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Monthly Milly $1,000,000 GTD Poker Tournament ♣ A Player's Perspective

Monthly Milly Logo

The $500 + $35 Monthly Milly has certainly earned its spot as one of the most exciting online poker tournaments available to Americans. It takes place once a month, on a Sunday, at Bovada, Ignition, and Bodog, which are online poker sites on the PaiWangLuo Network.

The big reason for the Monthly Milly being considered a prestige event lies in the guaranteed prize pool. This figure stands at a hefty $1,000,000: much higher than other regularly scheduled MTTs in the USA offshore poker market.

Monthly Milly Social Image

Starting stacks in the Milly are a lot deeper than most internet poker tourneys, leading to a more strategic playing style than shorter-stacked shovefests that you might have encountered elsewhere. It's impossible to rebuy or add-on in the Monthly Milly, but you are permitted to re-enter up to four times.

The performance of the Monthly Milly has varied over time. We have collected data on the number of participants and the final prize pool since this tournament first ran in January 2021:

Monthly Milly Performance Graph

Satellites Available

Satellite Structure

The $535 buyin attached to the Monthly Milly is nothing to sneeze at, and by making it so high, the PWL Network is pricing it out of the range of many customers. But they've already thought of this and have a solution.

There are satellites running every day that let you pay a much smaller sum and attempt to win your Monthly Milly ticket. You can get in for as little as $0.55 + $0.05 although there are a range of qualifiers with higher buyins too, up to $90 + $5. Most of these are MTTs, but there is a set of step sit-n-go satellites too.

Monthly Milly SatellitesSome of the Satellites to the Monthly Milly in the Bovada Lobby

Monthly Milly Trip Report

April 11, 2021, 2:00 p.m. ET

Like Romeo pining after Juliet. Like Dostoevsky and the roulette wheel. Like Jim Morrison and, well, any number of intoxicating substances. We needed our fix.

In our case, the high we craved came from a combination of juicy poker action and the prospect of a substantial cash payout. Yes, it was that time again – the hour of the Bovada Monthly Milly had drawn nigh. It was 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 11, 2021, and we were excited to see if we could parlay our $535 ticket into a big win.

The past three times that the Monthly Milly has run, the amount of the players' buyins added together was insufficient to meet the $1,000,000 guarantee. This is what happened in March when we first decided to dip our toe in the Milly waters. The poker network therefore had to add in a six-figure sum to top up the prize pool.

Now if there's one thing we like even better than playing against fishy players for substantial cash prizes, it's playing against fishy players for substantial cash prizes with extra money added by the house! Playing in the Monthly Milly under these conditions is a no-brainer, in our humble opinion, for any tournament grinder savvy enough to capitalize on it.

Early Blind Levels

Crowd of People

Rather than hopping in during the extensive late registration period of more than seven hours, we elected to preregister and thus be alive with chips in our stack right when the tourney began. We had observed during previous Monthly Millys that the initial blind levels were small, and so we were looking to see some cheap flops with our starting stack of 20,000 and hopefully chip up without putting our tournament life at risk.

The Monthly Milly kicked off with just 338 entrants: well short of the 2,000 needed to avoid an overlay. Although the long late reg period would undoubtedly see this number increase, we were still excited by the possibility of an overlay developing.

Monthly Milly Lobby - April 11, 2 p.m.Lobby at the Beginning of the Monthly Milly

When the tournament began, we realized that we actually had 25,000 chips rather than the 20,000 that we were expecting. Yep, the good folks at Bovada had changed the structure of the Monthly Milly from last month by boosting the starting chip amount by a healthy 25%.

We took a quick look of the tourney info screen to see what the hell was going on and if the cardroom had made other changes to perhaps compensate for or nullify the extra starting chips. We confirmed that the first blind level was 25/50, the same as before, and that the sizes of the small and big blinds during the next few levels had remained unchanged too.

Monthly Milly Tourney InfoTourney Info Window for the Monthly Milly

Indeed, we were somewhat pleased to realize that the blind levels were now 20 minutes long, up from the 15 minutes that they had been in earlier instances of the Milly. We had 500bb to begin with and several hours before the average stacks shrank to below 100bb. We were glad to see that we could play small ball poker for a significant period of time and try to accumulate chips before the tournament became a short-stacked, push-and-pray contest.

We did notice that after level 20, when late registration ended, the blinds sped up to 12 minutes per level. This was no doubt a compromise that the tournament managers had to make to get the event to conclude in a reasonable amount of time. Also, the starting time had been pushed back an hour to 2 p.m. ET rather than 3.

Our plan to flop monsters and make our opponents pay ran into a few issues. While we did pick up some small pots and grow our stack to around 30,000 by the time of the first break, after two hours had elapsed, we had dwindled back down to about 23k partially as a consequence of losing a hand with top pair, top kicker in a three-bet pot against an opponent who had flopped a set.

Top Pair Against Set HandWe Had Top Pair When Our Opponent Flopped a Set

Middle Blind Levels

Stack of Gold Coins

By the time the third break was over, at 5 p.m., we had finally reached the point where the 25,000 starting stack represented only 100 big blinds because the blinds had reached 125/250. We were still relatively even compared to what we started with, winning and losing some small pots without going all-in in any of them. At this stage in the tournament, there were more than 1,100 entries of whom about 950 still had chips.

Monthly Milly Lobby, April 11, 5 p.m.Milly Lobby After Three Hours of Play

A few ill-timed bluffs brought us down to about 11k after the fourth break (6 p.m. ET). Our prospects were looking grim, and we knew we had to do something if we wished to avoid being blinded out. Nevertheless, 11,000 chips was still close to 20bb with the blinds at 300/600, so we weren't under too much pressure to just jam it in with the first better-than-average hand we received.

We saw our opportunity when we were dealt AKs on the button. Someone in early position opened to 2.5 bb, and another opponent in late position called. We shipped it in over the top. The original raiser folded, but the cold-caller called again and showed…KJs.

We were in superb shape, but the board made a mockery of our dreams as it so often does. You can watch our bust-out hand below (beginning at 2:50):

A Few Hands in the April Monthly Milly Tournament

Post-Loss Thoughts


The results of our tournament were, to put it mildly, unsatisfactory. Yet, the same can be said of the majority of MTTs that anyone enters. After all, nobody has an ITM record in large-field tournaments greater than 50%.

Despite not really growing our initial stack much and being fairly card dead for the majority of the event, our $535 entry was good for more than four hours of play. And this wasn't your usual go-all-in-and-hope experience that's all too typical of the online poker tournament scene. Rather, we were able to play out many hands to the river utilizing the poker player's full panoply of tools: bets, semi-bluff raises, check-behinds in position for pot control, bluffs at opportune times, et cetera.

Monthly Milly TableTournament Table in the Early Stages of the Milly With Deep Stacks

All in all, we enjoyed playing in our second Monthly Milly. We love the structure of the tourney, and the prize pool is certainly bigger than what you can find online most days especially in the world of U.S.A. offshore poker. The field was relatively soft although not as fishy as you would find in a smaller-buyin tournament at Bovada.

We were left pondering the motto of disappointed sports fans the world over: Wait till next year. In our case, though, it's, “Wait till next month,” because that's when the next installment of the Milly will be.

Redditor Cashes in Milly

We here at Professional Rakeback actually held a giveaway on Reddit whereby four lucky posters got the chance to experience the Monthly Milly for free. That's right, we gave out four tickets to those who were subscribers in /r/poker, /r/onlinepoker, and /r/bovada and who followed the instructions in our giveaway post.

At least one of our ticket winners went on to make a nice cash in the Monthly Milly. You can read what u/homesteadhow had to say here. Another Redditor, Whaleu, took his free ticket and wrote a trip report of his experience although he busted before the money.

Late-Stage Tournament Report

Pair of Binoculars

Though we failed to make the money, we kept an eye on the Monthly Milly lobby to see how things went after our unfortunate departure. We were especially interested to see if the funds pitched in by the competitors would again be inadequate to cover the ambitious guarantee of $1 million.

By 8:00 p.m., during blind level 17, a total of 1,800 contestants had entered the fray. This was more than had joined March's Milly after a similar amount of time running, but it was still quite a bit short of the 2,000 target to avoid overlaying. However, by the time level 20 (the last level of late reg) started less than an hour later, subscription in the tournament was just a handful of players short of 2,000, so it was basically certain that it would reach this target.

Indeed, by the time the final numbers were in (around 9:15 p.m.), participation stood at 2,109. This was enough to generate a prize pool of $1,054,500: the largest Monthly Milly yet. Around 650 players yet remained, and 441 of them would get prizes.

Monthly Milly Lobby After Registration ClosedThe Monthly Milly Lobby After Level 20

In the Money

The bubble burst around 10:20 p.m., ensuring that everyone still alive would receive a prize of at least $869.96. The complete breakdown of prizes was:

  • 1st: $140,145.80
  • 2nd: $96,140.87
  • 3rd: $66,748.79
  • 4th: $45,448.95
  • 5th $30,896.85
  • 6th: $21,320.93
  • 7th: $14,446.65
  • 8th: $9,932.33
  • 9th: $6,764.61
  • 10th – 13th: $4,855.97
  • 14th – 17th: $3,506.21
  • 18th– 26th: $2,899.87
  • 27th – 44th: $2,646.79
  • 45th– 72nd: $2,267.17
  • 73rd – 99th: $1,977.18
  • 100th – 153rd: $1,713.56
  • 154th – 198th: $1,370.85
  • 199th – 297th $1,107.22
  • 298th – 369th: $975.41
  • 370th – 405th: $922.68
  • 406th – 441st: $869.96

The final table of nine got underway a bit after 2 a.m. The last hand occurred some 45 minutes later when the two heads-up players got it in preflop with 77 vs. A2o. The pair of sevens flopped a set and triumphed over the two pair of the A2o.

Last Hand in April Monthly MillyThe Final Hand of the April Monthly Milly

In spite of the earlier 2 p.m. ET starting time for the Milly, it still lasted well past 2 a.m. Whether or not this is of concern – with Monday morning work schedules possibly being affected – is something that the network will have to evaluate.

Sign up and Play

The next Monthly Milly event is scheduled for Sunday, May 2, but you can't play unless you have an account at one of the participating sites.

If you're an American who enjoys sports betting in addition to poker, then you can sign up at Bovada and get a 100% up to $500 bonus in the cardroom. If you don't care about wagering on sporting events, then Ignition might be a better choice as it doesn't have a sportsbook but does have a poker bonus of 100% up to $1,000 ($1,500 if you use Bitcoin). Ignition welcomes users from Australia as well as the United States. Finally, Canadians and Latin Americans can join Bodog and get a 100% up to $1,000 poker bonus.

Check out our reviews of these sites below to learn more about them and find out how to open a new account:

Previous Monthly Milly Reports