Philipp Salewski wins inaugural Sunday Million Live and €111,674

Philipp Salewski's etched his name into PokerStars history today.

While several players will follow his footsteps, Salewski will always be the first Sunday Million Live champion.

"It's a big one to win," Salewski said. "I always dreamed of winning the Sunday Million. Why not the Sunday Million Live?"

Winner-STB_7109Sunday Million Live Rozvadov 4.9.2017 winner Philipp SalewskiPCMON2017Tomas Stacha.jpg

Philipp Salewski takes the inaugural title and a €111,674 payday

Good question, especially since it was driving distance for the 33-year-old German player. The online version of this event never really fit Salewski's sleeping schedule, but everything went right in the live version.

"I ran really hot," Salewski said. "I won almost every all in except for some small ones on the way here. I sucked out twice, which happens to all tournament winners, and I faded some suckouts as well.

Despite the luck involved, Salewski tried to stay focused and not let the wild ride and fast-rising blinds cloud his judgement.

"I was just trying to stay as concentrated and stay as zen as possible and be confident in my decisions," Salewski said. "Now I'm going to drive home."

Salewski's victory also marks another chapter in the Sunday Million's 11-year history. Back in 2006, on an early March day, nearly 6,000 players logged on to PokerStars to play the first-ever Sunday Million.

The concept was mind boggling at the time. Could you really collect and distribute a $1 million prize pool during a single-day poker tournament, on the internet? The answer was a resounding yes.

A total of 5,893 players took part in that inaugural Sunday Million and Canadian pro Daryl "aaaaaa" Jace eventually took it down and won $173,843.50. Since then, the Sunday Million has collected and awarded nearly $800 million, including the massive PokerStars 10th Anniversary Special Sunday Million that drew 62,116 entrants and had a first prize of $1.15 million. Another Canadian, Kyle "First-Eagle" Weir took down that one down.

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This weekend marked another Sunday Million milestone, this was the Sunday it came to life. It was also the largest poker tournament ever held in continental Europe. A total of 5,045 players signed up for the inaugural Sunday Million Live, playing a mix of online qualifiers and live Day 1s.

The Day 1 survivors, all 512 of them, then came to the King's Casino to play it out live. The King's Casino, nestled in the border town of Rozvadov in the Czech Republic, is quickly mushrooming into one the world's premiere poker destinations. If you're here, you're here to play poker and that's exactly what the Sunday Million Live survivors did.

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Over the course of one day, the field disintegrated from 512 players to just 27. Andrei Kurdyukov led that final platoon with a massive lead after he won a huge pot against Helma Weber in the last few minutes of play.

Kurdyokov managed to ride that lead to the final table, but fast-rising blinds made the chip lead harder to hold on to than a pile of sand. We saw chip leaders drop to just a few big blinds and short stacks jump into the lead a number of times.

This volatility also made staying at the final table of this tournament difficult.

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This is what real-life online poker tournament looks like.

The first to go was Patrick Vogelsanger, who ran his 7♦7♠ into Dominik Alexander Kabas's Q♣Q♦. Vogelsanger didn't find any help on the 9♠K♦5♣4♥2♦ board and became the first final table elimination.

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9th place finisher Patrick Vogelsanger (€11,300)

The Markus Kowalski joined him after losing a flip. Jozef Komorny moved all in with 9♣9♦ that hand and a short-stacked Kowalski called all in with J♥T♠. The 5♣K♠Q♠ flop gave Kowalski an open-ended straight draw, but the 4♣ and 5♥ that came on the turn and river didn't complete it.

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8th place finisher Markus Kowalski (€15,500)

The the Zak attacks came to an end.

Filip Zak raised a few eyebrows with a fold. Zak raised to 2.3 million with A♣K♣ and then folded with just 4.8 million behind when Jozef Komorny moved all in with pocket tens.

Zak did make a payjump thanks to the fold, but that's as far as he'd get. Zak moved all in with pocket jacks soon after Kowalski's elimination and Andrei Kurdykov called with A♦T♦. Kurdykov didn't pair his ace or ten, but he did hit a straight on the 4♦3♠2♠5♠4♣ board.

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7th place finisher Filip Zak (€21,400)

After that we had an all in on the turn, that's right, players made it to the turn before jamming it in. Dominik Alexander Kabas started that hand off with a minraise with 6♦6♠ and Werner Nather called with J♠T♥. The 6♥2♠8♣ flop gave Kabas a set of sixes, but he just called Werner's 2.2 million bet.

Then a J♦ came on the turn to pair Werner's jack and he bet 3.4 million. Kabas jammed and Werner called all in. Werner was drawing dead and finished the tournament in sixth while Kabas took the lead.

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6th place finisher Werner Nather (€29,000)

Then our start-of-day and start-of-final-table chip leader, Andrei Kurdyukov, saw his Sunday Million Live run come to an end. Kurdykov lost most of his stack to Philipp Salewski in a flip --which resulted in Salewski taking the lead-- and then he lost the rest of it to Salewski right after.

Kurdyukov got his final big blind in with A♠9♣ and Salewski raised the rest of the table out of the hand with pocket jacks. Salewski then hit a full house on the 5♦5♠J♠ flop and while Kurdyukov improved to a flush on the river, it wasn't enough.

Kurdyukov finished the tournament in fifth place and then the final four cut a deal.

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5th place finisher Andrei Kurdyukov (€39,680)

After some intense negotiating, high-level poker diplomatic called and a quadrilateral agreement, the players agreed on the following numbers, while also leaving €10,000 for first:

Philipp SalewskiGermany36,800,000€101,674
Dominik Alexander KabasGermany29,900,000€92,011
Jozef KomornySlovakia19,200,000€81,093
Karel KovarikCzech Republic15,600,000€76,522

Then Kabas started a short steamroll. First he took out Karel Kovarik.

Kovarik was the short stack and found himself with pocket nines, but Kabas woke up with pocket tens. Kovarik wasn't happy and the 6♣6♥Q♥7♥4♣ board kept him unhappy. Kovarik finished fourth and Kabas kept on killing it. He took down pot after pot and kept running good, even hitting quad queens.

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4th place finisher Karel Kovarik (€76,522)

Jozef Komorny had a brief glimmer of hope when he doubled up his short stack against Kabas. His A♥K♥ held up against Kabas's A♦5♦, but not without a brief scare. Kabas hit a five on the flop, but Komorny paired his king on the river.

Komorny's newfound chips didn't last long though. He limped from the button a bit later with 8♣6♣ and Kabas checked from the big blind with 6♦3♠. Kabas bet 2.5 million on the 4♠3♣2♥ and Kormony called. Kormony then moved all in when the 6♥ came on the turn and Kabas snap-called with two-pair.

A Q♣ came on the river and the tournament went heads up.

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3rd place finisher Jozef Komorny (€81,093)

Dominik Alexander Kabas started the match with 57.2 million while Philipp Salewski went into it with 43.7 million. Blinds were a whopping 1 million/2 million and a few pots put Salewski in the lead.

Then he ended things.

Salewski found himself with A♠J♠ on the button and limped. Kabas moved all in for 34.6 million with K♣7♥ and Salewski snap-called.

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2nd place finisher Dominik Alexander Kabas (€92,011)

The 3♠4♥4♠4♦Q♦ missed both players, but it helped us find a champion. Kabas was eliminated in 2nd place while Salewski became the inaugural Sunday Million Live Champion.

That's it from Rozvadov and the first Sunday Million Live!

Alex Villegas
@PokerStars in Live Poker