After playing host to a decade’s worth of life-changing moments on the felt, it was only fitting that PokerStars celebrated their tenth anniversary by dealing out an embarrassment of riches to its players. First, there was the world record shattering tournament that drew 200,000 players and made one man $40,000 off his $1 investment. A week later, the 72 billionth hand netted a micro-stakes grinder a $95,000 payday and the rest of his tablemates five figures apiece. Then the $1 million guaranteed Sunday Storm rolled in, the top six finishers all earning over $53,000 on their $11 buyin. The energy was palpable. Some of the largest fields in online poker history gathered. Lives were changed with the turn of a card. But that wasn’t nearly the end of it. Not by a long shot.
If PokerStars’ 10th Anniversary Celebration was a fireworks display, tonight marked its thunderous finale, every last lick of flame left in the chamber taking to the sky in a deafening, exhaustive release. Anyone with $215, an internet connection, and a working knowledge of what beats what would have been wise to play today’s $10 Million Guaranteed Sunday Million, a tournament that ended up posting the largest-ever prize pool in PokerStars’ history.
Until today, the high-water mark for Sunday Million participants was 59,128 players– a record set this past March on the Million’s fifth birthday. Today, that number topped out at 62,116, creating a prize pool of $12,423,200. Previously, the 2010 WCOOP Main Event held the top spot when it came to PokerStars prize pools, ($12,215,000) and that event carried a $5,200 buyin. And while today’s first-place finisher wouldn’t top POTTERPOKER’s $2,278,097.50 haul in that event, there was a $2 million guarantee on the #1 spot.
Five hours and fifty minutes into play, the money bubble burst, guaranteeing the remaining 7,682 players at least two and a half times their $215 buyin. Four minutes later, 1,000 players had busted and in the seven minutes that followed, another 1,000 joined them on the rail. The Red Spade Army was out in force with dozens of members of Team Pro, Team Online, and Team Sports Stars all vying for a seat at the final table. Ten of them finished in the money including Sigge “ClarkKent89” Reichard (7,166th), Gualter Salles (5,916th), Pius Heinz (4,338th), Johnny Lodden (4,202nd), Rino Mathis (4,081st), Matthias De Muelder (3,149th), Mickey “mement_mori” Petersen (2,377th), George Danzer (1,654th), and Andre Akkari (798th). However, it was everyone’s favorite Flying Dutchman, Marcel Luske, who claimed Team Pro last-longer honors with his 129th-place finish.
One hundred players remained as the touranament moved into its eleventh hour and by the middle of the thirteenth, we sat on the final table bubble with blinds of 1,000,000/2,000,000/200,000. As the long grind of ten-handed play wore on, the stack sizes polarized into two distinct groups– those with 90 million or more, and those with 30 million or less. People g was in the latter group, surrounded by big stacks at his table. When he picked up A♥J♣ he decided to committ his last 13 big blinds, moving all-in from UTG for 26.1 million. Unfortunately, he ran into a dominating hand when fellow short stack tunafish919 called with A♣Q♠, having him covered by only a little more than a million. People g did not improve and exited in tenth place while the other nine punched their tickets to the final table.
Final table chip counts:
Seat 1: Unstoffable (88,211,413 in chips)
Seat 2: tunafish919 (56,325,060 in chips)
Seat 3: BLAABAR (92,750,827 in chips)
Seat 4: SkunkDen (99,077,631 in chips)
Seat 5: fireballdio (24,420,395 in chips)
Seat 6: Dimedroll (95,849,710 in chips)
Seat 7: kaalen (30,046,742 in chips)
Seat 8: yokouno1980 (21,488,856 in chips)
Seat 9: First-Eagle (112,989,366 in chips)
If you took the UNDER on three minutes before a deal was discussed, you have a collection to make. Unstoffable was the first player to broach the subject, but was greeted with little more than the sound of crickets. Blood would have to be shed before any prize money was divvied up. However, while the rest of the field was no doubt fixated on the giant pay jumps that were coming into play, one player simply couldn’t hide his excitement. Australia’s tunafish919 was so delighted to be at the final table, he turned up his stereo and began typing song lyrics in the chat box.
“Tunafish is so happy he can hardly contain himself. :)” wrote Team Online’s Kevin “WizardOfAhhs” Thurman.
Chip leaders clash, short stacks succumb
The first monsterpotten of note at this final table was settled without a flop. Chip leader First-Eagle was the initial raiser, opening for 5 million from early position. The action folded around to Dimedroll, who three-bet to 13.1 million from the small blind. Kaalen folded his big blind and First-Eagle settled on a four-bet to 28.5 million. Dimedroll shoved for 115.3 million and First-Eagle gave it up, the 61.8 million pot moving Dimedroll into the top spot.
Meanwhile, the short stacks were fighting for traction. Yokouno1980 in particular couldn’t seem to find a toehold, blinding down to 3.78 million before putting the rest of his chips in the middle preflop against tunafish919 and First-Eagle. The flop fell 6♣6♦2♥ and First-Eagle check-folded to tunafish919’s 5 million bet, leaving him heads-up with yokouno1980. Yokouno1980 turned over A♥4♥, but tunafish919 had him with 10♥10♦. Tunafish919’s overpair turned into the nut boat when the 10♠ hit the turn and yokouno1980 departed in ninth place as the final table’s first casualty. He earned $86,512.56 for his finish.
Two hands later, kaalen moved in for his last 12.8 million from middle position and First-Eagle looked him up from the cutoff. Although both players made trip queens on the Q♦9♦3♦Q♣J♥ board, it ended up being a battle of the kickers, First-Eagle’s K♣Q♥ holding against kaalen’s Q♠8♦ to send him home in eighth place.
Less than an orbit passed before the last remaining short stack moved in. Fireballdio committed his last six big blinds with J♣10♦, but could not outrun First-Eagle’s A♥Q♥. For seventh place, he collected $182,406– a typical first-place Sunday Million prize on a “normal” night.
Deal or no deal?
Seconds after fireballdio’s bust, Dimedroll broached the subject of a six-way deal. Everyone was amenable to looking at numbers and the action was paused. Dimedroll held the chip lead at the time, closely trailed by First-Eagle, while tunafish919 was the short stack. Still giddy over his good fortune to make it this far, tunafish919 entertained his opponents and the rail in the chat box, discussing everything from the instant rice his mate had just fixed for him to the virtues of his local curry house. However, as the initial numbers rolled off, tunafish919 turned savvy negotiator. The only one of the six willing to walk away from a deal that would give everyone better than fourth-place money, tunafish919 told everyone he wanted to gamble.
tunafish919: i know i just wanna let it ride sorta guys
tunafish919: im only doub up from super dooper spot
tunafish919: 500k to 2million 3-1
tunafish919: giddy up
In order to prevent the deal from falling apart right then and there, First-Eagle and Dimedroll agreed to give tunafish919 an additional $30,000 apiece from their shares. Still flying high from the apparent magic of Australian instant rice, tunafish919 needed a bit more coaxing before finally agreeing to a six-way chop. After more than 35 minutes of negotiations, cards went back on the screen with $200,000 still at stake for the eventual winner.
Double, double, toil and trouble
Almost immediately, tunafish919 picked up pocket aces, doubling through SkunkDen who called with A♦K♣. Tunafish moved up to 130 million while SkunkDen fell below 40 million. A key coinflip, however, brought SkunkDen back up to 84 million when his pocket sixes held up against BLAABAR’s A♣K♦. BLAABAR recovered those lost chips only a few hands later when he open-shoved for 54.6 million with 6♥7♥ and SkunkDen called with A♣4♠. Although SkunkDen flopped a four, a six hit the turn and another came on the river to take BLAABAR up to 111 million. Left with 53.7 million, SkunkDen three-bet shoved over tunafish919’s opening raise holding Q♣8♥, but Dimedroll woke up with A♠A♦ in the small blind and snap-called. Tunafish919 got out of the way and let the board run out K♠3♦7♥9♣Q♦, Dimedroll’s aces holding up to eliminate SkunkDen in sixth place. The deal earned him a $758,986.42 payday.
With five players remaining, Dimedroll held the chip lead with 175 million and put himself in a great position to take out tunafish919. After opening for 8 million with A♦Q♥ and being three-bet to 20 million by tunafish919, Dimedroll pulled the trigger and four-bet shoved, having tunafish919 covered by more than 70 million. Tunafish919 tanked for more than a minute before calling for his tournament life with A♥10♦. The flop, however, fell, 10♥9♣3♦, pairing tunafish919’s kicker. Dimedroll could not manage the re-suck and fell to 50.3 million (12.5 big blinds) while tunafish919 took a commanding chip lead with 254.7 million.
Dimedroll immediately went to work trying to recover his lost stack, shoving from the button with J♦7♣ in the hopes of picking up the blinds and antes. Unfortunately, he ran straight into First-Eagle’s A♦A♥ and could not pull off a miracle, the board running out 6♦6♣8♣K♥J♥ to send Dimedroll to the rail in fifth place. He earned just shy of a million dollars–$995,996.85 to be exact– for a tremendous effort.
With the blinds up to 2M/4M, tunafish919 led the way with 253 million, First-Eagle was in second with 180 million, and BLAABAR and Unstoffable brought up the rear with 102 and 85 million respectively. Tunafish919 was in a position to control the table from here on out, but a preflop raising war ended with him five-bet shoving his pocket tens right into First-Eagle’s pocket queens. This time, there was no ten on the flop for tunafish919 and First-Eagle scored a game-changing double-up. With 364 million in his stack, First-Eagle held 58% of the chips in play.
Tunafish919 enjoyed a temporary reprieve, doubling through BLAABAR with Q♣Q♦ vs. 2♦2♥. However, his hopes for a comeback were dashed when First-Eagle picked up another big pocket pair at a most opportune time. Holding K♠K♥, First-Eagle opened for 10 million and snap-called when tunafish919 shoved for 76.5 million with A♥7♥. The cowboys held on the jack-high board and after a hard-fought battle, tunafish919 departed in fourth place, earning $627,317.26. That’s a helluva lot of instant rice.
Four hands later, First-Eagle had BLAABAR in his crosshairs, his pocket fours up against A♥10♦. First-Eagle’s heater continued, the flop falling 8♥4♣2♦ to make him middle set. BLAABAR was drawing dead on the turn and First-Eagle notched another KO. BLAABAR’s third-place finish earned him $709,896.78.
The Eagle has landed
First-Eagle held an 8 to 1 chip lead over Unstoffable as heads-up play commenced:
Seat 1: Unstoffable (69,361,413 in chips)
Seat 9: First-Eagle (551,798,587 in chips)
Although by this point Unstoffable may have been kicking himself for accepting the smallest share of the six-way deal, he still had the opportunity to add another $200,000 to that number. And after the first hand of heads-up play earned him a double-up to 139 million, that possibility looked far less remote. However, it was all over two hands later. All the marbles went in on a 10♠8♠5♦ flop, Unstoffable check-shoving with a flush draw and First-Eagle making the call with A♠3♠… the nut flush draw.
Neither player improved, First-Eagle’s ace-high holding up to earn him the title, the extra $200k, and over $1.14 million in total prize money. For his runner-up finish, Unstoffable banked $580,724.34.
PokerStars Sunday Million 10th Anniversary $10M Guaranteed Results
1. First-Eagle (Canada) $1,146,574.65*
2. Unstoffable (Spain) $580,724.34*
3. BLAABAR (Sweden) $709,896.78*
4. tunafish919 (Australia) $627,317.26*
5. Dimedroll (Russia) $995,996.85*
6. SkunkDen (Australia) $758,986.42*
7. fireballdia (Portugal) $182,406.00
8. kaalen (Sweden) $119,866.80
9. yokouno1980 (Israel) $86,512.56
*= reflects a six-way deal that left an additional $200,000 for the winner
Next Sunday is Christmas and the Million is back, albeit at its regular guarantee. Give yourself a little something and stop by the Sunday Million page for more information on how you can win your way in.