It was just about one year ago that PokerStars broke records and made history with a Sunday Million to celebrate 40 billion hands dealt on the site. That little event drew 36,169 players for the $4 million guarantee, came up with an actual prize pool of more than $7 million, and awarded more than $1.1 million to RichieRichZH for first place. Wow, we thought.
Tonight's Sunday Million blew those numbers right out of the fish-filled waters.
PokerStars made history yet again. They set up an anniversary tournament to celebrate five years of Sunday Million events. The Sunday Million 5th Anniversary was the talk of the internet for more than a week, as it boasted of a massive $5 million guarantee for its regular $200 + $15 buy-in, and it guaranteed at least $1 million and a Lamborghini Gallardo for first place. Estimates began to grow in the hopes that this week's celebration would bypass last year's numbers. And as registration grew at an astounding rate early on Sunday, it was clear that this was going to be a monster of a tournament. Let's just look at the final numbers:
Entrants: 59,128 players
Prize pool: $11,825,600.00
Unbelievable! Well, not so much for the powers-that-be at PokerStars who knew this would be a gargantuan tournament, but most of the poker world was in awe.
After staring at the impressive numbers for awhile and spotting the biggest names in poker scattered amongst the tables, poker fans settled in for an exciting night of poker.
There were some disappointed players, though. Many tried but could not make it to the money bubble. Tens of thousands of players exited, holding on to their dreams for another Sunday, as only 7,450 were to be paid on this day. Said bubble came to be just 4 hours and 45 minutes into the tournament, as xxLemmyxx became the 7451st finisher, leaving everyone else the promise of at least $354.76 for their efforts. SHALLENALLIN was the first to cash, and play continued. By the seven-hour mark, less than 1,000 players remained, and on it went toward the final table.
Meanwhile, the list of Team PokerStars players in the money was an impressive one. Team Pro Richard Toth just missed that money when he finished in 7457th place, but Liv Boeree was the first to make it past that point, ending her run in 7244th place. The rest of the list included Team PokerStars Pros Pat Pezzin in 7086th, Jude "j.thaddeus" Ainsworth in 6653rd, Team Online's Shane "shaniac" Schleger in 5399th, Anh Van Nguyen in 3651st, Noah "Exclusive" Boeken in 3606th, Jason Mercier in 3282nd, Raymond Wu in 2192nd, Online's Kristian "CharismA3" Martin in 1343rd, Toni Judet in 1003rd, Online's Diego "vgreen22" Brunelli in 825th, Sandra Naujoks in 736th, Angel Guillen in 515th, and Humberto Brenes in 144th. Finally, the last Team Pro standing was Gualter Salles, and the professional race car driver from Brazil eventually exited in 84th place.
The 12-hour mark of the Sunday Million came and went, and two tables remained, all players vying for a place at the final table that the world would watch. Action moved faster than most anticipated, including yours truly, and 30 minutes later, only 11 players were still seated.
The elimination of Beer hand131 in 11th place allowed hand-for-hand to begin, and it didn't even take 15 minutes to find two players in a big hand. After a raise from Syndrome1977, pbrsquad reraised all-in for 42,060,488 chips from the small blind. pbrsquad had A♦J♣, and Syndrome1977 showed 8♠8♥. The flop of 7♥4♥J♦ gave pbrsquad the lead with a pair of jacks, and the J♥ turn card brought trips but gave Syndrome1977 more outs with the hearts. The dramatic 8♣ on the river made Syndrome1977 a full house to eliminate pbrsquad in tenth place, which was worth $27,790.16.
Syndrome1977 takes initial lead with wrzr123 close behind
The final table was ready for action! Quite a few members of Team PokerStars chimed in with their congratulations, including Ivan Demidov, Katja Thater, Johnny Lodden, Maridu, and even Isildur1. And in the middle of Level 45, with blinds of 1,250,000/2,500,000 and a 250,000 ante, the players were set to go with the following chip counts:
Seat 1: guccyka (54,953,242 in chips)
Seat 2: Syndrome1977 (107,743,561 in chips)
Seat 3: Jan10004 (35,864,737 in chips)
Seat 4: sheppyshape (54,911,760 in chips)
Seat 5: nhar818 (55,338,307 in chips)
Seat 6: Bdbeatslayer (92,689,244 in chips)
Seat 7: wrzr123 (86,589,484 in chips)
Seat 8: Battmeister (36,164,033 in chips)
Seat 9: zeurrr (67,025,632 in chips)
Within a few hands, wrzr123 took over the chip lead, and it quickly became apparent that this was anyone's game. In a bit of a surprising turn, the game was paused to present some chip-chop numbers to the final nine players. The entire process took nearly 40 minutes, and despite one player's initial objections, all nine eventually agreed to the numbers after only one adjustment. With the Lamborghini set aside for the winner, the payouts would be as follows:
Seat 1: guccyka (50,203,242 in chips) = $411,090.13
Seat 2: Syndrome1977 (102,993,561 in chips) = $799,842.09
Seat 3: Jan10004 (36,614,737 in chips) = $311,023.33
Seat 4: sheppyshape (57,611,760 in chips) = $465,647.02
Seat 5: nhar818 (54,338,307 in chips) = $441,541.06
Seat 6: Bdbeatslayer (86,189,244 in chips) = $671,093.81
Seat 7: wrzr123 (108,339,484 in chips) = $844,209.88
Seat 8: Battmeister (30,213,033 in chips) = $263,888.06
Seat 9: zeurrr (64,775,632 in chips) = $518,402.33
Play resumed with a bit of caution for a few hands, but it didn't take long for short-stacked Battmeister made the all-in raise. Syndrome1977 reraised to isolate from the small blind, and it worked. Battmeister showed K♥7♠, but Syndrome1977 dominated with K♠J♥, and the board of Q♠7♥K♦9♣Q♥ gave both players two pair so the jack kicker played. Battmeister was gone from the field, walking with the $263,888.06 from the aforementioned agreement.
Jan10004 soon doubled through zeurrr to stay in the game, and sheppyshape did the same to put zeurrr in a tough position.
A big pot then developed when zeurrr pushed all-in again, this time for just over 23 million chips. Jan10004 reraised all-in, and sheppyshape did the same from the small blind. When nhar818 folded, it was revealed that sheppyshape had everyone covered and held A♣K♠, Jan10004 was at risk with T♣T♥, and zeurrr needed help with 8♦8♣ to stay alive. The board came Q♠J♦4♦A♦8♠, which pushed the main pot to zeurrr for the triple-up and the side pot to sheppyshape. Jan10004 was gone in eighth place with $311,023.33.
A few hands later, nhar818 made the push preflop with A♣T♦, but wrzr123 reraised with A♥J♣, and everyone else folded. The board blanked with 2♥3♦5♦Q♦K♣, and that left nhar818 with a seventh place finish and the $441,541.06 agreed upon earlier.
Guccyka doubled through zeurrr on the next hand, which prompted zeurrr took another chance moments later. After an initial raise from wrzr123, zeurrr pushed all-in for little more than 36 million, and wrzr123 called with K♣K♦. Zeurrr showed A♣J♥ and needed to improve. A positive sign came on the 4♦3♣J♦, but the jacks fell to the kings when the board finished with 8♣ and 7♦. Zeurrr departed in sixth place with $518,402.33.
Sheppyshape then took down a huge double-up hand versus Syndrome1977:
Syndrome1977 was subsequently very short-stacked and made the all-in move with T♠5♦. Wrzr123 was there with A♣8♣, a hand that only improved on the 3♠7♥7♣A♦A♥. The full house was quite enough to eliminate Syndrome1977 in fifth place, for which he received the second highest payout of the night of $799,842.09.
Taking chip lead requires slaying opponents
The double-ups were then happening more frequently: guccyka through wrzr123, Bdbeatslayer through guccyka, and guccyka through sheppyshape. The chip lead was truly up for grabs, though wrzr123 did regain it from sheppyshape and try to make it stick.
The following double-up by Bdbeatslayer through guccyka not only put the former in a dominating chip lead but put the latter in trouble:
Guccyka doubled on the next hand through wrzr123, but a short time later, guccyka made another move, that time with J♣7♣ from the small blind. Sheppyshape called from the big blind with A♣Q♠, and the best hand held up as the dealer gave them T♦6♥T♥8♥2♥. Guccyka was kaput in fourth place with $411,090.13.
Wrzr123 was not comfortable on the short stack, and when Bdbeatslayer challenged with an all-in move, wrzr123 called for his tournament life with A♥9♦. Bdbeatslayer had the worst of it with A♠8♥, but the flop of T♦8♣3♣ brought on a pair. The 4♥ turn and 6♠ cards ended the hand, and wrzr123 was ousted in third place with $844,209.87, the biggest payday of this Sunday Million.
Fighting for the Lambo
Just an hour and a half after the final table began, the last two players standing were set up to begin their battle with the following counts:
Seat 4: sheppyshape (175,109,253 in chips)
Seat 6: Bdbeatslayer (416,170,747 in chips)
It was no easy match. Sheppyshape had room to fight and did just that for nearly 20 minutes. Eventually, though, sheppyshape found a spot and agreed to go all-in preflop with 7♦7♥, but it just so happened that Bdbeatslayer was playing with 9♦9♠. The board was a rather uneventful 4♦J♥6♠T♣Q♥, and that was enough to finish sheppyshape, who walked away with $465,647.02 for second place.
Luke "Bdbeatslayer" Vrabel won the largest Sunday Million in history! For the victory that put him in a very unique online poker category, Bdbeatslayer was awarded $671,093.81, the Sunday Million 5th Anniversary title, and a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4. Congratulations!
Sunday Million 5th Anniversary Results for 03/06/11*:
1st place: Luke "Bdbeatslayer" Vrabel ($671,093.81 & Lamborghini Gallardo)
2nd place: sheppyshape ($465,647.02)
3rd place: wrzr123 ($844,209.87)
4th place: guccyka ($411,090.13)
5th place: Syndrome1977 ($799,842.09)
6th place: zeurrr ($518,402.33)
7th place: nhar818 ($441,541.06)
8th place: Jan10004 ($311,023.33)
9th place: Battmeister ($263,888.06)
* After nine-handed chop
For more information on ways to register and qualify for upcoming Sunday Million tournaments, visit the Sunday Million page.
EDIT: Now you can watch the closing stages of this historic tournament. Here's the Online Poker Show with final table highlights...