It was another exciting Sunday on PokerStars, punctuated as always by online poker’s most popular weekly event, the Sunday Million.

Lots of great stories to share this week, including interviews with several players who made the final table. Among those who talked to PokerStars Blog was the event’s winner, Juhana “Dumari84” Leinonen, who managed to outlast everyone to earn a whopping $114,334.50 first prize.

With some help from the players, then, here’s the story of how it all played out.

From 11,241 to 9

After being played as a “knockout” tournament the last two weeks, the Sunday Million reverted to its traditional format this time around — a switch that actually caught at least one player off guard (see below).

By the time late registration closed, a total of 8,039 players had entered and with 3,202 re-entries that added up to 11,241 entries total. That also meant a guarantee-busting $1,124,100 prize pool with 2,042 places paid.

It took a little less than 12 hours for the huge field to be whittled down to the final nine, at which point “pnsmckr” was the chip leader with nearly 21 million and Leinonen almost the shortest stack at the table with about 6.5 million.

Great run ends in ninth for “ycsousa”

Stephen “ycsousa” Wong was in the middle of the pack to begin the final table. It had been a good day (and night) to that point for the cash game and tournament player, but as the first few orbits of the final table went by, he was not getting the cards he needed.

“I was running good the whole way,” says Wong when talking to PokerStars Blog. “When I would lose a flip, I’d still have the chips to go on.” However by the final table his fortunes had shifted, and after a half-hour of nine-handed play Wong was ninth in chips.

“I was card dead and the short stack,” he explains. Finally he picked up A♥10♥ in middle position.

“I was all in for 7 big blinds,” says Wong. “And the big blind called me with ace-queen offsuit.” That was “dodi papa” who had A♦Q♣. The Q♥5♣J♥ flop provided lots of hope for Wong, but alas no draws were filled and he was out in ninth. “So many outs and it bricked,” he laments.

All in all, though, it was a great run for the Canadian.

“I have been playing for 10 years, and this is my biggest or second-biggest score online,” he explains.

“Dumari84” dominates as field halved to four

During that stretch the leaderboard changed considerably, with dodi papa slipping in the counts and Juhana “Dumari84” Leinonen moving up into first position.

Other players had become short as well. One was “KKing James” who got it in good with ace-queen versus the king-seven of “BluffedLife,” but a king came on the board to depose the KKing in eighth.

On the next hand Leinonen raised from UTG and “pnsmckr” reraise-shoved a dozen BBs from the cutoff with J♠10♠. When it folded back around Leinonen called with K♥Q♥, the better hand held, and they were down to six.

Suddenly Leinonen was up over 40 million while no one else had half that, and a few minutes later he’d claim another victim, using king-ten suited to top the ace-queen of “mate tdd” and reduce the field to five.

Shortly afterwards Daniele “KennyyPowers” Grassi picked up pocket aces, which was bad news for the short-stacked “Skipper22” who had ace-king, and five cards later the latter was out in fifth.

Fourth for soon-to-be-papa “dodi papa”

The final four would battle another 25 minutes, with Leinonen continuing to thrive and “dodi papa” eventually becoming short-stacked.

Hailing from Hungary, “dodi papa” had already locked up the biggest score of his online poker career — and had already fulfilled a big poker goal for himself, too.

“It’s been a long time that I have been dreaming of being on the final table of the Sunday Million,” he tells us. “The funny thing was, my wife just wrote on a post-it before I started to play on Sunday ‘Do not forget to win the Sunday Million.’ And I almost did it!”

As he explains, a little earlier at the final table he’d lost an all-in with ace-queen against a short-stacked player’s ace-ten. He’d double-up with aces after that, but then lost a key hand versus Leinonen.

“I had bad luck as I had a straight but unfortunately ‘Dumari84’ had a bigger straight,” he notes. Soon after he’d get his last 5.5 BBs in with jack-ten suited and lose to Daniele “KennyyPowers” Grassi’s king-ten to finish fourth.

Still, “dodi papa” was plenty happy with the result.

“This was my biggest score, and the timing was perfect at my first son will be born in the next weeks,” he says. Talk about a fitting username!

“I can’t wait to play WCOOP,” he adds. “Let’s hope that the best is yet to come.”

“KennyyPowers” downed in third

Three-handed would continue for several minutes. Eventually Leinonen was way out in front with more than 65 million while BluffedLife was at around 28 million and Daniele “KennyyPowers” Grassi third with about 19 million.

A 32-year-old cash game player from Austria, Grassi often plays in Vienna and elsewhere, and in fact the night before had a lengthy session at his local casino. That session had ended somewhat frustratingly with the loss of a big pot versus a loose opponent nicknamed “Banana” in which Grassi’s pocket queens got cracked by Banana’s king-queen.

Daniele “KennyyPowers” Grassi

Even so, with soccer on the television Grassi decided to jump in the Sunday Million despite his head not being entirely in the game.

“I feel like this not being completely in the zone helped me in the early stages of the tournament,” he says, “because I didn’t have the energy to bluff-shove 6-4 off on the river for my tournament life.”

As it happened, the run to the final table had been quite smooth for KennyyPowers. “As I got closer to the final table I managed to tell myself ‘this is what every poker player dreams of when he starts playing… do not dare to f*** it up!”

Thus did he adopt a tighter approach as the final table neared, folding pocket jacks to an all-in. At the final table, though, he changed gears a bit and used aggression when

Finally Grassi picked up Q♣Q♥ in the big blind and watched as leader Dumari84 raised from the small blind. Grassi three-bet, Leinonen jammed, and Grassi called all in to see he was well ahead of his opponent’s 10♠10♥.

Alas for KennyyPowers — just as happened with “Banana” the night before — Q-Q failed him again as a ten spiked on the river to end his run with a third-place finish.

Grassi still had a sense of humor about it, though.

“I would to take the opportunity to quote Bob Bright here,” he says, alluding to the legendary blackjack and poker player whom Grassi had the chance to meet during a visit to Las Vegas: “No more rivers!”

He also feels good about his play at the final table. “Next time I will take it down :)”

Dumari84 has a fever, and the cure is more chips… and a Sunday Million win!

In a way, that ten coming on the river was somewhat emblematic of the whole final table for Juhana “Dumari84” Leinonen. While the struggle to get to the FT had been difficult for him, from that point nearly everything went his way, leading to Dumari84 having a better than 3-to-1 chip lead to begin heads-up.

It continued to go Leinonen’s way for him thereafter, as just five minutes later he saw a flop with A♥J♣ versus BluffedLife’s 9♠9♥, and after the first three cards came 4♥A♦7♦ the pair bet back and forth until BluffedLife was all in. The 4♣ turn and J♦ river sealed it, ensuring Leinonen a six-figure score.

“I didn’t plan to play the Sunday Million,” Leinonen tells us. “I was only going to play the High Roller and the Warm-Up, because I had to work on Monday.”

“But I got a fever,” he adds with a laugh, explaining how he thought since he might be calling in sick on Monday, perhaps he could take a seat in the Milly.

“At first I didn’t realize it wasn’t a knockout tournament, and on my first bullet I tried to knock out as many as I could,” he says. “Then I realized it was a normal tournament, and [on my second entry] I changed my play a little bit.”

“There’s wasn’t anything unusual early on,” he continues. “Then I won a few hands in a row and was leading the tournament, then I made some not-so-good plays and maybe was unlucky, and I was short again.”

Leinonen hung on, however, doubling up a few times to make it to the tournament’s final stages. With about 30 players left, though, he was dead last in the counts and eyeing the payouts to see how far he could make it. And when the final table started he was eighth of nine, but a couple more timely doubles helped catapult him to what turned out to be an especially smooth endgame.

“It was the easiest final table ever,” he says with a chuckle, noting as well how a deal was never really in play thanks to his overwhelming chip lead.

That fever — and playing nearly 14 hours’ worth of poker — had kept Leinonen from going in to his job as a manager overseeing safely and quality for a construction company. But he still had responsibilities to fulfill as the final table played out, making it even more fortunate the cards kept going his way.

“I still had to do a little bit of reporting for my job, so my focus wasn’t 100 percent,” he laughs. “I had promised to do that work, so I did that while I played.”

As a part-time player with a family, Leinonen does get out to play now and then — he cashed a couple of times recently at EPT Barcleona — but that can be a challenge. “I’d like to play more, but it isn’t so easy,” he says.

Good for him he was able to find the time this week!

Congratulations to Juhana “Dumari84” Leinonen for his big win, and to everyone else who made the final table as well.


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