It was a familiar scene on the set of the 2021 World Series of Poker $50,000 High Roller. With four players left and over $1.1 million up top, Australian sensation Michael Addamo held a massive chip lead over his final three opponents and looked to be cruising to yet another seven-figure victory.
But Erik Seidel had other plans. With 40 big blinds and pocket eights in the small blind, he completed, perhaps anticipating some aggression from Addamo in the big blind.
“If you’re a balanced player like Seidel, then you will have some limps from the small blind with strong hands,” said Maria Ho, who was calling the action.
Addamo indeed did put in a raise, a hefty one. And after a few moments, Seidel three-bet shipped his remaining 40 big blinds only to be snap-called by Addamo holding ace-king. Seidel was ahead. Winning this hand would put the nine-time WSOP bracelet winner in the chip lead and in a position to make a little history.
But Addamo is not simply running hot. He’s on a high-stakes sun run few have enjoyed and overcoming that has proven to be a tall task.
“Seidel has 55%, but if I were Seidel I would feel like I have 20% against the way Addamo’s been running,” Ho said with a laugh.
Almost as soon as she finished talking the dealer put a king on the flop with little-to-no help for Seidel. Even behind his mask, Seidel looked visibly annoyed. With just two outs left and headed to the river, Seidel began sliding his stack into the middle, resigned that today wasn’t his day. Once again this year, it was Addamo’s day.
As Seidel grabbed his jacket and walked away, perhaps somewhere in the back of his mind he remembered when those looks of annoyment were directed at him. When it was he who was the high-stakes sun runner, on a seemingly unstoppable rampage through some of the biggest tournaments on the circuit.
It was January 2011 and Seidel made the trip to the Aussie Millions in Melbourne. It was just months before Black Friday, and the Aussie Millions was preparing to run some of the biggest nosebleed tournaments ever held. Seidel, coming off a fourth-place finish in the PokerStars PCA $25K High Roller, hit a string of results that took the poker world by storm.
First, he finished in third place in the Aussie Million A$100,000 for a $618,139 payday. Less than a week later he defeated a 20-runner field and took down the A$250,000 Super High Roller for $2,472,555, a win that remains his career-high score. From there, Seidel took down the 2011 LAPC High Roller, the $25,000 NBC Heads-Up Championship for $750,000, and, in May, bested another $100,000 Super High Roller in Las Vegas for another seven-figure score.
Already a Poker Hall of Fame member, Seidel’s high-stakes dominance during this time captivated the poker public, it was called “The Year of Seidel” by PokerNews and it earned him more than $6.5 million – second only to WSOP Main Event winner Pius Heinz that year. In fact, it was such a phenomenon that in April of that year, there was a music video made in ‘Seiborg’s honor.
Many thought we’d never see a high-stakes heater like that again. But, of course, we did. And a decade-long passing of the sun run crown began.
A young, 23-year old seemingly serious media-shy Daniel Colman came out from behind his online grind in 2014 to shock the poker world. First with a win in the PokerStars EPT Monte Carlo €100,000 High Roller for $2.1 million and months later defeated Daniel Negreanu heads-up at the final table of the WSOP’s $1,000,000 Big One For One Drop for another $15 million victory.
That was just the start for Colman. In August of that year, he grabbed back-to-back seven-figure scores with a runner-up finish in the EPT Barcelona €50,000 High Roller and then a signature big-field win in the $5,300 SHRPO Main Event. At the time Colman appeared to be the king of the high rollers desperate to abdicate, conflicted about the complexities of playing a game that meant when you win, someone loses.
But by the end of the year, Coleman cashed in for an astounding $22,389,481, which, at the time, pushed him into the top 10 on the All-Time Money List. While Colman continued to crush, proving himself to be one of the all-time best, another young grinder began to turn heads as well.
At the end of 2015, 22-year old Fedor Holz announced the start of his sun-running reign with a victory in the World Poker Tour $100,000 Alpha8 at the Five Diamond Classic in Las Vegas. The $1.5 million score was the first seven-figure win of his career and from that launch point, Holz went on a seemingly unstoppable tear through the high stakes.
Weeks later Holz won again, this time in the 2016 Triton Super High Roller Series for just over $3 million. He took second in that year’s Super High Roller Bowl, won three high rollers at the Aria, and then picked up a gold bracelet in the 2016 $111,111 High Roller For One Drop for another $4.9 million. The massive scores were seemingly neverending. Months later he won again at EPT Barcelona. Even when he didn’t win, Holz was making final tables at nearly every stop he attended, ending the year with astounding $16 million in earnings and an article about him in Forbes Magazine to go with it.
The rise of the German contingency, led by Holz, felt like a new era in poker, one that perhaps couldn’t be stopped or topped.
However, in 2018, Justin Bonomo, who has long been considered one of the game’s best, with his origins in the online streets, emerged from the lab on an entirely different level. Prior to that year, Bonomo had always been successful and even had one seven-figure win in his career, back in 2012 – a resume-topping win for him. But in 2018 everything changed as Bonomo earned four million-dollar scores, all in spectacular fashion.
A runner-up finish in January at the PokerStars PCA $100,000 for $1 million was just the start. In March he took down the Super High Roller Bowl China for a massive $4.8 million, a new career-high at the time. Two months later he repeated the feat, winning the $300,000 Super High Roller Bowl in Las Vegas for $5 million – another new high. Even that was eclipsed by his win in the 2018 WSOP $1M buy-in Big One For One Drop for a massive $10 million score. Staggering results from an inconceivable run.
But Bonomo’s heater wasn’t limited to million-dollar scores, he outright won 10 different events that year, all high rollers, all for six figures or more. Bonomo, virtually unrivaled, earned more than $25.4 million that year alone as he took over the All-Time Money List lead from Daniel Negreanu.
Bonomo’s stoic table demeanor and spot-on decisions were in stark contrast to the flash brought about by Bryn Kenney. In 2019, Kenney picked up the high-stakes heater torch and ran wild. Always a tough contender, Kenney hit a string of results at the right time when the stakes were at their highest. Between March and May of that year, Kenney lit up the Triton Poker Series. He scored a fourth and second-place finish in a pair of tournaments in Jeju for more than $3.5 million total. Then in May, he went back-to-back in Montenegro for a total of more than $4.1 million.
Of course, Kenney’s streak peaked in August of that year when he posted the €1,050,000 buy-in for the Triton Million for Charity in London and ended up winning it all for a record $20,563,324 payday, more than enough to lift him to the top of the All-Time Money List. Kenney ended that year with more than $30 million in tournament earnings, accepting his newfound GOAT status.
In 2019, Michael Addamo already racked up a number of impressive scores, including a WSOP bracelet win. It’s safe to say that he wasn’t yet on a recreational player’s radar, he was more like an up-and-coming elite player poised for a breakout.
In early 2020, at the Australian Poker Open, Addamo took down a pair of high rollers for a total of $1.5 million. He also picked up a pair of Super High Roller Bowl Online wins and a runner-up finish in the $100K Main Event for $1.187 million. To go with it, Addamo was (and still is) regularly killing the GGPoker Super MILLION$ online where he became the first player to win it all twice, then three times, then four.
Now it’s late 2021 and Addamo has ascended. The new recipient of the high roller hot streak. An amazing barrage of wins that started just days after arriving in Las Vegas to play in the Super High Roller Bowl. Addamo first won the Poker Masters $50K for $680,000 and the subsequent $100K for another $1.16 million. Two days, $1.8 million in earnings.
While waiting for the Super High Roller Bowl, Addamo scored a runner-up finish in an Aria High Roller for $322K and then, remarkably, dominated this year’s Super High Roller Bowl IV and defeated three-time SHRB champ, Bonomo, for a career-best $3.4 million score.
He’s earned more than $7.2 of his live career $15.5 million in cashes in roughly one month.
Like Seidel before him, Bonomo knows what’s it like when talent, preparation, and a little good fortune shines on you. And like Seidel just an hour earlier, Bonomo found himself all-in against a player who seemingly can do no wrong. Bonomo moved all-in with ten-nine off suit, likely hoping for a fold. But Addamo called with his king-jack suited and a massive pot with all the chips in this bracelet event was in the middle.
When the turn hit, Bonomo’s hand improved to trips and he simply needed to fade six outs on the river. But this is Addamo and this is now. So when an ace ripped off on the river to give Addamo the straight, the win, his third gold bracelet, and another seven-figure score Bonomo could only sigh, nod his head and congratulate his opponent.
Afterward, when asked by reporters how all this success is coming to him, Addamo replied “I guess mostly luck. Obviously, there is some skill involved but winning this much, you can only really attribute it to luck in the end. So I’m very fortunate.”
And there’s no telling just when (or if) that incredible good fortune will subside. So for now, Addamo, like others before him, enjoys the ride and will see where his talents, hard work, and good luck will take him. But whether Addamo leaves it, or it leaves Addamo, history has proven that a sun run will shine upon another high stakes player out there – as yet known or unknown – and the poker world will again be amazed by the results.