PokerStars to Celebrate 10th Anniversary of Sunday Million with $10 Million Guarantee

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PokerStars announced today that it will host a special 10th anniversary edition of its popular Sunday Million tournament on March 20th at 14:30 ET. The ambitious event will have a $10 million guaranteed prize pool (I see what they did there), setting it up to be one of the most lucrative online poker tournaments of all time.

The standard PokerStars Sunday Million has a $215 buy-in ($200 + $15) and a $1 million guaranteed prize pool. Yesterday’s event drew 5,718 players, creating a $1,143,600 prize pool. The 10th anniversary edition will have the same buy-in and will be held at the same time as normal on March 20th, but in addition to the increased guarantee, it will allow players to re-enter up to three times within the extended registration period. According to the award structure chart, at least 2,997 will make the money.

The Sunday Million debuted March 5th, 2006 (hey that’s ten years ago) with 5,893 entrants and a $1,178,600 prize pool. First place paid $173,843.50.

There have been special Sunday Million’s before. When PokerStars celebrated the site’s tenth anniversary at the end of 2011, 62,116 players showed up the grand affair, generating a $12,423,200 total prize pool. That is a bigger prize pool than any World Series of Poker Main Event and is still the largest online poker prize pool of all time. The winner of that tourney won as much money as the entire prize pool of yesterday’s Sunday Million.

The 10th anniversary Sunday Million won’t necessarily be comparable to past Sunday Millions, regardless of whether or not it becomes the biggest of all time, simply because it is a re-entry event. By allowing up to three re-entries per player, the tournament will natural require fewer competitors to meet or beat the $10 million guarantee. Obviously, not everyone will want to contribute another $215 for an additional bullet, but fewer unique players will be able to generate more buy-ins than in a freezeout.

Sometimes people (this writer included) get confused about the difference between a re-entry tournament and a re-buy tournament. They are clearly similar, as both give players additional chances to play after busting out, but there are a few important difference. First, the re-entries in this and other re-entry tournaments are limited, whereas re-buys are often not (as long as they are made within the re-buy period). Second, in a re-buy tournament, a player who busts can re-buy, receive new chips, and continue playing from exactly where they were, whereas in a re-entry, the player is eliminated from the tournament altogether, receives a finishing position, and then starts over from square one: new chips, new seat, and all. And third, a re-entry is considered a brand new registration, so that the entry fee ($15 in the case of the Sunday Million) will have to be paid again. In a re-buy tournament, only the buy-in portion is paid.

Re-entry tournaments have become more popular over the last few years, particularly on the live tournament circuit. They tend to serve as a happy medium between freezeouts and re-buys. Many players have complained that re-buy tournaments give deep-pocketed players a huge advantage, as they can play extremely aggressively in hopes of an early double-up, not caring if they have to reload. Re-entry tournaments allow for additional lives if a player gets unlucky, but it greatly reduces the advantage to those with large bankrolls.

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