The online tournament scene is certainly on the upswing.  Over the past month online poker events have been growing like wildfire with tournaments rebounding nicely from the April 15th crackdown of American online poker. For a few months tournaments were struggling to reach their guarantees as players were apprehensive to return to internet poker.  However, as they say, time heals all, and within the past month tournament attendance has certainly been on the mend.

Many sites have made changes to their events and schedule in order to attract more players.  PokerStars moved events up a few hours to accommodate those in Europe, Asia, and Australia.  Party Poker got rid of tournament fees all together in a move that has greatly improved attendance.  Other sites have been promoting their events differently as well as re-working their satellites to try and boost attendance.

The Party Poker move certainly worked.  By eliminating fees their tournaments have grown at an incredible rate including their weekly $200k guaranteed.  What was once a $300,000 guaranteed event has seen its prize pool shrink over the past few years as more players decided to play on PokerStars and FullTilt. However, with FTP completely out of commission for the time being it was Party and PokerStars who took many of their players.  This past weekend more than 1,300 players entered the $200k creating a $287,240 prize pool.  The $215+$0 buy-in event would typically have had $20,400 less in the prize pool had PartyPoker charged their $15 fee. In fact, this big boost in the prize pool allowed to $200k to surpass the Sunday500 on PokerStars for the first time in a long while.

The final table pitted 10 strong players against one another with more than $60,000 on the line for the winner. That number never came to be as the final two participants decided upon a chip chop with eventual winner “TangoDownJJJ” taking home the biggest piece of the pie. Runner-up Niall “firaldo87” Farrell earned $38,921 after the deal. It was a curious chop to say the least as Farrell is no slouch in the online tournament scene having made multiple FTOPS final tables including a 4th place finish in 2010 in Event #20 for $33,000. His opponent was nowhere near as decorated an online player, especially on Party Poker where he had not a single score to his name.

Party Poker Sunday $200k Guaranteed
1,336 Entrants; $287,240 prize pool
*2-way deal

1. TangoDownJJJ $55,869
2. firaldo87 $38,921
3. sketch1967 $20,825
4. Echomaus $16,516
5. p00cket00 $13,644
6. paulii $10,772
7. LembraTeBem $8,186
8. READBLANK $5,458
9. D_Daastardly $4,165
10. malocoeur $2,872

While the iPoker Network, along with its flagship site Titan Poker, has been unable to keep up with the Party $200k, their $200,000 guaranteed event has been gaining some steam lately. For awhile the $200+$15 buy-in event has been struggling to even come close to its guarantee, let alone surpass it. However, that has all changed since the WSOP as it seems their traffic is up and with it attendance in their Sunday $200k. Yesterday 1,064 players entered iPoker’s biggest weekly event creating a nice $212,800 prize pool. The $44,688 first-place prize went to “TAPIS44” who appears to have earned the biggest score of his career on iPoker. His heads-up opponent, “DimaDima13”, was slightly more experienced having won the $10k Re-buy for $4,339 back in February. Overall there was more than $130,000 on the line at the final table, a great sign for the future of online events at one of the world’s largest poker networks.

Titan Poker Sunday $200k Guaranteed
1,064 Entrants; $212,800 prize pool

1. TAPIS44 $44,688
2. DimaDima13 $23,408
3. ines1987 $17,024
4. gwka $12,768
5. jerQules $10,640
6. WRHearst $8,512
7. SirNitAlot $6,384
8. mcberdy71 $4,256
9. b8chattz $2,979
10. kokynho7 $2,128

Much like the Titan $200k, the $100,000 guaranteed on Bodog as been steadily improving as of late. The $150+$12 event has finally been able to creep past its six-figure guarantee after years of falling short. Bodog, the world’s premier online sportsbook and casino, is one of just a handful of poker networks to remain open to the US market even in the face of the the DOJ crackdown. They offer fishy games, decent software, and the ability to play up to four tables at once. Bodog was once one of the fast growing rooms until PokerStars and FullTilt started cornering the market. Making the site even better is their ability to process payouts quickly even after online poker’s Black Friday. The $100k was won this week by “LOEWA79” who earned just under $25,000 for the victory. What’s interesting is back when there was overlay in this event the winner always took home $25,000. However, because there are more participating now there are more getting paid which takes away ever so slightly from the players making the final table. While this was the biggest score of his career, LOEWA79 is certainly no stranger to online success having won the $109 re-buy on PokerStars for $18,480 back in 2007 as well as the $40k on FTP that same year for $13,387. The New York based poker player seems to have turned to Bodog since being uprooted from FullTilt and PokerStars earlier this year by the US Government.

Bodog Sunday $100k Guaranteed
704 Entrants; $105,600 prize pool

1. LOEWA79 $24,921
2. San Juan Kid $14,361
3. pieinsky $9,609
4. whynut $7,392
5. AA_PeachOfaHand $6,019
6. Nan Q $4,752
7. VThokie09 $3,484
8. uNOiTzRIGGED $2,323
9. MerilMistilteinn $1,372

The world’s largest online poker room continues to dominate the Sunday tournament scene. PokerStars, which moved up the start of all of their majors two hours, has continued seemingly unaffected by losing 20% of their player base after Black Friday. A lot of this could be attributed to FullTilt players looking for a home. Because Stars was able to pay out all of their players while FullTilt has still not paid back a single cent, it seems players are willing to trust the online poker giant. Their three biggest events, the $500k Warm-Up, Sunday Million, and $250k Sunday500 all easily surpassed their guarantees this past weekend on the way to another huge day for PokerStars MTTs.

Things got started off on the right foot when more than 3,200 players entered the Warm-Up creating a massive $654,800 prize pool. With so much money on the line it was no surprise when the final three players decided upon a chip chop according to their respective chip counts. Taking home the title and the biggest check was “omalos” who earned $82,314 for a hard day’s work. This was the biggest score for a player who is used to big cashes on Stars. In the past omalos has finished 7th in the Million for $34,300 as well as 4th in a $215 re-buy back in the 2008 WCOOP for $74,159. The high-stakes player doesn’t play a lot of Stars, but when he does he typically wins big. Runner-up “Päffchen” is no slouch himself having earned a handful of five-figure scores on PokerStars in the past. The small-stakes grinder has played more than 50,000 tournaments over his career on Stars and has accumulated more than $1,300,000 in cashes in the process.

PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up $500k Guaranteed
3,274 Entrants’ $654,800 prize pool
*3-way deal

1. omalos $82,314
2. Päffchen $78,901
3. OU THE NICK $72,221
4. Jossel2008 $37,651
5. JeanGrae $27,829
6. abeainy $21,281
7. kharak $14,733
8. BMW 330XD $8,185
9. BOOOOMMMMMMM $5,238.40

Even though the Warm-Up had a huge day it still pales in comparison to the $1,362,200 prize pool in the Sunday Million. Online poker’s biggest weekly event did not disappoint yesterday as 6,811 players ponied up the $200+$15 entry fee for a shot at glory. Taking full advantage of his opportunity was “jclever16” who took down a massive $207,195 score for his victory. What is incredible about his win is he was virtually unknown on PokerStars seemingly having just played a handful of events there in the past. Runner-up “PSMozak” had more experience on Stars, but was unable to outlast his opponent during heads-up play. PSMozak had about $200,000 in cashes on Stars entering the final table making his $153,247 score nearly as much as all of his previous 290 or so cashes combined. All in all, the Sunday Million final table paid out more than $700,000 and made three players over six-figures apiece.

PokerStars Sunday Million $1M Guaranteed
6,811 Entrants; $1,362,200 prize pool

1. jclever16 $207,195
2. PSMozak $153,247
3. prrrak4783 $108,976
4. JoaoCastro91 $74,921
5. Sniper0612 $57,212
6. Pippa83 $43,590
7. gittermaster $29,968
8. SOLYPLAYA $16,346
9. DinRin $10,557

Wrapping up a strong day on Stars was their highest buy-in major event, the $250,000 guaranteed Sunday500. Formerly a half-million dollar guaranteed event, the Sunday500 tends to attract very good players because of its higher entry fee. This week was no exception as a handful of strong competitors made their way to the final table to compete for a $49,538 first-place prize. Taking home the title was “810ofclubs” who has seen great success in major events on PokerStars in the past. The high-stakes tournament professional nearly won the SCOOP Main Event back in May before busting in 6th place for $167,200. He has won one of the huge $109 re-buys for $88,221 and now has another major victory to his name. He had taken down a formidable opponent in “eShaMeister” during heads-up play.

One final note on PokerStars, their $55 Red Spade Open carried a $1,000,000 guarantee this past weekend and crowned “VL-Hannibal” as its victor. The tournament ended up paying out more than $1,580,000 as 31,743 competitors entered the $50+$5 event.

PokerStars Sunday500 $250k Guaranteed
527 Entrants; $263,500 prize pool

1. 810ofclubs $49,538
2. eShaMeister $36,100
3. donkno2 $26,614
4. PapaGreggio $20,026
5. House of Hor $14,071
6. OPIGGYBANK $11,199
7. Miss Baxter $8,564
8. dal_elama
9. xxmxx-1984 $3,953

Our Sunday Tournament Report finishes this week with the Sunday $100,000 guaranteed on Merge Poker. The tournament keeps inching closer towards its guarantee, but yet again fell short of the 1,000 entrant mark. With just under $6,000 in overlay there was some nice value for those playing, including winner “PlayingwiththePros” who earned $20,000 for the win. At this time there is still not a lot of information on all of the final table competitors. However, as Merge continues to grow with its skins like Lock, RPM, Carbon, and more there is no doubt databases will start paying attention to one of the biggest networks still serving American poker players.

Merge Poker Sunday $100k Guaranteed
943 Entrants; $100,000 prize pool

1. PlayingwiththePros $20,000
2. MenachemBenUri $12,000
3. Izlude44 $6,500
4. mm9605 $5,000
5. rivermen123 $4,250
6. aficio $3,500
7. Fridureiks $2,750
8. Ericw123 $2,250
9. linquenito $1,750