There’s an old saying that no plan survives contact with the battlefield. You can prepare however you want, but once you make the final table of a tournament, there’s no one path to victory. Sometimes it pays off to be the biggest stack, or to be the most active player at the table, and it often pays to be both. Other times just being at the table and winning a coin flip at the right time is all it takes to catapult a player to a championship. For Mr. Bucis, today’s Sunday Warm-Up champion, showing up with a healthy stack and staying out of potential elimination situations during a chaotic early portion of the game set the stage to win a few key hands and a career-best score.
Things kicked off at 11 a.m. PT today, with the field swelling to 2,903 players by the end of the three-hour late registration period. That built a $580,600 prize pool to be split among the top 414 finishers, with more than $91,000 up top. PokerStars Twitch favorite Jaime “jaimestaples” Staples had a strong showing, lasting to 180th place ($580.60), and Challenger winner Stavras “IDOLLS” Kalfas topped out five spots better in 175th place for the same payday, but other than them there were no Red Spades to be found in today’s payouts.
By 8:26 p.m. ET these nine players were set to battle for this week’s Sunday Warm-Up title:
Seat 1: LucaasAK747 (3,193,858 in chips)
Seat 2: KHANSTHEWORD (6,340,456 in chips)
Seat 3: Mr. Bucis (5,316,040 in chips)
Seat 4: TLNo.13 (1,866,989 in chips)
Seat 5: William “hellzito” Arruda (2,072,578 in chips)
Seat 6: Mike “MikeyGG3” Gentili (2,135,952 in chips)
Seat 7: Andrija “cynicalfish” Martic (2,681,134 in chips)
Seat 8: mr.WanTaim (2,066,825 in chips)
Seat 9: mayanfactor (3,356,168 in chips)
Only two of the first 17 hands went as far as the river, and Mr. Bucis was involved in both of them. The Lithuanian player was on the right side of the first one, driving 2013 TCOOP winner Andrija “cynicalfish” Martic out with an all-in bet on a 3♣ A♦ 9♥ 9♠ Q♣ board to take down the 1.81M-chip pot. Nine hands later things didn’t go as well. Mr. Bucis called with A♣ Q♠ in the big blind after mayanfactor jammed for 2.95M in the cutoff with 8♣ 8♥, but the coin flip tilted in mayanfactor’s favor with the 9♣ 10♠ 8♠ flop. Mr. Bucis still had a gutshot straight draw, but the K♦–K♠ turn and river gave mayanfactor the double to 6.13M.
cynicalfish picked up J♣ J♥ before the flop on the next hand and opened, but KHANSTHEWORD was lurking on the button with A♣ A♦ and re-raised, provoking an all-in bet from cynicalfish. KHANSTHEWORD called and dodged an open-ended straight draw on the river of the 5♠ 10♥ Q♦ K♠ 8♣ board to send cynicalfish to the rail in 9th place ($4,935.10).
Mr. Bucis got back in the action on the following hand, shoving with K♠ 9♠ in an attempt to steal the blinds and antes. TLNo.13 woke up with K♣ K♦ in the small blind and called all-in for 1.4M, becoming a 94-percent favorite to win the pot when the flop came 2♥ 5♣ A♠. Mr. Bucis caught a break when the 5♠ turn and 8♠ river combined to make a backdoor spade flush, and TLNo.13 settled for 8th place ($7,849.71).
Another short stack got in as a favorite on the next hand only to be given a rough ride by the deck. This time it was WIlliam “hellzito” Arruda, winner of the 2015 WCOOP Super Tuesday Special Edition, who re-raised all-in for 1.24M with A♣ 10♦ after KHANSTHEWORD opened for 355K in middle position with A♥ 2♥. The extra 890K was a trivial call for the chip leader, who picked up a flush draw on the flop and cashed it in on the river of the 3♥ 7♥ 6♦ 7♠ 6♥ board. With that, hellzito bowed out in 7th place ($13,644.10).
That gave KHANSTHEWORD more than twice as many chips as mayanfactor, the nearest competitor with 6.08M, and extended that lead further six hands later. LucaasAK747 opened the action on that hands by moving all-in for 1.98M with K♠ Q♦ and KHANSTHEWORD, with A♣ K♣, was the only caller. The 7♦ 6♠ 3♥  5♥ board didn’t come anywhere close to helping, and LucaasAK747 left in 6th place ($19,450.10).
mayanfactor struck the next knockout blow just two hands after that, climbing back above half of the chip leader’s stack after calling with A♣ 10♠ in the big blind following short-stacked mr.WanRaim’s all-in bet with J♥ 8♥. Two pair on the flop of the A♠ 5♥ 10♦ 2♣ J♠ board was good enough for mayanfactor to take the 3M chips in the middle, and mr.WanTaim left in 5th place ($25,256.10).
After all that action in a span of just 10 hands, the next 10 went by without a single pot rising to 10 big blinds in value. KHANSTHEWORD was firmly in the lead with 13.1M chips, and mayanfactor was sitting comfortably in second place with 7.92M. That left TCOOP 2016 winner Mike “MikeyGG3” Gentili at 3.38M and Mr. Bucis at 4.54M, and they ended up breaking the relative silence with a heads-up clash.
MikeyGG3 sat in the big blind with A♦ K♣ and called when Mr. Bucis jammed on the button with 3♦ 3♥, leaving 201K behind and putting Mr. Bucis at risk of elimination. Only one Broadway card came on the J♠ 2♣ 4♥ 6♦ 4♠ board, though, and it couldn’t break the pair of treys. That boosted Mr. Bucis to 8.37M, less than a big blind behind mayanfactor for second place.
Left with a single big blind, MikeyGG3 moved all-in on the button next hand and was called by both mayanfactor and KHANSTHEWORD in the blinds. KHANSTHEWORD’s 8♦ 3♠ made a pair of treys on the 3♣ 6♠ 4♦ K♦ A♠ board to take the 661K-chip pot, and MikeyGG3 was gone in 4th place ($33,384.50).
Mr. Bucis came out firing right away, defending the big blind with 8♥ 7♣ and check-raising to 842K with the gutshot draw on the K♥ 5♦ 9♠ flop after mayanfactor bet 366K. mayanfactor called there and then again for 1.47M on the 3♠ turn, showing down A♥ A♠ for the 5.8M-chip win after both players checked the 9♥ river.
Despite that quick start and the blazing pace of play that had preceded it, the journey from three-handed play to heads-up wasn’t so quick in coming around. It took 10 more hands to get to the next showdown, which featured KHANSTHEWORD and mayanfactor. The former had raised to 875K in the small blind after mayanfactor limped on the button, getting Mr. Bucis to fold, but mayanfactor called to see the 2♥ A♣ J♥ flop. Both player checked there, mayanfactor called 1.91M on the 4♦ turn, and both checked again on the A♠ river. KHANSTHEWORD had been chasing the flush with K♥ 10♥, but so had mayanfactor – with A♥ 9♥, which ended up making three of a kind to take the 7.65M-chip pot and move into the chip lead.
Six hands later KHANSTHEWORD suffered another loss, this time to the shorter-stacked opponent. KHANSTHEWORD opened the betting by shoving from the small blind with A♦ 4♦, and Mr. Bucis called all-in 4.24M with A♠ Q♦. The queen on the flop of the Q♠ K♣ J♣ 3♥ 5♠ board was all it took to give Mr. Bucis the 8.55M-chip pot.
Suddenly KHANSTHEWORD had gone from the penthouse to the cellar. The player from Panama was able to double up a few hands later with K♠ 9♥ after flopping top pair against mayanfactor’s bottom pair with Q♥ 3♣, but after being able to pick up no more than a few blinds and antes here and there, even those gains were gone 25 hands later. Confrontation finally arrived on the 150K/300K/30K level after Mr. Bucis raised to 600K on the button and KHANSTHEWORD, holding A♣ 7♠, moved in for 4.38M. Mr. Bucis wasted no time calling with J♥ J♠ and caught top set on the flop, then a full house on the turn of the 4♥ 6♠ J♦ 4♣ Q♥ board, to eliminate KHANSTHEWORD in 3rd place ($48,770.40).
Coming into heads-up play with the chip lead, mayanfactor had already improved on a previous career-best finish in the Sunday Warm-Up, topping a third-place score back in 2014. But the chance of climbing even higher than that came to an abrupt end on just the third hand when both players picked up pocket pairs. Mr. Bucis was already ahead with another pair of jacks – this time J♣ J♥ – to mayanfactor’s 7♦ 7♥, but made a king-high straight on the 10♥ 5♣ 9♦ K♥ Q♦ board to jump to 26.4M chips. That was more than 10 times as many as mayanfactor, who hung on for seven more hands before finding K♥ J♠. When Mr. Bucis limped on the button, mayanfactor jammed with it, but it was a trap as Mr. Bucis held A♣ A♠. Hope was still there on the turn with the board reading 8♥ 7♦ 8♠ 9♠, but the 7♣ on the river made aces and eights the winner and closed the tournament out.
mayanfactor’s take for second place was $68,220.50, almost $24,000 more than that 2014 final table appearance in this tournament. As for the winner, Mr. Bucis of Lithuania, the $91,445.24 top prize sets a new career best here at PokerStars by more than $87,000. Congratulations to both players on their very solid Sunday performances!
3/20/16 Sunday Warm-Up ($215 No-Limit Hold’em) results
Total prize pool: $580,600
Places paid: 414
1. Mr. Bucis (Lithuania) $91,445.24
2. mayanfactor (Bulgaria) $68,220.50
3. KHANSTHEWORD (Panama) $48,770.40
4. Mike “MikeyGG3” Gentili (Canada) $33,384.50
5. mr.WanTaim (Netherlands) $25,256.10
6. LucaasAK747 (Brazil) $19,450.10
7. William “hellzito” Arruda (Brazil) $13,644.10
8. TLNo.13 (Romania) $7,849.71
9. Andrija “cynicalfish” Martic (Croatia) $4,935.10
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