Last week’s $109 Sunday Million (August 18) was a little bit different.
Oh sure, it had the same massive field it usually has (16,281 total entries) and an enormous prize pool ($1,628,100, which smashed the $1M guarantee). But it was the way that loot was to be awarded that made this Milly special.
For one week only, a Progressive Knock-Out format meant half the prize pool was to be distributed in bounties, meaning players didn’t necessarily have to reach the final table to secure a big payday.
Of course, when nine players were seated around a single final table, that’s when the money jumps really got interesting. Ultimately it was Kazakhstan’s “Newcomer113” who came out on top, banking $70,097 plus a huge bounty prize of $35,971. You’ll find a full interview with the champ at the bottom of this article.
For now, here’s a look at how last week’s Sunday Million played out, with help from members of the final table.
IN FOR CHEAP
As well as the PKO format adding a touch of spice to proceedings, the Milly finale was also interesting because of how the players got there. Five of the final nine qualified for the $109 tournament via a satellite, and all of them made it that far without needing to fire a second bullet. That created some crazy ROIs, as you can see:
|PLAYER||PLACED||TOTAL PRIZE (INC. BOUNTIES)||SATELLITE BUY-IN||ROI|
“Newcomer113”, a 34-year-old financial specialist from Kazakhstan, told us he’d only played the Sunday Million a handful of times before, and while he had reached the money once or twice, nothing could have prepared him for a final table like this.
“Poker is a hobby for me,” he said. “I don’t have a fixed range of games, but in tournaments up to $100 I feel quite comfortable. I think that winning a Sunday Million is the dream of any poker player, I am no exception.”
It’s a dream he’d fully realise last Sunday night, but before we get to that, let’s rewind.
The first final table casualty came courtesy of a cooler. Both Taiwan’s “MAXSOMAN” and Romania’s “Marcelutz111” flopped a flush, but the latter was nutted. The money went in on the turn and “MAXSOMAN” saw the bad news: he was out in ninth, with $5,391 plus $4,656 as his consolation.
It was a dream start to the final table for “Marcelutz111”, a 28-year-old poker pro who took down a Spring Championship of Online Poker title earlier this year for $98K, his biggest score so far.
“I’ve been playing poker for about ten years, but only for about four professionally,” he told us. “I was drawn to poker immediately. For a long time I only played freerolls for fun, as the idea of winning real money was far from me.”
Now he found himself on the Sunday Million final table, with real money prizes and bounties all around him.
Down to eight, it was Brazil’s “Tatizechini” who was next to fall. After slow-playing pocket kings pre-flop, the original raiser (Russia’s “Bykladjo”) had flopped a set of threes. The money went in, and when a third king failed to arrive “Tatizechini” departed with $7,428 plus $345.
We then lost Russia’s “Ko1ya777” in seventh ($10,236 + $7,632), who called all-in on the turn with a nut flush draw and couldn’t hit versus the Netherlands’ “Kapertje”, who had top pair.
Six-handed play went on for a little while, throughout which “Marcelutz111” found himself short-stacked. With just seven big blinds he committed himself with Q♥5♥ from the cutoff only for eventual champion “Newcomer113” to wake up with A♦A♠ in the small blind. The rockets held, and “Marcelutz111” had to settle for $14,105 plus $3,385.
“It was a mixed final table, few good players, few recreationals,” he told us, a few days after the tournament. “The PKO format is definitely more appealing to a broader range of players, the huge guarantee being the proof of that. Personally I don’t have preference.”
Now that it has sunk in, is he happy with his result?
“It’s definitely something to check a Sunday Million final table on my resume,” he replied. “I’m happy with the result, but am I a bit disappointed that I couldn’t finish higher? Sure…who wouldn’t be.”
Russia’s “Disel59” had a dominating chip lead heading into five-handed play, but he’d quickly take a hit, doubling up Canada’s “MikeyGG3” when his A♦K♠ lost a flip against Q♥Q♣.
It wouldn’t take long for him to get all of those chips back though, in brutal fashion. Action folded to “Disel59” in the small blind, and with Q♠5♠ he set “MikeyGG3” all-in. When he woke up with Q♦Q♣ in the big blind, “MikeyGG3” snap-called his last 22 big blinds, only for the board to run out A♠2♠8♣A♥9♠, giving “Disel59” a flush and the knockout. “MikeyGG3” would have to settle for $19,437 plus $4,420.
We then lost “Kapertje” in fifth, in yet another unlucky situation. Having opened the button with K♥K♠ from a 22-big-blind stack, “Bykladjo” then raised all-in, covering him, with A♦5♣. Of course the raise was snap-called, but when an ace hit the flop it proved to be the nail in “Kapertje”s coffin. Still, he won $26,784 plus $10,562 for his efforts.
An interesting hand played out almost immediately when they were down to the final three. “Newcomer113” 3x opened with ace-king on the button, only for chip leader “Bykladjo” to jam, putting his opponent to the test for his 45-big-blinds. “Newcomer113” opted to lay it down and fight another day.
He’d pick up a healthy pot from “Disel59” a couple of hands later, flopping the nut straight and getting a couple of streets of value versus top pair. “Disel59” could never recover, and ultimately busted in third for $36,908 plus $7,606 when his Q♥J♣ couldn’t suck out on “Newcomer113”s A♥Q♦.
And then there were two. “Newcomer113” held a 2:1 chip lead, and the duel wouldn’t last long when both players picked up big hands. “Bykladjo” opened the button with A♦10♣, only for “Newcomer113” to shove with A♠K♦. That jam was called, and when big slick held up, we had our Sunday Million PKO champion.
After such a huge victory, “Newcomer113” was kind enough to sit down for an interview with PokerStars Blog. Enjoy.
INTERVIEW WITH “NEWCOMER113”
Can you tell me a bit about your journey in poker so far?
My friends introduced to me to PokerStars about 7-8 years ago. Over the years, I have won some tournaments, but my biggest score is $5,000.
How did this Sunday Million go for you overall?
In general, the tournament went very smoothly. There were several key points where fortune was on my side. I gradually increased the stack and aimed to get into the top ten. In the deeper stages, I also tried to minimize the number of pre-flop all-ins.
What did you make of your final table opponents?
All the players showed a decent level of play, but overall, I felt very comfortable.
What did you think of the PKO format?
The PKO format, in my opinion, added a twist to Sunday Million. The game has become more dynamic, and much more interesting. I would like to see this format more often.
Winning the Million is an amazing achievement. How does it feel?
For me, victory in this tournament means more than just the monetary gain, although the cash prize is an incredibly nice bonus! Moving forward I will treat the game a little more seriously, and may attend several live events.
Do you have any advice for other players hoping to follow in your footsteps?
Enjoy the game, do not follow the routines, because your style of play is unique in its own way. Good luck and victories.
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