PokerStars’ weekly flagship event, the Sunday Million, is gearing up for its 16th-anniversary edition in March. Preparations are already underway, according to PokerStars, with the first few details being teased out well in advance of the big event.
The special edition of Stars’ premier event will run on March 20, 2022, and it will feature a huge $10 million guarantee prize pool. With a lowered buy-in of $215 ($200+15) — which was what the Sunday Million’s entry fee was during its earliest years — it means that the tourney must draw in a massive 50,000 entries to fully cover its guarantee. That shouldn’t be a problem, as last year’s 15th-anniversary edition drew almost 70,000, with Canada’s Vanessa Kade capturing the win and the largest payday of her career, $1,514,920.
Kade, who is now an ACR-sponsored pro, will likely return to defend her title, playing on her “Niffller” account. As it is, her million-and-a-half-plus payday is the largest single payout ever seen in the event, which has had its top cash prizes chopped frequently in recent years.
PokerStars Sunday Million dates to 2006
The PokerStars Sunday Million has a long history, even if wasn’t actually called that at the start. Instead, it was just an every-Sunday event that debuted on March 5, 2006. A still officially unknown player, “aaaaaaaa”, won that first tourney and a $173,843.50 payday. The “Sunday Million” tag? That came several months later, on June 25, 2006, when Stars ran a special $1,050 edition of the event. By then, the weekly tourney was crushing the million-dollar guarantee every week anyway, so the name stuck.
Kade’s win last year isn’t the only signature high point in the Sunday Million’s history. The “anniversary” Sunday Million has seen its guaranteed pool climb as high as $12.5 million, in 2020. That year’s special tourney drew 93,016 entries and paid out $18,602,300 in prizes, which remain the all-time highs for the anniversary events. The online event enjoyed a huge and unexpected boost when virtually all live poker around the world had been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s initial breakout in the weeks just before the event kicked off.
There have been oddities as well. One such tale involving the Sunday Million came in its 5th Anniversary edition in 2011. Luke “Bdbeatslayer” won the tournament, officially for $671,094, plus a brand-new Lamborghini. However, Slayer never collected the Lamborghini; he opted for a $200,000 cash payout instead.
The strange part of the story is that PokerStars tried to give away the same Lamborghini three different times, first in special promotions and then as a winner’s bonus in the 5th Anniversary Sunday Million. In all three instances, however, the original Lambo that PokerStars purchased went undelivered. Stars’ promotions manager at the time, Bob Dix, wrote an entertaining account last year about how the car ended up staying with PokerStars through several different giveaway attempts. PokerStars literally could not give the beautiful roadster away.
Will another special story emerge from the 16th Anniversary event? We’ll know the answer to that in just a couple of months.
Featured image source: Twitter