Big One for One Drop

How Big is the Big One for One Drop?

Yesterday saw the start of the 2014 Big One for One Drop, and had been built up as being expected to have the biggest prizepool ever for a single tournament. The press releases from the WSOP media team had been building up the hype, claiming the 1st place prize was expected to be $20,000,000. Reality however didn’t live up to the press releases.

bigone_onedrop_logoThe expected field was meant to be capped at 56, but in the end, only 42 seats were needed as the event failed to match the 2012 Big one for One Drop, let alone outdo it. Several of the players “confirmed” on the WSOP website pulled out of the event rather than put up the $1,000,000. Considering some of these players are considered part of the elite, what happened, and why didn’t they play?

Firstly, what happened to the Macau contingent of business men that tend to appear at the high roller events around the world? I’ve heard anecdotal tales that have them in Las Vegas, so why weren’t they getting into the biggest tournament that’s going to be put on this year? I’ve heard various theories and rumours to why these businessmen decided to decline to play this event, but nothing substantial enough to put my name to. Regardless of the reason for the Macau contingent’s decision not to play, the knock on effect appears to have crippled the campaign to create a bigger Big One for One Drop.

2012 Big One for One Drop Winner Antonio Esfandiari (C) WSOP

2012 Big One for One Drop Winner Antonio Esfandiari (C) WSOP

Out of the 42 players only a few are non professional players, and of those that don’t play poker for a living, most of them are at least competent poker players. Paul Newey regularly plays in the €/$100k High Rollers set up around the world, as does Talal Shakerschi. Guy Laliberté cashed in the last Big One tournament, and while he may not be part of the poker elite, he has the experience and results to be considered a competent player, even in this rarefied air. David Einhorn may have been the first out of the door in this year’s event, but back in 2012  he picked up $4,352,000 for 3rd place in the last Big One. Gabe Kaplan may be a funny man, but he’s also on a bit of a run as he just cashed in a $100k event in 8th place.

So, where is the value for the professional player to put up $1,000,000 of whoever’s money to play against a field full of other professionals, all at the height of their game. No wonder players such as Fabian Quoss and Ole Schemion didn’t volunteer to enter a  vipers pit at feeding time.

I have been following the WSOP.com live updates, KevMath and Remko on twitter, as well as getting involved in the 2+2 thread about the event. While posters are excited to discuss the event, and the hands posted in the updates, the most posted question is “Where can I Watch this?” There is no live stream for this star filled event, and the only way to watch any of the action is to wait until the 29th of July, and catch the first of the US ESPN highlights shows. Not that people outside of the US can do that of course. Day 1 wasn’t even filmed for these shows, so gems like the conversation between Dan “Jungleman” Cates and Doug “WGCRider” Polk have been lost.

We have ended up with a World Series of Poker “spectacular” that is effectively a US only party, and is not that spectacular. Yes, the winner will walk away with over $15 million, but after months of hyping a $20 million first-place prize and the significantly lower turnout than expected, this could well be the last Big One for One Drop held.

Talking about the prizes, just under 20% of the entries will be paid, which is a staggeringly large number compared to other high roller events. The division of the prizepool is also alarmingly top heavy, with 1st place being nearly double the money for 2nd place. I guess ESPN and the WSOP think big prizes attract poker fans, and as they refuse to allow deals to be openly done in the Rio, someone is likely to end up flipping for around $7 million.

But looking away from the negativity, there was a rather interesting Poker tournament going on.

As I said earlier, David Einhorn was the first player to be eliminated. His flopped top set was crushed by the turned straight of Sam Trickett in the first level. He wasn’t that pleased but isn’t leaving Vegas yet:

The only real surprise entry this year was comedian Gabe Kaplan, who following his recent cash for $258,390 in the recent $100K event held at the Bellagio, was obviously feeling lucky enough to take the biggest shot possible. There was one other surprise, and this was the no-show from the Poker Brat, Phil Hellmuth. After publicly seeking backers at a markup of 1.3, Phil had been tweeting about how he was still seeking the money for him to play the Big One for One Drop. He apparently raised the required buy in, and went to the cage to register late and get his seating assignment. Then this tweet followed:

Day two has already started, with Sam Trickett the one with the most chips. If you want to keep up to date, the best option is to go to the Rio and sit on the rail. If that’s not possible for you, as it isn’t for most of us, WSOP.com features live updates, and Twitter is full of tweets from the floor.

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