Mike Schneider, a soft-spoken 22-year-old from Minnesota, has become the youngest winner in the history of the PartyPoker.com Million.
Cheered on by a crowd of 15 supporters from his home state, Mike
Mike Schneider happily accepts a check for $1 million after winning PartyPoker's Million V Tournament
beat short stacked Kenna James to win the $1 million top prize. For a moment in the big amphitheatre aboard the ms. Westerdam sailing through the Caribbean, it seemed more like a frat party than a poker tournament, but that exuberant tone belied the intensity of the event which saw Schneider, in mirrored sunglasses and backward baseball cap, slowly wear down top pro Kenna James and the first player ever to make two PartyPoker.com Million final tables, Scott Buller.
They may not have won the big prize but James and Buller still walked away with a good haul, taking home a very respectable $700,000 and $500,000 respectively.
When the calm looking Schneider was asked about his feelings, he said he was "shellshocked" at his victory, although he didn't reveal his nerves to the crowd. When pressed again about his cool exterior, he admitted: "oh God, oh God, oh God!"
Schneider is currently studying journalism at the University of Minnesota, where he is planning to graduate in fall 2006. Playing alongside his studies, his glittering poker career has paid for his way through college. Mike began playing in home games four years ago, he then graduated to his hometown card room, before he finally began playing online at PartyPoker.com.
Amazingly, the PartyPoker.com Million V is only Mike's second high stakes tournament. Shrewdly, Mike has said that after building up his bankroll a bit and tucking some away for day-to-day expenses, he hopes to put some of his PartyPoker.com winnings into investments. Keen thinking like this belies Mike's youth and his relatively recent arrival on the high stakes circuit.
Of course, Mike had thought he wouldn't make it past the first three hands on the second day of the tournament, after the first day left him with a mere 5,500 chips. "I had two dreams that night," Mike said, "one that I would bust out and the other one that I would build back up to 150,000 chips. That second dream was pretty close. But I sure didn't have a dream that predicted a million dollars!"
Buller, who has been aboard all five PartyPoker.com Million cruises noted that the event has changed significantly since its inauguration. "The young players have changed the whole picture. My first year there were maybe 20 guys under 30. Now we have a boatload of them and at 49, I'm considered an old guy. But there is no doubt they deserve to be here. It's no accident that Michael Schneider is holding that $1 million check. He played tough and he deserved it."