Whether in prestigious live events or in huge online ones like the upcoming Spring Championship of Online Poker, PokerStars has been making millionaires for a long time.
It’s only fitting, then, that PokerStars has come up with several more ways to give players opportunities to earn seven-figure scores in the new PokerStars Makes Millionaires, a series of events this spring.
Already underway are chances to win a $1 Million Spin & Go, a free package to the PokerStars Championship Monte-Carlo Main Event and a shot at its guaranteed €1 million first-place prize.
Meanwhile, during the rest of April, players can participate in PokerStars’ special Millionaire Month promotion.
Then in May, they can take shots at winning their way into the SCOOP Main Event (High) for a chance at its $1 million guaranteed first-place prize.
As a way of marking the occasion, here are the ten biggest million dollar wins in PokerStars history, divided into the top five live event wins and top five scores online on PokerStars.
1. Niklas Heinecker — $4,456,884.79 (GuangDong Asia Millions, 2013)
Baccarat may be the game of choice in Macau, but poker rules at the City of Dreams where the PokerStars Championship Macau series is currently underway.
That was also the site of a storied event in PokerStars history: the HK$1,000,000 buy-in GuangDong Asia Millions Main Event.
In the summer of 2013, this event attracted a huge 71-entry field with many of poker’s top tournament talent.
From that group, the German Niklas Heinecker emerged as the winner, earning a whopping HK$34.6 million payday, more than $4.45 million USD.
More of an online player than a live one, Heinecker is best known among PokerStars railbirds for his frequent presence in the high-stakes online cash games where he plays as “ragen70.”
To earn the victory in Macau, Heinecker had to outlast a tough final table that included Igor Kurganov, Isaac Haxton and Sorel Mizzi before besting Jeff Rossiter heads up.
“This is by far the biggest day of my poker career,” Heinecker told the PokerStars Blog following his win.
Talk about understatement! It was one of the biggest days anyone has ever experienced in poker and the biggest payday of them all, among the many big ones enjoyed over the years at PokerStars live events.
2. Phil Ivey — $3,582,752.63 (Aussie Millions $250,000 Challenge, 2014)
The player in second position on this list needs no introduction, as anyone who has followed poker knows Phil Ivey is one of the best cash game and tournament players ever.
But for all of his World Series of Poker bracelet wins and other high-profile scores, his biggest cash ever came at the 2014 Aussie Millions Poker Championship for winning the AU$250,000 Challenge for a first prize of AU$4 million worth about $3.58 million USD.
There were 30 entries (including re-entries) in the event, with a star-laden final lineup comprised of Isaac Haxton (runner-up), Mike McDonald (third), Daniel Negreanu (fourth), Fabian Quoss (fifth) and Tom Dwan (sixth).
Ivey followed up that win with his 10th career WSOP bracelet that summer. The New Jersey native would come back to Melbourne a year later and successfully defend his title in the same event versus a smaller field to earn another seven-figure score worth just over $1.7 million.
3. Glen Chorny — $3,196,354.26 (EPT Grand Final Main Event, 2008)
Concluding the fourth season of the European Poker Tour, the €10K EPT Grand Final Main Event drew an enormous field of 842 players.
After an intense week of poker, Canadian Glen Chorny took the title and a €2.02 million first prize worth nearly $3.2 million USD.
After qualifying for the tournament on PokerStars and then outlasting all but the last table of players, Chorny had to face and overcome a tough final group including Antonio Esfandiari, Isaac Baron and Team PokerStars Pro Luca Pagano.
“There’s no better way to feel right now than like this,” Chorny told the PokerStars Blog after his win. “It feels like you’re a rock star.”
4. Jeff Rossiter — $3,155,886.63 (GuangDong Asia Millions, 2013)
Jeff Rossiter’s runner-up showing in the huge 2013 GuangDong Asia Millions event noted above and the HK$24.5 million prize he took for second place — worth over $3.15 million USD — was enough to land him a spot on this list as well.
The Australian has been no stranger to tournament success, especially in Asia, where he’s collected numerous final-table cashes including a victory in the Asia Championship of Poker Warm-Up in Macau in 2012.
He continues to collect big scores, getting to the most recent Aussie Millions Main Event final table in January where he finished fourth and added to his more than $6.6 million in career tournament earnings.
5. Pieter De-Korver — $3,024,167.00 (EPT Grand Final Main Event, 2009)
A year after Glen Chorny’s big win in Monte-Carlo, Pieter De-Korver topped another big turnout of 935 entries in the EPT Grand Final Main Event and won a first prize of €2.3 million (just over $3.02 million USD).
De-Korver survived multiple all-ins during the course of the final table. In fact, he was down to just three big blinds at one point before scraping his way back to earn the win.
De-Korver had just a couple of small cashes in his native Netherlands prior to that victory, at the time the largest tournament score by a Dutchman ever (Jorryt van Hoof would top it in 2014 after winning just over $3.8 million for a third-place finish in the WSOP Main Event).
1. Tyson “POTTERPOKER” Marks — $2,278,097.50 (WCOOP Main Event, 2010)
The largest online score ever on PokerStars was won in 2010 by Tyson “POTTERPOKER” Marks, who triumphed in the massive, 2,443-entry World Championship of Online Poker Main Event.
After riding an end-of-tournament rush, Marks won the largest chunk of a $12,215,000 prize pool.
The Missoula, Montana native came to that final table with a massive chip lead, having nearly three times the chips of his nearest competitor. He then proceeded to knock out five more players at the final table while never relinquishing the chip lead.
“I was running like GOD,” starting with about 15 players left, Marks explained in his post-tournament write-up about the event for the PokerStars Blog.
There was no deal talk, either, meaning Marks took away the entire $2,278,097.50 scheduled to go to the winner.
It was an amount that had some thinking about the $2.5 million payday Chris Moneymaker earned in the 2003 WSOP Main Event. With a $5,000 buy-in for the event, that meant Marks enjoyed a better than 455-to-1 return on his investment.
2. Yevgeniy “Jovial Gent” Timoshenko — $1,715,200.00 (WCOOP Main Event, 2009)
The year before Marks’s big win, a player more familiar with the live circuit, Russian Yevgeniy Timoshenko, won what was at the time the largest tournament prize ever on PokerStars.
As “Jovial Gent,” the Ukrainian bested a 2,015-player field and challenging final table that saw Jaime Kaplan, Dan Kelly and Tyler Kenney all find places within the final five.
That win bookended an amazing 2009 for Timoshenko.
He would earn his largest career live score that spring by winning the World Poker Tour Five Star World Poker Classic for nearly $2.15 million, part of his more than $7.3 million in live tournament earnings.
3. Jonas “llJaYJaYll” Lauck — $1,517,541.25 (WCOOP Main Event, 2016)
“I told myself before the final table started I would be happy to finish at least fifth place,” said Jonas “llJaYJaYll” Lauck to the PokerStars Blog following last year’s WCOOP Main Event.
The German player had entered the final table fifth out of nine in chips. That finish served as a target of sorts for him as the final table began.
He’d make it to fifth and then some, however, ultimately being the last player standing from a 2,091-entry field to win the title and a big first prize of more than $1.51 million.
It was a satisfying follow-up to a summer that saw Lauck get all the way to the final 37 players in last year’s WSOP Main Event before having his aces cracked by ace-king to fall just shy of the final four tables.
Alas for Lauck, the rules of poker require all five community cards to be dealt to determine the winning hand.
But at the WCOOP Main Event final table, Lauck’s luck turned. He’d have aces hold twice for him on the way to becoming another of PokerStars’ millionaires.
4. David “PlayinWasted” Kaufmann — $1,493,499.15 (WCOOP Main Event, 2013)
The 2013 WCOOP Main Event was also a big one, with 2,133 players vying for the title. In the end there were three Germans making a final table deal, then David “PlayinWasted” Kaufmann going on win the title, concluding more than 26 hours’ worth of poker across two days to earn just under $1.5 million, according to the terms of the deal.
One of the big stacks to start that final table, Kaufmann was second in chips by the time of the chop but picked up an extra $160,000 for the win to land a spot on our list.
Amazingly, the deal meant all three players involved — Kaufmann and his final two opponents (“Allanon85” and “SwissCantMis”) — were made millionaires on PokerStars that night.
5. Talal “raidalot” Shakerchi — $1,468,001.00 (SCOOP Main Event-High, 2016)
The last player on our list wasn’t technically “made” a millionaire on PokerStars — he was one already.
But it’s true; the businessman and frequent participant at PokerStars live events Talal “raidalot” Shakerchi also earned a seven-figure score on the site for his victory in the “High” ($10,000 buy-in) version of last year’s Spring Championship of Online Poker Main Event.
The Londoner added that title to a growing collection, as he’s also won two other high roller events at EPTs and a $5K one in the Bahamas last year.
For his SCOOP victory, Shakerchi topped an 824-entry field to win the largest portion of an $8 million-plus prize pool, impressively leading wire-to-wire at the final table to claim the victory and a $1,468,001 first prize.
That meant outlasting other high-roller talents like Sean Winter, Scott Seiver, Markku Koplimaa and Pablo Fernandez to earn the win.