Thomas Santerne Wins Christmas GG MILLION$ for $289,000

A yuletide spectacular saw French player Thomas Santerne wins the Christmas GGMILLION$ for $289,015 as he defeated a stubborn Shyngis Satubayev in second place to claim the crown in the weekly $10,300-entry online poker spectacular on GGPoker.

Santerne Leads from the Finish

Heading into the action, it was the French player Thomas Santerne who led the field at his third final table of 2023. With 68 big blinds, it was not the biggest chip leader stack of the past 12 months, and in fact may have been one of the smaller. His lead was slim to the second in chips player, Argentinian Pure Mateine with 56 big blinds, with Montenegro’s ‘pokanuktus’ third in chips on 54 big blinds. 

Another six players were chasing the leaders, each with highly playable stacks. Thailand’s ‘Haiyaaaa’ (44BB), Canadian Mark Radoja (42BB), Russian Giya Yakobishvili (35BB), Kazakhstan’s Shyngis Satubayev (32BB), German Christian Rudolph (31BB) and short stacked American Michael Jozoff (30BB) all had a great chance of turning their last final table of the year into a win worth more than a quarter of a million dollars for a $10,000 entry fee. 

The two first players out lasted around half an hour before busting within seconds of each other. ‘pokanuktus’ had a disaster, busting in ninth place for $39,989 when his shove with pocket queens ran into Santerne’s pocket kings. An ace-high board with no queen and an insignificant king on the river sent the Montenegran home. Soon after, Haiyaaaa was all-in for 11 big blinds with pocket nines only to fail to hold against Radoja’s ace-queen. A flop of A-K-2 saw the Thai player fall behind and he couldn’t catch a nine on turn or river, busting in eighth place for $51,205.

Jozoff is Off in Seventh

Mike Jozoff has blended a fine 2023 in the live poker streets with some shrewd backing of other players on PokerStake and cashed in seventh place for $65,567. Jozoff was all-in with jack-nine on a board showing J-9-6 and was ahead with his caller, Giya Yakobishvili, holding jack-queen. Drawing to running spades or a queen, a queen on the turn flipped the script and the Russian, who would have been left with three big blinds had he lost that hand, soared to 2.85 million chips, as Jozoff crashed out with an hour of the final table in the books. 

Canadian Mark Radoja failed to find any callers when he shoved pre-flop with pocket aces, and in the next hand, got it all-in again, this time with ace-ten. Called by Yakobishvili with ace-king, it was all over for the Canadian when a board of A-Q-J-5-9 sent Radija to the rail, as he cashed for $83,957 in sixth place. 

Down to 14 big blinds, Argentina’s Pure Mateine shoved from the small blind with eight-ten of diamonds and was called by Germany’s Christian Rudolph in the big blind with ace-seven of spades. As the final table ticked past two hours, Mateine saw an ace land on the turn to end his hopes and was eliminated for $107,506.

Satubayev Clubbed to Defeat

Four great players remained but only one could be champion. Sitting on 5.6 million, Santerne led, with Rudolph (3.92m) aiming for an appropriately festive finish to proceedings. Yakobishvili (2.12m) and Shyngis Satubayev (1.65m) both still harboured genuine hopes of victory. 

First to lose all their hopes of glory was Yakobishvili, who shoved from the small blind with ten-nine of clubs for 14 big blinds. They ran into Santerne’s pocket aces and the board of 7-4-2-Q-5 saw the Russian drawing dead to the river as they busted for a score of $137,659. Moments later, play was heads-up, as Rudolph couldn’t make it to Santa’s top table, making $176,269 in third place when his king-queen lost to Santerne’s ace-ten, an ace coming on the flop.

Heads-up, Santerne had a big lead, with 11.7 million to Satubayev’s 1.98 million. The Kazakhstan player had laddered brilliantly to the final duel but fell short of glory by one place. All-in with pocket kings on a queen-high board with three flopped clubs and a six of spades on the turn, Satubayev was crushed when his shove was called by Santerne with ace-king of clubs for the flopped club nut flush

The insignificant fourth king in the deck landing on the river ended matters, Shyngis Satubayev winning $225,709 as runner-up and Santerne going wire to wire as the chip leader to take home a very big Christmas present of the $289,015 top prize. 

Watch regular host Jeff Gross and recent GGMILION$ Live WSOP Paradise Main Event Samuel Mullur dissect the drama in this full final table replay of the action:

Place Player Country Prize
1st Thomas Santerne France $289,015
2nd Shyngis Satubayev Kazakhstan $225,709
3rd Christian Rudolph Germany $176,269
4th Giya Yakobishvili Russia $137,659
5th Pure Mateine Argentina $107,506
6th Mark Radoja Canada $83,957
7th Michael Jozoff United States $65,567
8th ‘Haiyaaaa’ Thailand $51,205
9th ‘pokanuktus’ Montenegro $39,989

2023 Week 33                                          2024 Week 1

About the Author: Paul Seaton has written about poker for over 10 years, interviewing some of the best players ever to play the game such as Daniel Negreanu, Johnny Chan and Phil Hellmuth. Over the years, Paul has reported live from tournaments such as the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and the European Poker Tour. He has also written for other poker brands where he was Head of Media, as well as BLUFF magazine, where he was Editor.