Candian poker pro Vanessa Kade won the PokerStars Sunday Million 15th Anniversary tournament for $1.5 million. (photo courtesy: ACR)

After three days of play, Canadian poker pro Vanessa Kade was crowned the winner of the PokerStars Sunday Million 15th Anniversary for $1.5 million. One of Pokerstars’ most coveted and prestigious online poker tournaments, the event saw a total of 69,876 entries from 45,765 unique players making a total prize pool of $13,975,200.

Despite this edition of the PokerStars Sunday Million Anniversary falling short of last year’s $18,603,200 prize pool, two seven-figure payouts and all the bragging rights were still there for the taking.

One of the big stories of heading into the final day centered around Vanessa ‘Niffler’ Kade, arguably the most well-known poker player to make the final day.

The longtime poker pro, sailed through to the final table, to the delight of her fans.

The 65 players that had survived the first two days of play had already locked up a payday of at least $10,757. Romania’s ‘Transylvanian’ was in pole position to start Day 3, amassing a dominating chip stack of 66,800,871 (84 Big Blinds). It turned out that was enough to get the microstakes grinder to the final table, albeit as the short stack.

The first final table casualty was ‘Vvlankov’. With the blinds at 2.5/5m, they three-bet shoved their 41.6m stack with AsKh which was called by pre-flop raiser ‘malinga’ who was holding QsQc. The board ran out Jd7h4s8dJc to send ‘Vvlankov’ to rail in ninth place for a prize of $72,132.

Next to hit the rail was ‘kefirchik106’ who jammed from the cut-off with KcTd for 47,433,379. Pawel ‘Talibenes’ Ladniak on the button, snapped called with AhJd. The all-in player did not improve on 9s5s3c flop. The Jh turn gave Ladniak a pair but the 7h river was the last card ‘kefirchik106’ would see. Thus ending their Sunday Million journey for a payday of $105,538.

Ladniak, now with over 700 million in chips, continued to tear up the final table by taking the scalp of former chip leader ‘ikkedus’. In a blind versus blind battle, ‘ikkedus’ ripped it in for 90,075,612 with 7s7c which again was snapped called by the chip leaders AhQh. The seven’s were outflopped on the QsJs2h9c6s run out. ‘ikkedus’ finished in 7th place for $154,416.

Kade was the player who sent the next person packing. ‘malinga’ with As7s jammed 76,304,487 in the hijack and was called by Kade from the big blind with AcQd. Despite being dominated, ‘malinga’ had hope on the Kd7d4s flop but that was quickly shattered with the Qh turn. The brick Kh was all she wrote for ‘malinga’ who picked up a sixth place finish and a cash prize of $225,930.

The final six, soon became a final five when ‘Transylvanian’ jammed for 76,449,444 from the button and ‘peu3ep’ called off for their stack of 72,124,804.

  • ‘Transylvanian’: Ad5d
  • ‘peu3ep’: QdQc

The queens were still the favorite on the Td3s2c flop. The Kc turn avoided bringing in any backdoor flush draws but the 4c gave ‘Transylvanian’ the wheel straight. The heartbreaking river sent ‘peu3ep’ out fifth but the $330,564 prize should be enough to pay for a decent cardiologist.

Kade then got her second final table elimination of the night. Calling off with KcQc after the 83,224,248 open jam from the short-stacked ‘Transylvanian’. The at-risk player, holding KsJd, was dominated. Despite pairing their Jd on the Jc9c7d flop, the Ac gave Kade the nut-flush and subsequently, ‘Transylvanian’ was drawing dead. The inconsequential 6d river meant it was down to three with ‘Transylvanian’, whose previous biggest online cash  on Pokerstars was $8,500, busting in fourth place for a cool $483,652.

The final three payouts combined meant there was still over $3.2 million up for grabs, which would likely make all three players instant millionaires if they decided to come to some sort of arrangement. Shockingly no deals were made and the three remaining players continued to trade chips back and forth for a while.

The tournament soon sparked into life again with Kade and ‘PanchoVetin’ getting into an old fashioned coin flip. Kade, the chip leader, three-bet jammed with 5c5d after ‘PanchoVetin’ opened with AhKd in the small blind for 24 million. The snap call was made and it was off to the races with ‘PanchoVetin’ at risk. The pocket fives held on the Ts4s2s9c7s run out to give Kade a massive 7:1 chip lead going into heads up play.

Just two hands later, Kade made her fourth and final elimination to become the winner of the Sunday Million 15th Anniversary. Ladniak limped on the button with Kh9d, Kade with 8h8s put the short stack to the test by going all-in. Ladniak made the call but could not improve on the QcJc3d flop. Still, with two over cards to hit and a gutshot straight draw, Ladniak still had plenty of cards to improve on. The Ad wasn’t one of them and the 5h river sealed the tournament win for Kade who took home the title and career-high score of $1,514,920. Ladniak also secured a seven-figure payday for his second place.

This win may feel like vindication for Kade as it comes at a time when she has been at the forefront of the poker spotlight, leading a charge against mysogyny in poker in an effort to make the game more accessible to women.

Final Table Payouts

  1. Vanessa ‘Niffler’ Kade $1,514,920
  2. Pawel ‘Talibenes’ Ladniak – $1,035,358
  3. ‘PanchoVetin’ – $707,640
  4. ‘Transylvanian’ – $483,652
  5. ‘peu3ep’ – $330,564
  6.  ‘malinga’ – $225,930
  7. ‘ikkedus’ – $154,416
  8. ‘kefirchik106’ – $105,538
  9. ‘Vvlankov’ – $72,132