As heads-up play began in this week’s Sunday Million, one player with more than $3 million in PokerStars tournament winnings was avenging a ninth-place finish within the last year and guaranteed his biggest cash ever. So was the other.

Having eliminated a lineup that included two past Sunday Million champs and then battled one another for more than half an hour, hello_totti and Pthelegend, both regulars at major final tables for almost a decade, held nearly identical chip stacks. Winning the title came down to stringing together two pots in a row and it was hello_totti who finally managed the feat, bagging a new career-best cash of more than $160,000.

It was a fitting end to a hard-fought tournament. Pthelegend and hello_totti’s duel followed 11 hours of reducing the field and another three hours of final table play. They got there when BuddhaB0Y8 tried to steal the blinds with Q♦10♦ on the button and Stormania called with A♥J♠ in the small blind. Stormania flopped two pair and turned jacks full of aces to knock out BuddhaB0Y8 in 10th and claim the chip lead against this lineup:

Seat 1: 7Phenom1991 (3,817,913 in chips)
Seat 2: auercan (5,007,521 in chips) won 1-21-18 Sunday Million
Seat 3: funkyphaquir (4,240,766 in chips)
Seat 4: Stormania (13,637,077 in chips)
Seat 5: jay6789 (10,835,265 in chips)
Seat 6: pececada (2,621,175 in chips) won 4-20-18 Sunday Million
Seat 7: karkamal0 (4,153,914 in chips)
Seat 8: hello_totti (8,131,205 in chips) $3.25 million in career PokerStars tournament winnings, finished ninth in 11-5-17 Sunday Million
Seat 9: Pthelegend (7,135,164 in chips) $3 million in career PokerStars tournament winnings, finished ninth in 6-3-18 Sunday Million

pececada’s bid for a second career Sunday Million title was a long shot after the Dane came in with the shortest stack, but a friendly turn card kept hope alive with A♦8♣ against karkamal0’s A♥Q♦ on the sixth hand of the final table. Nine hands passed before 7Phenom1991 tried to catch the same kind of break with A♥K♠ against jay6789’s K♦K♣. The Canadian almost chased down a flush draw but ended up with fives and treys on the 5♥3♠3♥J♥3♦ board. That couldn’t top kings and fives and 7Phenom1991 left in ninth.

funkyphaquir survived an all-in moment three hands after that, doubling to 6.21 million with Q♣Q♦ against pececada’s unimproved 7♣7♠. Another three hands passed before pececada called all-in for 1.34 million with A♣J♦ in the big blind. Small-blind raiser jay6789’s 10♥8♠ wasn’t much but it made a pair of tens on the flop, enough to end pececada’s second Sunday Million final table appearance of 2018 in eighth place.

Another past Milly champ doubled up eight minutes later. auercan jammed for 3.28 million — about nine big blinds — with K♣8♥ in the big blind after hello_totti min-raised on the button with pocket sevens. hello_totti called but lost the race to the K♥ on the flop. Then, in an attempt to knock out karkamal0 a few minutes later, auercan took on another flip, this time min-raising with 5♥5♦ under the gun and calling when the newcomer from the U.K. shoved for another six big blinds with A♥J♦. The A♠ on the flop kept karkamal0 in the game and auercan on a tightrope.

A 15-minute lull was broken by karkamal0 surviving another coin flip with pocket fives in the big blind, then followed immediately by auercan doubling to 6.75 million after jamming under the gun with A♠4♣ and flopping trip fours against Pthelegend’s K♦Q♥ in the big blind. Pthelegend got the losses back minutes later after calling with Q♣Q♦ in the big blind when funkyphaquir jammed with 2♣2♥. funkyphaquir hit neither a deuce nor any backdoor draws and departed in seventh.

The hour closed out with hello_totti, who hadn’t won many pots of consequence up to that point, flopping a set with Q♠Q♥ against karkamal0’s A♥9♠ to get back to 7.57 million chips. Play resumed after the break with almost 15 minutes of smallish pots before hello_totti found another good spot. The Russian re-raised all-in for 5.38 million on the button, holding A♦Q♣, and successfully isolated hijack-seat open-shover jay6789’s A♣6♥. Pairing the queen on the 10♣Q♦7♦ flop earned hello_totti the 7.18-million-chip pot and sent jay6789 to the rail in sixth.

Winning four of the next five pots that followed boosted hello_totti’s stack to just over 14 million, good for second place. Then auercan moved back ahead, calling with 6♣6♦ in the small blind after karkamal0 jammed with A♠5♥ in the hijack seat. karkamal0 paired the ace on the turn but the river of the 3♥7♠4♥A♣5♦ board gave auercan a seven-high straight and ended karkamal0’s tournament in fifth.

There was brief talk of a deal at that point but hello_totti wanted a premium above ICM for taking a deal. The only remaining Sunday Million winner at the table, auercan, tried some persuasion, albeit unsuccessfully.

hello_totti moved back into the lead with a few more modest wins. Then Pthelegend claimed the top spot after picking up Q♦Q♠ in the big blind against button raiser Stormania’s 5♣5♠. Nothing much changed on the 6♣10♥8♠7♥8♣ board and Stormania bowed out in fourth.

It was only four hands later when another pair-over-pair situation ended the chance of this tournament crowning a repeat champion. hello_totti opened the hand for 1.78 million on the button with J♣J♥ and called when auercan jammed for 12.77 million in the big blind with 2♦2♣. The 5♠4♥9♠9♦K♣ board offered no relief and auercan fell in third.

That left just hello_totti and Pthelegend, the former leading the latter by about 10 big blinds.

Pthelegend previewed the match that lay ahead on the second hand. After calling a small raise with 6♣4♥ in the big blind, Pthelegend check-called with trips on the 6♠6♥2♦ flop and a full house on the 4♦ turn. hello_totti paid off a value bet on the river and Pthelegend dragged the 19.26-million-chip pot to claim a 10-big-blind lead.

From there it was the bout you’d expect from two experienced players. First hello_totti got value from top pair with K♦J♠ to reclaim the lead he’d brought to the final duel. Pthelegend pulled back to within five bigs with an uncalled bet on a 10♣5♠A♥5♣8♠ board and 11 million chips in the pot. Another uncalled river bet edged Pthelegend back into the lead a few minutes later, but hello_totti used the same tactic just five hands after that to move back ahead.

Heads-up for the Sunday Million title with a combined $6.25 million in career winnings

Then Pthelegend struck a heavy blow. The Canadian opened small with 10♣5♣ on the button, hello_totti called in the big blind with 9♥2♥, and all of Pthelegend’s chips ended up in the middle with a flush draw against two pair on the 4♠2♣9♣ flop. Pthelegend picked up a pair of tens for more outs with the 10♠ turn, but the Q♣ on the river made a flush to win the 48.2-million-chip pot and leave hello_totti with a stack worth about 14 bigs.

hello_totti rallied about five minutes later after limping with 7♥6♥ on the button and calling Pthelgend’s big blind raise to 3.6 million. hello_totti called with a pair of sevens on the K♠7♠4♥ and then did the same with trip sevens on the 7♣ turn before calling all-in for 8.85 million when Pthelegend bet the A♥ river. Pthelegend had been bluffing with 10♠2♥ and hello_totti took down the pot to bring the two players back to within less than three big blinds of each other.

It took another 20 minutes before hello_totti was able to string together two wins to lock up the tournament. The first, for 11 big blinds, was won with an uncalled all-in raise on the river. That solidified hello_totti’s lead and both players saw a 2♠8♥5♣ flop on the following hand. Pthelegend check-called a minimum bet of 1 million before check-raising all-in for 19.9 million after the 7♦ turn. Pthelegend had a pair of fives with a gutshot straight draw, but hello_totti already had an eight-high straight with 6♥4♦. The 4♠ fell on the river to bring an epic final table to its conclusion.

Champion hello_totti and runner-up Pthelegend both set new career bests with their prizes here, a notable feat given that both players had previously won more than $3 million each in PokerStars tournaments. Congratulations to both of them on finishing out the weekend in style!

8-19-18 Sunday Million ($215 NL Hold’em) results
Entrants: 5,958 (4,757 entries, 1,201 re-entries)
Total prize pool: $1,191,600
Places paid: 1,052

1. hello_totti (Russia) $160,888.26
2. Pthelegend (Canada) $112,902.43
3. auercan (Latvia) $79,231.39
4. Stormania (Romania) $55,602.20
5. karkamal0 (United Kingdom) $39,020.01
6. jay6789 (Germany) $27,383.08
7. funkyphaquir (Netherlands) $19,216.69
8. pececada (Denmark) $13,485.81
9. 7Phenom1991 (Canada) $9,464.04


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