The event debuted in 2012 and I remember getting the chance to help a little with the coverage of it, then watching the finale and marveling like everyone else at the spectacle of Antonio Esfandiari winning $18,346,673 playing cards (even if he only in reality won around 15% of that for himself).
There were 48 entries in the event two years ago, creating a total prize pool of $42,666,672 (and forever throwing the “all-time money list” for tournament poker permanently out of whack). With this week’s news the “Big One” this year has 33 players confirmed to play, with a cap of 56 in place. If they make it to the cap, the prize pool will edge up very close to $50 million, I believe, with the first-place prize exceeding Esfandiari’s from two years ago.
The 26 identified players who have now confirmed to play are Max Altergott, Bobby Baldwin, Jean-Robert Bellande, David Einhorn, Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Galfond, Tony Gregg, Philipp Gruissem, Niklas Heinecker, Phil Ivey, Igor Kurganov, Guy Laliberté, Jason Mercier, Paul Newey, Bill Perkins, Fabian Quoss, Vivek Rajkumar, Brian Rast, Tobias Reinkemeier, Andrew Robl, Noah Schwartz, Erik Seidel, Vanessa Selbst, Brandon Steven, Sam Trickett, and Christoph Vogelsang.
Three more seats will be occupied by satellite winners, and four others have committed as well to bring the current total to 33. The latter four are currently being identified only as “anonymous businessmen,” with the one added this week further described as Asian.
The three-day event begins June 29 and will surely create some buzz, although perhaps not as intensely as was the case the first time around. There will be increased television coverage on ESPN, however, with three weeks and six hours of programming devoted to it to be shown during the latter half of July, which will help push the story of the event and whoever wins it a bit further into the mainstream.
We’ve already become so accustomed to the “super high rollers” with $100K and $250K buy-ins, though, with the re-entry format being adopted for some having created conditions wherein individuals’ buy-ins have actually gotten closer to that $1 million mark.
One wonders if two years from now a $1 million buy-in event is going to be enough to raise eyebrows anymore. Or if the adjective “big” is going to be enough.