Poker Pros Find Investors For $1 Million WSOP Event
The Poker Community At Large Has Stake In Sunday's Tournament
Sunday’s $1 million buy-in event at the World Series of Poker has a 48-player cap, but there may be hundreds of people financially sweating the action. By selling shares, some of the game’s best have found the funds to play the largest open buy-in event in poker history and fight for the $18 million first-place prize.
Despite working on the felt, Noah Schwartz looked outside the gambling community for his buy-in. He said he went to “a few hedge fund guys from New York.”
“There was mutual admiration for each other’s work, I guess you can say,” Schwartz said. “After laying it all out, they decided that I was a good investment and put up various pieces.”
It wasn’t difficult for Schwartz to sell action. “It’s because I’m having a really good year. I won that tournament at the PCA and then final tabled the L.A. Poker Classic main event and the EPT Grand Final high roller in Monte Carlo. So I’ve proven that I can play with anybody,” he said.
Schwartz formed One Drop Investments LLC to facilitate his stake.
“I have a lot of people depending on me,” Schwartz added. “These opportunities are few and far between, so I’m definitely feeling the pressure, but that’s when I play my best.”
Tournament veteran Jason Mercier stuck to the poker community for his buy-in. He declined to go into details, but did say that he sold a lot.
The two-time bracelet winner said it was a “grind” to raise the money. Mercier has cashed for more than $8 million lifetime in tournaments.
Michael Mizrachi bought into the $1 million the night he won $1.45 million in the $50,000 Players Championship. He said he wasn’t using the $50,000 event as a satellite. He had all the pieces sold prior to registering, which leaves Mizrachi with about 15 percent of himself.
“There’s a lot of investors. People still want to buy, but I’m sold out,” the three-time bracelet winner said.
Cash game grinder Ben Lamb, who has played just four tournaments so far this year, said he has sold some pieces, both within the poker community and outside of it. He charged 10 percent markup on his shares.
While poker pros have pieced themselves out, some of the businessmen registered are going stag on Sunday. Cary Katz, CEO of College Loan Corp., is one of them.
“I certainly don’t think I have an advantage, even if you factor in the pressure that comes with such a high buy-in on some of the other players,” Katz said. “You know, you only live once, so I figured it would be a fun experience.”
Hedge fund manger and poker player Dan Shak has also put up 100 percent of the $1 million.
“It was a tough decision,” he said. “I’ve publicly said in the past that I think tournament buy-ins are getting too big and taking too much money out of the poker world in general, but as a one-time thing, with the money going to charity, I think we can accept it.”
The tournament will collect $111,111 from each buy-in and ship it to One Drop, a charity that focuses on global awareness for clean drinking water. The organization is run by billionaire Guy Laliberte, who will also compete on Sunday.
As of Friday afternoon, 42 players had given the Rio their respective $1 million entry.
Julio Rodriguez contributed to this story.
Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus
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