2019 Retrospective: Big April for the PokerStars Sunday Million

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PokerStars
PokerStars was involved in plenty of big stories from the month of April in 2019 (photo: PokerStars)

As 2019 draws to a close, PocketFives takes a look back at the year that was in poker news, going month-by-month through the biggest and most important stories of the year. In April, there was plenty of online poker news, including one player scoring a Sunday Million victory for the second time in eight weeks and operator approvals from Pennsylvania.

For Second Time in 8 Weeks, ‘Lucky_Jew_17’ Wins Sunday Million

Most online poker players dream of winning the PokerStars Sunday Million once in their lives, but the vast majority fall short of that goal. Not only did PokerStars player ‘Lucky_Jew_17‘ achieve the highly sought-after feat of winning online poker’s most iconic event, but he did it twice in the span of eight weeks.

At the beginning of March, ‘Lucky_Jew_17’ topped a field of 11,525 entries in the PokerStars Sunday Million, taking home a career-best score of $117,222. On April 21, he won the event again with a very similar outcome. The second time around, ‘Lucky_Jew_17’ bested a field of 11,212 entries to earn $114,039 in first-place prize money.

Earning the second Sunday Million title was made even sweeter for ‘Lucky_Jew_17’ because he had to top one of the top-ranked online poker players in the world to get the win. Finishing in second place was Sweden’s ‘Lena900.’

Online Operators Approved in Pennsylvania

In more online poker news that grabbed headlines in April, PokerStars and partypoker were among the operators approved for licenses in the state of Pennsylvania. PokerStars had previously linked up with Mount Airy Casino Resort in August 2018 so that it could eventually offer online poker in Pennsylvania, and partypoker’s potential partnership comes through Valley Forge Casino, owned by Boyd Gaming. Boyd Gaming has a strategic partnership with GVC, who is the parent company of partypoker.

The two global brands weren’t the only operators that received approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, though. Joining PokerStars and partypoker as approved Pennsylvania online poker operators were WSOP/888poker, GAN and Kambi for Parx Casino, IGT, Rush Street, and Sands Bethlehem.

Although the word was that legal online poker would be operational in Pennsylvania on July 15, the launch date was pushed back a handful of months. Eventually, PokerStars launched on Monday, November 4, and has been operating since, including recently completing its first run of the PokerStars PACOOP.

Five-Way Chop in 13th Anniversary Sunday Million

One week before ‘Lucky_Jew_17’ won his second PokerStars Sunday Million title in eight weeks, the 13th Anniversary Sunday Million took place.

The two-day event started on Sunday, April 14, 2019, and attracted an enormous field of 61,342 entries. With a buy-in of $215, a prize pool of $12.268 million was generated, which easily surpassed the tournament’s $10 million guarantee. Winning the event was ‘wangli0402,’ although he actually took home the second most money following a five-way chop. Earning the most money was fifth-place finisher ‘t4rz4n_21,’ who took home $625,073.

The other three players involved in the five-way deal were ‘xbambi‘ (2nd – $550,689), ‘idzake‘ (3rd – $509,664), and ‘kacer148‘ (4th – $520,535).

Quads Over Quads for Neeme at Run It Up Reno

Things were good for Andrew Neeme on April 16, 2019. That’s when he held pocket nines and flopped quads against John Snyder. Unfortunately for Snyder, he held pocket fives and flopped a full house. Little did Snyder know, he was drawing dead.

If you thought the 9h9d5s was bad for Snyder and his 5h5c, things only got worse for him when the turn brought the 5d to give him quads fives. With Neeme holding the 9c9s, Snyder was not going to win this hand despite the cartwheels he was doing inside.

The result was caught on the Run It Up Reno stream and resulted in one of the most epic bad beats you will ever see.

Moorman Honored with PocketFives Legacy Award

Another big happening in the poker world in April was the first-ever Global Poker Awards, as the industry got together to celebrate some of the game’s best across a wide variety of categories. Among those to take home hardware were Maria Ho for Broadcaster of the Year, Ali Imsirovic for Breakout Player of the Year, and Paul Campbell for Tournament Director of the Year.

One of the best moments of the night focused on the presentation of the PocketFives Legacy Award. The award was presented to the one and only Chris Moorman, as an honor for a player who has collected more accolades over the course of his online poker career than any player in the 15-year history of PocketFives.com. Moorman boasts more than $16.2 million in online earnings, 30 PocketFives Triple Crowns, two Yearly PLB titles, and he’s been ranked #1 in the world on 13 separate occasions.