Party Poker Million
2005, Jason Kirk  

Most of the time when you think of a major tournament, you probably imagine something like the World Series of Poker. Hundreds (if not thousands) of players gathered in a single large room, the sound of chips clicking together omnipresent, and millions of dollars in prize money on the line - a true poker player's paradise. Now imagine that in addition to all those things the floor is gently rolling beneath you, and after you've eaten during the dinner breaks you have a chance to take in a spectacular view of the glistening ocean before heading back inside to put your opponents to the test - in the world's biggest limit hold'em tournament. If that sounds like your idea of a good time, the Party Poker Million is your kind of tournament.

As one of the charter tournaments on the World Poker Tour, the Party Poker Million carries a lot of prestige in today's crowded tournament schedule. The players who have won the tournament are a virtual Who's Who of today's poker elite: Kathy Liebert, Howard Lederer, Erick Lindgren and Michael Gracz have all taken home the big prize, and Liebert's performance made her the first woman ever to win $1 million in a poker tournament. The list of players who have made the final table rounds the Who's Who out even further: Phil Hellmuth, Chris Ferguson, Mel Judah, Chip Jett, Daniel Negreanu, Steve Zolotow, Scotty Nguyen, Barry Greenstein, John Juanda, and Paul Darden have all finished in the top 9 of the Party Poker Million.

Participation in the Party Poker Million has grown considerably since its first go-round, thanks not only to booming interest in poker but also to the readily available satellites on Party Poker. In 2002, 139 players either qualified for the event online or bought their way in for $8,000 apiece. In 2003, 134 qualified online and 33 bought directly in. In 2004, the number of players skyrocketed to 546, and in 2005, 735 players boarded the ship for a shot at $1.5 million. This success is amazing when you stop to consider that the Party Poker Million is one of the only major limit hold'em tournaments in the world outside of the WSOP. The thrill of pushing all-in, one of the major draws for many of the newer crowd of poker fans, is non-existent in this tournament, yet it continues to draw record fields with every passing year.

Players who can't buy in directly, but still dream of having their name enshrined in poker history next to the greats who have cruised to victory, can qualify through a number of paths. The first choice players have is whether they want to qualify by playing limit or no-limit hold'em. Once they've decided on their game of choice, it's time to pick a tournament. For those who don't mind putting down the $150+12 entry fee, super satellites with a limit of 180 player entries run on Party Poker twice a week, with one entry into the tournament for every 90 players. The PPM Semi-Finals run for four days every two months, with a $250+20 buy-in and one cruise package awarded for every 56 player entries. If $675+40 isn't out of your price range you can enter the PPM Gateway, which runs once weekly and awards one cruise package for every 20 player entries. Finally, for those who don't want to spend any money at all there is the Players Club Freeroll - anyone with 15,000 Party Points can enter once a week for a shot at a single cruise package. Sit-and-go satellites are available for the super satellites and Semi-Finals, and Party's famous Steps sit-and-go tournaments have been set up to award cruise packages as well.

The prize pool for the Party Poker Million V, to be held in March 2006, will be the biggest yet - a stunning $7 million. While we may not know who will win this tournament ahead of time, it's a safe bet that hundreds of internet qualifiers and most of the biggest names in poker will be rubbing elbows again on the next installment of the world's favorite poker cruise.

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