Inflation seems to be everywhere these days – and the poker world is no exception. Full Tilt Poker has raised the stakes yet again by announcing the creation of the ONYX Cup poker tournament series. The series is comprised of 6 no-limit hold ’em tournaments each with a buy-in of at least $100,000 that will take place all over the world with the goal of recognizing the world’s best poker player.
The tournaments will officially be open to the public, meaning anyone with enough money to buy in is welcome to try their hand against what’s sure to be a field of the best of the best poker pros. Many members of the Full Tilt Poker team have confirmed their participation in the ONYX Cup series, including Tom Dwan, Erick Lindgren, Patrik Antonius, Chris Ferguson, the red-hot Erik Seidel, John Juanda, Gus Hansen, Howard Lederer, and, of course, Phil Ivey. Regular Joes like you and me (well maybe not me with my bankroll :-)) can also satellite their way into some of the ONYX Cup events via exclusive $640 to $2,100 buy-in tournaments at Full Tilt Poker.
Tournament organizers have secured television coverage that will beam the tournament broadcasts into homes in 40 countries in over 20 languages. The events themselves will take place in the United States, Asia, and Europe, with the first stop in Las Vegas on May 11th-12th. The final stop of the series will be a $250,000 buy-in “Grand Finale” in which Full Tilt Poker will add an additional $1 million to the prize pool.
The best performer at the end of the tournament series (based on points accrued) will win the ONYX Cup, a luxury sports car, and boatloads of cash (the estimated prize pool for all 6 events is expected to top $30 million). This poker blogger is going to go on record as picking Erik Seidel to win the first ONYX Cup. He might not be as good as Phil Ivey but the man is on one of the most ridiculous hot streaks ever; specifically in high roller events.
It will be interesting to see who else will round out the field. PokerStars pro Daniel Negreanu tweeted that he will not be participating, as many of the tournaments conflict with other major poker tournaments over the course of the year. He also cited a “turbo” blinds structure that discouraged actual poker play and instead favored all-in shoves. Even with all his money and talent, I can’t fault Negreanu’s logic here – who wants to buy a $100,000 lotto ticket? Also, these super high roller events, lucrative as they might be from a cash standpoint, won’t be counting towards any player of the year standings due to the small fields – another thing that surely matters to Negreanu.
I also can’t say I see Doyle Brunson committing to play in the ONYX Cup. Though unquestionably still one of the best, even in his late 70s, and with plenty of bankroll money for the events, I just don’t see Doyle doing all the traveling the series requires. It would also be interesting to see if high net worth businessmen and billionaires (like the fish we see on High Stakes Poker this year) will play in any of the events. Though clearly they’d be underdogs, only truly high stakes play like this is something that might motivate them to play some poker with the greats. I guess time will tell.