A big win at the Big One
World Series of Poker event awards $18 million; Oklahoman makes final table
LAS VEGAS — A million bucks. Many of us can only dream of getting our hands on that amount of cash. For players in Las Vegas this summer at the World Series of Poker, that was the cost of admission for the biggest poker tournament in history — the Big One for One Drop.
The Big One featured 48 players competing for a massive prize pool at the Rio Hotel and Casino, including $18.3 million and a platinum bracelet for the winner. And $111,111 of each buy-in ($5.3 million) went to the One Drop Foundation, which provides fresh water services to third-world countries. The tournament was the idea of Guy Laliberté, founder of Cirque du Soleil, and fellow Montreal resident and Caesars Interactive Entertainment CEO Mitch Garber. The foundation is close to the heart of Laliberté, and the event attracted businessmen and players from around the world, including Laliberté himself who finished fifth for $1.8 million. He was thrilled not only with his finish, but the response to such a worthy cause.
“I'm known for being an imaginative person, but this event surpassed even my expectations,” Laliberté said. “While only one person can walk away with the largest prize in poker history, everyone who participated in the Big One for One Drop made an important contribution to a critical cause that impacts millions of people around the world.”
The event attracted a quite a cast of poker royalty: Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Tulsa's Ben Lamb, Tom Dwan, Antonio Esfandiari and Jason Mercier. Many pros found wealthy backers to put up a large percent of their buy-ins with a promise for a return on their investment. A field stacked with less-experienced businessmen and the promise of a huge payoff was a tempting event for some of the best minds in poker.
When play reached the final table, ESPN filmed the action for live broadcast with fans crowded around the slick poker arena located in the Rio convention center.
For Oklahoma poker fans, one name stood out from both the business and poker worlds, Tulsa native Bobby Baldwin. In 1978, Baldwin won the WSOP Main Event and grew up playing poker in Oklahoma and Texas. He later, began a career in casino management working for casino mogul Steve Wynn and recently headed up the CityCenter project in Las Vegas as CEO in charge of construction and design for MGM Mirage. But in the One Drop, this casino exec reverted to his poker past, placing seventh for $1.4 million.
Life Photo Galleriesview all
- 101218Oklahoma tornadoes: The 'Big Dog,' the little boy and the hug that triumphs over tragedy
- 15357OKC Thunder: Kevin Durant tours Moore, meets with residents
- 13402Oklahoma tornadoes: ‘All I could do was sit there and hold her'
- 8724Line of storms brings flash floods to Oklahoma City area
- 8110How to help tornado victims
- 8098Oklahoma tornadoes: Love for Oklahoma generates big donation
- 8041Oklahoma tornadoes: Rams quarterback Sam Bradford leading aid effort