Earlier this month, Michigan’s Tom “Penny & A Dream” Danko had some luck on PokerStars when he beat out over 1,800 players in the Half Price Sunday Mini Special to turn a $5 buy-in into a $1,170 payday during PokerStars Half Price Sunday, which wound up being the largest $5 buy-in tournament by field size in the history of the shared Michigan/New Jersey liquidity market.
As a whole, the PokerStars Half Price Sunday was comprised of 10 events catering to 8,185 combined entries and awarding $262,000 in prize money. The largest tournament was the Sunday Special with 1,859 entries and a $84,500 prize pool.
Married with two young children, the 41-year-old Danko has worked in human resources for the last 15 years for large multinational organizations.
“When I’m not with the family I enjoy playing ice hockey and playing online poker about once a week currently, but more when I’m able to do so,” he told PokerNews. “And talking and studying poker with poker friends also once a week.”
Check out Michigan’s top online poker rooms here!
Danko’s Poker Origin Story
Danko first learned to play poker as a kid during family games with his grandpa and uncles.
“I started playing poker competitively once poker became legalized online in Michigan a few years ago, as the appeal of competitive play drove me to study the game so that I could be competitive,” he shared. “I started with sit & goes and played those for about a year before moving to MTTs.”
Nowadays, Danko plays exclusively online, as the time commitment of live poker doesn’t work for his schedule.
“I stick with MTTs as, for me, it’s the best way to experience poker due to the changing dynamics of a tournament and the excitement and adaptations required as well as the variety offered by different tournaments (variation in speed/structure, PKO vs non PKO, etc).”
He continued: “I play on all of the Michigan regulated sites since they launched, essentially trying out what was available. I found PokerStars definitely leads the way in most aspects – lots of interesting tournament series, MTT structures, number of active players, software, eliciting player feedback and implementing updates, etc. – and with multistate play, I look forward to the future of additional states joining the multistate compact and the continued evolution of PokerStars to help grow the poker community.
Half Price Sunday Success
Amazingly, Danko found success on just one $5 bullet!
“For the first half to two-thirds of the $5 Half Price Sunday tourney I was pretty much in line with the average stack,” Danko explained. “The fun and roller coaster ride really began around the final 50 players. It was then I got up to 67 big blinds, then for the next hour, it was a straight decline down to <6bbs with 15 players remaining and me being in or near last. I shoved twice from late position winning two flips in a row to get to 28bb and maintained a healthy stack until the final table. I started the final table third in chips but by the time we were at six players I was in last with the chip leader having 2.5x my stack.”
He continued: “The biggest hand that changed the dynamics was when we were five-handed. The cutoff raised first in and I was button and flatted behind with aces hoping to trap or for a squeeze jam behind. The blinds folded and the board ran out 8x9xKx3x with a double flush draw. The cutoff flopped a strong top pair and then did a 125% overbet on the turn. I held and that gave me a commanding lead. From there I used my stack to apply pressure and won some flips to end up taking it down.”
For more on how you can play online poker in the United States, click here!
Executive Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.