PokerStars has reduced the buy-in of its iconic Sunday Million tournament from $215 to $109.
The change is permanent, with the first half-price event taking place next Sunday, January 27, pokerfuse can reveal.
The operator will now need to attract 10,000 people each week to cover the guarantee, which stays at $1 million.
The other Sunday flagship events, including the “Mini Sunday Million,” a $22 buy-in tournament with a $150,000 guarantee, the Sunday Marathon and the Sunday Storm, will remain unchanged, we have learned.
Beyond the buy-in, the details remain the same: The event will allow one re-entry, as it was before. It starts at 6pm UTC, and late registration will stay open for 3 hours, 15 minutes. Players sit with 10,000 chips, blinds start at 25/50 with a 5 ante, and levels last 12 minutes.
The payout structure of the new tournament has not yet been revealed, though there are hints that the first place prize will remain at $100,000 or more. In the $215 version that played out yesterday, approximately 13.5% of the prize pool (just over $150,000) went to first, 9.5% to second, and 6.6% to third. Just under one fifth of the field cashed. A min-cash was around $335, or just over 1.5 times the buy-in.
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The Sunday Million first started on March 6, 2006. For nearly 13 years—through the passage of UIGEA, Black Friday and PokerStars’ exit from the United States, the regulation and segregation of the European poker markets, and the closure of Australia—the seminal weekly tournament has remained much the same.
There have been the occasional half-prices specials; the odd anniversary editions with inflated guarantees. But outside these one-offs, the “Milly” has always been a $215 buy-in tournament, usually attracting something over the requisite 5000 players to build a prize pool exceeding $1 million.
From next Sunday, that all changes. With a $109 buy-in, the tournament is going to be appealing to many more players. And it will need to: With 10,000 needed to cover it is going to need to drum up a lot of excitement and get a lot of players through satellites to fill seats.
The operator has had little trouble drumming up that level of interest in a tournament per se. Its daily Bounty Builder knockout tournaments generate player counts in five figures; the $11 buy-in event on Sunday, for example. attracted over 16,000 people.
Similarly, the $11 buy-in, $200,000-guaranteed Sunday Storm—the operator’s most popular weekly tournament—has no issues covering the guarantee: Yesterday over 25,000 players entered the tournament to build a $250,000 prize pool.
However, no weekly tournament over $22 comes close to this level of turnout, so the operator is certainly taking a leap with the new entry fee.
If it achieves that turnout, the operator will generate slightly more revenue—a total of $90,000 in rake, up from $75,000 before. The difference, however, is marginal; The change is seemingly motivated by a desire to bring the iconic Sunday tournament to players of a broader wallet.
Today, PokerStars is the only operator in the market to host a $1 million guaranteed tournament weekly. Partypoker recently introduced a tournament with such a guarantee, but it runs monthly, has a $5000 buy-in, and plays like a phase tournament. The US-facing offshore network WPN used to host a regular $1 million tournament, but this was recently axed.