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3-Bet: PokerStars Reduces Sunday Million Buy-in to $109, Sean Munjal Ships MSPT Cleveland Poker Open Main Event & Stephen Song Wins 2nd WSOPC Gold Ring at Thunder Valley

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  • Attreyee K. Ganguly January 22, 2019
  • 4 Minutes Read

International poker giant PokerStars recently announced that the buy-in of its most popular Sunday fixture, the Sunday Million, will be reduced to $109 from $215 with an unchanged prize pool guarantee of $1 Million.

Season 10 of the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) just wrapped up its first event, the 2019 MSPT Cleveland Poker Open Main Event. The event pulled in 725 entries generating a prize pool of $703,250, making it the largest major poker tournament in Cleveland’s history. The event was won by Sean Munjal who also posted his career-best live score of $140,654.

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) Circuit at Thunder Valley saw Stephen Song outlasting a field of 74 players in the $3,250 High Roller to win a paycheque of $75,480 as well as his second WSOP Circuit gold ring.

PokerStars Reduces Sunday Million Buy-in From $215 to $109

On January 21, online poker giant PokerStars announced its mainstay Sunday high-value tournament, i.e. Sunday Millions, will now have a reduced buy-in of $109 instead of $215.

With the prize pool guarantee, starting stack and start time of the event all remaining the same, the buy-in was decreased with the sole intent of drawing in more players.

According to the PokerStars Blog, “The plan is simple. We want to open online poker’s flagship event to more and more players. The lower buy-in will do that, while ensuring the “Milly” remains the Sunday Major every player wants to win.”

The PokerStars Sunday schedule has always been very popular among online poker aficionados starting from the $22 Mini Million to the $11 Sunday Storm. The re-invention of the Sunday Millions was carried out with the same idea of offering many more players the chance to play and win a six-figure payday in the biggest event of its kind.

Most importantly, the $1,000,000 guaranteed prize pool of the Sunday Millions will remain intact. For the event to meet its guarantee at the $215 prize point, 5,000 entries were needed. For the $109 buy-in, 10,000 entries will be required for PokerStars to stay free of any overlay. With a $15 rake in the $215 buy-in, the total rake intake for the weekly Sunday Million was $75,000. With a buy-in of $109, the event will make $90,000 in rake every week.

While the Sunday Million has featured a reduced buy-in before, those instances, though, were always a one-time affair. This is the first time the buy-in has been cut in half for the foreseeable future.

Sean Munjal Wins the 2019 MSPT Cleveland Poker Open Main Event For $140,654

The first event of Season 10 of the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) concluded on Sunday, which was the 2019 MSPT Cleveland Poker Open Main Event. Hosted at the JACK Cleveland Casino, the event generated a prize pool of $703,250 for a buy-in of $1,100 via 725 entries across three starting flights, becoming the largest major poker tournament in Cleveland’s history.

Sean Munjal
Sean Munjal

Michigan resident Sean Munjal outlasted the vast field of competitors to take down the title for an impressive payday of $140,654. With a total 15 career cashes, Munjal also posted his best-live cash in this event and his current live tournament winnings now stand at $173,555.

“I feel amazing!” Munjal said in the post-event interview. “This is my first huge score. I was never a tournament player, I always played cash, I play a lot of higher stakes PLO cash games across the country, but I never play tournaments much. This was my first tournament of the year, so I’m off to a good start!”

Munjal continued, “The first thing I’m going to do is pay off all my student loan debt. To be honest, I’ve been playing poker for close to ten years, and for me this is a dream come true. I’m really excited about it, and I think I’m going to use this to propel myself into other tournaments, play bigger games and stuff like that.”

Only the top 81 players received payouts which included notables like Sherry Hammers (11th for $10,478), Jake Hornbacher (16th for $7,033), Jeff Scarborough (32nd for $3,094), MSPT Season 8 Player of the Year Chris Meyers (34th for $3,094), MSPT Season 9 POY Aaron Johnson (38th for $2,602), MSPT Season 4 POY Pat Steele (41st for $2,602), Joe Ebanks (66th for $2,110), and Mikiyo Aoki (73rd for $1,969).

Final Table Recap

Following the eliminations of Michael Pempin (10th), Clinton Hubble (9th), Sean Troha (8th), Edward Mogilnicki (7th), John Mingus (6th), Igor Ioffe (5th) and Joel Brink (4th), the play was down to the last three players.

WSOP bracelet winner Adam Friedman, who had also featured in the inaugural MSPT Cleveland Poker Open held in 2018, played exceptionally well to reach the top three. During level 32, he limped in from the small blind with and Munjal checked from big blind with to see the flop . Friedman then led out for 200,000 and Munjal called to see the turn . Munjal raised to 600,000 and Friedman moved all-in. Munjal snap-called and the river revealed . While both players hit heart flushes on the river, Munjal’s flush was stronger than Friedman, prompting the latter`s third-place exit.

The final showdown between Sean Munjal and Anthony Carbone started with the former in a 2:1 chip lead over the latter. On the final hand of the event, Carbone limped from the button holding and Munjal raised to 700,000 with . Carbone jammed for around 4 million and Munjal quickly called to see the runout . The board missed both players and Munjal’s ace kicker was good enough to win him the pot and the event!

Final Table Results (USD)

1. Sean Munjal – $140,654

2. Anthony Carbone – $86,500

3. Adam Friedman – $63,293

4. Joel Brink – $47,047

5. Igor Ioffe – $35,866

6. John Mingus – $27,427

7. Ed Mogilnicki – $21,098

8. Sean Troha – $16,175

9. Clinton Hubble – $12,659

10. Michael Pempin – $10,478

Stephen Song Takes Down Thunder Valley WSOP Circuit High Roller For $75,480

The $3,250 High Roller of the WSOP Circuit at Thunder Valley attracted a field of 74 entries creating a prize pool of $222,000. After two gruelling days of play, Greenwich, Connecticut native Stephen Song emerged as the champion and banked a top prize of $75,480 along with his second gold ring.

Stephen Song
Stephen Song

Ranked 17th on the Connecticut, USA All-Time Money List, Song presently has total live earnings of $903,150, which includes 17 WSOP cashes totalling $360,874. With this latest win, Song also earned 50 Global Casino Championship points and now has a total of 265 points this season, which puts him in first place on the season-long leaderboard.

“I was grinding pretty hard to get a [Global Casino Championship] seat, but at this point I have locked one up,” said Song.

With only the top eight players set to receive payouts, the race to reach the final table was intense. Following Peter Cross‘ ninth place elimination, the eight-handed final table was formed.

Final Table Recap

Heinz Schluter became the first casualty of final table when his fell short against Jeff Tugwell’s , leading to his eighth place exit.

Next to go was Michael Horchoff who pitted his against Jordan Cristos’ . The board missed both players and Cristos won the pot with his king-high kicker, eliminating Horchoff in seventh place.

Song’s first elimination on the final table was that of Joe Kuether. The latter’s was no match for Song’s which bettered to a full house on the runout . Kuether’s run ended in sixth place.

Finishing in fifth place was Evan Price when his were overpowered by Randy Lew’s .

Down to four-handed play, Jordan Cristos were unable to extend his time at the table when Song’s bettered to two pairs on the flop . Cristos bounced out in fourth place.

Towards the end of level 24, Jeff Tugwell was eliminated in third place, setting up the heads-up confrontation between Stephen Song (1,600,000) and Randy Lew (1,360,000).

On the final hand of the event, Lew raised to 65,000 from the button with and Song 3-bet to 230,000 with . The flop fell and Song checked, while Lew 3-bet to 175,000. Song shoved all-in and Lew called for his last 650,000 putting his tournament life at risk. With the turn and river completing the board, Song claimed his second WSOP circuit ring along with $75,480 in prize money.

Final Table Results (USD)

1. Stephen Song – $75,480

2. Randy Lew – $46,702

3. Jeffrey Tugwell – $30,743

4. Jordan Cristos – 21,521

5. Evan Price – $15,948

6. Joe Kuether – $12,472

7. Michael Horchoff – $10,265

8. Heinz Schluter – $8,869

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