The Sunday Million Anniversary Retrospective

February 03, 2021inPoker

The traditional gift for a 16th anniversary is wax. That’s fitting, as we’re here to wax lyrical about a very exciting tournament taking place on PokerStars.

The Sunday Million 16th Anniversary edition, which has a classic $215 buy-in and an incredible $10 million guaranteed, is taking place on Sunday 20 March 2022. 

Jot that date down. You’re not going to want to miss it. Nor will you have to.

PokerStars is running countless satellites and offering Spin & Go prizes to ensure everyone–regardless of bankroll–can find a way into what could be the biggest tournament of their lives.

At least one poker player will begin their journey towards becoming a millionaire.

It happened last year. The winner–Vanessa “Niffler” Kade–took down a whopping $1.5 million. In fact, each of the past 15 editions has produced an enormous prize for the champion.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane and recall the winners and prizes from each special Sunday Million anniversary event.

WOOD – 5th Anniversary – 2011

The first true celebration of the Sunday Million came back in 2011. It was the fifth year of the prestigious event and to honour the occasion PokerStars threw a massive $215 event which saw 59,128 total entries and an $11.8 million prize pool.

The USA’s Luke “Bdbeatslayer” Vrabel took it down for $671K following a nine-handed chop at the final table. But there was something special awaiting the winner, too.

Vrabel also won himself a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 for finishing first. Baller.

IRON AND SUGAR – 6th Anniversary – 2012

For a 6th anniversary, iron signifies strength and stability while sugar reflects the sweetness that still coats the relationship.

The Netherlands’ “slyfox151” proved strongest back in 2012, winning the Sunday Million 6th anniversary for a sweet, sweet prize, having outlasted 33,732 entries.

He or she took it down for $480K after an eight-handed chop, but it was New Zealand’s “HesBluffingx” who banked the lion’s share of the $6.7 million prize pool, winning $552K.

WOOL – 7th Anniversary – 2013

Andrius “benislovas” Bielskis certainly pulled the wool over his employer’s eyes back in 2013.

As a department head at a Lithuanian international logistics company, he texted his boss to tell them he was going to be late when he found himself with a huge stack deep in the 7th anniversary Sunday Million.

The event had 49,287 entries and Bielskis went on to win it for a massive $848K after a three-way chop. That’s a pretty good excuse for tardiness.

He still went to work Monday morning though. Read our interview with Bielskis here.

BRONZE – 8th Anniversary – 2014

The first millionaire to be crowned from a Sunday Million anniversary was Germany’s “DrUPSWING” in the 8th edition back in 2014.

He or she was the last person standing after 46,586 players entered, creating a $9.3 million prize pool. For their efforts, they won $1.03 million following a heads-up deal.

Patrick “pads1161” Leonard

Interestingly, high roller superstar Patrick “pads1161” Leonard finished ninth for $110K on his way to becoming one of the top online tournament players in the world. He’s still up there today.

COPPER – 9th Anniversary – 2015

Another American, Brayden “BRAYDEN93” Fritzshall (playing from Mexico), was king of the castle in the Sunday Million 9th anniversary in 2015, winning $597K after the final seven players made a deal.

“Kelly_koulis” from Greece claimed the biggest prize, however, earning $725K in the chop before finishing in second.

The event attracted 50,432 entries and built a $10.08 million prize pool.

TIN – 10th Anniversary – 2016

With 55,059 entries and an $11 million prize pool, the Milly’s 10th anniversary did exactly what it said on the tin: offer seven-figure prizes.

However, the final four players agreed to a deal which saw eventual champ “a.urli” of Canada win just shy of a milly ($970K).

Still, that’s 4,511 buy-ins.

STEEL – 11th Anniversary – 2017

Belgium’s Bart “girafganger7” Stevens is one of online poker’s supermen. Back in 2017, he almost became the man of steel.

Bert "girafganger7" Stevens, EPT 08 Champion

Bert “girafganger7” Stevens

The 11th anniversary Sunday Million had 55,835 entries, creating an $11.1 million prize pool. No surprises that it offered the largest payouts of any Milly anniversary up until then.

Panama’s “Xavi666” was eventually crowned the champ, winning $1.09 million. As for Stevens, he’d have to settle for fifth and $292K. Today, he has $13.4 million in career winnings and is ranked fourth in the world at the time of writing (according to PocketFives).

SILK – 12th Anniversary – 2018

There was $10 million up for grabs in 2018 as the Milly celebrated its 12th anniversary. In the end, it was a small-stakes player from Brazil who ran silky-smooth, while we noted the emergence of a tournament phenom and current world no.1.

Luis “Hulk9950” Felipe overcame the 43,975-strong field to win it all for $960K, following a three-way chop.

Brunno “botteonpoker” Botteon

His countryman, Brunno “botteonpoker” Botteon, finished in eighth for $108K, just a small slice of the $6.7 million he has won to date. Botteon is currently ranked no.1 in the world in online poker tournaments, according to PocketFives.

LACE – 13th Anniversary – 2019

China enjoyed their first Sunday Million anniversary win in 2019 when “wangli0402” took down the 13th edition for $611K after a five-handed deal.

That was no easy feat as the event had a whopping 61,342 entries, creating a $12.2 million prize pool–the biggest yet.

Things would get even bigger the next year.

GOLD – 14th Anniversary – 2020

2020 was a year like no other. That’s especially true for Brazil’s Alex “AAAArthur” Brito.

Alex “AAAArthur” Brito spun a $4 satellite into $1.1M by winning the Sunday Million 14th Anniversary edition (photo by @Juh.fotografias)

The 38-year-old was laid off from his job and on lockdown when he won his way into the Sunday Million 14th anniversary for just $4. The event had the biggest prize pool of any anniversary edition so far–$18.6 million.

A few days later, Brito had outlasted an incredible 93,016-player field to win it all for $1.1 million.

“Believe me, you must never give up. I’m an example,” Brito told PokerStars Blog. “I’m just an aspiring poker player, a recreational player who has now managed to change life for his family thanks to poker.

CRYSTAL – 15th Anniversary – 2021

“It’s a weird thing that I don’t know how to explain, but the day before the tournament began, I had a feeling this tournament was going to be mine,” Vanessa “Niffler” Kade told us a little under a year go. “Then I was sitting at the final table. To have it play out the way it did, it still doesn’t feel real to me. None of this feels real.”

Kade navigated her way through a 70,000-player field and took down the $215 Sunday Million 15th Anniversary for a massive $1.5M on March 23, 2021. Unsurprisingly, she calls it the best day of her life.

She’d put in the preparation. The Sunday Million 15th Anniversary gave her the opportunity.

On Sunday 20 March 2022, we’re doing it all again.

The 16th anniversary of the Sunday Million. $10M guaranteed. Old-school $215 buy-in.

Head here for all the details.


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