$10m Guaranteed PokerStars 16th Anniversary Sunday Million Set for March 20

  • The $215 buy-in is higher than a normal Sunday Million, back to pre-2019 levels
  • From cards-up to a champion, the tournament will span three days
  • Vanessa Kade won last year’s anniversary Sunday Million and $1.5m
  • The first Sunday Million was on March 5, 2006, before it even got its name
  • The largest Sunday Million was the 14th anniversary, with 93,106 entries and an $18.6m prize pool
PokerStars Sunday Million 16th Anniversary logo
The PokerStars 16th Anniversary Sunday Million will begin March 20, cost $215 to enter, and guarantee at least $10m in cash prizes. [Image: PokerStars.com]

$215 buy-in, $10m guaranteed

Though it is still two months away, PokerStars has announced the dates for the 16th Anniversary Sunday Million event, giving players plenty of time to clear their schedules. The $10m guaranteed tournament will begin on Sunday, March 20 and, for those who are fortunate enough to stay in the game, conclude on Tuesday, March 22.

The buy-in for the anniversary event is back up to $215, its “classic” price. Players will have 20,000-chip starting stacks and blinds will begin at 50/100. Blind levels last 20 minutes for the first 18 levels and are then just 15 minutes starting with Level 19.

we’re looking at a six-hour Sunday plus any time allocated for breaks

Day 1 ends after Level 18, so we’re looking at a six-hour Sunday plus any time allocated for breaks. Day 2 will go through Level 50, making it an eight-plus-hour day. All remaining players will return on Tuesday to play down to a champion.

As is the case for most tournaments nowadays, the 16th Anniversary Sunday Million event is not a freezeout. Players can re-enter up to five times through the late registration period, which goes until the start of Day 2.

Vanessa Kade ruled the roost last year

Last year’s 15th Anniversary tournament was arguably the most memorable of the bunch. It drew just shy of 70,000 entries and generated a prize pool of $13,975,200, the second-largest for the Sunday Million. And while those were the cut-and-dry numbers, it was the end result of the tournament that made it something we will remember for quite some time.

Vanessa “Niffller” Kade emerged as the champion, winning over $1.5m and capping several months of turmoil for the poker pro. When GGPoker signed noted misogynist Dan Bilzerian as an ambassador in December 2020, Kade and many others in the poker world were outspoken in their disapproval. Bilzerian responded, showing why people were upset with his signing in the first place, tweeting: “Quiet hoe, nobody knows who you are.”

she made her feelings known

In February 2021, GGPoker inked a deal with Daiva Byrne, poker pro and founder of the female-focused poker community Fantastic Ladies in Poker (FLIP). Kade believed it was a PR stunt to try to ease some of the criticism and she made her feelings known.

Two weeks later, GGPoker terminated Kade’s legacy affiliate deal because she publicly criticized the site. Hurt but undeterred, Kade signed with America’s Cardroom. She then won the Sunday Million in March, calling it the best day of her life. She proceeded to chat with fans on Twitch for hours as she got drunk. It was a hell of a night.

Sunday Million: A Selected History

PokerStars debuted the Sunday Million on March 5, 2006 and it quickly became the most popular weekly online tournament on the poker calendar (though it didn’t get its name until June 25 of that year). The very first winner was “aaaaaaa,” who won $173,843.50.

The first seven-figure first prize was awarded near the 4th anniversary of the Sunday Million, the week that PokerStars dealt its 40 billionth hand. “RichieRichZH” won $1,141,510.31.

The first official anniversary edition of the Sunday Million was for its 5th birthday in 2011. Luke “Bdbeatslayer” Vrabel won after a stunning nine-way chop at the final table, adding a Lamborghini Gallardo on top of his prize money. This was also the last anniversary event before Black Friday and thus the last one in which players in the United States could participate.

In 2019, PokerStars dropped the Sunday Million buy-in from $215 to $109 in order to make it more affordable for players and attract more participants. It worked, as the average field doubled from the established norms in the weeks that followed.

Because people were stuck inside in the early days of the pandemic, the 14th Anniversary Sunday Million in March 2020 was expected to be gigantic. It didn’t disappoint. Even though buy-in was increased to $215 like this year, the tournament garnered 93,106 entries. Both the field size and the resulting $18,602,300 were PokerStars records.