The definitive account of last week’s Sunday Million (July 7).
Think back to your largest ever poker score, and the joy it undoubtedly brought you.
It isn’t in the suck-outs. It isn’t in the flips. The joy is in the feeling of accomplishment we get having surpassed all our own expectations, and maybe even those of others. Oh, and the money, of course.
Last Sunday (July 7), Brazil’s “allan sheik” surpassed everything he’d accomplished in poker before he sat down to grind that day, and that’s no easy feat considering he’s a 2019 Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) champion who won a $215 event for $77K just a couple of months ago.
But last week the Brazilian locked up his first ever six-figure score in online poker’s largest weekly tournament, outlasting 10,799 total entries to win the Sunday Million and $110,835.
He even refused a deal heads-up, something which the runner-up told us all about (we’ll hear from him later).
So, here’s how the Sunday Million played out on July 7, with help from some of the final table players.
With the World Series of Poker (WSOP) playing out over in Las Vegas, you’d think the Sunday Million numbers would dwindle somewhat. However, when late registration came to a close three hours in, the July 7 $109 Sunday Million had received 7,857 unique entries, plus 2,942 re-entries. That created a $1,079,000 prize pool, comfortably topping the $1M guarantee.
This week we had 1,126 players qualify for the Milly via satellites. The best ROI was attained by Russian player “HitmanVRN” who finished 13th for $6,186 after qualifying for just $11, earning 542x his original buy in.
There were still plenty of recognisable names in the Milly field, including several PokerStars Ambassadors. Both Lex Veldhuis and Benjamin “Spraggy” Spragg failed to cash, while one of PokerStars’ new Twitch streamers Tom “MajinBoob” Hayward (known on the Twitch streets as “Pleb_Method”) cashed in 565th for $309.
Things went much better for the eventual runner-up, Belgium’s “SnowmanTony”.
“I busted my first bullet fairly quick,” he told PokerStars Blog. “But my second bullet went very smooth and I was able to build a big stack and maintain it until I reached the last 100 players.”
“SnowmanTony” was introduced to poker during his college years, and now 12 years on since he began playing freerolls on PokerStars, he considers poker to be his main source of income. His usual schedule consists of tournaments ranging from $11-$200, and he plays the Sunday Million every week he can, his previous deepest run being a 12th-place finish.
“I remember that one like it was yesterday, because I went out in a brutal way,” he reminisces. “On a board of [Ax][tx][7x] all the chips went in the middle with [7x][7x] against the villain’s [Ax][Jx], and they rivered a straight for a top-three stack.”
But like we said, things went much better for him this week.
Explaining how he got through it, “SnowmanTony” shared a particular hand with us that took place with 20 players left.
“One of the key hands I remember was a fold that I maybe couldn’t make in the past,” he says. “This was last 20 players. I just think he doesn’t shove anything worse than the nuts there, especially against my sizing.”
You can watch his big fold here: https://www.boomplayer.com/31176626_71FD253BE0
Whether he was right or wrong, the chips he held on to would see him on his way towards heads-up action.
This week’s Milly also proved fruitful for Vietnam’s Hoang “Hoangga84” Nguyen, who would eventually fall in seventh place. As a player who usually only plays $11 events, Nguyen decided to take a shot last week and play his first ever Sunday Million.
That proved to be a good shot to take, as his seventh-place finish earned him $16,187 for by far his largest career score.
At one point he was chip leader, getting paid off big by [ax][jx] after triple-barrelling with [AX][QX] on an ace-high flop, blank turn, and ace river. Nguyen managed to keep the chip lead well into the money, but by the time the final table rolled around, he was short-stacked and card-dead.
“I didn’t have enough strong hands in the final table bubble period, so I lost a lot of chips when the blinds got bigger,” he tells us. “I only had 15 big blinds to start the FT, so my plan was to wait for pay jumps and choose strong hands to shove.”
Luxembourg’s “JIM_BALLAS” was the first to fall in ninth ($8,525), followed by Russia’s “DimaRu777” in eighth ($11,747).
Then it was Nguyen’s turn.
“In my last hand, a player min-opened, the small blind called, and I had [9x][8x] offsuit in the big blind,” he recalls. “I had good odds to call, and the flop came [ax][9x][6x] rainbow. The opener continued, the small blind folded, and my plan was to check raise. If the villain called my 3-bet, I was going to give up. He tanked, then called.
“At this point I thought he had an underpair or a weak ace and might fold after a blank hit the turn. I jammed my last five big blinds, but sadly he quickly called with [ax][qx]. I think it came down to my lack of experience.”
Although disappointed to bust in seventh, Nguyen was very happy with his prize money.
“$16K is still really good for me. I’m also very happy that I can play with many good players on PokerStars.”
With six left the money jumps began to get bigger, something that “SnowmanTony” – an experienced player with years of good results under his belt – was well aware of.
“Like most Final tables in a big field like the Sunday million, there were some good players, but also some recreational players,” he explains. “Obviously there are huge ICM implications at such a big final table and I saw some plays that weren’t really according to ICM in my opinion, which made me ladder up nicely.”
China’s “yu yi ping” would fall next (6th – $22,306), followed by Brazil’s “Arlem9-” (5th – $30,737), Lebanon’s “moe.s5” (4th – $42,355), and Malta’s “Ronaldnld” (3rd – 58,364).
That left “SnowmanTony” heads-up with “allan shiek”.
“I proposed a deal, but my opponent didn’t even bother responding, which I thought was a little rude, but oh well, that’s his right,” he says. “But I don’t like to play a huge variance heads-up for $30k. I didn’t make many hands heads-up, and eventually I lost.”
The heads-up battle looked like it could have gone on for quite some time. Already 14 hours in, the two players had virtually even stacks, with around 50 big blinds a piece at the 500K/1M level.
“allan sheik” began to pull away though, winning pot after pot (like “SnowmanTony” told us, he didn’t make many hands) and by the time the final hand came, “allan shiek” held a 3:1 chip advantage.
He opened the button to 2M, and “SnowmanTony” jammed for around 25M with [ax][jx]. It turned out to be a cooler, with “allan shiek” snap-calling with [ax][qx] and holding to win the title.
Not one to bemoan his bad fortune, “SnowmanTony” is very happy with his $80,425 consolation prize.
“It was a very satisfying feeling for sure,” he says, thinking back to Sunday night. “My last big score was $42k and that was some years ago. So to bink such a big one after all that grinding feels pretty sweet. Certainly in the Sunday million, probably the most known online tournament.
“After the final table I went out and drank something with a friend. But not for too long because I was exhausted. The day after I had a barbecue with friends and we cracked a bottle of champagne to celebrate the big score.”
We’re sure that somewhere over in Brazil, “allan shiek” did something similar. Congratulations to him, and all of the 1,934 players who cashed in the July 7 Sunday Million.
The $109 Milly will be back again this Sunday (July 14), at the usual time of 1pm ET.
Do you want to be in with a shot of becoming the Sunday Million champion, or at least making the final table in your first attempt like “Hoangga84” did? Then find out how you could get in through PokerStars School.
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