For the past 14 years, the Sunday Million on PokerStars has been a permanent fixture on online poker players’ schedules, the frequent focus of the Sunday grind. But there’s something extra special happening one Sunday next month when the 14th Anniversary Sunday Million has a $12.5 million guarantee, making it the largest poker tournament PokerStars has ever hosted.
That’s bigger than all of the previous Sunday Million anniversary events, and bigger than anything ever played during SCOOP or WCOOP or any other ‘COOP you care to mention.
As for the first-place prize? That’s a guaranteed $1 million, at least.
Play begins at Sunday, March 22 at 13:00 ET, with late registration (and the option to re-enter up to three times) available for a full day. That’s right: you can enter or re-enter the tournament up until the start of Day 2.
For many online poker players, a big score or victory in the Sunday Million has provided a career highlight. The tournament has given us a lot of memorable moments as well, as shown by the following look back through the Sunday Million timeline.
March 5, 2006 – “aaaaaaaa” is the first SM winner
PokerStars had been up and running about four-and-a-half years when the first Sunday Million took place, with 5,893 players joining the $215 buy-in event to build a prize pool of $1,178,600. The first player to win a Sunday Million had a username that also comes first in an alphabetically-arranged list of winners — “aaaaaaaa”, who after just over eight hours of play won the last hand to claim a $173,843.50 first prize.
June 25, 2006 – the SM gets its name
The first few big Sunday tournaments weren’t technically called the “Sunday Million.” That label didn’t appear in the PokerStars lobby until late June 2006 for a $1,050 buy-in version of the event, won by “FlopSpanker” who took away a $262,151.50 first prize. Occasionally during the first couple of years of the SM, the buy-in was boosted to either $530 or $1,050, the last time being late 2008.
March 11, 2007 – 1st anniversary, 1st 10,000-plus field
PokerStars marked the first year of Sunday Millions with an anniversary event, upping the guarantee to $1.5 million. The field for the first SM anniversary event was 10,508 strong, pushing the prize pool up over $2.1 million — another first for the SM to crack $2 million. Of the more than 1,300 cashers, winner “Zeddor” seized the largest prize of $271,106.40.
May 24, 2009 – Jesper “KipsterDK” Hougaard becomes first two-time Sunday Million winner
Soon after that Hougaard earned another landmark double when, while playing as “KipsterDK” on PokerStars, he became the first player to win the Sunday Million twice — initially in late April 2008, then again in May 2009. “I had experience being in the situation,” Hougaard told PokerStars Blog afterwards while describing reaching the Sunday Million final table a second time. And that experience paid off in a big way.
Since then the “two-timer” club has swelled to 16 players — with one other player having since exceeded that feat (see below).
July 2008-April 2011 – The Sunday More-Than-a-Million
Throughout its history the SM has always featured at least a seven-figure guarantee, though for a time the guarantee was upped to $1.5 million, and was even $2 million and $2.5 million on occasion. Those increased guarantees helped create record-breaking fields for the Sunday Million, such as on January 10, 2010 when 19,377 played to create a $3,875,400 prize pool, with ”OX45AL” winning a then-record first prize of $550,011.29.
February 21, 2010 – 36,000-plus play, $7.2 million prize pool
The first really big SM event came in the week that PokerStars dealt its 40 billionth hand. It was also roughly the 4th anniversary of the Sunday Million and the tournament sported a $4 million guarantee. But when 36,169 participated the prize pool rose to a whopping $7,233,800. The appropriately-named “RichieRichZH” won that one, earning a first-ever seven-figure SM first prize of $1,141,510.31.
March 6, 2011 – 5th Anniversary draws 59,128
Those records lasted a year, then came the Sunday Million 5th Anniversary event that drew 59,128 players (!) to create a $11,825,600 prize pool (!!). A big nine-way chop in the end meant the biggest cash prize of $844,209.87 went to third-place finisher “wrzr123”. Meanwhile winner Luke “Bdbeatslayer” Vrabel earned both a $671K payday and a Lamborghini Gallardo for his effort.
December 18, 2011 – The largest online poker tournament ever
To mark the 10th anniversary of PokerStars going online, a special edition of the Sunday Million arrived with an eye-popping $10 million guarantee. All-time marks were established not just for the Sunday Million, but for all of online poker, with 62,116 players participating to build a $12,432,200 prize pool. That made it the largest online poker tournament in history, establishing records that wouldn’t be broken for nearly seven years.
Of that field, 7,682 players cashed (a figure closer to the total entrants for a typical SM), and ”First-Eagle” soared to victory to claim a $1,146,574.65 first prize following a three-way chop at the final table.
March 20, 2016 – “a.urli” tops 55K to win SM 10th Anniversary
Subsequent Sunday Million anniversaries were marked by gradually increasing guarantees matching the year being celebrated — e.g., the 6th anniversary had a $6M guarantee, the 7th a $7M one, and so on. Thus when the 10th anniversary arrived in 2016, a $10 million guarantee helped attract a 55,059-player field that actually built an $11 million prize pool. From that big crowd “a.urli” emerged as the champion to take home $970K after a four-way chop.
February 2 & April 22, 2018 – the SM Anniversary runs it twice
Two years ago for the 12th anniversary PokerStars decided to “run it twice” after an initial staging of the event featured another record in the form of a big $1.2 million overlay. After Luis “Hulk9950” Felipe topped a 43,795-entry field to win the first one, “Daenarys T” was the best out of 56,310 to win “Take 2” for which the prize pool was more than $11.26 million.
December 16, 2018 – Artem “veeea” Vezhenkov wins the Sunday Million for a third time
Then near the end of 2018 he made himself a club all of his own by winning the SM a third time, a feat that he alone has accomplished. In those three tournaments, Vezhenhov bested fields totaling 16,715 players to earn three first-prizes adding up to $491,700.
January 27, 2019 – SM buy-in change
After nearly 13 years, the buy-in for the Sunday Million was changed from $215 to $109, a move made in order to make the tournament more accessible for players. The famous $1 million guaranteed remained, of course, and in the weeks since the fields averaged around 12,000 entries (about twice the typical field sizes of the SM). However, the buy-in reverted back to $215 for the anniversary celebration this time last year — of which more below.
April 15, 2019 – wangli0402 wins 13th Anniversary SM for China
The 13th Anniversary event was not the biggest nor the most celebrated, but its winner should be given special notice. Wang “wangli0402” Li became the first player from China to win the Sunday Million, representing a trend for poker in the Far East that should be relished by all poker players across the world.
Li picked up $611,944.97 for the win, after a five-way chop, with Greece’s “t4rz4n_21” taking the most. There were 61,342 entries, including 15,413 re-entries, but Li outlasted them all. “In China, we don’t have many options for playing poker, and PokerStars is a very important platform for Chinese players,” he told PokerStars Blog. “I hope that PokerStars will continue getting better and better here.”
March 22, 2020 – Biggest guarantee ever for Sunday Million
The 14th Anniversary event will be bigger than ever. Make sure you’re part of the crowd chasing a guaranteed $1 million first prize, and contesting a record prize pool.