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With one final day left in a February that saw some record-breaking numbers, online tournaments looked to carry that momentum into March. While this weekend could have been a big letdown compared to last week’s FTOPS and Sunday Million 4-year Anniversary bash, it was anything but. Online tournaments continued to thrive and grow to unprecedented numbers as both total entrants and prize pools were on the rise again.  It cannot be understated what FullTilt and PokerStars have done for online poker tournaments over the past few years. With annual events such as FTOPS, WCOOP, and SCOOP, new players are constantly turning to tournaments for that one big prize.

The Sunday Warm-Up continued its personal domination of every event not named the Sunday Million as more than 4,800 players entered the day’s first $200+$15 buy-in event. A prize pool of $961,800 was up for grabs with more than $150,000 left to the winner. That fortunate soul was “atcasanova” who was a bit of a wildcard heading into the final table having never had a $10,000 score to his name before yesterday. That was all about to change as he outlasted another midstakes player “paulitschMC” for the title and $150,456.75.

PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up $750k Guaranteed
4,809 Entrants; $961,800 prize pool

1. atcasanova $150,456.75
2. paulitschMC $112,049.70
3. oulendoulen $79,348.50
4. lechuckpoker $54,341.70
5. Dardan0s $40,876.50
6. surrbox $31,258.50
7. dav_dau $21,640.50
8. hg18l7 $12,022.50
9. CRICED $7,694.40

The Sunday Million operated into the wee hours of Monday morning as the final three players just could not decide upon chip chop numbers. The trio took a long while to discuss numbers and terms but ultimately could not come to a joint conclusion. Perhaps “orionrg” and “dean23price” just didn’t want a 3rd wheel because after “mad.afurable” was busted in 3rd place for $100,770 the two quickly came to a decision. The final two decided to chop up the remaining prize pool but had to keep $30,000 in play per PokerStars Sunday Million rules. This led to a short battle which saw orionrg come out on top when he won a 20:80 as his pocket sevens outran his opponent’s pocket nines. Much like the final two players in the Sunday Warm-up both orionrg and dean23price didn’t have much success in past events on PokerStars. That certainly all changed as each player locked up more than $220,000 in prize money before their heads-up battle.

A final note on the million, the 10,007 entrants came nowhere near last week’s 4-year anniversary tournament which saw 36,169 players. However, this was certainly one of the biggest Sunday Million’s in recent memory as the prize pool stretched above $2,000,000. Below are the final two bust-out hands and your chop-adjusted pay-outs:

Seat 3: mad.afurable (7318372 in chips)
Seat 6: dean23price (71000465 in chips)
Seat 8: orionrg (22451163 in chips)
orionrg: posts small blind 250000
mad.afurable: posts big blind 500000
*** HOLE CARDS ***
dean23price: raises 714577 to 1214577
orionrg: folds
mad.afurable: raises 6053795 to 7268372 and is all-in
dean23price: calls 6053795
*** FLOP *** [2d Ah 8s]
*** TURN *** [2d Ah 8s] [3s]
*** RIVER *** [2d Ah 8s 3s] [7s]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
mad.afurable: shows [9s Ac] (a pair of Aces)
dean23price: shows [As 2h] (two pair, Aces and Deuces)
dean23price collected 14936744 from pot

Seat 6: dean23price (23880324 in chips)
Seat 8: orionrg (76889676 in chips)
orionrg: posts small blind 300000
dean23price: posts big blind 600000
*** HOLE CARDS ***
orionrg: raises 1200000 to 1800000
dean23price: raises 3000000 to 4800000
orionrg: raises 72029676 to 76829676 and is all-in
dean23price: calls 19020324 and is all-in
Uncalled bet (53009352) returned to orionrg
*** FLOP *** [6c Jc 7h]
*** TURN *** [6c Jc 7h] [Kh]
*** RIVER *** [6c Jc 7h Kh] [8s]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
dean23price: shows [9d 9s] (a pair of Nines)
orionrg: shows [7c 7s] (three of a kind, Sevens)
orionrg collected 47760648 from pot

PokerStars Sunday Million $1.5M Guaranteed
10,007 Entrants; $2,015,400 prize pool
*2-way chop

1. orionrg $255,429.50
2. dean23price $232,302.46
3. Relhok $100,770
4. ronaldgrauer $80,616
5. villepn $60,462
6. G.C. King $40,308
7. sharky2323 $20,154
8. sharky2323 $20,154
9. blue2two $13,704.72

The Sunday $500k was the last tournament to finish as it concluded around 4:00 AM PokerStars time. Those who stuck around to watch were in for a treat as a number of the world’s top-ranked tournament professionals were on hand to fight over the $87,400 first place check. In fact, a player who has received a lot of attention on this very report ended up taking the title. Ben “ANIMAL5050” Pappas was able to take out “shampusik” in a short battle which occurred after an even briefer chop discussion. Pappas requested $80,000 in guaranteed money which was about $3,000 more than shampusik was willing to go. Five minutes later and the tournament was in the books. This cash could go down as Pappas’ biggest score and is certainly make-up for his 4th place finish in the Warm-Up last weekend for $60,353.

Other notable players making the final table were Tristan “cre8ive” Wade and top-25 ranked Chad “badbeatmna06” Eveslage. Eveslage’s bust-out hand was a doozy as he looked down at Pocket Jacks and before the action was on his BB ANIMAL5050 raised pre-flop and was re-raised by the SB shampusik. Eveslage decided to stick in a fourth-bet which caused ANIMAL5050 to go all-in. This action sent shampusik into the tank before folding. Unfortunately for badbeatman06 his opponent had Pocket Queens and he was sent to the rail in 4th place for $35,500. This was just another close call in an event that saw him finish 2nd in last July for $63,500.

Cre8ive has been around for some time and has more than $1,100,000 in cashes just between FullTilt and PokerStars. His biggest scores have come from his dominance of the $109r which he has won more than a handful of times between the two sites. His 3rd place finish here for $47,500 is one of the biggest scores of his career and another near miss in a Sunday major.

Finally, attendance for one reason or another was well down in the $500k yesterday. This journalists feelings are the gold-medal hockey game between the US and Canada had a lot to do with it as just last week more than 1,500 players signed up for the $500+$30 event.

Seat 1: ANIMAL5050 (9254403 in chips)
Seat 6: shampusik (725597 in chips)
ANIMAL5050: posts small blind 40000
shampusik: posts big blind 80000
*** HOLE CARDS ***
ANIMAL5050: raises 9166403 to 9246403 and is all-in
shampusik: calls 637597 and is all-in
Uncalled bet (8528806) returned to ANIMAL5050
*** FLOP *** [Ts 8h 8c]
*** TURN *** [Ts 8h 8c] [Jd]
*** RIVER *** [Ts 8h 8c Jd] [9h]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
shampusik: shows [Ah 6d] (a pair of Eights)
ANIMAL5050: shows [Td Qh] (a straight, Eight to Queen)
ANIMAL5050 collected 1451194 from pot

PokerStars Sunday $500k Guaranteed
998 Entrants; $500,000 prize pool

1. ANIMAL5050 $87,400
2. shampusik $63,500
3. Cre8ive $47,500
4. badbeatman06 $35,500
5. leoe29 $25,000
6. jdtjpoker $20,000
7. BoldNutz $15,000
8. tabzzy $10,000
9. HundoFight $5,750

Looking for an up-and-coming name in online poker? How about someone who isn’t even old enough to legally buy himself a victory shot! “boobySMILES” is one of the world’s newest high-stakes poker professionals that has been battling it out in nosebleed Omaha for the past year. Some might recall his appearance on the poker reality show 2M2M this past summer where he was a student of Jay Rosenkrantz. While his tournament resume is just starting to take shape he has already played for millions on both PokerStars and FullTilt where he operates under the screen name “ugotabanana”. Known for a wildly aggressive style it is not uncommon to see him sitting on massive chip stacks at his tables all the while being down for his session!

The most impressive aspect of his win in the $215r yesterday was the players he left in his wake. Finishing just behind him was a trio of great players in “antesvante”, “icallseat3”, and “loosefer”. loosefer is more of a cash game specialist and a bit of the on guard in the respect that he was playing $25/$50+ before online poker truly took off over the past few years. In fact, some of his original battles with Tom “Durrrr” Dwan are still talked about today. Scott “Icallseat3” Sitron has more than $1,500,000 in cashes on PokerStars alone including a win the the Warm-Up last year for $111,250. Finally, runner-up antesvante is a top-40 ranked poker professional who has won the Sunday Million for $227k and the Sunday 500 for $90k with in the past 10 months. Needless to say this was a great final table and a treat for those who stayed awake late last night.

PokerStars Sunday $215r $150k Guaranteed
264 Entrants; $189,200 prize pool

1. boobySMILES $38,786
2. antesvante $28,380
3. icallseat3 $21,279.60
4. loosefer $16,082
5. Anbessa9 $11,162.80
6. SLOPPYKLOD $8,514
7. jobeshomie $6,622
8. Opperstoof69 $4,730
9. THE?CLUU $3,311

The Sunday Second Chance kicked off well after every other tournament yesterday but finished before the $215, $500k, and Sunday Million. Those may wonder how it is possible that an event with a bigger field than the re-buy and $500k could start later and finish earlier and the answer is simple, it has a faster blind structure. As the blinds escalate more quickly than the deep-stack tournaments players are forced to make more moves earlier than normal. This can sometimes lead to a bit of a crap-shoot feel which results in a final table of no name players. Fortunately for the rail, that was not the case yesterday.

A slew of solid tournament professionals found their way to the Second Chance final table including 8th place finisher “thechemist83” and 5th place finisher “All_in_at420”. Joining those 3 online greats was FullTilt sponsored professional Luie Sojo who took 2nd place and $34,636.80. Sojo is a former FTOPS winner and it is somewhat interesting that he is allowed to play on PokerStars. One has to wonder if it is actually him playing or a fan who felt like using his name and just so happened to make a deep run.

All_in_at420 is no stranger to success on PokerStars having won this very event in 2008 as well as the Sunday $500k just a month later. He has more than $1,300,000 in cashes on PokerStars alone and is closing in on 10 $20,000+ scores. Eventual winner “Mattssons” is also no slouch having nearly won the big $109r last March for $54,989 as well as finishing second in the Super Tuesday for $51,038 in 2008. This score brings him to nearly $500,000 in career cashes on PokerStars.

PokerStars Sunday Second Chance $200k Guaranteed
1,312 Entrants; $262,400 prize pool

1. Mattssons $47,651.84
2. Luie Sojo $34,636.80
3. JAMES-007 $26,240
4. TheAssassin3 $19,680
5. All_in_at420 $13,776
6. 0120 $11,152
7. feurinho $8,528
8. thechemist83 $5,904
9. anddk $3,673.60

FullTilt compared to PokerStars has had some trouble carrying over momentum from their big events. In the past they have seen rapid drop-offs in attendance after the completion of FTOPS and other notable series. This weekend they were looking for good showings in their three Major Events, the $400k Brawl, Sunday $750k Guarantee, and $200k Mulligan.

The Brawl started off the day with a strong showing as the $400,000 guarantee saw its prize pool balloon to $573,000. For those who are unfamiliar, the Brawl is named after its tournament structure, known as “KO” for knock-out. In this type of event every time a player eliminates a fellow competitor he or she is award a $ prize. In the Brawl, a players receives $40 per elimination. This may not sound like a lot but it can certainly add up, especially for those who go deep or play aggressively. This week’s winner “live fox” busted 23 players on his route to the title which was worth nearly $1,000! Most players coming close to the final table will eliminate 10-12 opponents along the way which more than covers their entry fee.

Nearly 20 of FullTilt’s very own tournament professionals played in the Brawl yesterday including Mike “Timex” McDonald, Mike “Schneids” Schneider, and Michael Craig. All 3 Mikes busted before the money. Lee Watkinson and David “the dragon” Pham were the only two pros to make the money, finishing in 284th and 142nd place respectively.

FullTilt Sunday Brawl $400k Guaranteed
2,865 Entrants; $573,000 prize pool

1. live fox $116,319
2. swisstard $75,063
3. brick05 $55,581
4. sMokinMySklzArD $41,829
5. kidcardiff $29,223
6. tiltass33 $19,482
7. RealFaithTV $13,179
8. Bog25 $9,168
9. p0nna $6,876

The $750k gave the Warm-Up on PokerStars a good run yesterday, but once again fell short and took the #3 spot on the prize pool list. 4,196 players entered FullTilt’s biggest weekly event creating a large $839,200 prize pool. While this tournament is enormous by most standards it has really fallen off compared to the Million over the past 12 months. While PokerStars does have a bigger market share it is nowhere near a 2.5:1 advantage that is seen between these two events week in and out. One has to wonder where FullTilt is going wrong. A couple spots for improvement could be in their marketing off the event as well as their satellite structure.

27 FullTilt “Red Pros” played in the event but none could crack the top-250. Ivy-league educated High Stakes Poker professional Brandon Adams was on hand as was WSOP bracelet holder Jeff Madsen. Hans Vogl (307th place), Bruno Stefnaelli (273rd), and Marco Liesy (520nd) all made the money but could not put enough chips together to make a deep run.

FullTilt Sunday $750k Guaranteed
4,196 Entrants; $839,200 prize pool

1. mohamedali13 $148,194.33
2. gmoney723 $89,170.48
3. FelicityShagwel $58,744
4. Br8KEtheBANK $46,156
5. sexydumbblond $34,658.96
6. aadamd $25,679.52
7. kingofthecourt $19,301.60
8. RubINhood $15,105.60
9. The Degenerate77 $11,245.28

The final event of the day on FullTilt, the Sunday Mulligan, produced a well-known winner in Ryan “ryanbluf” Karp. Between FullTilt and PokerStars Karp has more than $2,500,000 in career cashes including a win in FTOPS Event #8 in 2008 for $121,185. This was his second major win and 2nd biggest score on FullTilt. Joining Karp were 13 FullTilt professionals, 3 of whom made the money. Famed boxing announcer Bruce Buffer finished in 86th place, Svetlana Gromenkova took home 41st place, and Stuart Paterson squeaked into the money in 129th place.

The Mulligan received a nice boost from the later day action as 1,275 players entered which was only 37 players short of tying the Sunday Second Chance on PokerStars. This is a great showing for the Mulligan as it does not reach a $250,000 prize pool all too often.

FullTilt Sunday Mulligan $200k Guaranteed
1,275 Entrants; $255,000 prize pool

1. ryanbluf $56,100
2. phat_cat1 $35,700
3. arsenal46 $25,818.75
4. ElGAmblino $20,718.75
5. Al of Athens $15,631.50
6. adb235 $11,475
7. mrcall912 $7,395
8. 54nTA_Cl4u5 $5,355
9. Rounder63 $3,825