THE BIGGEST ONE - WORLD'S MOST SPECTACULAR POKER EXTRAVAGANZA STARTS SUNDAY

JUNE 30, 2012 - 9:34:57 AM PST   |   Nolan Dalla

THE BIGGEST ONE - WORLD'S MOST SPECTACULAR POKER EXTRAVAGANZA STARTS SUNDAY

Photo Caption:  Guy Laliberté was smart.  He saw it coming.  The CEO of Cirque du Soleil made sure he locked up his seat in what will be the richest poker tournament in history by being the first player to buy-in, during last year's WSOP.  Laliberté was the first in a stunning parade of business executives, entrepreneurs, professional poker players, and philanthropists to move "all in" with a $1 million buy in -- the largest ever for any event of any kind.  Incredibly, this stunning event is now a complete sell-out.  Action starts on Sunday at 1:11 pm (PST).
  
 
Not Just a Poker Tournament -- So Much More
 
$1,000,000 Buy-In “Big One for ONE DROP” Debuts on Sunday at 1:11 pm
 
Win-Win-Win-Win Deal for the Game, Players, Fans, and One Extraordinary Charity
 
Announcing Final Official List of 48 Entrants -- $18,346,773 For First Place (Largest Prize in Poker History)

  
Las Vegas, Nevada (June 30, 2012) -- “The Starfish Story” has many different versions.  The tale basically goes something like this:
 
One afternoon, a young boy was walking along a beach.  A bad storm had taken place.  Sadly, a great many starfish had been washed up on the beach.  The starfish were stuck in the sand.  Most were doomed to die.
 
The young boy saw this and decided to do something about it.  Each time he saw one of the trapped starfish, he dug it out and threw it back into the ocean.  People on the beach saw what the young boy was doing and were amused.  It seemed so pointless to try and save just a few starfish, when so many were trapped in the sand.
 
One man was puzzled by what he witnessed.  So, he approached the young boy.
 
“Why are you doing that?” the man asked.  “Look at all these starfish trapped on this beach.  You can’t possibly make a difference.”
 
The young boy looked sad.  Then, he looked down and saw another poor starfish struggling in the sand.  The young boy reached down, picked up the starfish and tossed it back into the ocean.“
 
Well, I made a difference to that one!”
 
 ...................
 
The Big One for ONE DROP is poker’s starfish.  And if the wonderful parable above has a young boy, it’s an extraordinary man by the name of Guy Laliberté.  Last year, the businessman, philanthropist, and part-time poker player approached officials at the World Series of Poker.  His idea was to create the biggest poker tournament of all-time.  However, the tournament would not have just one champion, but many winners.
 
The "Big One For ONE DROP" was born.
 
It’s taken 12 months to get to this moment -- and it's now the eve of what promises to be one of the most astonishing spectacles in poker history.
 
Indeed, gold bracelet Event #55 on this year’s WSOP schedule is unlike anything in history.  The special No-Limit Hold’em tournament has the astronomical buy-in of one-million dollars.  This tournament already has all the makings of an instant classic.  It has been called insane, audacious and incomprehensible.  But one thing is for sure, this event will capture the attention of the poker world like no event before it.  The Big One for ONE DROP is a made-for-television charity poker tournament that will award the largest first-place prize ever and feature the most unique collection of millionaires (and billionaires) ever assembled in a competition of this kind.
 
The largest buy-in poker tournament ever conceived is slated to take place from July 1-3 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.  It will be live streamed on WSOP.com and televised on ESPN/ESPN2.  July 3rd's portion of the tournament will be covered live on national television (4 pm ET on ESPN2; then to ESPN at 8 PM ET to conclusion).
 
From each million-dollar entry fee, exactly $111,111 will be donated to ONE DROP -- with a goal of raising enough money for a legacy project that will help poor nations gain access to clean water.  Hard to imagine that in some places in the world, there are places and people without access to one of life's most vital sources.  The WSOP and 48 very special poker players are determined do their part to help those less fortunate -- who they will probably never meet, nor see.

As stated, the Big One for ONE DROP is the creation of Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté in collaboration with fellow Montrealer and Caesars Interactive Entertainment CEO, Mitch Garber.  Making use of WSOP’s poker expertise and global reach, it is an unprecedented effort to raise awareness of water-related issues amongst the poker community and to raise funds to allow the charity to continue to deliver on its important mandate.  Funds will be directed to ONE DROP projects around the world.  The charity (www.onedrop.org), will receive $5,533,328 through an 11.1 percent allotment of each buy-in. (Garber, who is ineligible to play due to his role at Caesars, has given a personal donation of $111,111 in addition to the above amount).
 
The event will be rake-free, allowing $888,889 of each entry fee going directly into the prize pool.  Players will start with 3,000,000 in tournament chips.  The tournament will pay out nine of the 48 players.  A specially-designed WSOP platinum bracelet -- created by renowned watchmaker Richard Mille -- will be awarded to the victor.  However, this is very much a "gold bracelet event," in the sense that all results become part of the WSOPs official statistics and unrivaled prestige.

This historic event begins on Sunday at precisely 1:11 pm (PST).  The final table will be contested on Tuesday, July 3 at 12:30 pm. 
 
Here is the official list of the 48 players who will participate in this historic event:
 
1.  Bobby Baldwin -- Chief Design and Construction Officer, MGM Resorts Intl. (Las Vegas, NV)
2.  Frederic Banjout -- CEO, Eden Shoes (Paris, France)                       
3.  Bob Bright -- CEO, Bright Trading, LLC (Las Vegas, NV)
4.  Ilya Bulchev -- Businessman (Moscow, Russia)
5.  Roland De Wolfe -- Professional Poker Player (London, England)
6.  Tom Dwan -- Professional Poker Player (Edison, NJ)
7.  Jonathan Duhamel -- Professional Poker Player (Montreal, QC, Canada)
8.  David Einhorn -- U.S. Hedge Fund Manager (Rye, New York)
9.  Antonio Esfandiari -- Professional Poker Player (Las Vegas, NV)
10.  Phil Galfond -- Professional Poker Player (Potomac, MD)
11.  Bertrand Grospellier -- Professional Poker Player (Paris France)
12.  Philipp Gruissem -- Professional Poker Player (Germany)
13.  Giovanni Guarascio -- Businessman (Montreal, Canada)
14.  Phil Ivey -- Professional Poker Player (Las Vegas, NV)
15.  Eugene Katchalov -- Professional Poker Player (New York, NY)
16.  Cary Katz -- CEO, College Loan Corporation (Las Vegas, NV)
17.  Jens Kyllönen -- Professional Poker Player (Finland)
18.  Guy Laliberté -- Founder, Cirque du Soleil (Montreal, QC, Canada)
19.  Ben Lamb -- Professional Poker Player (Las Vegas, NV)
20.  Tom Marchese -- Professional Poker Player (Parsippanny, NJ)
21.  Jason Mercier -- Professional Poker Player (Davie, FL)
22.  Michael Mizrachi -- Professional Poker Player (Miami, FL)
23.  John Morgan -- CEO, Winmark Corporation (Minneapolis, MN)
24.  Daniel Negreanu -- Professional Poker Player (Las Vegas, NV)
25.  Paul Newey -- Chairman, New Wave Ventures (Dorset, United Kingdom)
26.  Chamath Palihapitiya -- Venture Capitalist (Burlingame, CA)
27.  Bill Perkins -- Owner, Small Ventures (Private Equity), (Houston, TX)
28.  Paul Phua -- Asian Businessman (Miri, Malaysia)
29.  Brian Rast -- Professional Poker Player (Las Vegas, NV)
30.  Vivek Rajkumar -- Professional Poker Player (Las Vegas, NV)
31.  Tobias Reinkemeier -- Professional Poker Player (Brighton, Germany)
32.  Andrew Robl -- Professional Poker Player (Las Vegas, NV)
33.  Phil Ruffin -- Owner, Treasure Island Resort (Las Vegas, NV)        
34.  Rick Salomon -- Film Producer (Los Angeles, CA)
35.  Nick Schulman -- Professional Poker Player (New York, NY)
36.  Noah Schwartz -- Professional Poker Player (Miami, FL)
37.  Erik Seidel -- Professional Poker Player (Las Vegas, NV)
38.  Mike Sexton -- Professional Poker Player/Commentator (Las Vegas, NV)
39.  Dan Shak -- Founder, SHK Asset Management (Philadelphia, PA)
40.  Talal Shakerchi -- European Hedge Fund Manager (Surrey, England)
41.  Mikhail Smirnov -- Businessman/Poker Player (Moscow, Russia)
42.  Justin Smith -- Professional Poker Player (Los Angeles, CA)
43.  Brandon Steven -- Businessman/Car Dealer Owner (Wichita, KS)
44.  Sam Trickett -- Professional Poker Player (East Retford, England)           
45.  Haralabos Voulgaris -- Professional Sports Handicapper (Winnipeg, Canada), (Lotto seat)
46.  Richard Yong -- Asian Businessman (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
47.  Gus Hansen -- $25,300 Mega Satellite – June 30 at Rio -- Professional Poker Player, Denmark       
48.  Phil Hellmuth -- MGM Resorts International VIP winner -- June 30, Palo Alto, CA        

The total prize pool amounts to $42,666,672.  The new champion receives an astounding $18,346,673 -- a figure which smashes the previous record held by Jamie Gold who won $12 million at the 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event. 
 
A profile of most of the participants is posted on All-In for ONE DROP website at:  www.allinforonedrop.com
 
The All-In for ONE DROP campaign, launched last November, is designed to raise awareness on water-related issues and encourage the poker community to take action and create a powerful ripple effect.  The No-Limit Hold’em tournament will pay out 18.75 percent of the field. 

In a sense, everyone wins with this amazing one-of-a kind event.  Someone will smash the record for money earnings -- not just for the WSOP but for all-time.  The new champion will also win a WSOP gold (platinum) bracelet.  A wonderful charity will gain more funds to help the disadvantaged.  And, poker fans everywhere will be treated to what could very well be the poker competition of a lifetime.

MORE ABOUT ONE DROP 
 
ONE DROP—an initiative of Guy Laliberté, Founder of Cirque du Soleil®—is an international non-governmental organization established in Canada, in 2007. ONE DROP fights poverty by supporting access to water and raising individual and community awareness of the need to mobilize so that safe water is accessible to all, in sufficient quantity, today and tomorrow. With its uniquely artistic approach, ONE DROP educates and implements site-specific safe water solutions while allocating microfinance loans to help ensure sustainable development. Worldwide, ONE DROP’s ongoing creative projects also raise awareness about water-related issues and encourage smarter water practices. In the U.S., ONE DROP is a public charity that undertakes innovative activities in which water plays a central role as a creative force to generate positive, sustainable change worldwide. To learn more, visit ONEDROP.org
 
MORE ABOUT THE WORLD SERIES OF POKER
 
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the largest, richest and most prestigious gaming event in the world awarding millions of dollars in prize money and the prestigious gold bracelet, globally recognized as the sport’s top prize. Featuring a comprehensive slate of tournaments in every major poker variation, the WSOP is poker’s longest running tournament in the world, dating back to 1970. In 2011, the event attracted 75,672 entrants from 105 different countries to the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and awarded over $192 million in prize money.  To learn more about the World Series of Poker, visit WSOP.com.


 
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Nolan Dalla – WSOP.com Senior Writer


About the author: Nolan Dalla's work is found all over WSOP.com, as he is the Senior Writer for poker's longest-running poker series and has contributed to the site since 2005.

He is also the longtime Media Director of the World Series of Poker. He's become the lone link from poker's modern age back to the old days when the WSOP was played at Binion's Horseshoe – where Dalla served as the casino's Director of Public Relations.
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