22 Players Confirmed for $1 Million Buy-In WSOP Event



Remember when a one million dollar first prize in a poker tournament was mind blowing?  Well, how about a one million dollar buy-in?  It will happen next year, at the 2012 World Series of Poker (WSOP).  Both a real bracelet event and a charity tournament, the “Big One for One Drop” will run from July 1st through July 3rd and may end up featuring the largest first prize ever awarded in a poker tournament.

The tournament is the creation of Guy Laliberté, founder of Cirque du Soleil and Chairman of the charitable organization ONE DROP.  Laliberté went to Caesars Interactive Entertainment CEO Mitch Garber with the grand plan earlier this year.  He wanted to use the platform of the WSOP to bring both attention and funds to the global problem of the lack of access to clean, usable water for nearly a billion people.  He figured the spectacle of a million dollar buy-in event combined with the generosity of poker players would work well.

ONE DROP’s mission is “To fight poverty by providing access to water and raising awareness among individuals and communities about the need for mobilization in order to make safe water accessible to all, in sufficient quantity, today and tomorrow.”

One-ninth of the buy-in, or $111,111, will go towards ONE DROP, with the rest going to the prize pool with no further rake taken.

Among the first players to commit to the event were 2010 WSOP Main Event champ Jonathan Duhamel and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, both of whom stepped up to the plate at during the November Nine festivities this year.

“I am absolutely thrilled to participate in the biggest poker event ever organized,” said Duhamel.  “One million dollars is a lot of money but my participation comes naturally, being a spokesperson for ONE DROP and because of my attachment to such a great cause.  Life starts with water and because of its uneven distribution, a person dies every 20 seconds. The Big One for One Drop will raise $111,111 per participant, which will definitely prove the poker community attachment to ONE DROP.  As for me, I personally commit to give 5% of my winnings from this tournament to ONE DROP.”

So far, 22 players have committed to playing in the event, which is coincidentally the same number of players needed for the Big One for One Drop to be considered an official bracelet event.  And rather than the standard gold bracelet, a special platinum bracelet will be created just for this tournament.

As it stands currently, the prize pool is just over $19.5 million.  The exact payout structure has yet to be announced, but 20 percent of the field will make the money, which is twice the usual for a WSOP event.  The event will have a maximum registrant cap of 48 players.  It is expected that when all is said and done, the first prize will be the largest ever for a poker tournament, eclipsing the current record of $12 million, won by Jamie Gold at the 2006 WSOP Main Event.

The following players have committed to play in the Big One for One Drop (not all players have permitted the WSOP to publish their names):

Guy Laliberté
Bobby Baldwin (CEO of MGM-Mirage Resorts and four-time WSOP bracelet winner)
Phil Ruffin (owner of Treasure Island Resort of Las Vegas)
Andy Beal
Patrik Antonius
Gus Hansen
Daniel Negreanu
Johnny Chan
Tom Dwan
Antanas “Tony G” Guoga
Jonathan Duhamel
Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier
Dan Shak
Montreal Group seat (organized by Sean O’Donnell, friend of Laliberté)
Loto-Québec satellite seat
Caesars satellite seat
European satellite seat

Players are, of course, still able to register for the event, though the million dollar buy-in is due 14 days before the tournament starts.  ESPN plans to include the tournament as part of its 2012 WSOP broadcast.

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