We’ve written about it a few times in the past and now the Big One for One Drop is finally here. In just a couple of hours the richest poker tournament in history will get underway. Never before has the buy-in for a poker tournament been so high, a whopping $1 million to be exact. When World Series of Poker officials decided to cap the event at 48 players, there was speculation as to whether it was even necessary to do so, with a seven-figure cost to enter. Yet, the field did indeed fill up and there will be a prize pool in excess of $40 million. That means a first place payout of over $18.3 million, which automatically makes whoever wins the event the winningest player in tournament poker history.
Current all-time money leaders Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Phil Ivey, and two-time Poker Player’s Champion Michael “the Grinder” Mizrachi have all entered, bidding to win this ultra-prestigious event as well as the special platinum WSOP Championship bracelet that accompanies the top prize. Sam Trickett, another successful poker pro who regularly plays for nosebleed stakes, is actually freerolling, as he was lucky enough to get sponsored into the tournament by Matchbook.com. The final player to post his buy-in for the tournament, as confirmed just a few short hours ago by tournament officials, was Phil Hellmuth, the all-time leader in WSOP bracelets won.
A total of 29 seats in the field will be filled by professional poker players, many of whom have sold pieces of themselves to round up enough money to post the buy in. Nineteen players in the Big One for One Drop are incredibly wealthy businessmen. These include billionaires like Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin and Asian businessman Paul Phua, who have plenty of experience playing in high stakes cash games in Las Vegas and Macau, respectively.
Of the 48 players to enter, only 9 will make the money. In other words, it will represent the biggest final table bubble in World Series of Poker history. In other words, you can make the money by finishing in ninth place (for over $1 million) or get eliminated in tenth place and go home with nothing.
Other big names competing include Mike Sexton, Ben Lamb, Antonio Esfandiari, Tom Dwan, Jonathan Duhamel, Bobby Baldwin (a former WSOP Main Event Champion and current MGM Executive) as well as other, somewhat lesser-known pros.
Who Isn’t Playing
Noticeably absent from the list of participants are Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan, two players with 10 WSOP bracelets apiece. Patrik Antonius and Tony G., two players who originally confirmed their participation, also won’t be playing. Moreover, there’s been a major last-minute dropout: Andy Beal, the billionaire banker who took on the Corporation in the Biggest Cash Game Ever. Finally, there isn’t a single woman in the 48-player field.
Gus Hansen Wins His Seat via $25,000 Mega Satellite
One seat into the Big One for One Drop was reserved for the winner of a special $25,000 satellite event. Almost 100 players ponied up the cash to try and win a seat, among them players who already confirmed their participation such as Phil Ivey, Jason Mercier, Sam Trickett, and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospelier.
The “story” of the satellite tournament was Steve Meling, a recreational poker player from Nebraska, who was trying to win a seat that started with a $65 investment. He won the first tournament, got a seat in a $765 satellite event, and won than to get a seat in the $25,000 mega satellite. The 36-years old, on his first trip to Las Vegas, eventually finished in sixth place.
The top three finishers were Jason Somerville, who received a cash payout of $400,000, Shaun Deeb, who cashed in 2nd place for $1,000,000 (only one actual seat was awarded into the Big One for One Drop), and Gus Hansen, who won the seat.
Millions Raised for Charity
Not to be forgotten, the Big One for One Drop is also the richest charity poker tournament in history, as $111,111 from each buy-in will be donated to One Drop, a charity that focuses on global awareness for clean drinking water. The One Drop Foundation is run by Guy Laliberte, the billionaire founder of Cirque du Soleil, who will also be competing in the poker tournament. That’s a total of over $5.5 million raised for charity. Because of the charity poker element of this special tournament, with 11.1% of the prize pool being “withheld”, there won’t be any rake.
The Future of This Event
According to Mitch Garber, CEO of Caesars Interactive Entertainment, the company wants to make the Big One for One Drop an annual event. Honestly, while it would be pretty cool, I wonder if this is actually feasible, given the state of the general and poker economies. Even the biggest names and winningest poker pros are selling pieces of themselves to be able to afford the buy in. Then again, the event did sell out, raise millions for charity, and is piquing the interest of even the most casual poker fans. So here’s hoping this poker tournament is here to stay.