Sunday Million Winner profile – tEh_R3aLde4l is the real deal


For some players, a win in the PokerStars Sunday Million is the latest in a string of live and online tournament successes. For some players, it is a lightning bolt out of the blue that catapults a lucky satellite winner into a whole new stratosphere of play. And for some dedicated students of the game, like June 22nd winner the_R3aLde4l, it is a logical step in the process of becoming a top-level tournament player.

We caught up with tEh_R3aLde4l as he was taking a break from a live tournament and got a little background on this young tournament stud. TEh_R3aLde4l got into poker in a familiar setting nowadays – college. Like many younger players, he and his friends saw poker on television and from there “[it] took over our entire school…as soon as I could start playing online, I did so.” After watching a friend find success in online SnG tournaments, he picked up a few poker books and started studying. In a few short years, he went from “probably one of the worst players in our home game” to a six-figure winner, besting a field of 6,382 players in the biggest weekly guarantee tournament in the world.

TEh_R3aLde4l cites having a group of friends to discuss hands with as a key to his development as a poker player, but adds that he is constantly growing and learning new games. When asked about games other than hold’em, he responded “I am just starting to play some PLO as the game is getting really popular where I'm from, there is tons of juicy action so it would be silly not to learn the game.”

All tournaments require some luck to make the final table, and tEh_R3aLde4l’s Sunday Million win was no different. He describes two key hands that put him into position to win, one a short-stack move from the small blind with 9-5 that cracked his opponent’s aces, and another lucky break on the final table bubble. Holding 5s-4s, he moved all in over the top of an aggressive opponent’s button raise, only to find himself up against A-K. His cards were live, and the flop of 4-6-8 was good to him. His pair of fours held up, and that hand put him into second place going into the final table, where he eventually made a three-way deal and then took down the title and the extra $30,000 left for the winner.

A tournament specialist, tEh_R3aLde4l cites the late night $109 30K guarantee tournament as one of his favorites. He prefers smaller field tournaments that provide a lot of play for the money, such as tourneys that offer one rebuy and one add on. His win in the Sunday Million is his biggest tournament win to date, but he has logged multiple final tables and wins in smaller events, with several wins over $10K. He considers this a stepping-stone to bigger and better things, saying, “I'm coming back for more and I want to be one of the best tournament players around someday.” I have no doubt we’ll be hearing a lot from this young man in the future.

The Sunday Million goes off every week and consistently produces the biggest field and the healthiest prize pool found anywhere on the internet. You can satellite in for as little as $3, with satellites going all the time at

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This page contains a single entry by John "Falstaff" Hartness published on June 26, 2008 1:48 PM.

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