PokerStars Sunday Million Anniversary one for the record books

First anniversaries are a big deal. Whether it's marriage or a business, making it through the first year is a decent indication of future success. A few weeks ago, I heard rumblings that PokerStars was ready to celebrate the first anniversary of its already successful Sunday Million tournament. Over the past year, I've watched the final table of almost every one of the Sunday Million events and it's rare that I'm not amazed. As the anniversary drew closer, I chatted up Lee Jones, the other man who has seen almost every one of the final tables. We did a little interview and I posted it here: Lee Jones on the Sunday Million anniversary.

It had already been quite a year for the Sunday Million. In the past 52 weeks, PokerStars had paid out more than $64 million in prize money. The Sunday Million had quickly established itself as three times bigger than any other ongoing poker tournament.

When PokerStars announced it was going to guarantee $1.5 million for the event, I thought privately, "That's a good number." I'm not sure what I meant, but $1.5 felt like a comfortable number and I expected the event to be pretty cool. Then, PokerStars announced it was going to host a tournament of champions for all the winners of previous Sunday Millions. Again, I thought, "Man, that's pretty cool."

I had no idea how cool Sunday would be.

The Tournament of Champions kicked off first. The list of names in the event was more than familiar. I've written about every one of them over the course of the past year, and met several of the players at live events. By the time the event was over, five of the previous Sunday Million champions had once again added to their bankroll, courtesy of the TOC freeroll. First prize was a coveted trip to Monte Carlo for the EPT Grand Final.

During the 2006 WSOP, I happened to almost literally run into an imposing man in a Sooners jersey. It didn't take a great deal of effort to discover he was the same Sooners that had won one of the PokerStars Sunday Million events. By the end of the Sunday Million TOC, Sooners was again on top. I expect you'll be seeing him on the blog again when we report live from Monte Carlo at the end of this month. Here are the people who finished in the money in the Sunday Million Tournament of Champions.

PokerStars Sunday Million Tournament of Champions Results

1. Sooners (United States) EPT Grand Final entry
2. tiger76 (United States) $4,000.00
3. CZuke39 (United States) $3,000.00
4. dim--tix (United States) $2,000.00
5. westmenloAA (United States) $1,000.00

Midway through the afternoon, I noticed the Sunday Million Anniversary event was starting to get heavy on registration. As 4pm passed and the event was drawing toward its start, I started to get a feeling that we were about to see some serious records broken.

Again, I had no idea.

PokerStars kicked off registration by paying for the buy-ins of the fifty players who played the most Sunday Million events in the past year. Other than that, PokerStars simply guaranteed the $1.5 million, sat back, and watched the tournament start breaking records.

By the time registration closed at 4:30pm ET on Sunday, more than 10,500 people had signed up to compete in the biggest (in terms of the number of participants) real money poker tournament in history. The prize pool was a massive $2,101,600. More than 1,300 people stood to walk away with at least some cash. First prize rested at an amazing $271,106.

Over the course of the night, I kept tabs on the tournament. It seemed like every time I browsed through the top 50 players, I kept seeing the name "Zeddor." So, it was little surprise to find the same player sitting at the final table. Like most of the Sunday Million final nine, the Anniversary event was an international one, this time featuring players from Denmark, the U.K., and the United States.

Of all the stories that could've come out of the final table, gambforlife likely had the most interesting (and most pressing). He revealed that within a few hours of standing up from his computer, his was taking his wife to the hospital to have a baby boy. No doubt, whatever he won at the final table was going to help with what every parent knows are insane diaper bills.

Over the course of the next couple of hours, the players battled down to the final five. Those players, seemingly quite aware of the huge amount of money at stake, decided to cut a deal and lock up their profits. Every one of the final five nailed down six-figure paydays.

And, again, no surprise...Zeddor ended up taking first place.

"The Sunday Million has become an online institution for millions of poker player around the world," said Lee Jones, PokerStars Poker Room Manager. "This is an incredible milestone for poker, for the Internet, and for one very skilled player from Denmark. I wish him all the luck in the world."

Here's how the final nine cashed out.

PokerStars Sunday Million Anniversary Final Table Results
Based on finishing order and a five-way deal that left $30,000 for first place

1. Zeddor (Denmark) $131,971.74
2. nickym998 (United Kingdom) $160,949.52
3. gambforlife (United States) $119,209.08
4. Othimua (United States) $103,142.40
5. francky2011 $102,177.33
6. xxallthenutz (Canada) $36,778.00
7. EZCash1 (United States) $25,219.20
8. wsu79 (United States) $17,863.60
9. pbdrunks (United States) $12,189.28

Indeed, first anniversaries are a special thing. If they are, in fact, an indicator of future success, it looks like the PokerStars Sunday Million has a happy future ahead.

We'll see everybody next Sunday.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in