PokerStars’ Sunday Million, the most popular weekly online poker tournament in the world, celebrated its 9th anniversary with a bang over the weekend by creating a prize pool of $10,086,400. The original $9 million guarantee was bypassed after 50,432 players paid the $215 buy-in or entered through satellite events.
After nearly 16 hours of play, the last hand was completed and 8,397 players cashed. The tournament numbers exceeded last year’s total entrants, total prize pool, and total places paid, a positive sign for the overall health of Internet poker globally.
Mexico’s BRAYDEN93 won the Sunday Million 9th anniversary, but he wasn’t the most financially rewarded competitor. That title went to kelly_koulis of Greece whose runner-up finish brought in $725,267 to BRAYDEN93’s $597,719. Nine players reached the final table, and after two were eliminated the remaining seven paused the tourney to work out a deal.
All seven players agreed rather quickly to use an Independent Chip Model to settle payouts, but decided they would continue playing for the $100,000 bonus money and title of overall winner. While kelly_koulis was in first during the seven-handed deal, BRAYDEN93 would overcome the odds to claim the anniversary title and $100,000 bonus.
Though seven players were still in the competition for the title, five were rapidly eliminated as the blinds were up to 2.5M/5M. When heads-up play began, kelly_koulis had 322 million chips to BRAYDEN93’s 182 million. After exchanging chips back and forth for some 20 hands, BRAYDEN93 doubled off two bottom pairs to kelly_koulis’ top pair and followed it up with yet another double. That put BRAYDEN93 in a commanding big stack position, 328 million to 175 million.
What would be the final hand began with kelly_koulis min-raising from the button and a call. After an 8-9-J suited Clubs flop, BRAYDEN93 led with 12,755,500 and the bet was called. The 2 of Diamonds on the turn only increased the pot with BRAYDEN93 betting nearly 29 million only to be raised to 72M. BRAYDEN93 then shoved and was called.
BRADEN93 had 9-8 of Hearts to kelly_koulis’ Ace of Spades and Jack of Hearts. The 4 river card held up BRAYDEN93′ two pair for the win.
In February, PokerStars announced it was delaying the 9th anniversary Sunday Million tournament by a week to accommodate International Women’s Day. Originally scheduled for March 8th, the event was moved after players in Ukraine and Russia voiced their concerns over the date. “We can’t schedule major events to be convenient for everyone, but in this case a massive number of customers would be affected,” PokerStars Tournament Manager Mike Jones explained.
Even though March 15th is Mother’s Day in the United Kingdom and Ireland, the decision to delay the tournament seemed to pay off. International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world, but it’s an official holiday in many Asian countries.
Men customarily take their wife or mother out for dinner, give flowers or gifts, and basically celebrate the women in their lives. Holding the Sunday Million on this day would have prevented many Asian players, both men and women, from competing. The high turnout only confirms the decision PokerStars made was the correct one.