It isn’t an original idea, but PokerGO’s Stairway to Millions has proven to be popular with the players. After an inaugural run earlier this year, the Stairway to Millions II is underway at The Venetian in Las Vegas. Two tournaments are in the books, with Francis Anderson and John Yelaney taking the early victories and earning the right to take part in later tournaments.

Stairway to Millions Based on STEPS

The premise of the Stairway to Millions is a familiar one for online players. The schedule is built on what PokerStars did with their STEPS tournaments. A player can take part in smaller events and, through their performance, earn the buy-in to play in more expensive tournaments that make up the schedule. PokerStars perfected this format, allowing people to buy in for pennies and, through their own skill, climb the ladder to play in (and win) in higher stakes tournaments.

The inaugural Stairway to Millions at The Venetian in January was an experiment, however. Nobody had ever attempted the STEPS format in a live setting, but PokerGO needed programming for its streaming outlet. Thus, the eight-event schedule was set, and the experiment was on.

The PTB at PokerGO need not have worried about the players coming out. Perhaps because of the COVID pandemic and the loss of live poker play, the inaugural Stairway to Millions saw 190 players come out for the first $1000 tournament, which was won by Daniel Sepiol. By virtue of cashing in the first tournament, all twenty of the players earned their seat in the next event, a $2000 tournament. This went on to the $100,000 Main Event, which saw Nick Petrangelo defeat a 19-player field to capture a million-dollar first place prize over David Peters and Sean Perry.

Back for Another Taste

Thrilled by the outcome of the original Stairway to Millions, PokerGO and The Venetian brought back the second incarnation, which began on Thursday. The schedule was expanded a bit, up to 12 tournaments, and the buy ins were adjusted just a bit. Instead of starting with a $1000 tournament and working up, the decision was made to start at a lower level, $400, and work up from there.

The decision that was made, from early looks, is a questionable one. The $1000 event in January drew 190 entries; by theory, cutting the buy in by half should have expanded the Event #1 numbers. Instead, the opposite was true.

93 entries were received for the first of two $400 buy in tournaments, with Francis Anderson earning the first win on the Stairway to Millions II schedule for a $6702 payday. In another twist to the format, all players who cashed earned a $900 ticket that could be used in either Event #3 or #4. Anderson and the two men who finished behind him, Wu Zhou and Galstyan Karapet, also got seats to either the $1600 buy-in Event #5 or #6.

For the second event of the Stairway to Millions II that started on Friday, Anderson nearly duplicated his feat. Anderson would be the runner up to John Yelaney in what was a stirring battle. As with Event #1, all players who cashed earned a $900 seat in either Event #3 or Event #4, while Yelaney and Arsh Grover earned a ticket to the $1600 Event #5 or Event #6 – Anderson, by virtue of his second-place finish, now has TWO $1600 buy-ins, so it is figured he will be in BOTH Event #5 and Event #6.

Lower Numbers Concerning as the Schedule Rolls On

Event #3 of the Stairway to Millions II will hold its final table festivities on Sunday, but something that must be concerning for the honchos at PokerGO are the lower numbers. With the lower buy ins, the numbers should be higher than what they are. It is difficult to ascertain why the players haven’t come out for this schedule, but the schedule will roll on (for the record, Qing Liu will lead Roland Israelashvili at the six handed Event #3 final table). The remainder of the Stairway to Millions II schedule plays out as such:

Sunday, September 11 – Event #4: $900 NL Hold’em ($50,000 GTD)
Monday, September 12 – Event #5: $1,640 NL Hold’em ($100,000 GTD)
Tuesday, September 13 – Event #6: $1,640 NL Hold’em ($100,000 GTD)
Wednesday, September 14 – Event #7: $2,740 NL Hold’em ($100,000 GTD)
Thursday, September 15 – Event #8: $5,350 NL Hold’em ($100,000 GTD)
Friday, September 16 – Event #9: $10,400 NL Hold’em ($200,000 GTD)
Saturday, September 17 – Event #10: $16,800 NL Hold’em ($300,000 GTD)
Sunday, September 18 – Event #11: $26,000 NL Hold’em ($500,000 GTD)
Monday, September 19 – Event #12: $52,000 NL Hold’em ($600,000 GTD)

All of the final table action will be aired on PokerGO, and its various outlets, beginning at 4PM (PDT) each day. Hopefully the players will come out as the stakes go up for the Stairway to Millions II.

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