We seem to have hit a bit of a lull in online poker tournaments.  With the 2011 World Championship of Online Poker three weeks away, and the WSOP squarely in our rear-view mirror, there just is not a lot of buzz around internet poker events.  Still, most of the events have been able to squeak past their guarantees even in this “down time”.  As the 2011 WCOOP nears, event attendance should pick up leading to bigger prize pools and first place payouts.

The iPoker Network has become the 2nd largest poker network in the world. However, for one reason or another, this is just not translating to epic Sunday poker tournaments.  Their $200,000 guaranteed has been hovering around its guarantee for some time now.  Yesterday, just over 1,000 players entered the event creating a $207,800 prize pool. With more than $43,000 on the line for the winner, the event was still nothing to be scoffed at.  There were some solid players at the final table including 4th place finisher “ProActive67” who earned $12,468 for his deep run. The high-stakes professional has many big scores to his name including a $64,500 cash back in 2008 during the European Championship of Online Poker at Titan.  Eventual winner “gbpoker99” had not seen much success at Titan lately but was able to take down “BARANUKU” heads-up for the title and a nice $43,638 payday.

Titan Poker Sunday $200k Guaranteed
1,039 Entrants; $207,800 prize pool

1. gbpoker99 $43,638
2. BARANUKU $22,858
3. WAAAGHB0ZZ $16,624
4. ProActive67 $12,468
5. StayThere102 $10,390
6. Wankstar87 $8,312
7. sky1021 $6,234
8. xalebrucex $4,156
9. shubbysheeks $2,909
10. SickBassSickBoom $2,078

One tournament that has seen some growth lately is the Sunday $200k on Party Poker.  At one time the former $300,000 guaranteed event was struggling to hit the $200,000 mark.  However, after Party’s no-fee promotion as well as their Summer Million last week, the $200k had little issue surpassing its guarantee yesterday.  1,257 players entered the $200+$15 event boosting the prize pool to just over a quarter million dollars.  The bigger pot meant the winner’s share was over $50,000.  Taking home the top prize was Canadian poker pro “TherookieQQ9” who earned $52,794 for the win.  This was the not the first major win for TherookieQQ9 who has three bigger scores on his resume including a $233,775 win in the Birthday Million back in 2008 on Party.  He also won the Sunday Million later that year for more than $188,000.  Runner-up “pacemscar” actually won this very event last year when it was a $250,000 guaranteed event.  His $30,168 score comes in second on his resume behind that win.

Party Poker Sunday $200k Guaranteed
1,257 Entrants; $251,400 prize pool

1. TherookieQQ9 $52,794
2. pacemscar $30,168
3. Longstaaf $18,227
4. MatsGelatin $14,456
5. Sergio1306 $11,942
6. xAndorx_ $9,428
7. ElDuderino91 $7,165
8. Flush_Entity $4,777
9. IsabelLahiri $3,645
10. dangogu2008 $2,514

Merge Poker recently re-opened their doors to American players.  The world’s largest American friendly poker network was hoping it might lead to some more traffic and higher tournament attendance. Unfortunately, any supposed boost in entries did not manifest itself this weekend as their Sunday $100k failed to hi their guarantee by just over $8,000.  Still, there was $20,000 waiting for whoever was able to wade their way through the 919 player field.  Earning the $20k was “BeWater” who took home the biggest score of his career on Merge.   His heads-up opponent, “gandua1”, was also quite inexperienced on Carbon Poker.   Neither player appeared to have registered a four-figure score in the past.  It will be interesting to see if attendance does pick up on Merge in the near future. Hopefully the addition of more American players will populate both their cash games and MTTs.

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

1. BeWater $20,000
2. gandula1 $12,000
3. KungfuTang $6,500
4. 0samcro0 $5,000
5. MaDonkey $4,250
6. PHILIVEY96 $3,500
7. thenuts4iu8 $2,750
8. BlkOps $2,250
9. LoLGingers $1,750

One site not struggling with tournament attendance is PokerStars. The world’s online leading poker room is having little trouble filling all of their majors events.  This is not only great news for the health of online poker, but should also be reflected in WCOOP attendance starting next month.  The 2011 WCOOP will run 62 events over three weeks culminating with the $5,200 $5M Guaranteed Main Event.  Tournaments like the $500,000 Warm-Up should see a nice pick-up in entries as the WCOOP nears.  More and more players will load their accounts in anticipation of the WCOOP and will need to get some practice.  The Warm-Up, typically online poker’s 2nd biggest weekly event, is a great event to start your day with.  This week more than $101,000 was on the line for the winner.  Taking home that prize was Canadian Owen “ocrowe” Crowe, a highly-ranked online MTT professional.  This was Crowe’s 2nd biggest score on a resume that boasts a $218,250 win back in 2006 on Stars.  He has also won the Super Tuesday, finished 4th in the Million, and won the $215 re-buy within the past three years.

PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up $500k Guaranteed
3,241 Entrants; $648,200 prize pool

1. ocrowe $101,768
2. assalbi $75,839
3. Milana Jones $53,477
4. PEQUE ATLETI $37,272
5. cafecompany $27,549
6. mjw006 $21,067
7. FrankThomas8 $14,585
8. marcuscollen $8,103
9. fishfinder10 $5,186

The only tournament that makes the Warm-Up look small is the PokerStars Sunday Million.  This seven-figure guarantee tournament has been on a roll lately as it approaches the $1.5M prize pool mark.  It will be no surprise to anyone to see the Million get back to its pre-Black Friday numbers soon. As PokerStars continues to process payouts quickly, there has been a rise in traffic and, as such, tournament attendance.  This week the winner’s share in the Sunday Million nearly eclipsed the total prize pool for the majors on iPoker and Party Poker.  That $198,491 prize went to “Ponga80” who defeated “kmichael14” for the victory.   It took some time for Ponga80 to breakthrough on PokerStars as he had yet to record a five-figure score all the while playing a lot of higher buy-in events. However, he has had some strong showings on Party Poker, including a 2nd place finish in their Sunday $300k for $34,092 back in 2008.  Runner-up kmichael14 had a slightly better resume on PokerStars, but was unable to earn the title and had to “settle” for a $146,813 payday.

PokerStars Sunday $1M Guaranteed
6,525 Entrants; $1,305,000 prize pool

1. Ponga80 $198,491
2. kmichael14 $146,813
3. dynastyzz $104,400
4. Sircall $71,775
5. ABARZA $54,810
6. Microove $41,760
7. cynicalfish $28,710
8. syvers007 $15,660
9. garfield311 $10,114

The Sunday500 was dropped to a $250,000 guarantee once the US government banned their citizens from playing online poker.  While this has hurt one of the more exclusive events each Sunday, the event has been on a roll lately.  The $500+$30 event tends to weed out amateurs who cannot pony up the higher buy-in. This leads to a strong field with an even stronger final table. Some of the bigger names on hand this week included “Schappuscha”, “ozenc”, and “UhhMee” who finished in 4th, 5th, and 7th place respectively.  The heads-up battle came down to “rizih” and “G8h5”, two solid players with good resumes. Eventual winner rizih is no stranger to success on PokerStars having finished 2nd in the Million last month for $133,308.   In fact, this has been quite a run for a player who does not play much online.  His opponent, G8h5, won the $33 re-buy earlier this year for $13,000 and has done quite well grinding small and mid-stakes SNGs.  His $49,855 cash was easily the biggest of his career.  Be sure to keep reading the STR as we lead up to the 2011 WCOOP.  The news team at FlopTurnRiver will have daily updates on the biggest tournaments and their winners.

PokerStars Sunday500 $250k Guaranteed
767 Entrants; $383,500 prize pool

1. rizih $69,030
2. G8h5 $49,855
3. Dimka19881 $37,200
4. Schappuscha $27,804
5. ozenc $19,328
6. gernas10 $15,493
7. UhhMee $11,658
8. dazzy2004 $7,862
9. danceofddead $4,794