A lot can change in five years. Just ask Venezuela’s harddecision. The last time harddecision made a Super Tuesday final table, back in May 2011, the top prize up for grabs among the 165 players in the field was just over $35,000. Today harddecision returned to a Super Tuesday final table neighborhood that had become significantly more upscale in the intervening years, with the top three players in this week’s tournament all set to earn more than the champ did back in 2011. The Venezuelan player then climbed from the middle of the pack to claim the lead and, after nearly three hours of final table poker, improved on an early exit five years ago by taking down the title.
This week’s edition of the Super Tuesday kicked off, as usual, at 2 p.m. ET. By the time late registration closed at 6 p.m. ET, only 140 of the total 416-player field remained in action. They played two more hours before arriving at the money bubble, with PKaiser of Chile in the lead at 633,666 chips and three players holding onto less than 10 big blinds on the 2,500/5,000 level. Peru’s Die Ventura took the hit at eight minutes after the hour, popping the bubble and sending the rest of the field on their way to payday. The only remaining question was who would take the smaller prizes and who would get a shot at the $75K up top.
Another three hours of poker took the field down to the final table bubble. With 2011 SCOOP PLO winner alexandrapau’s departure in 10th place, the lineup was all set:
Seat 1: harddecision (849,906 in chips)
Seat 2: purple90 (710,715 in chips)
Seat 3: IAmSoSo (1,257,483 in chips)
Seat 4: Andras “probirs” Nemeth (738,497 in chips)
Seat 5: Vicente “vicenfish” Delgado (2,973,429 in chips)
Seat 6: Manuel “manuverd0n” Bardon (1,428,925 in chips)
Seat 7: Laszlo “omaha4rollz” Bujtas (660,071 in chips)
Seat 8: Vlad “dariepoker” Darie (1,318,019 in chips)
Seat 9: Mike “Fitness_g” Egan (462,955 in chips)
A third of the field would leave the table in the 32 minutes it took to reach the first break, though it didn’t look like things would go that way at first. Other than a 628K-chip pot taken away from SCOOP 2016 PLO and WCOOP 2015 Thursday Thrill SE winner Laszlo “omaha4rollz” Bujtas by harddecision’s all-in bet on the turn, the pots stayed relatively small as the table felt each other out. Then came a three-way pot that shook things up plenty.
Germany’s purple90 opened the action with a middle-position raise to 64K. The action folded from there to Manuel “manuverd0n” Bardon, who thought for a bit in the small blind before calling. omaha4rollz jammed for 380K in the big blind, and purple90 re-raised all-in for 584K. manuverd0n snap-called with A♣ A♥, which had both omaha4rollz’s A♠ 10♣ and purple90’s A♦ K♣ holding single-digit equity in the pot before a community card had even been dealt. manuverd0n dodged a gutshot Broadway draw on the 7♦ 10♠ Q♦ 8♥ Q♠ board, the aces held up for the 1.57M-chip pot, and omaha4rollz and purple90 left in ninth and eighth, respectively.
Mike “Fitness_g” Egan, a past Super Tuesday finalist who made the Sunday Million final the weekend before last, was the new short stack, but he looked to have climbed out of the basement when he doubled with 7♦ 7♥ against the A♥ 9♥ of Andras “probirs” Nemeth, a multiple-time Super Tuesday finalist with SCOOP 2015 and Sunday Million wins on his resume. Three hands later he picked up a better pocket pair, but things didn’t go as well.
Fitness_g had 10♦ 10♥ in the cutoff and re-raised to 195K after manuverd0n opened for 73K in early position. That prompted harddecision to move all-in for 1.07M on the button, clearing out both blinds and the original raiser and leaving Fitness_g to ponder whether to call all-in. He eventually did, showing down the tens against harddecision’s K♣ K♦, which held up on the Q♠ 6♦ 6♥ 7♦ J♦ board to knock Fitness_g out in seventh.
With the field down to six players so quickly, it looked like a quick pace might take hold and burn the whole thing down. Then WCOOP 2015 PLO 6-Max Championship winner IAmSoSo flopped a gutshot Broadway draw with A♠ 10♥ in position and manuverd0n caught top pair in the big blind with K♦ 4♠. manuverd0n check-called bets on the K♥ Q♥ 5♦ flop, J♦ turn, and 3♠ river, only to see that IAmSoSo had already locked up the double to 1.6M on the turn. When probirs doubled through manuverd0n a few hands later – unimproved A♦ 4♣ against unimproved K♥ Q♠ – everyone at the table had at least 20 big blinds to work with.
That turned out to be an equal enough distribution of chips to allow the table to settle into a rhythm. Aside from a split pot where both harddecision and the shorter-stacked probirs were holding A-J, nobody at the table faced an all-in situation for more than 35 minutes. Then probirs moved in on the button with 7♥ 7♠, which held up against past Super Tuesday and Sunday Warm-Up champ Vlad “dariepoker” Darie’s J♥ 10♥ to keep probirs going with 653K in chips.
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The loss dropped Darie’s stack to 1.1M, still worth 22 big blinds, and he used it to apply maximum leverage a few hands later when he picked up 3♦ 3♥ in the big blind and moved in over the top of WCOOP 2014 NLHE High Roller winner Vicente “vicenfish” Delgado’s button raise. Delgado called with A♦ 10♣ and won the race with an ace on the river of the 5♠ 6♣ Q♠ 4♥ A♥, sending Darie to the rail in sixth.
The time that probirs had bought with that double up a few hands before was now due to be cashed in. He opened the betting all-in for 605K on the hand after Vlad Darie’s departure, holding J♣ 10♣, and faced off heads-up against harddecision, who had isolated with A♥ 8♥ in the small blind. probirs caught top pair on the flop and top two pair on the turn of the 7♠ 9♦ 10♥ J♦ 2♠ board, but those same cards made a jack-high straight for harddecision. That straight took down the 1.3M-chip pot, and Andras “probirs” Nemeth was out in fifth.
IAmSoSo was primed to be the next player knocked out, but after re-raising all-in with queens on the next hand and doubling to 1.19M when original raiser harddecision called with K♠ 2♠, the Swede was back to 20 big blinds. Four orbits later that became 40 big blinds when IAmSoSo moved in over the top of harddecision’s raise with 9♣ 9♠, turned two pair, and dodged a flush draw on the river of the 4♥ 10♠ A♠ J♠ 7♣ board.
That set off a chain reaction of players becoming short stacks and doubling themselves back into contention. harddecision called vicenfish’s three-bet with A♠ J♠, caught top pair, and turned three of a kind to crack vicenfish’s pocket kings and win a 5.6M-chip pot, the largest of the tournament so far. vicenfish struck back via coin-flip, winning 2.4M chips with 7♣ 7♦ against manuverd0n’s A♥ K♦. Then manuverd0n’s A♥ Q♥ held up against harddecision’s A♦ 5♠ to get back to 1.8M, setting him up to climb to 4.6M four hands later after opening and then four-betting all-in with K♣ Q♣. That hand caught two queens on the flop to crack harddecision’s J♦ J♥ and keep the table four-handed as the chip lead changed hands once again.
An hour after the fifth-place departure, the table was still four-handed and showing no signs of changing anytime soon. harddecision had the advantage with more than 4.5M chips and blinds and antes at 45K/90K/9K, while all the other three players held between 1.7M and 2.2M apiece. They were still in that pattern when the time the 2 a.m. ET break arrived, but minutes later it looked like there would finally be a shift when manuverd0n got in with 10♦ 10♠ against harddecision’s 8♣ 8♦. harddecision flopped a set, manuverd0n turned a straight, and the two finally chopped the pot when the J♠ 7♣ 8♥ 9♣ 10♥ board ended up giving them both a jack-high straight.
Three hands later the deadlock finally broke. harddecision opened for a min-raise on the button with A♥ Q♣ and called when vicenfish moved in from the big blind. He had A♣ 7♦ and got no help from the 5♦ K♠ 6♠ Q♦ 6♥ board, bowing out in fourth.
harddecision continued to press ahead after that win, splitting the next eight pots evenly with IAmSoSo. manuverd0n waited to pick up K♣ K♦ before getting involved, but his re-raise to 480K after harddecision’s opening 180K bet was small enough to get the Venezuelan player to come along with K♠ 8♠ and see the Q♠ 3♠ 9♠ flop. manuverd0n’s 1.8-percent chance there more than tripled when the Q♦ turn paired the board, but the 3♣ was no help and manuverd0n was out in third, improving on his 10th-place finish in this tournament back in May of this year.
Winning that 3.4M-chip pot gave harddecision more than 8.4M chips, good for better than a four-to-one advantage over IAmSoSo as heads-up play began. IAmSoSo took to the challenge with gusto, staying aggressive enough to split the first 10 pots, but none of those wins rose to so much as seven figures. That kept the Swede from making any progress, bad news as the blinds and antes had gone up again to 50K/100K/10K, and simultaneously made an aggressive gameplan more necessary than ever. IAmSoSo eventually jammed in the big blind with J♥ 7♠ after harddecision kimped on the button, and harddecision called that raise quickly with A♣ 10♣. Neither player improved on the Q♠ 3♣ 2♠ 8♠ 6♣ board, bringing this week’s Super Tuesday to a close.
Congratulations are in order for both players after such a closely contested final table. IAmSoSo didn’t pick up the win after coming into heads-up play at a significant disadvantage, but the $55K runner-up prize should help to ease that pain. And for harddecision, coming out on top five years after that first Super Tuesday final table appearance was worth 15 times as much as finishing eighth was back then. Not a bad way to revisit the old neighborhood!
10/18/16 Super Tuesday ($1,050 NL Hold’em) results
Total prize pool: $416,000
Places paid: 55
1. harddecision (Venezuela) $75,391.46
2. IAmSoSo (Sweden) $55,415.23
3. Manuel “manuverd0n” Bardon (United Kingdom) $40,732.14
4. Vicente “vicenfish” Delgado (United Kingdom) $29,939.52
5. Andras “probirs” Nemeth (Hungary) $22,006.60
6. Vlad “dariepoker” Darie (Romania) $16,175.61
7. Mike “fitness_g” Egan (Canada) $11,889.61
8. purple90 (Germany) $8,739.28
9. Laszlo “omaha4rollz” Bujtas (Hungary) $6,423.70
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Jason Kirk is a Freelance Contributor to PokerStars Blog.