To celebrate the 13th anniversary of the site’s famed Sunday Million tournament, PokerStars is splashing the pot with a $10 million guaranteed prize pool.
The eventual winner is guaranteed to add $1 million to their PokerStars bankroll, representing a massive multiple of more than 4,651 on the $215 buy-in.
This special version of the Sunday Million will be held on April 14 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST), and the tournament is open to players in any nation where PokerStars real money play is legal.
In a press release announcing the event, Severin Rasset – who serves as director of poker innovation and operations for The Stars Group – praised the players who turn out every weekend for making the Sunday Million online poker’s most prestigious tournament:
“We’re thrilled to be a part of this poker milestone, but the credit goes to all of the poker lovers out there who have made the Sunday Million happen nearly every week for the past 13 years, so we hope to see them at the tables.”
The Sunday Million made its debut on March 5 of 2006, when a Canadian player using the screenname “aaaaaaaa” bested a field of 5,893 players to claim the $173,843 lion’s share of a $1,178,600 prize pool.
In the 13 years since then, comprising more than 600 individual events, many of poker’s most accomplished pros established themselves by winning the Sunday Million. That star-studded list includes Nick “caecilius” Petrangelo, Tobias “PokerNoob999” Reinkemeier, Dan “Danny98765” Smith, Yevgeniy “Jovial Gent” Timoshenko, and Paul “paulgees81” Volpe.
All told, PokerStars has awarded more than $750 million in prize money throughout Sunday Million history. That total includes two separate $10 million guaranteed prize pools generated last year in dual events commemorating the tournament’s 12th birthday.
As for this year’s 13th anniversary edition, the tournament will allow late registration for the standard 3-hour and 15-minute period. Players begin with 10,000 tournament chips to work with, and blinds begin at 25/25 with a 5-chip ante. Blind levels last for 12 minutes through Level 10, before expanding to 15 minutes in every subsequent level.
To feed players with smaller bankrolls into the festivities, PokerStars will host satellite tournaments and special edition Spin & Go tables with buy-ins as low as $0.90. In addition, the site will run daily $15 buy-in Mega Satellites that guarantee the top 100 survivors a ticket to the Sunday Million.
Back in January, PokerStars’ parent company The Stars Group announced that the standard Sunday Million buy-in would be reduced from $215 to $109.
At the time, Stephen Bartley of the PokerStars Blog described the downward adjustment as a move towards expanding Sunday Million access to as many players as possible:
“We want to open online poker’s flagship event to more and more players.
The lower buy-in will do that, while ensuring the ‘Milly’ remains the Sunday Major every player wants to win.”
By making the move, PokerStars ensured that 10,000 entries and reentries of $109 would be needed to hit the $1 million guarantee – or exactly double the 5,000 players needed under the old $215 format.
But while the operator claimed an egalitarian motive, poker industry pundits pointed out that the $9 rake – or the cut pocketed by PokerStars as a service fee – actually put $90,000 in the company’s coffers whenever the guarantee was hit via 10,000 entries. That amount represents a significant increase from the $75,000 hauled in on a $15 rake with 5,000 entries. This strategic adjustment fits in with The Stars Group’s ongoing policy of increasing rake for PokerStars tournaments.
In a tweet posted on March 18, poker reporter Lance Bradley of PocketFives documented a precipitous drop in entries for the Sunday Million since the buy-in was lowered. The first $109 version of the event attracted 15,550 entries, before dropping to 13,228 the following Sunday. Field sizes have continued to plummet each week, bottoming out at 10,360 during the most recent edition.
Even so, The Stars Group collected $93,240 in rake last Sunday, more than the $87,555 raked the last time the Sunday Million cost $215.