MILLIONS North America got the second season of the partypoker MILLIONS tour off to a fantastic start. Whether it was Victor Ramdin’s remarkable consistency, cashing in all four tournaments he played, the monster-pot insanity of The Big Game, or three millionaires being made in the Main Event, there were special moments everywhere you looked.
MILLIONS North America just confirmed what we already knew: that there can be no doubt whatsoever that the MILLIONS live tour is the best show in town. With an incredible CA$15M guaranteed prize pool across six brilliant events, three of the six had their guarantees beaten, with the Turbo, Main Event and the High Roller missing out- showing partypoker LIVE’s commitment to putting on incredible guarantees for the players even if it leaves them slightly out of pocket. No other poker tour puts on jaw-droppingly ambitious guarantees quite like MILLIONS.
The $10,300 buy-in High Roller got the festival off to a great start. It was David Eldridge who captured the title after a 10-hour Day 2 when he defeated Victor Ramdin in a quick heads-up duel. Eldridge took home $300,000 for the victory, taking him over $1M in live tournament earnings, with Ramdin earning $180,000 for second.
A total of 80 players took to the felt in the High Roller, with 26 making Day 2. Only 11 would make the money, and those to fall just short included Niall Farrell, Martin Jacobson, and partypoker Sponsored Pro Kristen Bicknell. Start of day chipleader Darren Elias busted just before the bubble burst, with Gal Yifrach the unlucky man to finish in 12th.
A stacked final table included Chris Moorman, Viktor Blom and entertaining live streamer Parker ‘Tonkaaaa’ Talbot, but they busted in eighth, fifth and sixth respectively. When John Vanfleet and Kevin Hobbs fell in fourth and third, earning $90,000 and $120,000 each, it set up a heads up duel between the evenly-stacked Ramdin and Eldridge for the title.
It didn’t take long for Ramdin to find himself all-in and at risk with the against Eldridge’s . The board ran out , giving the American a winning set of tens and the MILLIONS North America High Roller title.
The Open was a $1,100 buy-in event with a three-day structure. In the end, it was Karim-Olivier Kamal who took the title for $210,000 after defeating Kauvsegan Ehamparam in an lengthy heads-up battle. Kamal is clearly at home at the Playground Poker Club, with all of his career cashes coming at the venue. His previous biggest cash was for CA$26,000, so his Open victory was by far the biggest score of his career.
There were 1,231 entries to the Open, with 396 making it through the two opening flights. Day 2 saw that figure whittled down to 68, with Anthony Ruberto leading the way. A number of big names cashed but couldn’t go deep on Day 3, including Griffin Benger and Mohsin Charania.
The final table was fiercely contested, with Kamal starting as the chipleader but being closely followed by the two favourites Chris Moorman, who was at his second final table of the festival, and super Swede Martin Jacobson. In the end, Jacobson fell in sixth for $28,000, with Alex Lynskey and Aaron Duczak following him to the rail. Kamal had a massive lead three-handed, but it was Ehamparam who eliminated Moorman in third with kings.
Kamal held a four-to-one chip lead over Ehampara when heads up began, with cautious play prevailing for over an hour before Kamal started to really apply pressure. He had reduced Ehampara to ten big blinds when he open shoved and was called by the of his opponent. A ten on the flop handed the title to local favourite Kamal.
Super High Roller
Super High Rollers always attract the very best and those with the very biggest bankrolls in the game, and the MILLIONS North America Super High Roller was no exception. The $25,500 buy-in event was won by Canada's Christopher Kruk, who defeated Anthony Zinno heads-up to take home $375,000 for his second biggest cash. Kruk is most well-known for his success playing online, but has recently transitioned to playing live big buy-in events, and won a $25K at the PCA earlier this year.
The tournament attracted 47 entrants, with 15 of them making Day 2. Darren Elias led after Day 1, and this time managed to turn that into a tangible reward, eventually finishing third for $165,000. Seven places would be paid, but the $60,000 bubble didn’t slow the action down, with Team partypoker Ambassador Joao Simao exiting in ninth before Viktor Blom ran an unsuccessful three-barrel bluff and was out soon after on the bubble.
The only non-pro at the table John Krpan went in seventh, with Niall Farrell, Victor Ramdin and Chance Kornuth, after a high-variance style saw him bounce up and down the leaderboard, following him to the rail for $80,000, $100,000 and $125,000 respectively. Elias went in third when he lost with tens to Zinno’s ace-queen, setting up a heads-up clash between Kruk and Zinno.
In the final hand, Kruk re-shoved with after a button open by the American but was called by the of his opponent. The board ran out to counterfeit Zinno’s pair and win the title for Kruk. Zinno took home $234,750 for his runner-up finish.
The $1,100 buy-in MILLIONS North America saw 849 entrants pack into the Playground Poker Club for two frantic opening flights, and in the end it was Canada’s David Shao who emerged victorious to claim his first major tournament win and a $180,000 payday after defeating online superstar Griffin Benger heads-up.
Of the 849, 140 came back for Day 2, with Benger holding the chip lead. With 30-minute levels, Day 2 was an intense day of action which saw eliminations at a rapid rate throughout. The final table included a number of excellent players, including the likes of Playground regular Ruben Perceval, WSOP bracelet winner Shaun Deeb, and of course Benger, widely regarded as one of Canada’s finest players.
It was a dramatic start to the final table, with three eliminations in just over a single level. Richard Berenbaum went first before Deeb fell in seventh for $19,000. Chi Tsang, Ryan Godson and Ruben Percevel were next to go, with the latter getting his kings cracked by Shao’s jacks, before Dylan Thibault exited in third for $76,000 when he ran king-queen into Shao’s aces.
Shao and Benger played small-ball poker for an hour before Benger, who was getting short, shoved with over a Shao open from the button. Shao snap-called with and the board came to crown Shao the MILLIONS North America Turbo champion. Benger earned $115,000 for second.
The $10,300 buy-in Finale brought the curtain down on MILLIONS North America, with the Czech Republic's Michael Sklenicka emerging victorious at 04:30 AM in the early hours of Thursday morning to earn $242,370 after defeating Timothy Reilly heads-up. The win was Sklenicka's second biggest live cash.
The Finale had an unlimited re-entry format and a deep-stacked structure with hour-long levels, with 126 players taking their shot at the $1.25M prizepool. With late registration open until four levels into Day 2, plenty of players waited until late on to get involved, perhaps hoping to avoid the temptation of firing multiple bullets. Eighteen players came back for Day 3, with 15 paid. Aaron Mermelstein was the bubble boy, before Jonathan Vanfleet, Joey Weissman, Jonathan Duhamel, Samuel Chartier and Victor Ramdin all cashed but fell short of the final table.
There were still some huge names in the final nine, including Chance Kornuth, Team partypoker Sponsored pro Anatoly Filatov, and Manig Loeser. Nik Khan went in ninth before the start-of-day chipleader Chance Kornuth crashed out in eight after an eventful day saw him yo-yo up and down the counts. Filatov finished seventh for $60,000, with the final table stuck at six players for more than three hours before David Lopez finally hit the rail. The final five then chose make an ICM deal which left $50,000 extra for the winner and shortened the blind levels.
Josue Sauvageau, Philippe D’Auteuil and Manig Loeser couldn’t quite make it to heads-up, earning $167,190, $133,300 and $162,825 respectively thanks to the deal. Sklenicka and Reilly battled away for a while, but eventually the rising blinds forced the action and Reilly was crippled when he lost with queen-jack to the jack-ten of the Czech player. In the next hand, Reilly got his short-stack all-in with against Sklenicka’s . The board ran out to give Sklenicka the Finale title. Reilly took home $131,515.
The Main Event is always a highlight of a MILLIONS festival, creating incredible memories, and it was no different at MILLIONS North America. Joining the exclusive group of players to have captured a MILLIONS Main Event title was Taylor Black from Santa Cruz, California, who won an unbelievable $1.4M for the victory. Black defeated Darryll Fish in a heads-up battle that lasted over two hours. Fish took home $1.2M for second, with Anthony Ruberto the third millionaire made in the Main Event, earning $1M for third.
The victory more than doubled Black’s career earnings to over $2M. When asked how he was feeling after winning the tournament, Black was at a loss for words. "It feels great, it's hard to describe. You play a million tournaments and to actually win one is really awesome." It was also Darryll Fish’s biggest payday, after the well-known Fish managed to grind out second despite having a short stack for most of the day.
There were five starting days at Playground Poker Club, with a grand total of 1,954 players putting up the $5,300 required for a seat at the prestigious event. There were also two Day 2’s during which players could buy-in, and at the end of all that there were 285 players who came back for Day 3 as the field combined for the first time.
No less than 51 of those made it to Day 4, with a number of big names cashing including Kristen Bicknell, Martin Jacobson and Jeff Gross. Fish led the way at the start of Day 4, which saw a number of notables fall just short of making the final table, including Antonio Esfandiari, Ludovic Geilich, Marvin Rettenmaier, and Team partypoker’s Renato Nomura and Richard Dubini.
The final table was the Taylor Black show, with the American ruthlessly exploiting the shorter-stacked players who were looking to jump up the pay ladder. Black raised with almost any two cards as he built a huge chip lead, with Ruberto appearing to be the only player willing to tangle with Black. Tommy Nguyen was first out, before George Lagos and Demosthenes Kiriopoulos went in seventh and sixth. It took a few hours for the next bustout, which came when Charles La Boissonniere’s flopped two pair was counterfeited by Fish's two pair and then Ruberto finished him off with tens.
Two hands later, Markus Prinz was out in fourth for $800,000 when he couldn’t crack Fish’s jacks with a suited ace. That left the final three guaranteed a million at least, and the trio took an extended break to celebrate. When they came back, a few drinks had been understandably enjoyed and the action was a lot looser. Ruberto fell in third when he ran a big bluff into Black’s top set, with the American setting the trap perfectly to take out Ruberto and set up a heads-up battle with Fish for the MILLIONS North America Main Event title. Black held a three-to-one chip lead.
It took over two hours of heads-up play to finally decide a winner, with Fish admirably battling back into contention and even taking a small lead. The key hand that proved decisive saw Black make a huge river bluff to take a huge chip lead. Fish bet the river with just ace-high and Black check-raised all in with king-high, forcing Fish to fold with 17 big blinds left in front of him. Just a few hands later, Fish held top pair with on a flop, but he was behind the of Black. All the chips went in and the board ran out , giving the title to Black after a stellar final table performance. Both Fish and Black played brilliant poker on the final table, and fully deserved to finish as the top two.
The Big Game
While not one of the six official MILLIONS North America events, The Big Game lit up MILLIONS North America. Monstrous pots, phenomenal action, and the dizzying swings on show made it the talk of the poker world. To read a full recap of the action and to watch video highlights of some of the biggest hands, click here: https://bit.ly/2wbQO4P
Overall, MILLIONS North America was a fantastic festival, and an incredible way to start the second season of the partypoker LIVE MILLIONS tour. We’ll see you at MILLIONS Russia in Sochi for more action, drama, and jaw-dropping prize pools!
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