There are a lot of stories to share with you from yet another exciting Sunday Million.
Headlining them all, from a 10,204-entry field it was Luiz “Giant_Santos” Constantino standing tall this week as the Sunday Million champ. The Brazilian earned a cool $102,920.41 first prize following a three-handed deal, the largest share of the $1,020,400 million prize pool that was divided up between 1,826 cashers.
Meanwhile several of those making it deep to challenge Constantino at the final table spoke with PokerStars Blog about their adventures, so let’s get to those stories.
After about 12-and-a-half hours of poker they’d gotten down to nine. From there the final table took another hour-and-a-half to complete.
A two-word summary of it might read “Constantino crushed.”
The player named “Giant_Santos” had a giant stack to start the final table with nearly 27 million while one opponent had 17 million, two others were around 10 million, and the rest were all below that. And just a couple of hands in Constantino busted “guicarvalho2” in ninth.
About 10 minutes after that “tomakgchm” open-jammed his short stack with pocket eights but unfortunately ran into “jovima”‘s pocket kings to fall down to less than three big blinds. “tigredefu297” won those remaining chips on the next hand in an ace-queen versus pocket treys clash, and tomakgchm was out in eighth.
“Up until the last two tables I’d been running really good,” says tomakgchm.
Hailing from Poland, he’s been playing poker for seven years, although not as much lately as he works on a new project called “Swapson,” a platform to help poker stables manage their players, set up schedules, do audits, and the like.
“With 15 left I lost a flip, then up to the final table I was just grinding my short stack, trying to keep alive my 20 big blinds with shoves and steals,” tomakgchm continues.
Regarding the two-hand sequence ending in his bustout in eighth, tomakgchm was glad nonetheless to have made one more pay jump before hitting the rail.
“It would have been my biggest score if I had won,” he says. “Still a nice score, though, and my second final table in the Sunday Million. The first time was three years ago when I got third for almost $100K.”
Soon after that, a big coin-flip hand involving “jimmyduraide” and “bedias” followed (more on that below). Then it would take more than a half-hour before a short-stacked jovima busted in seventh to “W.I.W.69” in a blind-versus-blind battle.
Giant_Santos continued to dominate, pushing up over 40 million when only one other player, “tramonto85,” had even half that.
One of the short stacks was the aforementioned tigredefu297 of Uruguay. When we talked to him, he said he’d largely avoided “ups and downs” for most of the tournament, though by the final table things had become a bit more tense.
“In the final stages, [there was] more pressure than normal,” says Tigredefu297, adding how “it was such a good experience” to get so deep in PokerStars’ marquee online event.
“In general I think I played pretty well at the final table,” he adds. His seat wasn’t the greatest, situated as he was between tramonto85 and leader Giant_Santos (the latter on his left). “That did not allow me to play aggressively,” he notes.
He persevered, though, until finally getting short and calling all in with K♣Q♠ only to find he was up against jimmyduraide’s A♦Q♥. Both a king and an ace flopped, but with no further improvement tigredefu297 was out in sixth.
It was a nice score for tigredefu297 who began playing poker six years ago and is now a full-timer. The finish comes just three months after he topped more than 2,400 to win the $55 Bounty Builder for another $8K-plus score. He credits the team at Pocarr for having helped him learn and improve.
“Poker is an exciting game that requires a lot of skill and dedication,” he says, which for him are reasons why “poker should be more socially valued.”
Giant_Santos kept collecting chips… and knockouts, too.
First he took out bedias in fifth after he three-bet shoved with treys only to run into Giant_Santos’ pocket queens. Constantino next busted W.I.W.69 in fourth (AJ>97).
The final three continued a short while, then made a three-handed ICM deal at a point when Giant_Santos had 74 million, tramonto85 just over 15 million, and jimmyduraide about 12.5 million.
Soon after that tramonto85 was also trampled underfoot by Giant_Santos to fall in third. In that hand Giant_Santos open-shoved from the button with A♥6♥ and tramonto85 called all in for his last 16 BBs or so with 5♦5♣.
The 4♥5♥3♦ flop gave tramonto85 a set but also lots of outs for his opponent, and the 7♦ turn was one of them, giving Giant_Santos a straight. The J♠ completed the board, and they were down to two.
For jimmyduraide of Canada, outlasting more than 10,000 players to reach heads-up represented the final stage of what had been a great Sunday of poker.
In fact, it was fantastic.
Primarily a cash game player — “I try to dabble in tournaments sometimes… I probably play the Sunday Million six or seven times a year,” he says — his previous biggest tournament score had been “$2K or $3K,” he believes.
But on Sunday he’d already bested that with a fourth-place showing in the $109 buy-in Bounty Builder Series 008 event for nearly $10K (including bounties). Then after the three-handed deal here, he’d locked up more than $66K!
According to jimmyduraide, he spent much of the tournament being “card dead,” having managed to nurse his stack all day while managing to have his good hands hold each time he risked his chips.
That happened again with seven players left when he survived a big flip with ace-king versus bedias’ queens, having to wait until the river before an ace landed to save him. Then it was back to waiting and trying to hold steady while Constantino continued to reign.
“Even at the final table, I tried to be pretty patient,” he adds, noting how his stack mostly remained either mid-range or short while he eyed Giant_Santos’ chips continue to grow. “There were a lot of close spots where I folded and was on the tighter side, given the stack sizes. I was fortunate enough that he was taking people out… and out and out… and I could just move up the pay jumps.”
“He was pretty aggressive, so he was putting pressure on everybody,” notes jimmyduraide, who was able to tell pretty quickly that besides having a lot of chips, Constantino was a solid player, too. “Especially in tournaments, people who are three-betting pretty aggressively with good sizings are usually the better guys,” he says. “You could see his sizing made sense, and that he could have some bluffs as well.”
By the time they’d gotten down to three, jimmyduraide was more than ready to make the deal given the huge lead Giant_Santos enjoyed. That capped a career day for jimmyduraide as far as poker is concerned, a game he took up in earnest after having previously spent time as a pitcher in the Oakland Athletics system.
Heads-up began with Giant_Santos having a 9-to-1 chip lead, and after about five minutes, jimmyduraide finally lost an all-in when his A♣10♣ failed to catch up to Constantino’s A♥K♠.
“I might switch to tournaments now!” says jimmyduraide with a laugh. He’s joking, adding how he much prefers his usual mid-stakes cash games to the marathon grinds of tourneys.
That said, don’t be surprised to see him “dabble” in tournaments again!
Congratulations to Luiz “Giant_Santos” Constantino and all of those who like jimmyduraide enjoyed a most memorable Sunday Million!
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