The definitive account of last week’s Sunday Million (July 21).
We were plenty familiar here at PokerStars Blog with UK poker pro Conor Beresford even before last weekend, having watched him numerous times on the European Poker Tour including most recently at EPT Monte Carlo where he made a deep run in the Main Event to finish 11th.
Beresford captured our attention again on Sunday. Playing as “1_conor_b_1,” he topped a huge 10,931-entry field to win the Sunday Million and a handsome $112,185.24 first prize.
While Beresford was the best known player at the final table and enjoyed a big stack for much of the endgame, others provided him a significant challenge. Here’s the story of how the July 21 Sunday Million played out, with some input from a couple of those who came closest to keeping “1_conor_b_1” out of the winner’s circle.
Those 10,931 entries built a total prize pool of $1,093,100, with the top 1,934 finishers dividing those riches. Team Online’s Lex Veldhuis squeaked into the money by finishing 1,918th, and Team Pro Fatima Moreira de Melo likewise min-cashed for $182.11 after making it to 1,512nd.
Also sporting the red spade, new PokerStars Twitch streamer Tom “MajinBoob” Hayward made it a little further to finish 1,168th for a $208.56 prize.
Sometime after that the nine-handed final table began, at which point Beresford, “spanishdj1,” and “exculibrus” were the big stacks.
A key hand early saw Beresford flop a set of sevens and get all in on the turn versus exculibrus’ flush draw. When the river blanked Beresford was the chip leader and exculibrus the table’s short stack, and exculibrus went out soon thereafter in ninth.
“GeraldoCesar” next went out in eighth when his ace-king couldn’t catch up to the pocket sixes of “jakubc1.” Beresford then claimed the next two knockouts to add further to his stack.
First he took out “MinReraise” in seventh when the latter got his last three-and-a-half big blinds in with K♥8♠ versus Beresford’s K♣5♦ and a five came.
Then came a hand in which jakubc1 min-raised with A♣A♥ and Beresford called with A♦10♣, then the flop came Q♠J♠K♣. After jakubc1 check-called a couple of small bets on the flop and turn, he check-called all in on the river but Beresford’s straight was still best and jakubc1 was out in sixth.
Pocket nines then failed “svquit” in a preflop all-in versus spanishdj1’s ace-queen, sending svquit out in fifth. Four-handed play continued for a short while with the stacks evening up a bit and spanishdj1 even taking the chip lead away from Beresford for a time.
One of the final four was “BIGHOOPS00” of Canada, a real estate agent who had late registered the tournament about 12 hours earlier on Sunday afternoon. Talking with BIGHOOPS00 afterwards, he shared a funny story about how his Sunday Million got started.
“It was at an open house,” he laughs. “I mean, I was bored.” He explained how at one point a prospective buyer even caught a glimpse of his laptop and asked him how it was going.
“I told him it was going great,” says BIGHOOPS00. “And then it ended great… so that was pretty funny.”
Indeed, the whole day had gone pretty well for him. “I had a couple of big pots pretty early… where it was like three of us all in,” he explains. “But I was always kind of middle of the pack… around the average. I’d win a big hand, I’d bump up, and then the average would catch up to me.”
He continued to grind all of the way to the final table. After having played online tournaments since the 2000s, BIGHOOPS00 was suddenly within reach of earning his biggest ever cash.
“It was nerve-wracking at times,” he says of the final table. “I just sort of felt like I stayed in my lane a little. I wasn’t speeding too often.”
Finally at four-handed a hand arose when BIGHOOPS00 was dealt A♠10♥ and when folded to on the button jammed all in for a little over 24 big blinds. Alas for him, spanishdj1 woke up with A♣Q♥ in the small blind and reraise-shoved. spanishdj1 then flopped Broadway, and when the turn and river didn’t help BIGHOOPS00 was out in fourth.
“I wanted to be more patient, says BIGHOOPS00. “I just wanted the blinds, and it ended up being a mistake because someone had ace-queen…. That’s my one big regret — that I didn’t just raise and fold and get one more position and another $20,000 or something, like huge money, right?”
Even so, the almost $43K career-high cash was plenty satisfying for him, his long day ending much more excitingly than it had began back at that quiet open house. And coming so close to the win has made him eager to try again.
“I’m mad I didn’t win that tournament,” he says. “I’m happy about the money, it’s great… but it’s not a win, and I want a win. So you’ll see me back there!”
That pot made spanishdj1 the big chip leader, but within a few orbits the final three players were again roughly even in chips.
Then after Beresford built up and spanishdj1 slipped, a hand arose in which Beresford flopped two pair and spanishdj1 a flush draw. The chips went in the middle, the draw didn’t come, and spanishdj1 was out in third.
Beresford had a little over 68.2 million to Ievgenii “manumanu1985” Ostroverkhov‘s just over 41 million to begin heads-up play. Like BIGHOOPS00, a fast start to the tournament had helped Ostroverkhov early, and the run good had continued from there to put him in position to win.
“I almost tripled up right away,” explains Ostroverkhov. “Then it took more luck to get to the very end, but that’s usually needed to get to the top spots.”
Ostroverkhov had taken note of how when others had wanted to discuss a deal at five-handed, Beresford wasn’t interested. The UK pro’s aggressive play had also gotten Ostroverkhov’s attention.
“He tried to attack the table all the time,” says Ostroverkhov. “And as a result, that brought him first place — as he wanted!”
Unfortunately for Ostroverkhov, it was just a few hands into heads-up that a hand arose in which he limped from the button with 8♠7♣, Beresford raised and Ostroverkhov called, then the flop fell J♣10♦9♣ to give Ostroverkhov a straight.
Ostroverkhov check-raised Beresford on the flop, then the Q♠ came on the turn and both checked. After the 9♥ river Ostroverkhov called off a Beresford bet to see his opponent had K♣8♦ for a better straight, and just like that he was facing a 6-to-1 chip deficit.
Soon Ostroverkhov called all in with A♣J♦ versus Beresford’s K♠5♦, and after a 9♦7♥5♠5♣9♠ runout Beresford had won.
Even so, Ostroverkhov was in a celebratory mood afterwards.
“I’ve played for about three years on PokerStars — playing poker is not my profession,” he explains. “But I have some skills, I think. I’ve played Sunday tournaments from time to time, but I haven’t much time to play all day.”
After earning his biggest tourney cash ever on Sunday, Ostroverkhov might just try to find more time to play going forward.
“You know it’s amazing to see the way the guy who is the big chip lead at the table just all of a sudden be gone, and the guy who is at the bottom, the short stack, is all of a sudden big,” he pointed out.
“I think you always look at your stack, but really you just have to think you’ve got a chair… and everyone’s got a chair.”
Indeed, as this week’s Sunday Million showed — if you have a chair, you have a chance.
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