The road to the biggest prize in poker tournament history begins at Harrah’s Chester next month, and some lucky players will get to take the first steps for free.
“All the planets would have to align,” said Harrah’s Chester poker room manager Bruce Dixon, “but it is possible to win what amounts to a million-dollar seat in one of the biggest poker tournaments ever played for no money out of pocket other than sitting at a cash game here.”
The brass ring for local players is a seat in a tournament called Big One for One Drop, a charity poker tournament being held at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas this summer that has a buy-in of $1 million.
Yes, you read that correctly.
A seat in this tournament costs $1 million and even though some of the prize pool will go toward charity, the first-place prize is still a world record estimated $12.27 million and possibly more. The charity benefiting from the tournament is One Drop, a nongovernmental organization that funds water projects worldwide.
The Big One, being played on July 1, is a tournament being championed by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte. The Big One will be part of the World Series of Poker and televised on ESPN.
So far, there are 30 commitments to play, mainly big-name poker pros and wealthy businessmen. However, some seats will be filled through a series of satellites being played at Caesars Entertainment casinos around the country, including locally at Harrah’s Chester.
Here’s how it works.
Harrah’s Chester will hold a $520 step-satellite on May 19. The grand prize from the step-satellite will be a seat in a Big One mega-satellite being held in Las Vegas on June 30 where each seat is worth $25,300. For every 40 players in the mega-satellite, one seat will be awarded to the Big One for One Drop—and a crack at the biggest live tournament prize in poker history.
But there’s even more going on at Harrah’s. The step-satellite on May 19 is being called a 2-for-1 because in addition to a Big One mega-satellite seat, for every additional $11,000 in the prize pool, a seat in the WSOP Main Event will be awarded. The $10,000 buy-in Main Event starts July 7. Expenses for the trip to Las Vegas are also included.
And now for the best part. Beginning May 8, Harrah’s Chester will have poker room random drawings where any player in a cash game may wind up winning a seat in the $520 Big One step-satellite. In other words, some player could wind up with a $1 million seat in the Big One for no more investment other than sitting in a low-limit cash game.
Granted, it would take “all the planets aligning” as Harrah’s Chester poker room manager Bruce Dixon put it, but … it could happen.
Although there are 30 commitments so far for the Big One, the field is being capped at 48. If there were a full field, first place would be an estimated $18 million. From the prize pool, 11 percent is going to the charity. Here’s more information on the Big One tournament, and here’s the field so far.
- 1. Guy Laliberté
- 2. Phil Ruffin
- 3. Andy Beal
- 4. Montreal private citizen group (Sean O’Donnell)
- 5. Loto-Québec/Casino Montreal seat (Lottery scratch-off/live satellite)
- 6. Cary Katz
- 7. Paul Newey
- 8. Richard Yong
- 9. Erik Seidel
- 10. Anonymous – U.S. Venture Capitalist
- 11. Anonymous – European Hedge Fund Manager
- 12. Anonymous – U.S. Hedge Fund Manager
- 13. Anonymous – French businessman
- 14. Caesars Entertainment seat
- 15. Caesars Entertainment via June 30 $25,300 satellite at Rio
- 16. MGM Mirage Satellite seat
- 17. Bobby Baldwin
- 18. Patrik Antonius
- 19. Gus Hansen
- 20. Daniel Negreanu
- 21. Johnny Chan
- 22. Tom Dwan
- 23. Tony Guoga
- 24. Jonathan Duhamel
- 25. Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier
- 26. Daniel Shak
- 27. Justin Smith
- 28. Bob Bright
- 29. Arnaud Mimran
- 30. Paul Phua