Nine years of Sunday Millions — PokerStars’ $215 no-limit hold’em tournament that has long proven the most popular weekly online event around the world — were marked this week with a special $9 million guaranteed version of the SM.
The turnout was predictably huge, and after an especially long day and night of poker BRAYDEN93 of Mexico collected all of the chips to finish first and secure a $597,719.60 prize. Runner-up kelly_koulis of Greece — having won a seat in the event via an $11 satellite — ended up taking away the biggest prize of $725,267.11 following a seven-handed deal, with two other players earning over half a million and eight final tablists earning six-figure scores.
BRAYDEN93 and kelly_koulis would begin the final table as two of the short stacks, but by night’s end they’d be the last two players standing. Here’s the story of how they got there.
From 50,432 to 100
By the time the first hands were dealt at 14:30 ET Sunday afternoon, the total field was already edging toward 30,000 entrants, and just 90 minutes later they’d topped 45,000 to meet the event’s $9 million guarantee.
Late registration remained open for three-and-a-half hours, and after the last player entered there were 50,432 all told making up the field, making a total prize pool of $10,086,400 with the top 8,397 finishers dividing the money.
By then the field had already been carved down to just over 20,000 with Poland’s Kryzysztof367 then leading the way. A little later they’d crossed the five-hour mark and the money bubble burst, with Shafeman of Costa Rica then topping the counts.
Later they were approaching the eight-hour mark when the field had shrunk under 1,000 players, with Krzysztof367 having missed the cash finishing 8,524th, Shafeman gone out in 1,301st for $605.18, and hironisisaka of Peru the new leader.
From 100 to 9
By the time the tournament was nearing the 11-hour mark just 100 players remained, with hironisisaka having gone out in 193rd ($5,547.52) and Vladi31 of Germany the new chip leader. Not quite two hours after that they were down to 18, with Vlad31 out in 44th ($18,357.24) and the U.K.’s HeraclioT on top.
mindas84 (18th), NutPopper (17th), and kaniboo (16th) next went out, collecting $34,092.03 apiece. TerlKebot003 (15th), dbubll (14th), and carlitos350 (13th) followed, earning $46,599.16 each. HeraclioT had slipped in the counts during that stretch and would go out in 12th, with UngeEnga (11th) and sammyace92 (10th) each getting knocked out and those three taking away $63,645.18 each for not quite making the final table.
With Israel’s salaliitto the new chip leader and the tournament nearing the 14-hour mark, the final table was underway.
Seat 1: kelly_koulis (Greece) — 33,382,750
Seat 2: PSMozak (Bulgaria) — 77,207,908
Seat 3: Rodrigo “sonmonedas” Pérez (Argentina) — 27,390,241
Seat 4: Kokli_1 (Czech Republic) — 39,378,743
Seat 5: salaliitto (Israel) — 120,403,501
Seat 6: tiltinha (Brazil) — 93,081,895
Seat 7: BRAYDEN93 (Mexico) — 34,278,236
Seat 8: ModzillaPL (Canada) — 40,877,881
Seat 9: bari_nikolov (Bulgaria) — 38,318,845
Survival for the short stacks
The average stack to start the final table was just over 56 million, about eight times the typical starting stack to start a Sunday Million final table. However they were much deeper into the night than usually is the case, and with blinds at 1.25M/2.5M that made the average just over 22 big blinds, shorter than what we usually see to start a Milly FT.
Unsurprisingly the all-ins began soon after the final table started, with sonmonedas, bari_nikolov, and then PSMozak each enjoying double-ups.
Meanwhile kelly_koulis had disconnected and missed several hands, then finally was able to reconnect and immediately was all in with a short stack with pocket nines against ModzillaPL’s pocket jacks. A nine fell on the board, and kelly_koulis’s tourney life was preserved.
That hand made ModzillaPL short, but two double-ups in successive hands fixed that. bari_nikolov next doubled through ModzillaPL, however, as the short stacks continued to survive.
First two finally fall
At last came the first final table knockout in a hand that started with kelly_koulis min-raising to 10 million from middle position. Kokli_1 then shoved for just over 44 million from the small blind and kelly_koulis called. kelly_koulis had 5♦5♣ and Kokli_1 Q♥Q♣, but the 4♠2♠5♥ flop gave kelly_koulis a set and the lead in the hand. The turn was the 7♥ and river the 3♦, and Kokli_1 was done in ninth.
Just three hands later tiltinha open-raised all in from middle position for about 74 million and bari_nikolov called all in from the big blind for about 54 million (almost 11 BBs). bari_nikolov had A♠Q♣ and a dominating hand versus tiltinha’s A♣6♦, but again a flop gave the underdog the edge coming 9♥6♥K♦ to pair tiltinha’s kicker. The turn and river blanked and bari_nikolov was eliminated in eighth.
A deal is done
The remaining seven pushed through the next break, then paused the tournament to try to discuss a deal. At that point kelly_koulis was the big chip leader with over 172 million, followed in order by tiltinha (86.5M), PSMozak (77.3M), BRAYDEN93 (63.0M), Rodrigo “sonmonedas” Pérez (41.5M), salaliitto (37.3M), and ModzillaPL (26.2M).
“ICM”-based figures were suggested — leaving $100,000 for which to play — and after just a little bit of back-and-forthing all seven agreed to the terms in relatively short order. The tournament was only paused eight minutes, in fact, a remarkably short amount of time for a seven-handed deal to be made.
Seven swiftly shrink to two
Speaking of short, though, with the blinds up to 2.5M/5M, many of the stacks were short, relatively speaking, and very quickly the field was whittled from seven to just two.
The third hand back saw ModzillaPL all in with K♥8♥ versus kelly_koulis’s 9♦9♠, and when the nines held, ModzillaPL was out in seventh. Then three hands after that salaliitto was sent packing in sixth after K♠9♠ failed to catch up to Rodrigo “sonmonedas” Pérez’s K♣10♥.
Alas for Pérez, those chips won would immediately be lost on the next hand after he open-raised all in for almost 66 million (about 11 BBs) with 3♥3♣ but was called by kelly_koulis who had Q♦Q♣. The queens held, and they were down to four.
The very next hand after that saw kelly_koulis raise from the small blind, PSMozak shove for about 85M from the big blind, and kelly_koulis call. It was PSMozak’s A♦7♥ versus kelly_koulis’s A♠9♦, and when the community cards missed both players’ hands, PSMozak was sent railward in fourth.
The remaining trio would play 10 hands more, then tiltinha open-pushed for about 77 million (about 12.5 BBs) with 9♦7♥, was called by BRAYDEN93 who held J♦J♣, and when the jacks held they were down to heads-up.
BRAYDEN93 bounces back, KOs kelly_koulis
BRAYDEN93 had been folding quite a bit early on at the final table, then mostly continued to sit back as kelly_koulis took care of most of the post-deal knockouts. kelly_koulis thus had a lead to start heads-up play with almost 322 million to BRAYDEN93’s 182 million.
kelly_koulis would maintain the advantage for the first 20 hands, then BRAYDEN93 would chip back to grab the edge briefly before kelly_koulis charged in front again, at one point building up close to 420 million as BRAYDEN93 slipped back to about 85 million.
But BRAYDEN93 would quickly bounce back, earning a huge double after flopping bottom two pair versus kelly_koulis’s top pair, then doubling again to take the lead.
Finally the last hand arrived — almost 15-and-a-half hours after the tourney had begun — with BRAYDEN93 up around 328 million to kelly_koulis’s 175 million.
It began with kelly_koulis min-raising to 16M from the button and BRAYDEN93 calling, then the pair saw a flop come 8♣9♣J♣. BRAYDEN93 led for 12,755,500 and kelly_koulis called. The turn was the 2♦. This time BRAYDEN93 bet almost 29 million, kelly_koulis raised to 72M, BRAYDEN93 shoved, and kelly_koulis called.
Just as had happened a few hands earlier, BRAYDEN93 had flopped bottom two pair and kelly_koulis top pair. The river brought the 4♦, and BRAYDEN93’s hand had held to win the pot, the extra $100K, and the tournament.
Congratulations to BRAYDEN93 for winning the special 9th anniversary Sunday Million, and kudos as well to the other six players who made it to the final table deal, in particular kelly_koulis who turned that $11 satellite into a huge $725K payday — the biggest of anyone in the tournament.
3/15/15 Sunday Million 9th Anniversary ($215 No-Limit Hold’em) results
Prize pool: $10,086,400.00
Places paid: 8,397
1. BRAYDEN93 (Mexico) — $597,719.60*
2. kelly_koulis (Greece) — $725,267.11*
3. tiltinha (Brazil) — $567,978.95*
4. PSMozak (Bulgaria) — $542,539.85*
5. Rodrigo “sonmonedas” Pérez (Argentina) — $413,610.60*
6. salaliitto (Israel) — $394,207.12*
7. ModzillaPL (Canada) — $336,550.72*
8. bari_nikolov (Bulgaria) — $119,523.84
9. Kokli_1 (Czech Republic) — $87,247.36
*= reflects the results of a seven-way deal that left $100,000 in play for the winner
Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.