Christian Rudolph scored his first career GGPoker Super MILLION$ win and this week's $485K first-place prize. (photo courtesy: King's Casino)

Christian Rudolph is starting the New Year off on the right foot by taking down the first GGPoker Super MILLION$ event of 2022 and picking up this week’s $485,234 first-place prize.

It was Rudolph’s sixth trip to a Super MILLION$ final table and his first victory. As it turned out, even headed into the day second in chips, taking it down was no easy task. Pascal Hartmann entered the day as the dominant chip leader, with more than 100 big blinds, and stayed in control almost the entire final table. In addition to trying to overcome Hartmann, Rudolph had plenty of top-notch players to deal with including Mark Radoja, Markku Koplimaa, Samuel Vousden, and GGPoker’s own Jason Koon.

A cooler kicked things off when, with the blinds at 35,000/70,000 (8,500 ante), Russia’s ‘spaise411’ raised from under the gun to 140,000 with the QdQc. It folded around to Markku Koplimaa in the small blind with JcJs with a 22 big blind stack. Koplimaa took a moment and eventually moved all-in. Jason Koon folded his AcJd in the big blind and ‘spaise411’ made the call after a short trip in the tank. The 7c4h2s7h5h board ran out clean for the pocket queens and Koplimaa, who started the day sixth in chips, exited in ninth for $60,654.

Four hands later, the very same scenario played out. Pascal Hartmann, still holding the chip lead, opened to 140,000 from the cutoff with the QsQd. In the small blind, Austria’s ‘Gwriden’ looked down at JsJh and moved all-in for roughly 13 big blinds. Hartmann quickly called and once again the pocket queens held through the Tc6c4c8dKh run out. ‘Gwriden’ was out in eighth and added $78,659 to his bankroll.

During the same level, Rudolph picked up the AsAc and put in a raise from the hijack to 140,000. Samuel Vousden, with just under 10 bigs, three-bet shipped his stack with the AhTc. It quickly folded back to Rudolph who snap-called. The flop came JsTs8s and while Vousden picked up a pair, and some outs, the addition of the flush draw to Rudolph’s aces made his hand a nine-to-one favorite to hold. The turn came the 9h, adding some chop outs for Vousden. However, the river came the Kh sending the pot to Rudolph and sending Vousden out in seventh for $102,008.

The final six shipped chips back and forth for the better part of an hour without an elimination, all the while Hartmann extended his overwhelming chip lead. With the blind up to 70,000/140,000 (17,500 ante), Austria’s ‘lechayim’, who started the day third in chips, picked up KdKc under the gun and moved all-in for 1.5 million. The action folded to Hartmann in the small blind who called with his 9s9h. The flop came 9c5d2c] and quickly turned Hartmann’s dominated hand into the favorite with a flopped set. There was no comeback in the cards for ‘lechayim’ with the 4s turn and 8d river, ending his day in sixth place for $132,228.

Just a few hands later, Mark Radoja made his move. From the cutoff, he moved all-in for 1.1 million with the As3s. It folded to Koon in the small blind and, having just two big blinds more than Radoja, made the call with his KcQh. The big blind folded and the pair saw a flop of Td8c3h, keeping Radoja in the lead. However, the Ks hit the turn putting Koon’s top pair way ahead. The 4d river was no help to Radoja who leaves his fifth Super MILLION$ final table in fifth place for $171,566.

With four left and the blinds up to 80,000/160,000 (20,000 ante), Hartmann was applying max pressure on all three short stacks. Hartmann opened to 320,000 on the button with the Jc3s and when it folded to Koon in the big blind, he defended his big blind with the Kc9d. The flop came Js9s2h, bringing in a pair for both but giving Hartmann top pair. Koon checked it over to Hartmann, who checked it back. The turn came the 2c and Koon checked again. This time, Hartmann put out a bet of 560,00 which Koon called, leaving himself just 1.5 million behind. The river came the Td and Koon checked for the third time. Hartmann then put out a bet of 1.6 million, just enough to put Koon all-in with a call. Koon took nearly a minute, but decided on a call for it all and was shown Hartmann’s winning hand. Koon, the GGPoker Global Ambassador, finished in fourth and picked up $222,481.

At three-handed, ‘spaise411’s stack slipped to 6 big blinds when, with the blinds at 100,000/200,000 (25,000 ante), he made his move to try and find a double. Hartmann folded the button and Rudolph raised the big blind to 1.2 million with Ad3h. The raise was enough to put ‘spaise411’ all-in and so the call with the Qs9c put the Russian at risk. The flop came AhKh9c giving Rudolph top pair and a flush draw, but ‘spaise411’ picked up bottom pair and four outs to survive. The turn was the 7s and the river came the Ts forcing ‘spaise411’ to settle for third place and a $288,522 score.

Despite the knockout, Rudolph was still facing a 4.5-1 deficit to the massive chip lead of Hartmann. But within a matter of hands, Rudolph doubled up and brought the chip counts near even and soon enough took over the lead for the first time all day. The pair traded the lead a number of times in a spirited heads-up back-and-forth.

With the stacks about even and the blinds at 175,000/350,000 (45,000 ante) the pair played the biggest pot of the tournament. Rudolph limped the button with the Ad7d and Hartmann, holding a slight chip lead, put in a raise to 1.2 million with the 6d5d. Rudolph called and the pair saw a flop of JcTd2d, giving both a flush draw with Rudolph holding the ace. Hartmann led for just over 800,000 and Rudolph raised to 2.6 million. Hartmann made the call and then the Qd hit the turn, ensuring maximum action. Hartmann checked to Rudolph who checked it back. But on the 9h river, Hartmann open shipped for 8.8 million and Rudolph with the nuts and 7.4 million back, made the call, doubled through, and dragged the 22.5 million pot. Hartmann was left with just 4 big blinds.

The very next hand, it was all over. Hartmann moved all-in for 1.4 million with his Qc3d and Rudolph snapped holding JsJc. For a moment it looked like Hartmann would live to see another hand on the 3c3s2h flop, but the Jd hit the river, bringing in a full house for Rudolph. The 7h river finished out the board and Hartmann, who had been dominating all day, ended up as the runner-up for $374,167 while Rudolph who started the day second in chips, laddered to the winner’s circle for his first Super MILLION$ title and the $485,234 first-place prize.

GGPoker Super MILLION$ Final Table (1/4)

  1. Christian Rudolph – $485,234
  2. Pascal Hartmann – $374,167
  3. ‘spaise411’ – $288,522
  4. Jason Koon – $222,481
  5. Mark Radoja – $171,556
  6. ‘lechayim’ – $132,228
  7. Samuel Vousden – $102,008
  8. ‘Gwriden’ – $78,659
  9. Markku Koplimaa – $60,654