When it was first announced back in January, PokerStars’ 14th Anniversary Sunday Million certainly seemed like quite the undertaking.
The $12.5 million guarantee meant that the operator was going to host its largest ever online poker tournament, designed to assure a prize pool a pip larger than its existing record. This was set during PokerStars’ 10th birthday celebrations back in December 2011: a special Sunday Million that guaranteed $10 million and ultimately attracted 62,116 entries to build a $12.4 million prize pool.
But that was almost a decade ago, practically another era in online poker’s history. Exceeding that was no small undertaking, and while the operator was doing everything it could to get players in seats—on demand sit and go satellites, spin and gos, big guaranteed satellite MTTs—there was always the chance that the operator could miss. The operator is not immune to misjudging guarantees, sometimes quite spectacularly.
Then came the coronavirus and, with it, surging interest in online poker. As Sunday approached, it became less a question of whether it would cover the guarantee, and more of just how high it could climb.
Within the first couple of hours of late registration, the tournament sailed through its 62,500-entry target to cover the guarantee. With late registration open until the start of Day 2, up to five re-entries permitted per person, and satellites running throughout Monday daytime, entries kept piling on.
Finally, at 5pm on Monday, late registration closed and the final numbers were tallied. In all, the event attracted 60,898 unique players and a further 32,188 re-entries. 93,016 total entries built a prize pool of $18,603,200, exceeding the guarantee by 48.8%.