came K♥4♠5♣9♠6♠ and that six gave Haxton the pot. He is now wielding a mighty three big blinds.

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Isaac Haxton

4.40pm: Massive double for Heinecker; Haxton on the ropes
Here's an enormous hand that puts Niklas Heinecker back in the competition but has all but snuffed out the hopes of Isaac Haxton. The Team Online player is down to less than one big blind.

Heinecker shoved all in for 8,575,000 from the button and Haxton took a while before calling from the small blind. He had Heinecker covered, but only just.

Haxton: [10d][10h]
Heinecker: A♣5♠

The board was OK for Haxton all the way to the turn. The first four cards out were Q♦2♥Q♣J♦. But then the A♦ rivered and Heinecker came from behind to win. Haxton is now in desperate trouble.

4.30pm: Short break
Players have taken a three-minute bathroom break before beginning level 16.

BLINDS UP: 700,000-1,400,000 (200,000) IN LEVEL 16

4.25pm: Players playing poker
Players are now actually "playing" for what is probably the first time in a couple of levels. By that, I mean they're min-raise opening and then either three-bet shoving or getting out the way. Kurganov has twice opened from relatively early position and both times, Sorel Mizzi has shoved from behind him. Both moves have got through, putting Mizzi back up to about 23m and Kurganov with 33m.

Isaac Haxton just open shoved from the small blind and got Zheng Tang to fold the big blind, with a certain degree of pain.

4.10pm: Stacks
Here are the approximate stacks at the moment:

Igor Kurganov: 37m
Jeff Rossiter: 27m
Isaac Haxton: 16m
Sorel Mizzi: 15m
Zheng Tang: 13m
Niklas Heinecker: 13m

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Jeff Rossiter, moving on up

4pm: Drop everything and play this
I don't know about you, but if I receive an email that has five exclamation marks in it, I will instantly move it to Spam. However, this one came from someone I know, and someone not prone to hyperbole. I copy/paste it in its entirety and I recommend you to read it closely and play this tournament. It wil cost you nothing and could get you out here to Macau. For free.

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  • $500 travel cash + 2 tickets to the House of Dancing Water show.

  • Registration opens at 02:45 ET.

  • Find it under the Tourney/Freeroll tab on PokerStars.

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Load up PokerStars people, and play this tourney. The password is "vivianim".

3.55pm: Rossiter on the charge
In two hands, Jeff Rossiter has taken charge of this final table. He min-raised from the cut off (essentially the button, given it was dead in front of Anson Tsang's empty seat). Sorel Mizzi shoved from the small blind and Rossiter called instantly. Here's why: he had A♦A♠.

Mizzi had K♠[10c] and the board wasn't in aces-cracking mood. It came A♣2♠5♦K♦4♥. Rossiter now has more than 30m and is out in front.

3.55pm: Anson Tsang out in seventh, winning $922,581
We have our second all in call of the final table and it has send Anson Tsang to the rail.

He was the tiny stack and has laddered up one spot, owing to Pratyush Buddiga's elimination. But Tsang is also now heading to the cage.

Jeff Rossiter moved all in, comfortably covering Tsang, and Tsang called.

Rossiter: K♣[10d]
Tsang: A♥6♣

The flop helped only Rossiter: Q♣[10s]5♣. And the turn Q♦ and river [10c] sealed the deal. Tsang takes $7,150,000 ($922,581).

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Anson Tsang, out in seventh

3.45pm: Photo credit
We're very lucky here in Macau to have Kenneth Lim shooting the pictures for us. Here's Ken's take on the final table:

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Final table time in Macau

3.40pm: Patyush Buddiga out in eighth, winning $774,194
The micro-stacked Anson Tsang shoved his four big blind stack in pre-flop and got Igor Kurganov to fold his big blind. The stacks are so shallow that there is no such thing as a standard call here. Even Kurganov would have been desperately wounded if he called and lost.

On the very next hand, we saw why it is so important to maintain those stacks. Kurganov shoved from the small blind and Pratyush Buddiga suddenly seemed interested in the big blind. He called, and it was Buddiga at risk. (It would have been the other way round had Kurganov called and lost against Tsang.)

Kurganov: Q♠7♥
Buddiga: 8♦8♠

Buddiga was looking good for a double up, but the Q♣ was in the window and the rest of the board blanked out. Kurganov therefore moves up beyond 30 million chips and into the chip lead. But Pratyush Buddiga is out in eighth, for $6,000,000 ($774,194).

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Our eighth-placed finisher, Patyush Buddiga

3.33pm: All in, all in, all in
With the exception of the very first hand, we've had a pre-flop shove on every other occasion. Igor Kurganov did it, then Sorel Mizzi, then Isaac Haxton.

The first two got through, but then Tang Zheng called Haxton's with K♣J♣ and Haxton was in trouble, with Q♠7♦. But the board ran 7♥6♦A♥A♦9♦ and doubled up Haxton.

3.30pm: First hand king
We are away, and the very first hand is a walk for Sorel Mizzi. He looks at his cards, finds kings, and tosses them frustratedly on the felt.

3.25pm: McDonald on the mic
"Whether it's for 40 million or 40 bucks, 12 big blinds is 12 big blinds," says Mike McDonald in the PokerStars.tv commentary booth. He reminds us that all of these players know what they're doing, regardless of the stakes at play.

McDonald is rooming here in Macau with Pratyush Buddiga, who has apparently said this morning that when there were nine players left last night, it was one of the highest pressure situations he has ever played in, but now they are down to eight, it is one of the lowest pressure. That has a lot to do with those stack sizes: it's pretty much just a case of playing the cards you're dealt here. We could have an awful lot of shoving early on.

3.10pm: Hold up
Not that kind. Just a small delay as some administrative matters are attended to. We'll be away shortly.

2.40pm: A reminder of the counts
Here's what all these guys are playing. Blinds will start at 500,000-1,000,000 (100,000 ante) or 500K-1m (100K).

Seat 1: Igor Kurganov, 25 - London, UK - 18,400,000 chips
Seat 2: Pratyush Buddiga, 24 - Colorado Springs, USA - 13,075,000 chips
Seat 3: Jeff Rossiter, 23 - Melbourne, Australia - 12,825,000 chips
Seat 4: Anson Tsang, 30 - Hong Kong - 5,750,000 chips
Seat 5: Sorel Mizzi, 27 - Toronto, Canada - 28,300,000 chips
Seat 6: Niklas Heinecker, 28 - Hamburg, Germany - 15,275,000 chips
Seat 7: Isaac Haxton, 27 - Syracuse, NY, USA - Team PokerStars Online - 7,075,000 chips
Seat 8: Zheng Tang, 46 - Shanghai, China - 24,300,000 chips

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Final table players at GDAM: Back row (l-r): Zheng Tang, Pratyush Buddiga, Igor Kurganov. Front row (l-r): Jeff Rossiter, Anson Tsang, Sorel Mizzi, Niklas Heinecker, Isaac Haxton.

2.30pm: Welcome back to Macau
Good afternoon all and welcome back to PokerStars Live at the City of Dreams, Macau, where we have a final table to play. This will be unlike any final table you have ever seen, with a min-cash already representing approximately $775,000 and the winner set for $4.5m. What's more: the average stack at the moment is worth 15 big blinds and the big stack is only 28 big blinds. In short, this shouldn't take long.

Take a quick look at the final table player profiles, then remind yourself of the payouts:

1 - $34,600,000 HKD ($4,464,516 USD)
2 - $24,500,000 ($3,161,290)
3 - $16,100,000 ($2,077,419)
4 - $12,525,000 ($1,616,129)
5 - $10,200,000 ($1,316,129)
6 - $8,300,000 ($1,070,968)
7 - $7,150,000 ($922,581)
8 - $6,000,000 ($774,194)

You can follow the action on PokerStars.tv if you're reading this "live". And if you're reading this several months later, why not pop over there anyway. There's sure to be something that takes your fancy.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in PokerStars Macau