It was another memorable Sunday Million on PokerStars this week, especially for the nine players who emerged from the 11,878-entry field to make the final table.
The big turnout meant a $1,187,800 prize pool was divided among the top 2,150 finishers, with winner Ben_Apart of the United Kingdom ultimately coming out on top to earn a big $119,637.71 payday.
Here’s the story of how the tournament was won, aided by the perspectives of a couple of final-tablists who like the others won’t be forgetting this tournament for a long time.
It took about 13 hours to play all of the way down to the nine-handed final table, by which point all of the red spade wearers who had played — Tom “MajinBoob” Hayward of PokerStars Twitch, Felix “xflixx” Schneiders of Team Online, and Team Pro Kalidou Sow — were long gone.
Ben_Apart had the chip lead when the final table started with a little over 30 million when the average was just under 13.2 million. Meanwhile fellow UK player “jkru005” was one of several sitting around the 10M mark, though leading up to that point he’d been riding high for much of the previous several hours.
“I was killing it from mid-game to the final 18,” jkru005 told us, noting how he’d had the chip lead with 180 players left and remained in the top 10 all of the way to the last two tables. But as play wore on and the field whittled further, the differences in the stacks got smaller.
“It got to a stage 12-handed where chip distribution was so flat that if you lose a flip you go from 1st to 10th,” explains jkru005. He recalls one key hand with 14 left in which he knocked out an opponent after three-betting all-in with K-J, getting called by 7-7, and hitting a jack to win.
“After winning this pot I definitely thought I would be in the run to win, but unfortunately fate had other plans. :(”
Indeed it was just after the final table started that jkru005 watched the Netherlands’ “Cashaoui” open-shove a stack of just under 10 BB, then from the button jkru005 reraise-pushed his almost 15 BB with Q♦Q♣. Alas for both, leader Ben_Apart was waiting in the small blind with K♦K♣ and thus put all his chips in the middle, too — and both of his opponents at risk.
Cashaoui had 7♠7♥, it turned out, but the 8♠Q♥6♠ flop had jkru005 again having visions of his tourney journey going even further. The K♠ turn dashed those dreams, though, and after the 3♥ river jkru005 was out in eighth and Cashaoui in ninth.
“I think I woke up my whole building when I saw the Q, but yeah the turn almost made me cry haha,” says jkru005 who ultimately earned one of his biggest cashes ever after playing off and on (including some full-time) over the last several years.
“I was so sad having played for almost 16 hours (if you include the $5.50 satellite that I played to get into this crapshoot haha),” he says. Still, he says, it was definitely a “good result” despite having seemingly been in position previously to go further.
About 15 minutes later “RafaCorreaBR” of Brazil was down to 15 BBs before getting it all in on an ace-high flop holding A♠10♠ versus Germany’s “JulianPasare”. But the latter had A♣J♣, and when the hand held RafaCorreaBR was done in seventh.
Six-handed then lasted another 20 minutes before “thebigdog09” of Mexico was knocked out, also by JulianPasare and once again on the flop.
The board read 6♣2♦4♦ and that encouraged thebigdog09 to commit a short stack with A♦3♦ while JulianPasare had 10♠10♣. But the 4♥ turn and 3♠ river weren’t enough to change things, and thebigdog09 was out in sixth.
With five left “yodashutka” of Russia had moved ahead of Ben_Apart into the lead while Denmark’s “x_zola25” had slipped to fifth. In fourth was “GreekPro47”, a part-time player from Canada (with parents from Greece) who talked to us about his long Sunday.
After playing a lot several years ago while in school, poker was mainly a side hobby for GreekPro47 until recently. “The last 3-6 months I’ve been taking it more seriously, playing in the evenings and on weekends. I actually came in third in the Sunday Storm a few weeks ago, and that kind of gave me a bump to take a shot [in the Sunday Million] this week as I had some free time.”
After not having played the Sunday Million for a long time, he got a big dose of it with 13-14 hours’ worth of poker. It looked for a moment that he wouldn’t get as far as the final table, though, after losing a big hand with about 100 players left to fall back to 4-5 BBs. His kings were cracked by an opponent’s queens, despite a Q-J-T all-club flop with GreekPro47 holding the K♣. But he persevered.
“I said ‘you know what? just fight it out and see what happens.’ I ended up laddering and laddering until I finally got to the final table,” he says.
However, with five left he ran pocket jacks into leader yadoshutka’s pocket kings. The board rolled out six-high, and GreekPro47 was sent railward in fifth.
“There was one player [x_zola25] who was super-short, which might make you think it was a mistake,” he says. “But the cards came out low, so I’m pretty sure one way or another we were getting those chips in.”
After making a career-high cash of about $7,800 in that recent Sunday Storm, he’d suddenly set a new record for himself by cashing for more than $33K.
“I might play a few more Sunday Storms and some bigger tournaments when I have the time,” he says, “but I’m pretty comfortable just playing $20 and $30 tourneys.”
x_zola25 did fall shortly thereafter in fourth in a three-way hand ending with JulianPasare scoring yet another knockout. All three remaining players would lead at some point over the next 40 minutes, with Ben_Apart finally again taking control.
Indeed, Ben_Apart was so far in front that when yodashutka busted JulianPasare in third with deuces versus king-five, Ben_Apart still had a better than 2-to-1 chip lead to start heads-up.
Ten minutes later it ended with a preflop all-in, yodashuka’s A♦9♠ versus Ben_Apart’s A♣J♥, with the latter’s hand prevailing to win the title and six-figure first prize.
Congratulations to Ben_Apart for the win and to everyone else who made the final table to earn nice cash prizes and a special poker memory.
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