Here’s the story of how the final table of the biggest tournament ever held on PokerStars played out, with some help from the players themselves.


The $215 buy-in Sunday Million 14th Anniversary was always going to be special. It had a $12.5 million prize pool and two prizes of more than a million bucks guaranteed, enough to attract even the most casual “one tournament a year” player to try and become a millionaire.

Brazil’s Alex “AAAArthur” Brito was one such player. “Every year, I read about the Sunday Million Anniversary but didn’t try to play it. This year was different. I don’t know why, but I wanted to play it so much.”

That sentiment was shared by Marios “Jully-19” Mansour, of Cyprus. “I knew I was playing it for sure. It’s a big chance for everyone to win a big prize.”

It wasn’t surprising, then, to see that guarantee crushed when 93,016 total entries were recorded, equating to $18,603,200 in prize money to be split between the top 13,319 players.

On the third and final day of this epic tournament, the enormous field was whittled down to just nine, each guaranteed a minimum payday of $71,869.

Here’s how they stacked up:

Seat

Player

Country

Chip Counts

Big Blinds

1

AlexHoldz

Croatia

404,315,107

51

2

Paulius “D3cor” Vaitiekunas

LIthuania

96,760,235

12

3

salonteskis

Lithuania

415,596,020

52

4

Marios “Jully-19” Mansour

Cyprus

122,054,176

15

5

tweny1

Romania

83,910,614

10

6

pokerfrance

Germany

128,403,299

16

7

Stefan “CrAzY_sTeFaN” Piele Dragos

Romania

127,327,738

16

8

AAAArthur

Brazil

321,031,132

40

9

caroline2963

United Kingdom

150,921,679

19

For such a huge final table, the action was fast-paced.

The final table is set

Nine minutes in, Lithuania’s Paulius “D3cor” Vaitiekunas was the first to fall, three-betting all-in after “AAAArthur” limped from early position. “D3cor” had 5♣5♠, and when it folded back to “AAAArthur” he called with K♦10♦. A ten hit the flop, taking them down to eight and banking “D3cor” $71,869.

Just a couple of minutes later we lost Germany’s “Pokerfrance”. When “salonteskis” jammed with 7♦7♠, “Pokerfrance” woke up with A♥Q♠ in the small blind and with 11 big blinds, they made the call but could find no help on the board. “Pokerfrance” secured $105,154 for their efforts.

The very next hand saw another elimination. The table short stack “tweny1” of Romania found A♣9♠ and with eight big blinds and no action in front of him he jammed. The problem was that Stefan “CrAzY_sTeFaN” Piele Dragos woke up with A♥J♦ in the big blind and made the call. “Tweny1” was outkicked, and eliminated.


Vlad “tweny1” Mare (7th place – $153,854)

Age: 22
Hometown: Lasi, Romania
Profession: Poker professional / Soon-to-be Flight Attendant

Vlad “tweny1” Mare

How did you first get into poker?

I discovered poker around six years ago with my friends at school. Once I realised it wasn’t all luck, I started to study the game and play on PokerStars, especially when I went to university. I consider myself a fast learner with good intuition and for around two years I’ve been a poker pro, mostly live cash games.

Do you think playing cash games helped you in this tournament?

Mastering cash games where stacks are much deeper than tournaments helps you handle high-pressure spots, and also help you find more spots to apply pressure. I also think playing football for the past decade has helped my mindset.

When did you decide to play the SM14?

I always knew I’d play it, as I have friends who are professional tournament players. They told me about it.

I bought in directly for $215. There was only one time I put my money in when behind and got lucky. I had ace-queen offsuit on a queen-deuce-six rainbow flop. My opponent just called with pocket kings, and the turn was another queen. All the money went in, and I finished Day 1 with a 45 big blind stack.

How did the final table go for you?

I was very hyped and enthusiastic, but somehow not that excited. When we were down to the final two tables I never had more than 15-20 big blinds. I entered the final table as the short stack, so I’m very happy with 7th place. If you’d have asked me at the start of Day 3 if I would be happy winning $150K, I would have said yes without a second of hesitation.

I shoved ace-nine offsuit from the cutoff with eight big blinds and the big blind called me with ace-jack off. There wasn’t much I could do. It was all standard.

Will this score change your poker career moving forward?

I could never win this much playing the €1/€1 or €1/€2 cash games, even if I ran exceptionally for a whole year. I think this score will help me focus on poker 100 per cent, and I hope to move up the stakes. It’s not life-changing right now, but it could be. From now on it all depends on me.


While Lithuania’s “salonteskis” began to pull away at the top of the counts, “Jully-19” found himself getting shorter and shorter. With around seven big blinds he jammed with A♠9♠, and “CrAzY_sTeFaN” isolated the shove with A♦Q♦. An ace hit the flop, and “Jully-19:” found no way to catch up.


Marios “Jully-19” Mansour (6th place – $225,108)

Age: 32
Hometown: Nicosia, Cyprus
Profession: Mechanical Engineer

What led you to play in this tournament?

I started playing poker when I was 19 years old. I’ve had some close runs, but nothing like this huge success. When I saw the Sunday Million 14th Anniversary in the PokerStars lobby, I knew I was playing it for sure. It’s a big chance for everyone to win a big prize.

To get in the tournament I think I played two $22 satellites, and I won my seat in the second one. I was always going to play for sure, though. The tournament didn’t start as I wanted and I had to re-enter twice. It was worth it!

What did you make of the final table?

I was one of the short stacks at the final table as unfortunately, I was card dead for some time. It happens, sometimes things don’t go as we want, but that’s part of the game.

As for my feelings, it was the greatest feeling ever. After so many years of playing and trying to win a big score, this result was amazing. It makes it all worth it.


Back to the action, “CrAzY_sTeFaN” found himself all-in and at risk with A♥5♠ against chip leader “salonteskis” with 3♠3♥, but an ace on the flop and two blank rivers meant he doubled up. The UK’s “Caroline2963” also found a double up with pocket eights against “AAAArthur”, whose A♣8♥ couldn’t hit.

Fifth place was ultimately reserved for Croatia’s “AlexHoldz”, who jammed under the gun with K♥J♣ for around eight big blinds and was called by “CrAzY_sTeFaN” with a dominating K♦Q♦, which held up. “AlexHoldz” won $329,356, and the next pay jump proved to be huge.

It was at this point the final four players paused the tournament to discuss making a deal. The discussion didn’t take long, and with blinds at 8M/16M, here’s what they agreed to (with $50,000 up top left to play for):

Player

Chip Count

ICM Payout

salonteskis

306137405

$826,919.68

Stefan “CrAzY_sTeFaN” Piele Dragos

423570200

$921,328.12

Alex “AAAArthur” Brito

866447809

$1,142,802.46

caroline2963

264164586

$786,873.65

With huge paydays secured, it was former chip leader “salonteskis” who departed in fourth, losing a flip with 3♣3♥ to “AAAArthur” with A♥Q♥. The J♥8♣4♠ flop was safe for the pocket threes, but the 5♥ turn and 9♥ delivered a cruel blow as “AAAArthur” hit a runner-runner flush. “Salonteskis” left with the $826,919 he locked up in the deal.

That pot took “AAAArthur” up above a billion chips (yep, he had a stack of 1.2B), around four times that of his two opponents.

Those two shorter stacks would tangle when “Caroline2963” shoved from the small blind with J♦5♦ for 14 big blinds and was called by “CrAzY_sTeFaN” in the big blind holding K♦8♠. The board ran out with a king on the river, sending “Caroline2963” out in third for $786,873.

That left “CrAzY_sTeFaN” heads-up against “AAAArthur”, with the latter holding a 2:1 chip lead. That lead would switch back and forth, thanks partly to a crazy hand which saw quads beat a full house.

With A♣2♦ “CrAzY_sTeFaN” raised and “AAAArthur” defended with A♠4♦. An insane flop of 2♣4♥2♥ landed and “CrAzY_sTeFaN” called a bet, taking them to the 2♠ turn, giving him quads. After another bet “CrAzY_sTeFaN” shoved and was quickly called, giving him the lead.

In the end, it would be “CrAzY_sTeFaN” who got unlucky when his pocket fives lost an all-in to “AAAArthur” with pocket deuces after a deuce hit the flop.

The final hand


Stefan “CrAzY_sTeFaN” Piele Dragos (2nd – $921,328)

Age: 31
Hometown: Bucharest, Romania
Profession: Poker pro

What is your poker background?

I started playing poker freerolls when I was in college. I’ve never made a deposit in my life. You could say I went from zero to hero. I usually play tournaments on PokerStars (all buy-ins).

I fired one bullet on Day 1 but had busted with 40 minutes left on the day. I had a tough Sunday grind so I decided to buy-in again on Day 2 with just 10 big blinds.

How were you feeling when you reached the final table?

I was very focused. I knew this was a huge chance for me. I wanted to make the best decisions. It was for sure the biggest pressure, ICM wise, of my life.

How did the deal-making process go?

Even though I knew I was the best of the remaining players, I had to ask for a deal because the pay jumps were so great. Finishing in the final four was a great achievement, considering I started Day 2 with just 10 blinds.

What does this result mean to you and how will it impact your life?

So far I haven’t thought about the impact it will have on me. It will probably come to me in the following days. Instead, I can say that my friends enjoyed themselves more than I did. I will continue my grind, and I hope to improve my game.

I am grateful for everything that happened to me and I wish to move to another level: to win a live event. I am the kind of person who believes that everything is achievable, as long as we are involved fully and believe in our dream.


So there you have it.

Congratulations to the champion: Brazil’s Alex “AAAArhur” Brito.

His story is incredible. After losing his job last year and his wife being recently laid off too, he won a $0.25 Spin & Go, took the winnings and bought into a $4 satellite, which led to an $11 satellite, and a $215 seat.

He then won it all for $1,192,802.

“Every hand was so important,” Brito told us. “Looking back, I’m very proud of my game. I think I managed my aggression well, and I put on a lot of pressure with some hands.”

Check out our interview with Brito here.

PokerStars Sunday Million 14th Anniversary

Buy-in: $215
Dates: March 22-24, 2020
Entries: 93,016 (60,898 unique, 32,118 re-entries)
Prize pool: $18,602,300

1. Alex “AAAArthur” Brito (Brazil) $1,192,802.46*
2. Stefan “CrAzY_sTeFaN” Piele Dragos (Romania) $921,328.12*
3. Caroline2963 (United Kingdom) $786,873.65*
4. salonteskis (Lithuania) $826,919.68*
5. AlexHoldz (Croatia) $329,356.63
6. Marios “Jully-19” Mansour (Cyprus) $225,108.02
7. Vlad “tweny1” Mare (Romania) $153,854.04
8. Pokerfrance (Germany) $105,154.58
9. Paulius “D3cor” Vaitiekunas (Lithuania) $71,869.74

*indicates a deal was made.


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