Poker tourney to raise money, interest in One Drop charity


If you missed out on paying $1 million to enter a tournament of no-limit hold'em poker and gaining a shot at an $18 million payday, you may get another chance.

The World Series of Poker plans to make "The Big One for One Drop" an annual or semi-annual event, based on the worldwide interest drummed by this year's inaugural three-day tournament, which begins Sunday.

The game, limited to 48 entries, benefits the One Drop charity, an organization that promotes water awareness around the world. Out of each $1 million buy-in, 11.1 percent - $111,111.11 - will go to One Drop.

Mitch Garber, chief executive officer of Caesars Interactive Entertainment, which owns the World Series of Poker, credited Guy Laliberte, the founder of the entertainment conglomerate Cirque du Soleil and a founder of One Drop, with spending the past year promoting the event throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

Among the players paying the $1 million entry are international businessmen, hedge fund managers, casino owners and CEOs. Players who committed a year ago when the event was announced included Treasure Island Casino owner Phil Ruffin, and Bobby Baldwin, an MGM Resorts International executive and CEO of CityCenter. Baldwin is the 1978 World Series of Poker Main Event champion.

Some of poker's top names are in the field, which was at 46 players as of Friday afternoon, including 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Jonathan Duhamel; Daniel Negreanu; Brian Rast; Michael Mizrachi; Mike Sexton; Gus Hanson; Bertrand Grospellier; and Phil Ivey.

If all 48 spots are filled, the top prize will be $18,346,673, easily eclipsing the World Series of Poker first-place payout record held by Jamie Gold, who won $12 million at the 2006 Main Event.

The winner will also receive a special platinum World Series of Poker championship bracelet.

Garber, is precluded from playing because of his role in Caesars Entertainment, but he donated $111,111 to One Drop. He said he's confident the tournament would reach 48 players.

Laliberte is putting his $1 million into the pot.

In an interview with Card Player Magazine, Laliberte said his connection with high stakes poker players and wealthy businessmen has made the event a success.

"I brought up the idea for a $1 million buy-in tournament," said Laliberte, who approached Garber about the idea at a hockey game in Montreal last year.

"I thought it could happen if we included a charitable element."

ESPN plans to televise the final table of nine players live on Tuesday. From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Pacific Time, the event will be shown on ESPN2. After 5 p.m., the action will be shown on ESPN until a winner is declared.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal .com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

 

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