You might have heard… the 15th Anniversary PokerStars Sunday Million is just 10 days away. First running way back in 2006, online poker’s most prestigious tournament will celebrate its a big milestone with a huge $12.5 million guarantee. Also guaranteed — not one but two $1 million-plus prizes going to the winner and runner-up.
The $215 buy-in, three-day tournament kicks off Sunday, March 21 at 13:00 ET with late registration open all of the way until the start of Day 2. There are tons of inexpensive satellites running already — worth checking out! Just ask last year’s 14th Anniversary PokerStars Sunday Million champion, “AAAArthur,” who won entry via an $11 tourney, then topped a 9,316-field to win more than $1.1 million.
So who’s going to win the 15th Anniversary PokerStars Sunday Million? We’ve tried our hand at such handicapping before, and frankly it’s always a challenge to pick favorites. That said, there are a number of players worth watching as potential candidates for this year’s big Sunday Million Anniversary champion. Here is a collection of our picks of players we feel fairly confident putting forth as worthy contenders.
For more than a decade, PocketFives has tracked the great and the good of online tournament poker, and players still consider elevation to the highest echelons of the rankings to be the clearest indication that they’re doing something right. Let’s start our search for a 15th Anniversary PokerStars Sunday Million winner with a look at who is sitting atop the PocketFives worldwide rankings at present.
1. Bert “girafganger7” Stevens
We didn’t need to see Bert “girafganger7” Stevens in the top spot of the current P5s rankings to have listed him as a Sunday Million favorite. With more than $15 million in reported online winnings including $8.2 million on PokerStars, Stevens has been a dominant online force for many years. We’ve seen him collect multiple ‘COOP titles, crush other series, and even notch a fifth-place finish out of 55,835 entries in the 11th Anniversary PokerStars Sunday Million. Stevens’ biggest score on PokerStars came for winning a $1K 2017 SCOOP event from which he took away just over $700K. That’s a total he’ll eclipse should he manage to find a way to the 15th Anniversary PokerStars Sunday Million’s winner’s circle.
2. Rui “RuiNF” Ferreira
The 2021 Spring Championship of Online Poker is coming soon — it’s in April this year. Which reminds us how well Rui “RuiNF” Ferreira did in last year’s SCOOP, making nine final tables and winning SCOOP Player of the Series. That performance only added further to the Portuguese pro’s stature as like Stevens he, too, has literally hundreds of pages of results on P5s, including $9.5 million worth of recorded cashes on PokerStars. Ferreira has that quality of tournament tenacity, too, making him an especially tough out in any event. He talked to us about that quality and other secrets for success last summer: “Rui ‘RuiNF’ Ferreira on his Player of the Year SCOOP performance, and how you too can crush a big series.”
Ranked third currently is a player that needs no introduction. Or rather, a player whose username serves just fine as a greeting, the Russian player “hello_totti.” He’s notched more than $6.2 million in cashes on PokerStars over the years, and even more than that elsewhere. Among the player’s biggest scores on PokerStars is a Sunday Million win in August 2018 for more than $160K. Don’t be surprised to see “hello_totti” saying goodbye to multiple opponents in the 15th Anniversary PokerStars Sunday Million on the way to another deep tournament run.
The rest of the PocketFives top 10 is similarly stacked with names familiar to anyone following tournaments on PokerStars. If any or all of them choose to play the 15th Anniversary PokerStars Sunday Million, they have to be included in a compilation of possible champs.
Here are the players currently filling out the current P5s top ten: Brunno “botteonpoker” Botteon, Yuri “theNERDguy” Martins, Mike “SirWatts” Watson, Bruno “great dant” Volkmann, Sami “Lrslzk” Kelopuro, Anatoly “nl_profit” Filatov, and 2020 WSOP Main Event champion Damian “pampa27” Salas.
If you’ve watched any online tournament poker over the past 10 years, you’ll have seen sensations come and go. But at the same time, you’ll have seen some sensations come and stay, seemingly immune to the enormous variance inherent in the game.
It’s a fair bet that all of the following players will be playing the 15th Anniversary PokerStars Sunday Million, and for them it will be just another tournament in a career spanning years. But despite their status as veterans, their skills are as sharp as ever.
Chris “Big Huni” Hunichen: Former online No. 1, with victories in Super Tuesday, Sunday Warm-Up, Sunday 500 and WCOOP. First recorded online cash came in 2006, so has been doing this a loooong time, both from his native United States and adopted home of Costa Rica post-Black Friday.
Niklas “Lena900” Åstedt: No discussion of online tournament poker can take place without a mention of “Lena900,” the online moniker of Sweden’s Niklas Åstedt. He has Super Tuesday and SCOOP titles to his name, and has been to Sunday Million final table multiple times. Åstedt’s record at PokerStars is absolutely incredible. Everyone will be keeping a wary eye out for “Lena900” in the 15th Anniversary PokerStars Sunday Million.
Connor “blanconegro” Drinan: Has retreated from the live scene a little in recent years (despite $11 million in tournament cashes) but is still crushing online, where he’s putting in more volume than ever. Has a second and fourth place in previous Sunday Millions.
Chris “Moorman1” Moorman: He has hundreds of major online tournaments and amassed online tournament cashes of more than $18 million. There is little chance a big event like the 15th Anniversary PokerStars Sunday Million will take place without Moorman showing up looking for more, man.
Calvin “cal42688” Anderson: When you’ve won the Sunday Warm-Up and the Sunday Second Chance, surely it’s only a matter of time until you scoop the big one? Well, that’s not necessarily true, but Calvin “cal42688” Anderson has been at the top of the online game for more than a dozen years and is still recording major cashes across all sites. This time?
We’ve highlighted these players before in these “our picks”-type posts, and there’s no reason not to do so again — all formidable foes whether live or online.
Ole “wizowizo” Schemion: Ole Schemion does his best to avoid the spotlight whether you encounter him at the online or the live tables. But for such a publicity-shy player, he has what must be a frustrating habit of continually winning things.
Kristen “krissyb24” Bicknell: We’re hardly going out on a limb to name Canada’s Kristen “krissyb24” Bicknell as one of the best players in the world. Bicknell has also appeared on the Super High Roller live circuit much more over recent years, where she will have improved an already exceptional game even more.
Joao “Naza114” Vieira: Like his countryman Ferreira, Joao “Naza114” Vieira spent some time over the past year playing from the Netherlands, before ending up in the UK. Wherever he is based, he’s a near permanent fixture on final tables. Vieira has multiple ‘COOP titles plus many other accolades in PokerStars tournaments. The globetrotting Portuguese is simply one of the best online poker players in the world.
Pedro “PaDiLhA SP” Padhilha: Brazilian players will no doubt represent themselves well again, and don’t be surprised to see Pedro “PaDiLhA SP” Padhilha rising to the occasion once more. He has SCOOP titles, a WCOOP, and more. Once Andre Akkari’s protege, Padhilha is now the apprentice turned master.
Finally, we must add to the list of favorites those players for whom the Sunday Million is a favorite of theirs. That is to say, let’s be sure to include as picks those members of the select group of multiple-Sunday Million champions.
After a decade-and-a-half of Sunday Millions, Russia’s Artem “veeea” Vezhenkov remains the only player to have won the prestigious tournament three times.
Meanwhile, the two-time Sunday Million champs list includes Mantas “bagoch” Bagočius (Lithuania), Renan “Internett93o” Bruschi (Brazil), Guilherme “VinceVegaMFR” Cheveau (Brazil), Lonnie “thx4urm0n3y” Hallett (Canada), Clark “snake8484” Hamagami (Canada), Jesper “KipsterDK” Hougaard (Denmark), Thomas “WhatArunAA” James (Canada), Juan “vietcong01” Maceiras (Spain), Luis “Turko_man” Rodriguez (Finland), Kevin “kevsteele” Steele (UK), Rob “robtinnion” Tinnion (UK), Paul “pvas2” Van Nunes (UK), “DaGoddfather” (Canada), “diegoaiz” (Argentina), “Gambler4444” (Austria), “Lucky_Jew_17” (Russia), “power2prut” (UK), “twirlpro” (Hungary), and “TY4Stacks2” (Sweden).