Octo-Niner Russell Thomas talks about his Sunday Million win

On Sunday, 2012 World Series of Poker Octo-Niner Russell Thomas achieved a dream of his - he won the PokerStars Sunday Million, earning $219,184. Thomas joined us to talk about his victory, life after the Main Event final table, and traveling the poker circuit.

Here's a snippet from the interview:

Russell Thomas: Winning the Sunday Million was a big dream for me, because I started out playing PokerStars with my $5 bankroll. I played my penny games and then I went to $6 sit-n-gos, and I would grind those. That's how I built my bankroll up to a few thousand dollars. But I would always save up all my FPP's to have a shot at the Sunday Million, and I always wanted a chance at the 200K up top. And I never, ever, really did well in the Sunday Million - at all. And it's nice to, like, actually win it after wanting to win it so many times.

Rich Ryan: Yeah I see your tweet about it being such a dream. You've come so far, you're playing poker for a living, and you're traveling the world, so it's nice to have some of the surreal moments.

RT: Yeah, it's kind of like the Main Event final table. Like, I ask myself "did that really happen?" for the next three days.

RR We had you on prior to the Octo-Nine. What have you been up to besides taking down the Sunday Million?

RT: I've been traveling around a lot. I went to Aussie Millions, in Melbourne, and then I went to LAPC, PCA - I've just been doing the circuit, and it hasn't been going well at all for me. So it was really nice to win this and make me have a positive year thus far.

russell_thomas_sunday_millon.jpg

RR: After your amazing run at the WSOP, did you kind of feel pressure to perform shortly after that?

RT: Yeah I was definitely feeling pressure because Jake Balsiger has been doing really well. He's had two big final table scores. Jeremy Ausmus has done really well. Jesse (Sylvia)'s done OK. Everyone else has been doing pretty good, and I've actually bricked 15-plus live tournaments in a row. So, I was starting to feel pressure and I was really hoping to do well at APAC in April, but I ended up shipping the Sunday Million so I guess that works.

RR: Where have you relocated to play? Are you up in Canada?

RT: I have relocated to Canada, but I'm actually down in Mexico with Jesse (Sylvia) and Jake Balsiger, in a house down here in Rosarito, Mexico, just south of San Diego.

RR: How did the Sunday Million go for you? Tournaments can obviously be up and down, they can also be smooth sailing, but how was it?

RT: It was pretty smooth sailing from the beginning on. I just kept winning pots. I would say that the final table went [i]so[/i] much better than the Main Event final table did for me. I was actually picking up hands. I was hitting flops. I was the chip leader coming in, and I think I used my chip lead really well. Everything just kind of went my way, as opposed to the final table of the Main Event where everything went against me, I think.

PN: Where there any names that you recognized at the final table, or were you able to flex your muscle a little bit and take advantage of amateur players that are playing for massive amounts of money?

RT: There was definitely a huge fish at the table on my left. There was this guy named "Ahhh Is It?", and he was probably the other player at the table that I thought was good, and he wouldn't back down as easily as everyone else. But the guy that took third named "aakiss1990" actually took fifth in the Sunday Million like a month or two ago. So he's done well.

Rich Ryan
@PokerStars in Sunday Million