Pedro Neves Wins GGMillion$ for $289,000 as Santerne Proves Super Second Best

It’s hard to not feel sorry for any player who comes second in the weekly $10,300-entry GGMillion$. The final heads-up always provides a huge payout for the winner, and this week was no different, as Pedro Neves won the top prize of $289,015. But on the same day that he won his first-ever major title for over $961,000 in his home country of France, the newest EPT Super High Roller champion Thomas Santerne can only have been delighted with taking down another six-figure score on his laptop.

Salas the Slayer on Top from the Start

There were only eight players making the second day – the final table – this week thanks to a double elimination on the last hand of the penultimate day. It was the Argentinian WSOP Hybrid Main Event winner Damian Salas who led the field with 99 big blinds. His nearest rival at the start of play was some way back, too, as the eventual winner Pedro Neves sat at his first final table of the season on 62 big blinds. 

Behind the top two, some terrific professionals in the game of poker lay in wait for any kind of slip-up. Russian regular at the GGMillion$ late stages, ‘spaise411’ was on 50 big blinds, while Finnish end boss Eelis Parssinen (30BB), Ukrainian GGMillion$ crusher Andrii Derzhypilskyi (28BB), Lithuania’s Paulius Vaitiekunas (28BB), Russia’s ‘visomar’ (27BB) and the aforementioned Santerne (22BB) all harbored hopes of victory as they orbited like ever more distant planets around the sun of Salas.  

The first player to bust on a night where two hours was enough to wrap up the action was the Ukrainian Derzhypilskiy, who was all-in with ace-nine when short stacked, only to run into Vaitiekunas’ ace-king. The Lithuanian’s ‘Big Slick’ prevailed with a board of K-9-2-J-T coming down to send Derzhypilskiy home with $51,205.

Neves Fills Up as Vaitekunas is Vanquished

It had taken 40 minutes for the first player to bust at the unusually eight-handed final table. The next elimination didn’t take very long at all by comparison, and it was Derzhypilskiy’s conqueror, Vaitiekunas, who had awful luck in bowing out. All-in pre-flop with pocket jacks, he was a favorite to double when Neves called him with ace-ten, but a flop of A-T-8 gave the Portuguese player two pair and after another eight on the turn Vaitiekunas was drawing thin. An ace on the river gave Neves a full house for good measure and the Lithuanian cashed for $65,657 in seventh. 

Finnish poker professional Eelis Parssinen was the next player to depart, leaving in sixth place for a score of $83,957. Losing a flip, the Finn had put himself at risk with pocket fives, only to be called by Thomas Santerne with the king-queen of hearts. A flop of Q-J-3 was a disater for Parssinen, and the ten on the turn and nine on the river only improved Santerne’s hand to a straight, eliminating the player known in the online poker community as ‘€urop€an’. 

Not long after Parssinen pushed all in only to falter, the Russian ‘visomar’ was at risk too. All-in pre-flop with ace-five, they couldn’t hold from the small blind when Santerne called from the big blind with queen-ten, a board of Q-9-9-7-2 again rewarding the Frenchman’s stack rather than the pre-flop odds favorite, ‘visomar’, who headed to the rail in fifth for $107,506.

A Set and a Flush

With four top poker players left in the hunt, it was still the overnight chip leader Salas who held the initiative. Sitting pretty on close to 6 million chips, Salas was followed in the chipcounts by Pedro Neves on 4.2 million, with ‘spaise411’ (2.4m) and Santerne (1.2m) bringing up the rear. With just over an hour of poker in the bank for the night and just under an hour still to play, a lot changed. 

One of the most pivotal pots of the entire tournament played out between the eventual final two as four-handed play saw both Santerne, now almost equal in chips with Pedro Neves, put his Portuguese opponent to the test. On a board that had brought two kings, one on the flop and another on the river, Santerne’s shove with king-nine for a rivered full house. Neves was put to the acid test where the wrong move could leave him with just 1.5 big blinds. Holding king-five for trips, Neves found a superb fold, one of the best ever seen in the GGMillion$ tournament series across both the 2022/23 and 2023/24 seasons.

That fold earned Neves a reprieve which he put to excellent use, chipping up steadily over the next 20 minutes to take the chip lead. Santerne put himself in pole position to be Neves’ main challenger, though, when he won after committing pre-flop with pocket aces against the luckless Salas, who had pocket kings. The second best starting hand in poker was shot down early, when an ace hit on the flop ace meaning the Argentinian was drawing thin to running Kings, and was dead on the turn when a nine hit. Salas left the table in fourth place having earned $137,659. 

Out in third for $176,269 was ‘spaise411’. Calling off his stack all-in with king-ten on a board showing 6-4-2-K-7, he was dejected to discover that the aggressor, the flawless Neves, had shoved with six-four and flopped two pair, scuppering the Russian’s chances of going to the final battle.

Leading by around 5:1 in chips, Neves had earned the right to use his stack to bully his opponent and Santerne never again had a chance to put Neves in a position where he felt like a fold was necessary. The final hand saw Santerne ship it with ace-jack, only to be called by Neves with king-deuce, backed by a massive chip stack. All seemed well on a dry board for a double-up back into contention for the talented Frenchman Santerne, but a deuce on the river condemned him to defeat and a runner-up finish worth $225,709 as Neves banked the top prize of $289,015.

Join Jeff Gross and his co-commentator Jonathan Jaffe as they break down all the action from an exhilarating final table right here: 

1stPedro NevesPortugal$289,015
2ndThomas SanterneFrance$225,709
4thDamian SalasArgentina$137,659
6thEelis ParssinenFinland$83,957
7thPaulius VaitiekunasLithuania$65,657
8thAndrii DerzhypilskyiUkraine$51,205
9thA TkatschewLithuania$39,989

2024 Week 6                                          2024 Week 8

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.