Canadian Kade Captures Sunday Million Win and $1.5M

Most of the time, PokerStars makes its own news. When the online poker operator announced the 15th anniversary edition of its famous Sunday Million, that was news. PokerStars set the guarantee at $12.5M and $500K worth of tickets to the $215 buy-in tournament.

Sometimes, a well-known poker pro wins the Sunday Million, though that rarely happens in special editions. Typically, the winner is not a familiar name.

The Sunday Million 15th Anniversary was different, though. The winner was not only a seasoned pro but a Canadian female seasoned pro, one who had been under a spotlight of late for fighting against misogyny in poker. And she walked away from this single tournament with $1.5M.

Impressive Tournament Numbers

One never knows about a guarantee. Most of the time, a company with as much experience as PokerStars knows how to meet a big prize pool guarantee. But throw in factors like economic instability due to a global pandemic and competing sites with big tournaments, one can’t be sure.

PokerStars had every right to be confident in the Sunday Million 15th Anniversary, though. The $215 buy-in affair offered reentries and late registration through the entirety of Day 1 and on to Day 2. And there was that incentive of a $12.5M prize pool guarantee Ultimately, the final numbers were impressive:

  • 69,876 total entries, including 24,111 reentries
  • 45,765 unique players
  • $13,975,200 prize pool
  • 9,971 players paid
  • $412.26 minimum payout
  • $1,514,920 first-place prize

This particular Sunday Million was a three-day tournament. By the time the second day finished, the virtual tables showed only 65 players still holding chips, as they had already outlasted 47,700 other players.

Day 3 started with a Romanian player by the screen name of Transylvanian in the chip lead. And out of the remaining players, PokerNews – who seems to know everyone – only identified two of the screen names with real names: Niffller as Vanessa Kade from Canada and tomnelz1 as Thomas Nelz of Brazil.

Increasing Payouts and Attention

It must be a pretty interesting event for a lot of the poker community to tune in to a livestreamed online poker tournament, especially one in which most of the players are unknowns.

However, as Day 3 of the Sunday Million played on this week, Kade remained in contention. The minimum payout that day was $10,757, which was good but nothing unusual. The payouts catapulted upward, though, as the final table neared. The 14th-place through 17th place finishers would take home $33,694. The 10th through 13th finishers would receive $49,300. Ninth place was more than $72K, eighth place or higher had six-figure payouts, and the top two finishers would be millionaires.

Kade wasn’t far outside of the top 10 heading into Day 3.

The initial bustouts happened quickly, per PokerNews reporting. By the first break, Kade held a bit less than 39M chips, but chipleader VladHunter21 had more than 101M. Kade nearly doubled that number by busting Cem1994, though, and she surpassed the 100M mark and made the top five with just 18 players remaining. She eliminated several more opponents and climbed to second place on the leaderboard with 15 players left.

By the time Kade made the final table when Talibenes eliminated VladHunter21, her stack had dwindled and was seventh of nine players.

However, her seat at the final table was enough to draw more and more poker players and fans to the livestream of the Sunday Million action.

Canadians, Women, Fans Cheer for Kade

Sure, Kade was the only player with a known name at the final table. But her name had also been in the news quite a bit in the preceding six months, and not for her poker prowess.

She had been outspoken about GGPoker’s signing of Dan Bilzerian, a person whose ego and misogyny made him “famous.” Bilzerian chose her out of all of his detractors to target for harassment by insulting her online to his millions of followers. Months later, as she spoke out again, GGPoker cancelled her residual affiliate account and tried to shame her for her strong stance on Bilzerian.

Kade received quite a lot of negativity from some in the poker community, though she also received significant support, too. Meanwhile, she kept her nose to the grindstone and kept playing poker.

The native of Kelowna, British Columbia had a love for poker that started during a time when she worked in programming, graphic design, and producing for companies such as Lucasfilm and Disney Interactive. By 2014, she decided to take her interest in poker to a new level and play professionally. Some of her biggest poker accomplishments since that time have been online and some live at the World Series of Poker and tournament series in Calgary, the live ones adding up to nearly $143K.

Meanwhile, Kade studied poker and hired a coach more recently, continuously improving her game. Earlier this month, she signed a sponsorship deal with Americas Cardroom, only the second woman to do so. When she final tabled the Sunday Million, she knew what to do and how to do it. The only issue was a bit of nervousness from knowing the high-profile nature of the event and how much she wanted to win it.

As word spread that Kade reached that prestigious final table, people around the world tuned in to see the livestream.

From Card Dead to Victory

It was clear that Kade had a bad run of cards around the start of the final table. She picked a few spots but had to fold a lot of hands.

Talibenes was the chip leader when the final table began and used an ever-increasing chip stack to dominate the action. Kade struggled, as did several others, to gain ground. She doubled through ikkedus during seven-handed play to stay alive.

Kade’s elimination of malinga in sixth place put her in second place on the leaderboard. During four-handed play, she doubled through Talibenes to get the closest to challenging his lead than any other player had thus far. She eliminated Transylvanian in fourth place.

PanchoVetin doubled through Kade during three-handed play, but she held her own as the three began to trade the chip lead. PanchoVetin took charge, but Kade doubled through that player to take the lead. She then eliminated PanchoVetin in third place, and two hands later, she ousted Talibenes for the win.

  • 1st place: Vanessa “Niffller” Kade (Canada) $1,514,920
  • 2nd place: Talibenes (Poland) $1,035,358
  • 3rd place: PanchoVetin (Bulgaria) $707,640
  • 4th place: Transylvanian (Romania) $483,652
  • 5th place: peu3ep (Russia) $330,564
  • 6th place: malinga (Norway) $225,930
  • 7th place: ikkedus (Netherlands) $154,416
  • 8th place: kefirchik106 (Russia) $105,538
  • 9th place: Vvlankov (Russia) $72,132

Kade wrote on Twitter: “It feels impossible. This is the best day of my life. It’s not close. All the pain was worth it, the dream is real.”

This livestream covers the entirety of Day 3 of the Sunday Million 15th Anniversary tournament, hosted by James Hartigan, Joe Stapleton, and Nick Walsh. The whole video spanned nearly five hours, but you can skip to 2:56:00 to catch the action as the final table began.


Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen


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