Putting the PokerStars 10th Anniversary Sunday Million in Historical Perspective

Steve Ruddock : March 22nd, 2016

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It’s been a busy couple days for the leading online poker site in the world.

On Sunday PokerStars was finishing up the final day of their soft launch in New Jersey (the company was approved by the Division of Gaming Enforcement on Monday), but over on their global site they were also hosting what turned out to be the fourth largest tournament in the near 20 year history of online poker, as the site’s $10 million guaranteed, 10th Anniversary Sunday Million tournament pulled in over 55,000 players and generated a prize-pool of over $11 million.

Even amid the current atmosphere of declining online poker traffic, and the strained relationship between PokerStars and the professional poker community (which boiled to a head once again on Monday following a new announcement of rake increases), the success of the tournament shouldn’t be too surprising, considering how well these anniversary tournaments have done in the past. Although, the tournament was almost certainly helped by the new wrinkle PokerStars added for the 10th Anniversary event, the capability for each player to reenter up to three times.

The results

Following a four way-deal that saw over $2.8 million of the total prize-pool divided up between the remaining players, it was a Canadian online poker player using the screen-name “a.urli” who walked away with the most money (nearly $1 million) and the title. The deal was not an ICM share of the prize-pool or even a chip-chop, as a.ulri insisted on receiving $870k, with a further $100k set aside for the winner.

Place Screen-name Country Prize
1st place a.urli Canada $970,000*
2nd place mladenova62 Bulgaria $650,000*
3rd place prophetdream South Korea $678,517.78*
4th place canario508 Argentina $560,000*
5th place ThreeBetting United Kingdom $318,415
6th place Superfizzy Germany $235,653.62
7th place AttiIa88 Russia $174,402.68
8th place TottiLitti Finland $129,071.51
9th place Torsvik Norway $95,522.96

* Denotes four-way deal

The tournament took over 15 hours to play out from start to finish and with over 55,000 entries, a total of 8,208 places were paid.

Also of note, all nine players hailed from different countries, a demonstration of the international flavor poker has attained over the years.

A historical look at Sunday Million Anniversary tournaments

The 10th Anniversary tournament is just the latest in a long string of successes for PokerStars when it comes to hosting Anniversary and milestone tournaments. From the first event, held in 2010 to celebrate the fourth anniversary, the anniversary Sunday Millions have produced impressive numbers over the years:

Tournament Guarantee Total Entrants Total prize-pool
2010 PokerStars 4th Anniversary Sunday Million $4 million 36,169 $7,223,800
2011 PokerStars 5th Anniversary Sunday Million $5 million 59,128 $11,825,600
2012 PokerStars 6th Anniversary Sunday Million $6 million 33,732 $6,746,400
2013 PokerStars 7th Anniversary Sunday Million $7 million 49,287 $9,857,400
2014 PokerStars 8th Anniversary Sunday Million $8 million 45,586 $9,317,200
2015 PokerStars 9th Anniversary Sunday Million $9 million 50,432 $10,086,400
2016 PokerStars 10th Anniversary Sunday Million $10 million 55,059 $11,011,800

For the historic 10th anniversary event PokerStars even put together a combination of an article and an infographic chart that details the 10 year journey of the Sunday Million.

Fourth largest online poker tournament in history

As noted in the opening, Sunday’s 10th Anniversary Sunday Million tournament was the fourth largest tournament in online poker history (three of which are Sunday Million’s by the way) as the following chart indicates:

Tournament Guarantee Total Entrants Total prize-pool
2011 10th Anniversary Celebration Sunday Million $10 million 62,116 $12,423,200
2010 WCOOP Main Event ($5,000 buy-in) $10 million 2,443 $12,215,000
2011 PokerStars 5th Anniversary Sunday Million $5 million 59,128 $11,825,600
2016 PokerStars 10th Anniversary Sunday Million $10 million 55,059 $11,011,800

This is also the first tournament since 2011 (if memory serves me, something extremely important happened in 2011 that upset the online poker market) that broke the $11 million mark. From 2012-2015 only one tournament managed to break $10 million, and that event (the 2015 9th Anniversary Sunday Million) barely did so, eclipsing the $10 million mark by just $86,400.

With so many markets now ring-fenced or simply off-limits, what PokerStars has managed to achieve with these anniversary events is pretty impressive, and based on the 2016 numbers they may be able to offer up an $11 million guarantee for the 11th anniversary event next year.

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