The former Vice President of Facebook and co-owner of the Golden State Warriors is a passionate poker player who’s known to play high-stakes cash and make deep runs at the World Series of Poker.
Even more amazingly, Palihapitiya almost made the final table of the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em event that concluded while Day 1 of the Big One for One Drop was playing out.
“I think it would have been the sickest thing in the world,” Palihapitiya told PokerListings.com in Las Vegas. “It would have been even more historic, going for a bracelet while playing in the first $1 million buy-in tournament.”
Palihapitiya finished 11th in that tournament, however, and turned up Sunday at noon to compete against the best in the world for the biggest prize in poker history.
$18.3 million is still waiting for the eventual winner of the One Drop, but Palihapitiya will not be the one to claim it.
Palihapitiya squeaked into Day 2 third-last in chips and busted on the very first hand of the day. He squeeze-shoved with K♣ T♠ and got snapped off by John Morgan who was the original raiser with A♠ Q♣.
25 players remain in the Big One at time of publishing. Follow the action with PokerListings.com’s One Drop live coverage.
High-Stakes Cash Warm-Up for Palihapitiya
The One Drop wasn’t the first taste of high-stakes poker Palihapitiya treated himself to on this trip to Las Vegas, however.
“We’ve been playing ultra-high-stakes poker all week to get ready for this and get used to playing super deep-stacked poker,” Palihapitiya told PokerListings.com.
“It was a great situation where Bobby Baldwin was able to organize a really great $1,000/$2,000 No-Limit game and we played it for the last week,” he said.
And according to Palihapitiya it’s only through high-stakes that he’s able to compete against the very best, the main reason he plays poker.
“There’s a lot of us who love to play and we’ve gotten to a level of skill where we’re always looking for ways to hone our skill. And it just so happens that the quality of play doesn’t really rise unless the stakes rise because it attracts better players,” he said.
$1 Million Worth More than Monetary Value
To most the idea of putting $1 million down on a poker tournament might seem outlandish but for Palihapitiya the money is buying him more than a shot at the $18.3 million first-place prize.
“At a practical level the $1 million is meaningful in a few ways. For a lot of us it just shows how competitive we are, that we’re willing to test ourselves at that level,” said Palihapitiya.
“But a big reason is that we’ve raised $5 million for a great charity. And not only that, because of this event’s success One Drop will be WSOP’s official charity going forward.” He added.
“So for my perspective the million dollars has a lot of intrinsic value that goes beyond the monetary value. We’re talking charity value, competitive value and then just putting me in the position to compete with the best in the world at something.
“I’ve never seen a lineup like this ever so having the chance to compete with them over three days, hopefully, and actually have a shot at winning this thing is pretty amazing,” he said.
Palihapitiya is 35 years old and began playing poker as a derivatives trader on the East Coast. Playing at the Borgata Casino whenever he could Palihapitiya’s passion has been growing since.
“I’ve really fallen in love with poker. It’s one of these things where I’m really engaged and it’s put me back in a position where I’m learning all the time and there are so many players who are better than me,” said Palihapitiya.
“I take a lot of pride in being good at what I do and I’ve invested a lot of time trying to become good at poker so winning this would be a really great return on my time but it would also confirm to me how great a sport this is and why I’m so passionate about it,” he said.