When it comes to online poker results, it’s often the huge series like the WCOOP that gets all the attention. On a weekly basis, tourneys like the Sunday Million take the limelight for the sheer immensity of the prizes.

This means that more unusual and extraordinary results can slip under the radar of our readers. Yet these are often the most impressive wins, the kind that show how exciting online poker is for newer players making their mark, and how well refined the top pros really can be.

Here are the top five moments that probably slipped under your radar in 2020:

John Vallis turns free ticket into $57k

John Vallis; that bloke who won $57k for nothing

Even better than a worthy satellite win, is a win that comes from absolutely nothing. Not a penny spent. Nothing to lose and everything to gain. It sounds too good to be true, but John “99rocks99” Vallis went on a completely free ride in the Summer Series.

Vallis started his journey with a free $22 ticket that he found in a promotional chest. He used this to play a satellite, from which he won a $109 ticket. Vallis was almost reluctant to play at the stage, and even considered throwing the game to take a runner-up cash prize. It’s a good job he didn’t. After deciding to continue, he ended up qualifying for a $2,100 Summer Series Heat.

Let’s pause for reflection. Here’s a player who told us in an interview that he usually doesn’t even play for real money. Now he’s converted a free ticket into entry to a serious $2,100 MTT. Even a min-cash here would be huge.

But John Vallis didn’t settle for a min-cash. He went on to claim third place in the Heat for an incredible $57,229. That’s $57k for free. Probably the greatest win of the year.

Niklas “Lena900” Astedt defies the laws of variance

Niklas "Lena900" Åstedt

Niklas “Lena900” Astedt is a regular winner, but this one time he took down the same tourney two days in a row

Every Monday morning, I receive a spreadsheet with the weekend’s poker results. And nearly every Monday morning, Niklas “Lena900” Astedt is on the list, usually final tabling at least one game, and regularly taking down a tourney for tens of thousands of dollars.

Niklas Astedt is one of those players who seems to defy the laws of variance. His name crops up so often that, in a strange way, it can actually be easy to overlook him. “Oh, another Astedt win,” is the thought that sometimes crosses my own mind. Yet here is a player who really deserves a lot of respect.

His results one weekend in early March demonstrate just how skillful a player Astedt really is. He took down the $1,050 Daily Warm-Up on the Saturday for $18,983, then took down the same tourney – this time the Sunday Warm-Up – the very next day for $29,317.

The combined total for both of these wins came to $48,300, which is nowhere near close to Astedt’s biggest scores, but this double result really says something about his consistency. Whatever he’s doing, it’s not a fluke.

Martin Thien wins WCOOP title whilst streaming to three Twitch viewers

Martin “Marksman_M” Thien Wu casually streamed his WCOOP win to a peak audience of three Twitch viewers

While most viewers tuned in to see streamers like Spraggy and Fintan Hand battle it out, aspiring player Martin “Marksman_M” Thien Wu managed to take down a WCOOP tourney live on Twitch, all to a peak audience of just three viewers.

He’s one of only a couple of players ever to stream such a prestigious win. Fair play to Spraggy, who also streamed his Day 1 victory live this year. But Thien Wu’s WCOOP win was a special moment, precisely because only a few lucky players got to see it from his perspective at the time.

Martin “Marksman_M” Thien Wu has had a few four figure scores in the past, but this was by far his biggest win. He took down the WCOOP 05-M PKO event for $29,379 (inc bounties). It’s an amazing story, and one that really captures the spirit of online poker.

PhounderAA wins over $100k in Bounty Builder HR

The $530 Bounty Builder HR is held every Sunday. It’s a two-day event, and easily one of the top fixtures on the weekly High Roller Club schedule, regularly culminating in prize pools of over $600k, with half of the total going to bounties.

This structure means that whoever wins can increase their total by a significant amount by putting in a dominant performance and accumulating lots of bounties. We’ve had players near-double their prize and walk away with upwards of $80k from this tourney.

PhounderAA from Poland pushed the potential of the Sunday Bounty Builder HR to its brink, earning $49,721 for first place, plus an additional $50,378 in knockouts for a total just a touch over $100k.

WhatIfGod continues hot run after winning EPT Online Main Event

If you followed the EPT Online, then you’ll have seen Swedish pro “WhatIfGod” win over $1 million for first place in the Main Event. That’s an impressive score, and one that would have me reaching for the “retire” button sooner than the “raise” button.

WhatIfGod didn’t want to stop there though. Just a few days later he was smashing up the High Roller Club, winning the Sunday HR for $62k, as well as final tabling two other serious tourneys. This is clearly a player who loves his poker, and one who knows how to roll with the good times.

"WhatIfGod," EPT Online 16 Main Event Champion

“WhatIfGod” won the EPT Online Main Event, then came back the very next weekend to take down a High Roller Club tourney

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