Tuesday, 5th December 2023 05:35
Home / Poker / How Irish poker pro Marc Macdonnell hit The Deal jackpot and won $413,197

Irish poker pro Marc Macdonnell recently took a spontaneous spin on The Deal. He ended up winning the largest jackpot in the game’s history.

How on earth had The Deal jackpot reached a staggering $826,393.67?

That’s a fair question. 

Every day, thousands of players take a shot at The Deal, PokerStars’ fun and fast way to turn StarsCoin into cash prizes. You play for either seven or 70 StarsCoin at a time, and if you make a good enough hand, you win a prize.

If you make a really good hand – i.e. a straight flush or a royal flush – you go through to spin for the jackpot. 

The thing is, while many players had made it through to the final spin, none had hit the jackpot, which had progressively built over months. If they had, they would have won half the prize, with the other half split between anyone who had played within 12 hours.

It was the largest jackpot prize in The Deal history. And anyone could have won it.

But it ended up going to a very familiar face.


It all went down on a Sunday night, but this wasn’t a Hail Mary shot at a daysaver after a rough session. 

Marc Macdonnell – known as “14alonso14” on PokerStars – has been a successful poker pro for years, amassing $1.62 million in online winnings and $3.32 million on the live felt, putting him fourth on Ireland’s all-time money list.

Macdonnell hopes to overtake Andy Black as Ireland’s all-time winner

But Macdonnell hasn’t been playing much online poker since moving back to Dublin and settling down, so his session that Sunday was relatively small compared with his usual stakes. “That’s fairly normal for me lately,” he says.

He’s started trying to learn PLO, though, and decided to play the medium and low editions of the WCOOP 5-Card PLO events. He “flicked it in for a punt” and sure enough, he was one-tabling a $22 game until 2 a.m., when the event paused overnight.

When his tournament wrapped up, Macdonnell stayed online to rail a friend in another event. To pass the time, he went for a spin on The Deal. This at least ensured that if the jackpot was won within that 12-hour timeframe, he would receive a small portion of the purse.

“I had f***-all StarsCoin so I just bet the max to get it over with quick,” he says. 

The next thing he knew, he was through to the jackpot round.

“I wasn’t even sure if that was definitely it,” he says. “I thought it might have been the round to get to the jackpot stage.”

But this was it, alright.


Macdonnell knew enough to whip out his phone and record a video of his spin. You know, just in case.

Seven of the eight sections on the wheel offered just a $1,000 prize. The other was the jackpot.

Here’s what happened.

“When it popped up that I won I was just frozen,” he says. “I triple-checked [the money] was in my account and then put the phone down and probably woke up my entire street!”

He’d just won a jaw-dropping $413,196.83.


It begs the question, how does this random score compare with a big win in a poker tournament? 

“It’s mad,” says Macdonnell. “A very different feeling. In poker, you work your way through the tournament and your expectations go up and down the whole way through. Chances are you’ve swapped or sold a percentage.

“But playing some jackpot thing, you have zero expectation and then it [happened in an] instant. I still can’t…”

Macdonnell: “It fell from the sky!”

Macdonnell says he plans to keep his prize money separate from his poker bankroll. “I’ll probably take a holiday and then try to do something responsible for a change with the rest.”

As for poker, Macdonnell plans to continue going to five or six live poker stops a year.

“I still love playing,” he says. “Especially live. Poker goals? I’ve used up enough luck for a lifetime but maybe I can chase down Andy Black on the Irish money list. And win the Irish Open – easy!”

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