Why Poker Needs a Pro to Win the $1M Big One for One Drop

The money
The WSOP Big One represents both a risk and an opporunity for the poker economy.

Depending on who wins the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop at the 2012 WSOP there could be literally millions of dollars either entering or exiting the poker ecosystem.

And with a projected prize pool of over $42 million, and 15 amateurs currently committed to playing, there’s a real chance that a huge chunk of that money might be leaving the poker world forever.

“It’s going to be tough for an amateur to win with a lot of the best in the world playing,” said esteemed poker pro Amit “amak316” Makhija.

“But I definitely think it could happen and if it does it’s going to be a lot of money out of the poker world because so many people are pooling their money to get these people into it,” Makhija added.

If the Big One caps out at 48 players the winner will walk away with over $18 million, the biggest prize in poker history. And if one of the 15 amateurs currently registered takes it down, it will be an eight-figure blow to the poker economy.

And Amit Makhija isn’t the only one who thinks it’s a distinct possibility.

“An amateur absolutely has a shot at winning the Big One,” said 2006 Main Event final tablist Michael Binger. “There’s so much variance in No-Limit Hold’em tournaments that anyone who enters has a shot.”

Michael Binger
“An amateur absolutely has a shot at winning the Big One,” says Michael Binger.

Most pros in this event are selling the vast majority of their action, meaning a large group of players is sharing each entrant’s $1 million risk.

Do the Amateurs Have a Real Shot?

The amateur contingent in the Big One has an uphill battle but with just 48 players in the field and a three-day time frame it’s certainly plausible that one could walk away with the victory.

And just because they’re classified as amateurs doesn’t mean they don’t have experience and skill at the poker table.

Andy Beal, for example, famously took on a group of the world’s best poker players in the highest-stakes games ever played, and almost beat them. The story goes that Beal had his opponents, which included Doyle Brunson and Phil Ivey, down over $10 million before they were able to rally back and eventually beat him.

American businessmen Phil Ruffin has experience against the world’s best on High-Stakes Poker and has an estimated net worth of $2.4 billion.

Paul Phua and Richard Yong, two extremely wealthy Malaysian businessmen, regularly compete with players like Tom Dwan and Patrik Antonius in the biggest cash games in Macau, and also played the $250,000 Super High Roller at the Aussie Millions.

David Einhorn, the hedge fund manager that attempted to buy an interest in the New York Mets in 2011 for $200 million, finished 18th out of 8,773 in the 2006 Main Event.

David Einhorn
David Einhorn has pledged 100% of his winnings to charity.

Einhorn scored over $650,000 for that WSOP run and donated the entire sum to charity. He's pledged to do the same if he wins the Big One.

While the amateurs’ experience will help, it won’t put them on an even footing with the pros. But high-stakes poker pro Luke Scwartz thinks the businessmen might have other edges.

“There’s never been a $1 million buy-in tournament so it’s definitely something new,” Schwartz told PokerListings.com in Las Vegas.

“You’ve got to think about the bubble in that tournament. It’s going to be something like a $2 million bubble and no one wants to bubble for $2 million,” Schwartz explained.

“And the rich guys won’t be too bothered about bubbling it I don’t think, so it’s going to be very interesting to see how it goes. I think the people who aren’t too fussed about the buy-in are going to have the best shot,” he said.

In the same way that Andy Beal tried to push Doyle Brunson and Phil Ivey out of their comfort zone by raising the stakes to astronomical levels, the Big One might exert a level of pressure with which even the most seasoned pros have a tough time dealing.

The Ripple Effect of a Pro Winning the Big One

The professionals certainly have the best chance of taking down the top few spots in this tournament, but because of staking arrangements and players selling action, a win for one pro will actually mean big profit for a potentially large group of investors.

Luke Schwartz
Luke Schwartz playing the $50k buy-in Players Championship at the 2012 WSOP.

“I’d guess for the Big One most players are selling eight to nine hundred thousand dollars’ worth of action,” explained Luke Schwartz.

“If I was selling action for it I’d be selling to 20 or 30 different people,” he said. “It’s definitely going to take a lot of people to get one player into it,”

That means that a first-place score of $18 million for one pro could mean huge paydays for many poker pros, giving them the opportunity to enter more tournaments, play more cash games and continue to infuse the poker economy with the money it needs to continue thriving.

While $111,111 of each buy-in will go to One Drop, the amateurs’ buy-ins still represent an enormous influx of money into the poker world.

Right now 19 amateurs have committed to playing. That’s over $16.8 million that’s never before been accessible to poker players.

But even if the amateurs ran away with this tournament, Luke Schwartz is confident the poker economy will survive.

“I mean, Full Tilt walked away with $300 million and the poker world is still surviving so I don’t think $20 million is going to affect the community too much,” said Schwartz.

PokerListings.com will be shipping full live coverage of the Big One for One Drop in our 2012 World Series of Poker Live Coverage section, brought to you by 888poker.com.

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Hank 2012-06-25 08:04:25

Some excellent points here. Guy might in fact be a genius by both helping bring water to the third world and injecting $16 million into the poker world for his friends to split up. Wp Guy. Going to be a very interesting tournament.

acesacesaces 2012-06-24 23:25:58

Haha, and the parched children of the third world need Guy to win ;)


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