2024 WSOP cards

Pays more than chips to knock someone out

In the few years that it has existed, the $1,000 Mystery Millions No-Limit Hold’em event at the World Series of Poker has been a huge hit. It not only sports a $1 million guaranteed prize for the winner, but is also a bounty tournament, which always makes things more exciting. But unlike many bounty tournaments where there is a fixed or progressive bounty on everyone’s heads, this tournament adds more gamble to the gamble, as each bounty is unknown until it is revealed post-elimination.

And the bounties in the Mystery Millions event are lucrative. $300 from each buy-in went to the bounty pool, and with 18,409 entries, the bounty pool amounted to $5,523,000 with at TWO million-dollar bounties up for grabs. There were five more six-figure bounties – $500,000, $250,000, and three $100,000 – and 949 in total, going down to $1,000.

Starting on Monday’s Day 2, everyone who knocked out an opponent got to randomly pull a bounty. If that bounty was for more than $25,000, the player went on stage to select an envelope from a GGPoker-branded bounty chest in hopes of hitting the jackpot. The bounties in the chest were worth a lot, but there is nothing quite like opening an envelope to see a cool million bucks.

Shabelnyk almost got a free phone

The first million-dollar bounty went to Valentyn Shabelnyk. After emcee Jeff Platt gave him some quick instructions, he picked an envelope from the massive chest and carefully tore open one end. In previous years, players would often slowly unfurl the paper within to see if it started with a one and then build the suspense from there, but Shabelnyk just went for it, quickly unfolding the card as Platt tried to say, “The first number is a one…”

As Platt excitedly announced the million-dollar win, Shabelnyk calmly smiled a showed the paper to cameras and onlookers. Platt attempted to interview him, but Shabelnyk wanted to get back to his table – after all, he was missing hands in the tournament.

As he made his way through the poker floor, Shabelnyk realized in the excitement that he took Platt’s cell phone. He hurried back to return it and then got back to the action, where he eventually bowed out in 528th place for $3,070.

Buckley had a cheering section

A few hours later, D.J. Buckley found out he won more than $25,000, so it was his turn to step up to the bounty box – again, mid-tournament – to see if the poker gods were with him a little bit longer. With Jesse Fullen holding the mic next to him, Buckley calmly tore open the envelope and asked what the best way to open it was. After pulling out the paper, he did the slow reveal, displaying the first digit to Fullen, who excitedly announced it to everyone. Then it looked like Buckley was going to slowly go through each zero, but he could quickly tell he had hit it big, so he unfolded the paper all the way and proudly raised it for all to see.

Though he was beaming more than was Shabelnyk, Buckley was also very calm for someone who just won a million dollars. His friends, not so much, as they cheered and mobbed him when he got off the stage.

When Fullen asked him how he felt, Buckley simply said, “Feel great,” and said he wasn’t about to buy anything with his new-found riches. Like Shabelnyk, Buckley quickly made his way back to his table as people congratulated him and gave him fist bumps. He was later eliminated in 90th place, good for $8,170.

There are 18 players remaining in the Mystery Millions event as it heads into its final day.

Image credit: PokerGO.com

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