"Unimaginable" opportunity to make two millionaires this weekend
Juanyi Lin works in a Taiwanese factory. At 37 years old, she knows it's honest work, and she's happy to do it. She has a mortgage to pay. Still, she wouldn't mind having a bigger bankroll. She loves playing on PokerStars when she has the time.
But like every other recreational player in the world, time is a precious commodity. In between going to movies, paying for meals, and looking after a small child, Lin is a busy woman, much too busy to run up a huge stake on PokerStars.
By this time Monday, she could be a millionaire.
Known as JUANYI828 on PokerStars, Lin is one of 12 people who have a shot at winning $1 million in one of two six-max SNGs. She calls the opportunity "unimaginable."
"I only told one or two people," she said. "None of them dared to believe."
Believe it, folks, because it's happening this weekend.
Watch as two people become millionaires
Lin and eleven other people got this chance for free as part of the PokerStars Makes Millionaires promotion. After completing some fun hand challenges, they were entered into some All-In Shootouts. They didn't even have to be online to make into the final.
"I wouldn't be surprised to hear that some of these players were just sleeping or just going to work only to later find out they can win some life changing money when they get home," said Team Online's Randy Lew.
(He's right. Keep reading below.)
Lew isn't kidding about life-changing money. The two 6-max SNGs have payout structures that look like this.
1st: $1 million
2nd: $50,000 + 1 million FPPs
3rd: $40,000 + 1 million FPPs
Oh, and they aren't allowed to make a deal.
Here are the 12 people playing on Sunday at 13:00 ET.
Millionaire Final 1 contestants
Millionaire Final 2 contestants
WhatA298 (United Kingdom)
You will be able to watch these fortunate folks in a number of ways. You can search for "final" in your PokerStars lobby. If you'd rather watch on Twitch, Lew is jacked up and ready to stream it on his own Twitch channel.
"I'm so excited to rail this event, Not only is winning $1 million for first going to be sick, look at the payout structure," Lew said. "Most notably is the difference between first and second place. Second place gets $50,000 and a million FPPs. The tension is going to be so high when they finally get to heads up."
We reached out to all 12 people up for the millions on Sunday. Half of them wanted to talk about it publicly. Remarkably, they are all each other's opponents...and none of them can believe it.
Yesterday afternoon, China's Bingxin Wang opened up the PokerStars lobby for the first time in several days. She remembered she had been entered in one of those All-In Shootouts, but that was the last that she thought of it.
"I thought that I didn't get anything from freerolls since the cashier balance hadn't changed," she said. "I didn't even think it's possible to make finals."
It wasn't only possible. It happened, and now she is one of 12 people guaranteed $10,000 and with a chance to win one of the two $1 million first prizes.
"Me and my husband are incredibly happy now and still can't believe it's real," she said. "We love to travel, so if I win, we will go somewhere for a trip."
If she wins, that is going to be one heck of a trip.
The incredulity swept the world quickly.
Hungary's tickitmaster is 27 years old and an economist by trade. When the message popped up on his screen, he just sat there calmly. Why? He didn't believe it was true.
"Then I went out to smoke, and my legs started to tremble," he said.
Tickitmaster told his family, and they thought he was joking. He's just a recreational player. How could he end up playing for $1 million?
So, he read some strategy articles and played a bunch of 6-max SNGs. He jogged to clear his head.
A million bucks. He can't even conceive of it, and refuses to consider what he would do with a seven-figure bankroll.
"I have not been thinking about that," he said. "I will be happy with sixth place, too, because it's a large amount of money for me. Once the sit and go is finished, I will start to thinking about that."
Meanwhile, his opponent, Russian web programmer Galonder, 25, sits in similar disbelief. When he got word he was one of the 12 finalists, he strained to get a grip on himself.
"I could not stand on my feet," he said. "I could not believe it."
All of those players should keep a close eye on 31-year-old WhatA298. He's an eight-year pro from the UK. Married with a four-year-old daughter, WhatA298 leads a quiet life surrounded by simple things. Even he was shocked by his good fortune.
"Despite being a poker player, I've never been incredibly lucky," he said. "I've told my family about Sunday, and everyone's been very surprised that an opportunity like this exists. If I win, we will likely start a small business but not before going on a nice long holiday."
Canada's Dwayne "Dewmister" Mattice has one particular holiday in mind.
"One thing I will do should I win is go to Las Vegas and play in the 2015 WSOP Main Event," he said.
At 51 years old, Mattice is a tradesman for the Canadian government, but he spends his free time out in the woods and rooting for the his favorite Canadian sports teams. This is the kind of opportunity that's been hard for him to talk about.
"I told immediate family but hesitated to tell friends," he said this week, "but as the week has gone on I have told more and more friends and co-workers, and they are all excited for me."
It's been said many times: PokerStars makes millionaires. By the end of the weekend, there will be two more of those seven-figure winners.
Place your bets on how long it will be before the winners can believe it.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging