Manuela, a 30-year-old grocery store manager from Germany, was the big winner of PokerStars.com's Five Billion Hands promotion after being dealt into and winning the five billionth hand at the poker room. She won the $50,000 grand prize, plus an extra $7,500 as a SilverStar VIP Club member.
"When I heard about the special promotion at PokerStars.com, I just had to log on and play," Manuela said after winning. "I had not calculated on actually winning the prize. I just wanted to be part of the fun."
While many of the players on the site were playing at multiple tables hoping to increase their odds of getting into the lucky hand, Manuela stuck to playing just one table in a $0.05/$0.10 No-Limit Hold'em game.
It was 2 a.m. in Germany when the hand was dealt, and Manuela, known as "Marajade" on the site, was one of more than 100,000 people logged in playing at the time.
"It was unbelievable. I just screamed out loud. My boyfriend came running into the room and asked if I was all right," Manuela said. "I couldn't say a word. I just pointed to the number on the screen – 5,000,000,000. He couldn't believe it either."
Manuela was born with an eye disease that could cause her to go blind and plans to use her winnings to pay for a much-needed eye surgery.
"Thanks to PokerStars.com, I can now have the surgery without worrying about the cost," she said.
The cash prize was just one of many that PokerStars.com gave away during the promotion. All players in the five billionth hand received $10,000 each and free entry into the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) main event.
Thirty-two other hands were chosen as milestone hands during the promotion, awarding players who were dealt into the specific hand with $2,000 while the winner of the hand received $5,000.