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As we spring into some warmer times, online poker tournaments should begin heating up. With huge events such as SCOOP and FTOPS on the horizon and the sustained momentum from the beginning of the new year, online poker tournaments have never been bigger or better. Yesterday’s major events continued to prove just how popular online tournaments have become with some huge prize pools and enormous first place pay-outs.  Both PokerStars and FullTilt ran their full compliment of major events including the $1,500,000 guaranteed Sunday Million and $750k Guaranteed on FullTilt.  There were plenty of big names reaching final tables including some well known online professionals who have been on quite the heaters lately.

The Sunday Warm-Up on PokerStars kicked things off as more than 4,300 players created a huge $862,800 prize pool. While such a large amount of money might be considered a great turn out, it is actually one of the smaller showings for the Warm-Up in 2010. The tournament has passed the $1,000,000 mark multiple times (5k+ entrants) and has been consistently in the $925k-950k range the past few months. Maybe there a lot of religious poker players and the early start was interrupted by Easter Sunday festivities.

Once the final table was set it was down to business. Unfortunately a business-deal is exactly what happened as the final four players decided to chop based on chip-counts which left only $10,000 on the table. That extra $10k came down to “vtiger” and “kakagun”. Neither player had seen huge success on PokerStars before but it appeared vtiger had the experience edge having grinding out a lot of mid-stakes events. All of those hours he put in finally paid off as he took down the additional $10,000 and won just under $80,000 on the day. Kakagun was still the big winner despite losing during heads-up play, taking home more than $127,000 after the chip-chop.

PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up $750k Guaranteed
4,314 Entrants; $862,800 prize pool
*4-way chop

1. vtiger $79,644
2. kakagun $127,043
3. mschili-26 $81,745
4. instigator85 $67,350
5. Proludo $36,669
6. zefir_max $28,041
7. Ruguebye $19,413
8. santicua $10,785
9. hummylun $6,902

The Sunday Million continues to be the king of the castle on the weekends as its prize pool is always more than the 2nd and 3rd biggest tournaments combined. This week was no exception as the Million nearly reached the $2M prize pool, mark with 9,749 players creating a $1,949,800 pot. Much like the Warm-Up this was a big number, just not what everyone has gotten used to as the Million had been easily passing the $2,000,000 mark each and every week this year. Perhaps with SCOOP coming up next month the tournament will regain some momentum.

The final table had a few familiar faces including runner-up “RuberbandMan” who took home nearly $200,000 for a hard days work. He has a few other big scores to his name including a 3rd place finish in FTOPS Event 17 in February for $153,043 and a 3rd in the Titan Poker $1M for $74,000 just a few weeks ago. Garry “echaos” Drury took 5th place for $77,000, by far and away the biggest cash in recent years. Broslo “LastChance11” Yann finished one spot worse in 6th place for $58,494 which ended up as his best score on Stars and tied his best finish in a major as he also took 6th in the Warm-Up in December for $30,036. Ara “melikman” Melikian finished just behind Yann in 7th place for $38,996 which comes in just behind wins in the Super Tuesday and the $109r for his biggest score.

PokerStars Sunday Million $1.5M Guaranteed
9,749 Entrants; $1,949,800 prize pool

1. acechipchase $272,978
2. RuberbandMan $198,880
3. Coyotee_gyn $140,386
4. DaGrin_Reapr $97,490
5. echaos $77,992
6. LastChance11 $58,494
7. melikman $38,996
8. acecatcher26 $19,498
9. Nielsml $13,259

The $500k Guaranteed had a few big names reach the final table including one of the better cash game players in the world. Will “molswi47” Molson has been a staple in the PokerStars nosebleed cash games for some time now taking on the likes of Nutsinho, Daniel Negreanu, and other big name professional players. He is not known as a tournament player, but does have more than $640,000 in live earnings including two runner-up finishes both in PCA events. His 3rd place finish here appears to be his biggest online score although he does have nearly $2,000,000 in cash game earnings as well over the past few years.

A few tournament professionals made the final table including the eventual winner Rajesh “BadcardsAA” Vohra who has made the STR numerous times including last week for a final table appearance in the $215r. He has multiple major wins to his name including a huge $430,000 score for winning FTOPS #22 2-day event in February. He has crushed high-stake tournaments on Stars for some time now having more than $1,500,000 in cashes through out his career. Vohra was joined by fellow highly-ranked professional Benjamin “xthesteinx” Zamani who has more than $2,000,000 in scores to his name on PokerStars alone, including multiple wins in the $215r and a few more in the $109r.

PokerStars Sunday $500k Guaranteed
1,106 Entrants; $553,000 prize pool

1. BadcardsAA $94,010
2. deuces85 $69,125
3. molswi47 $52,480
4. AMBlues19 $37,604
5. smokrokflock $27,374
6. masterpice $21,844
7. jambeyang $16,314
8. Adog26 $10,784
9. xthesteinx $5,972

The Sunday $215r once again had the deepest and most talented final table yesterday as a handful of well-known online pros were on hand to battle it out for the $44,854 first place check.  Some of the more notable names to make deep runs were “PeachyMer”, “holdplz”, “mig.com”, “Mattssons”, and “garompon”. Garompon is mostly known for his win in last year’s SCOOP $5200 6max event for more than $364,000. Cowin “Mig.com” Mackey is a fellow high-stakes tourney player who also shipped a huge score, winning more than $580,000 in a $1k WCOOP event in 2007. Mer “Peachymer” Brit nearly won a huge WCOOP Event as well as she reached the final table of the $5200 2-day event last September before falling in 9th for $96,480. Stefan “mattssons” Mattsson has also seen plenty of success on PokerStars including a few $50k+ scores for runner-up finishes in the $109r and Super Tuesday.

Even with all of these big names a relatively amateurish player took down the $215. With only $140,000 in cashes entering the $215r final table, not a lot of people saw “Dr.Action” taking down the title.  He does appear to enjoy re-buys having nearly won the huge $109r this January. In that event he took home 2nd place for more than $60,000. This weekend, he finally broke through with a major victory and nearly $45,000 in first-place money.

PokerStars Sunday $215r $150k Guaranteed

1. Dr.Action $44,854
2. PeachyMer $32,820
3. yuyupoker $24,724
4. holdplz $18,598
5. garompon $12,909
6. mig.com $9,846
7. Mattssons $7,658
8. JBlaze20 $5,470
9. puffinmypurp $3,829

The final event of the day on PokerStars was the Sunday Second Chance which saw its prize pool once again crack the $300,000 mark. The tournament continue to only carry a $200k guarantee although the event has constantly had more than enough players to warrant at least a $250k guarantee. One familiar face at the final table was Jason Gray who took 3rd place for more than $30,000. He has had some solid success online including a win in the $109r for $46,605 last August. 5th place finisher “kev19” reached the Second Chance final table for the 2nd time in his career taking down $15,918 this time. His 3rd place finish back in 2008 netted him more than $40,000. Eventual winner, “foowongdo”, took home the first five-figure score of his career and more than doubled his career earnings with a $54,697 first-place check.

PokerStars Sunday Second chance $200k Guaranteed
1,516 Entrants; $303,200 prize pool

1. foowongdo $54,697
2. GulMandag $39,567.60
3. JasonGray $30,320
4. drifto88 $22,740
5. kev19 $15,918
6. imjuniar $12,886
7. Stalio $9,854
8. bosshogg21 $6,822
9. cal42688 $4,244

FullTilt continues to fight the good fight against PokerStars with its three majors, the Brawl, $750k, and Sunday Mulligan once again having solid showings. While the world’s 2nd largest site may never surpass PokerStars in terms of tournament entries and prize pools it does possess some of the world’s most recognizable poker players which is great for the railbirds.

The Sunday Brawl hosted 24 of those sponsored professionals including Isaac “Menlo” Baron, former WSOP ME champion Carlos Mortensen, and WSOP bad boy Josh Arieh. While 234 players made the money only a few professionals were able to cash including James Akenhead who made a deep run before bowing out in 20th place. Joining him inside the bubble was Marco Liesy who finished in 164th.

The final table hosted one of the best online poker players in the world, Taylor “ambiguosity” Paur, who proved his worth by taking down the tital and $101,853. Paur has had tremendous success on a handful of sites including a win in the UBOC $300k for $125,195, the $200k on FullTilt for $83,165, and the $150k on AP for $48,495. Still, his biggest score came in an event where he did not win. His 2nd place finish in FTOPS Event #17 last November netted the top-10 ranked professional $189,211.50.

FullTilt Sunday Brawl $400k Guaranteed
2,497 Entrants; $499,400 prize pool

1. ambiguosity $101,853
2. craz6dragon $65,921
3. CashMoney915 $48,941
4. gremista59 $36,956
5. boxing87 $25,969
6. Clearvoyant $16,980
7. fleksnes $11,486
8. Mabst $7,990
9. dpPL $5,993

The $750k could not quite take advantage of the Sunday Warm-Up having a down day and remained in the three-hole for yet another week. It’s hard to say why this tournament cannot seem to grow but it’s possible that FullTilt’s satellite program is just nowhere near as big as PokerStars. While FullTilt is constantly running smaller events for entries into the $750k it just pales in comparison to what PokerStars has with its FPP program and variety of satellites.

FullTilt sponsored professional Adam Schoenfeld, know as the funny man of poker, made the final table but fell early in 8th place. Schoenfeld had a piece done on him during the WSOP a few years ago which mocked him for not making a single cash in both the 2006 and 2007 series. Schoenfeld was joined by 38 other FullTilt red pros including Erick Lindgren, recently-divorced Beth Shak, and John Phan. A few other professionals made the money including Maciek Gracz in 443rd and Mandy B who took home 257th.

The final table was highlighted by runner-up “Tomgus456” who won the Sunday Million two years ago for nearly $220,000. This $83,674 score was one of the biggest of his career and only 2nd behind his win in the Brawl on FullTilt for $84,843.

FullTilt Sunday $750k Guaranteed
3,910 Entrants; $782,000 prize pool

1. 007Paghman $138,453
2. Tomgus456 $83,674
3. HACPATb HA BAC $54,740
4. reddevil84AA $43,166
5. HeyImDro $32,375
6. Pokerccini $24,007
7. IrunDisBicth $17,986
8. Adam Schoenfeld $14,076
9. socialrunner $10,479

The $200k Sunday Mulligan also had a FullTilt professional reach the final table as Damian Salas took home 2nd place and $35,588. Joining Salas at a strong final table was Amit “amak316” Makhija who is a feared tournament player that won FTOPS Event #22 in November 2008 for a crazy $550,000. He took 6th place in the Second Chance for $11,439 this weekend which probably barely registers in his mind.  Other FullTilt sponsored professionals on hand were Jon Turner, TheWacoKidd, and Hans Vogl.

FullTilt Sunday Mulligan $200k Guaranteed
1,271 Entrants; $254,200 prize pool

1. TightRJ__RJ $55,924
2. Damian Salas $35,588
3. ColaCherry $25,738
4. kinheim $20,654
5. DonkCommited $15,582
6. amak316 $11,439
7. achen $7,372
8. schlep001 $5,338
9. Chances Cards $3,813