WSOP Big One for One Drop Has 30 Player Commitments
After the expected year off, the $1 million Big One for One Drop is back on the World Series of Poker schedule this year. It will be putting a capper on the festivities this summer as the final event of the Series and unlike pretty much any other event, it is a tournament that people track even when it’s a month away. Case in point: the WSOP put out a press release recently announcing that 30 players have confirmed their participation in the Big One.
The entire list of 30 names has not been published, but the WSOP did list the following as part of the contingent of 22 poker pros who have been confirmed: Daniel Negreanu, Antonio Esfandiari, Christoph Vogelsang, Bryn Kenney, Nick Petrangelo, Rainer Kempe, Dominik Nitsche, Steffen Sontheimer, Jason Koon, Phil Ivey, Adrian Mateos, and Phil Hellmuth.
The other eight players are recreational players, though in this tournament, those rec players are typically quite solid. Rick Solomon, Talal Shakerchi, and King’s Casino (home of this year’s WSOP Europe) owner Leon Tsoukernik are the three non-pros mentioned in the announcement.
Big One’s Brief History
The Big One for One Drop debuted in 2012, dropping jaws with its $1 million buy-in. Caesars took no rake from the tournament and $111,111 of each buy-in went to benefit the One Drop Foundation, a charitable organization founded by Cirque du Soleil creator and poker aficionado Guy Laliberte. The goal of One Drop is to make clean, drinkable water accessible in parts of the world that struggle with such a basic necessity of life.
Antonio Esfandiari won the first Big One for One Drop and an astonishing $18.3 million. The tournament was not held in 2013, mainly because people weren’t quite ready to shell out $1 million for a poker tourney every year, but it returned in 2014. The number of entries dropped from 48 to 42 as Daniel Colman took the top prize of $15.3 million.
2016 was different, as the Big One was moved to a special event week in Monte Carlo and shut off to professional players. The tournament garnered just 28 entries (26 players and two re-buys); Elton Tsang took first and €11,111,111 (the buy-in was naturally changed to Euro).
In its three years, the Big One for One Drop has raised $13.7 million for charity and paid out more than $100 million in prize money.
This year, only $80,000 of the $1 million buy-in is going to the One Drop charity, which is a bit curious, as the main purpose of the tournament is to raise money for the cause. The WSOP has not said why this was done, but a decent guess would be to entice players to sign up as registration numbers have dropped each year. Having more money in the prize pool may be an incentive.
Interest May Be Waning
Recently, Brian Rast told PokerNews.com that he wasn’t sure if he was going to register, saying that paying so much for a tournament is just tough to do:
It’s great the tournament was set up to raise money for charity, I can respect and appreciate that. The first time it was a big success with a ton of non-professional players. Everyone was really happy with it. The second time ran with fewer amateur players and it didn’t even sell out. The Europe one was invite only. Now they’re doing it again and it looks like the tournament isn’t getting a great turnout. Frankly, I don’t think it’s something people are just still excited for from a poker perspective. It’s a big ask. I hope the tournament does well, but I don’t know whether or not I’m going to play from a poker business perspective.
It certainly sounds like some of the shine has worn off of the event.
Players who want to reserve a seat in the Big One are required to pay a non-refundable $50,000 deposit by July 10th, five days before the start of the tournament. If they don’t pay the remaining balance by July 10th, they forfeit the deposit. Players do not have to reserve a seat, though – they can take their chances that there will be spots open when the tournament starts (or by the beginning of Day 2 when registration closes) and get in without paying a deposit.
The Big One for One Drop is also capped at 48 players, though it seems unlikely that it will hit this number, since the only time it did was in its first year. I’m actually a little curious why there is a registration cap, though I’m guessing it is for one or both of a couple reasons. First, a cap could create a sense of urgency in players who might feel they need to commit early or else risk missing out. Second, since 48 appears to be a reasonable ceiling, eclipsing that number by a couple players could create some difficult table arrangements at the start of the event.