The 14th anniversary of the Sunday Million takes place on March 22, 1pm ET, and trust us, it’s going to be a big one.
There’s a massive $12.5 million guaranteed in the prize pool, making it the largest tournament in PokerStars’ history, and whoever takes it down is guaranteed a minimum first-place prize of $1M.
Sounds good, right? We can only imagine what it’s like to win such a big tournament.
Luckily for us, we spoke with a few people who don’t have to imagine.
Here, previous winners of the Sunday Million, as well as PokerStars WCOOP and SCOOP champions, share their thoughts on what it takes to take down a behemoth online poker tournament, how you can prepare, and how to put yourself in the best position to do well.
Heed their advice!
Fedor Holz needs no introduction, but we’ll give him one anyway. The now ‘retired’ German wunderkind has $32.5 million in live poker winnings but also has an enviable online poker résumé, having won the 2014 World Champion of Online Poker (WCOOP) Main Event for $1.3 Million. He then enjoyed another seven-figure score two years later when he chopped the 2016 WCOOP $102K Super High Roller for $1.06 million.
Holz: “I believed [I could win] from the beginning. I think a big part of success is having the right mind-set. When I struggled I motivated myself by watching motivational videos and I got right back into it. Believing in yourself and making the right decisions is the key to winning, in my opinion.
“I also prepared well by sleeping well, so I was super focused the whole way and never felt tired. I think that was a big part of it all as well.”
Paul Vas Nunes is a two-time Sunday Million champ, taking it down in both 2010 ($233,944) and again seven years later in 2017 ($152,804).
Vas Nunes: ”Treat [the Sunday Million] like a normal tournament in the early stages. There will be a lot of less experienced players at every table, so you shouldn’t shy away from playing your usual hands just because this is a bigger tournament than you usually play.
“A lot of other players will also be scared of busting early, so take advantage of this to chip up at every profitable opportunity. You can always re-enter if it goes wrong!
“If you make it into the money then stop looking at the pay jumps because they will be quite small for a long time. It’s very tough to get to the last few tables of a tournament with thousands or tens of thousands of players, and that is where the money starts to be good or life-changing. Nobody will care when you tell them you came 412th and lost with kings to queen-nine offsuit for your last five big blinds, so once you’ve made the money really try to run up a big stack and make it deep. You will fail a large amount of the time but so will thousands of other players. There’s always next year!”
Jans Arends’ career began with cash games back in 2009, before he switched to multi-table tournaments (MTTs). The Dutchman has had plenty of success in the decade since–a Sunday Million win for $200K; a WCOOP title and countless COOP final tables; victory in just about every PokerStars Sunday major–and turned the screen name “Graftekkel” into one of the most feared in online high stakes.
“It’s kind of like a cycle,” he says. “If you start to run very well, you start playing better as well I think. Mentally you just get into a better flow.
“My daily routine is that I’ll wake up, go for lunch with some poker friends, then I’ll study for a bit, mostly on my own, but sometimes with some other people. Then I’ll chill until it’s time to grind. I don’t wake up that early, obviously.”
What Italy’s Gianluca Speranza achieved back in May 2019 will go down in poker’s history books as one of the greatest achievements in the game.
He won the $10,300 Spring Championship of Online Poker Main Event for the second consecutive year.
In 2018, his victory was worth a massive $1.13 million (plus a Platinum Pass to the 2019 PSPC). Last year he won it again (remember – this is one of the toughest tournaments on the online poker calendar) for $1.11 million, and his second SCOOP title of 2019.
This guy knows a thing or two about overcoming tough online fields.
His tip? Play somewhere you can focus.
“I was completely alone at home [when I won my SCOOP Main Events]. Although I like to have company, when I play online poker I prefer not to have too many distractions around so I can be more focused on what I’m doing.”
Romania’s Paul Jurcuta won the Sunday Million in October 2018 for $131,018, and his biggest career score. Jurcuta overcame a tough final table which included the only three-time Milly winner, Artem “veeea” Vezhenkov, plus Luke “LFMagic” Fields.
Jurcuta: “First off, I think that every person who registers in the anniversary Sunday Million should enjoy playing it. It is a great celebration that PokerStars offers to us.
“Do not think about the money when you play it. Just observe your opponents’ moves at your table, try to adjust to them, stay calm and focus.
“Play every hand to your best ability and never forget your love for the game. Have fun and good luck!”
Anton Wigg’s poker career has gone from strength to strength since he won the Sunday Million back in 2009 for $213,459 and his largest online cash. Since then the Swede has won an EPT Main Event (Copenhagen in 2010 for $672K), a bunch of other PokerStars majors, and become a fixture in the live high roller world.
Wigg: “I’d say coming prepared for a long grind is key. Make sure you are comfortable and with as few distractions as possible. Focus on trying to figure out what your opponents are doing and how you can use that information to your advantage.
“Hey, you might even learn a trick or two to put in your toolbox! Best of luck and don’t forget to have fun!”
Rarely a week goes by where we don’t wake up on Monday morning to news that Thomas “WushuTM” Muehloecker has had a big Sunday score. Despite some ridiculously stacked fields and long sessions, Austria’s Muehloecker has been putting up consistent results at the high stakes for years, particular recently in the High Roller Club events.
Muehloecker: “I just like to take some time off before [big online events] so that I have energy and can be focused.
“For me, studying is a mix of everything. Running sims, watching some Run It Once videos, going over hands I’ve played and looking at how opponents play. Those kind of things.”
Pedro Padilha is undoubtedly one of the best Brazilian poker players out there, with almost $6 million in online winnings plus more than a million bucks cashed on the live felt too, almost a third of which came from Padilha’s deep run at the inaugural PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) back in January 2019 (he finished 10th for $328K).
With two SCOOP titles and a long list of big online scores under his belt, Padilha added a World Championship of Online Poker title to his CV in October 2019 when he took down the massive #17-H: $1,050 PKO for $192K.
Padilha: “I believe that preparation happens all the time, every day. I usually intensify in the COOP periods. A month earlier I start a more thorough and intense study routine, putting on a strong grind rhythm for three weeks then relaxing for a week without playing and studying. I also start a diet a month earlier and try to have a better routine than most of the time. This all works very well for me.”
Chad Walker finished eighth in the Sunday Million in the summer of 2015, then returned just over a year later and took it down for $194,371. With WCOOP final tables also under his belt, this guy knows a thing or two about playing big events. For him, it’s all about having fun.
Walker: “My best advice for beginner poker players is to just have fun and enjoy the ride. If you are enjoying yourself, you will play with more confidence and usually play better because of it. If having fun doesn’t help you play better, at least you had fun doing it!”
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