Meet Sunday Million anniversary champion Andrius "benislovas" Bielskis
He will soon turn 33 years old. He's married with a child who is about to turn two. And he was supposed to be at work Monday morning. It was an important day on the job. He heads a department at an international logistics company in Lithuania. People were expecting him.
"I am a poker fan, not a professional," said Andrius "benislovas" Bielskis.
But the day before, Bielskis had made a decision. For fun--not necessarily profit--he was going to play the Sunday Million anniversary event, one that was guaranteeing $7 million in prize money, one that eventually grew to nearly $10 million. "Why not?" he thought.
Bielskis was among more than 49,000 players from around the world competing for one of the biggest prizes they could win online.
But remember, Bielskis has been on the job--a working man, not a poker player--for 13 years. Nothing could happen that was going to change that. And remember this, too: he was supposed to be at work Monday morning.
The problem was, by the time Monday morning rolled around, Bielskis had a stack in the Sunday Million. He had a chance at winning more than $1 million. So, he pulled out his phone and did the unthinkable.
He sent a text to work saying he was going to be late.
It was a weird thing. He's a company man, a guy with a wife and kid to support. Now his hobby was keeping him from the job?
"Poker is a hobby for me. I do not play for money but for the sake of victory. That motivates me a lot more money," he said.
The thing was, now he had a chance for both big money and a big victory. It was a double-shot of motivation. And so he dug in.
In the past, he'd done well in some online tournaments. He had a couple of small five-figure scores. His live record wasn't quite as good, but who could expect it to be? The man had to go to work five days a week. He didn't have time to be running all over the globe to grind tournaments.
One day could change all that. Slowly, he worked his way through the field. Before long, he was making a deal with the top three players.
He was never nervous. His hands weren't shaking. He was never what he termed "money-scared." He thought about buying a birthday trip for his dad or maybe going to the WSOP this year. But, really, the money wasn't even registering in his head.
A former Bridge player, Bielskis is patient, yet calculating. "Bridge is a game that helps you learn discipline and patience, and that greatly helps in the game of poker," he said.
Meanwhile, his wife (likely not a Bridge player) stood behind him and watched. Her husband was supposed to be at work, but instead she was pleading with him not to shove with ace-nine from the small blind (he did and ended up doubling up).
"She suffered more than me," he said.
By now, you know what happened. After the deal, Bielskis went on to win. The title and accomplishment will go down in PokerStars lore as one of the biggest Sunday wins.
And then, the man who had just won one of the biggest tournaments in recent memory, the man man who had just banked $848,589, the man who was the envy of the worldwide poker community did what you might expect.
He went to work.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging
Photos contributed by //lspf.lt/