Friday, June 03, 2011

One Million Dollars

Dr. EvilNot a lot of time for scribbling this morning, though I did want to share a brief reaction to yesterday’s announcement at the World Series of Poker of “The Big One,” that $1 million buy-in WSOP bracelet event scheduled to take place in 2012. If you haven’t heard about The Big One, you can head over to Betfair Poker where I wrote a bit about it today.

Besides making history as the largest-ever buy-in poker tournament -- WSOP or otherwise -- The Big One will also mark the first time (to my knowledge) that part of the prize pool for a WSOP event will be taken out to be given to a charity. A little over 11% of the players’ entry fees will go to One Drop, a charity started by Guy Laliberté who no doubt was a driving force behind the creation of the WSOP event.

A million dollars. Evokes Dr. Evil from Austin Powers. As does the bald-headed Laliberté, although I think it is safe to say the Cirque du Soleil founder is clearly on the side of good here.

A number of big names have already indicated their intentions to play in the event, including Patrik Antonius, Bobby Baldwin, Johnny Chan, Tom Dwan, Tony G, Gus Hansen, Daniel Negreanu, and Laliberté. A special platiunum bracelet will go to the winner, and the payout structure will be flattened a bit so that the top 20% of finishers get paid.

I mentioned at the end of the Betfair piece how the whole idea of having a $1 million event seemed to turn tournament poker upside-down. Rather than offering a chance to risk a little to win a lot, here we have an event where the buy-in will exceed the first-place prize money for the great majority of the events. At the 2010 WSOP, only three events saw the winners make seven-figure scores: the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship (Event No. 2), won by Michael Mizrachi ($1,559,046); the $25,000 No-Limit Hold’em Six-Handed event (Event No. 52), won by Dan Kelly ($1,315,518); and of course the Main Event (Event No. 57), won by Jonathan Duhamel ($8,944,310).

The Big OneI also noted there at the end of the Betfair piece how all of the other drama from the first week of the WSOP had made it so The Big One wasn’t even “the big one” when it came to this week’s stories. Probably not what WSOP organizers expected a week ago when preparing to make the announcement yesterday.

I don’t think anyone was particularly surprised by the announcement of a million-dollar event. The $250,000 buy-in “Super High Roller” tournament that was added to the Aussie Millions schedule earlier this year in a way signaled the possibility that such an event was coming, perhaps sooner than later.

I wrote about that one back in January in a post titled “Hard to Relate: On the $250K Aussie Millions Super High Roller.” Obviously The Big One will be similarly hard for most of us to relate to, never mind the way it will be impossible to “relate” the bracelet won in that event to the several hundreds won in other WSOP events over the last 40-plus years.

Although I tend to lean toward the “purist” way of thinking and thus often instinctively resist massive innovations or changes to the WSOP, I do recognize that one element making the WSOP special is the way it accommodates such a wide variety of games and buy-ins. So I actually don’t mind this new event being added, despite the fact that The Big One is going to throw everything out-of-whack records-wise. Will also be highly interested to see who ultimately ends up participating, much more so, probably, than how the tourney actually plays out.

All of which is to say I’m intrigued by this million-dollar buy-in WSOP event. Meanwhile, I’ll go back to trying to build further upon that one dollar I won over on Carbon Poker a while back, which I’ve currently run up to a handsome $2.28.

Perhaps by the time The Big One goes off next summer I’ll have written my book on how to beat $0.11 Turbo short-handed sit-n-gos.

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