Americas Cardroom, on the Winning Poker Network, has concluded 12 weeks of $1,000,001 guaranteed Million Dollar Sunday (MDS) tournaments with buyins of $250 + $15 each. Over the course of these events, ACR has had to cover $1,778,262 in overlays because participation fell short of the initial goals.
There have been 12 Million Dollar Sundays with buyins of $250 + $15 since the beginning of 2018. The total money guaranteed across all of them was $12,000,012. However, the network was only able to collect $10,221,750 from the $250 buyins for a shortfall of $1,778,262. Even if we add to this sum the $15 in fees for each entry, we still reach a total of just $10,835,055 paid. Thus, the Winning Poker Network had to kick in almost $1.2 million out of its own pockets to reach the promised prize amounts.
This is great news for two reasons:
♥ Players get improved ROI thanks to the free money kicked in by the Network paying overlays.
♥ America's Cardroom doesn't care about the losses and is going to make Million Dollar Sundays a permanent fixture in their weekly tournament schedule!
Update - May 7: Despite assurances that we had been given by network personnel, the MDS was discontinued with the last tourney running on April 22. The four April Million Dollar tournaments added a whopping $875,504 to the total overlay figures ($688,034 if we deduct fees paid from the overlay amounts). These four-months of MDS games therefore missed the target by an immense $2,653,766. Even if we apply the MTT fees against this sum, it still leaves close to $1.9 million that the WPN had to make good from its own funds.
Below, you'll find an overview of participation in the MDS each week thus far in 2018. If you're not interested in these fine details, you can skip below to continue with our analysis of the situation.
UPDATE - MAY 7: Find below the information for the four Million Dollar Sunday events that took place in April 2018.
In deciding to run $1,000,001 tournaments for three months straight at the beginning of 2018, the WPN didn't just take a blind leap off a cliff. It has an extensive history of offering such tournaments, which informed its decision-making process.
The first Million Dollar Sunday ran with a buyin of $500 + $40 and took place in February 2015 although it was known as the “Winning Millions” at that time. Despite the fact that it didn't naturally produce a prize pool sufficient to cover its guarantee, it became a recurring fixture at the network. It wasn't until the eighth running of the event in April 2016 that it drew in enough entries to surpass the guarantee. From that time on, however, there wasn't an overlay through the end of 2017.
In October 2017, ACR hosted a special, low-priced Million Dollar Sunday with a buyin of $250 + $15: identical to the current pricing. It attracted 4,368 players, creating a prize pool of $1,092,000. This success was probably one of the inspirations for the just-concluded run of 12 of them.
Interestingly, on the same day as the latest MDS (March 25), there was another million dollar guarantee as part of the OSS Cub3ed. The $2,000 + $100 BOSS Main Event promised at least $1,000,000 to the victors, and 564 customers took to their seats, making for a final prize pool of $1,128,000.
After watching the Winning Network lose more than $1 million in these tourneys, it's reasonable to wonder whether the $250 + $15 Million Dollar Sunday will continue or be discarded as a failed experiment. We've had conversations with Winning Poker Network management, and they've indicated that the Million Dollar Sundays are here to stay at the current cost of $250 + $15.
UPDATE - MAY 7: Everyone expected the MDS events to continue taking place every week for the foreseeable future, but the network decided to pull the plug. After the Million Dollar Sunday held on April 22, a notice appeared on the Americas Cardroom website alerting readers that the final one would occur on April 29. However, the April 29 tourney was cancelled due to problems caused by continued DDoS attacks against the WPN, and so the MDS on April 22 was the last one.
These DDoS strikes combined with recurring weekly overlays probably tipped the scales in favor of terminating the MDS experiment. Also, summer tends to be the slow season for online poker as people go outside and enjoy the weather, so player turnout in the coming months would likely be underwhelming. Another factor to consider is that PokerStars' prestigious SCOOP series just started, and it's likely stealing some traffic from the WPN.
Corporate accountants and financial analysts probably crunched the numbers and realized that it was likely that the WPN would bleed many more millions if it proceeded to make the MDS permanent as originally planned. In our interview with the Winning Poker Network's tournament director, he noted that the site had recently expanded its schedule of guaranteed tourneys and that many of these changes proved to be too optimistic and had to be scaled back. The MDS is an example of this kind of aggressive tournament guarantee targeting, which is wonderful when everything works out but sometimes involves minor setbacks..
Assuming the IT department of the Winning Network can effectively counteract the DDoS incursions that are being made against it, we may see the Million Dollar Sunday return. Perhaps by the end of August, when the weather starts to cool and people spend more time indoors, the WPN may feel it's time to bring this signature seven-figure event back. This is just speculation on our part, but we'd be surprised if the MDS doesn't eventually come back in some form. We'll keep you posted on any news we hear about this subject.
Previous incarnations of the MDS at higher buyin levels have shown the ability to cover their guarantees, and so a possible solution to weekly overlays is to jack up the price a bit. We've been assured that this isn't in the cards. The Winning Poker Network is willing to run the MDS as a loss leader, driving traffic to cash games and other tournaments. Therefore, it wishes to keep the buyin affordable.
We also cannot discount the fact that the network is attempting to make itself a big name in the online tournament scene. The only other site with a comparable weekly tourney is PokerStars with its Sunday Million. PokerStars doesn't operate in Australia, the United States, and several other markets that the Winning Poker Network serves, but 'Stars is a massive force in the areas it does have a presence in. The continuation of the Million Dollar Sunday beyond the first three months of 2018 gives the WPN the opportunity to capture customers from its rival.
The Winning Poker Network has announced a new schedule of satellites to the Million Dollar Sunday. These low-cost qualifier tournaments will help boost player counts and cut down on the free cash that the site has to add to the prize pool every Sunday. In total, there are 225 seats available to be won each week in these satties.
The Mega 25 Seats Guaranteed kicks off Fridays at 5:30 p.m. ET for a buyin of $15 + $1.50. At the same time on Saturday, the Mega 50 Seats Guaranteed takes place, and it costs the same amount. On Sunday at noon, you can endeavor to place in the Mega 150 Seats Guaranteed after paying the $40 + $4 entry cost.
There are also a variety of satellites to these Mega satellites spread throughout the week.
If you haven't yet explored the tournament offerings at Americas Cardroom, then there's no reason to delay. You'll get a 100% up to $1,000 bonus that clears at a 20% rakeback rate when you make a deposit at Americas Cardroom. In addition, ACR will credit your account with a free $50 that's good for whatever games you choose. Use your complimentary $50 freebie to enter the Sunday Mega 150 Seats Guaranteed, and you could score your $265 MDS ticket without investing any of your own money. Read our detailed Americas Cardroom review for further information.
There are several other rooms that work together with ACR to make up the Winning Poker Network. Find out about them in our dedicated review pages: BlackChip Poker review | True Poker review | Ya Poker (non-US) review | PokerHost review.