Antonio Esfandiari Leads $1 Million Big One for One Drop Final Table
Hellmuth, Trickett, and Laliberté Also Chasing $18.3 Million First Prize
After two days of nail-biting high stakes action, the final table is set in the $1 million dollar buy-in World Series of Poker Big One for One Drop. The event started with 48 players, featuring the superstars of the poker world alongside a number of highly successful businessmen with a love for the game and a desire to support the One Drop Charity.
34-year-old Russian businessman and poker player Ilya Bulychev was eliminated on the largest money bubble in tournament poker history, finishing tenth for zero dollars, ensuring that the remaining nine were all guaranteed at least a seven-figure cash. The first player eliminated inside the money was 2009 Poker Hall of Fame inductee Mike Sexton. The WSOP bracelet winner and World Poker Tour commentator earner $1,109,333 for his ninth place finish.
With that, only eight players remained to battle it out at the ESPN televised final table, each of them with their eyes on the record-demolishing $18.3 million first-place prize. Who will win this historic event and instantly take over the lead in the all-time money list? Here are the eight potential champions in order of chip count:
1. Antonio Esfandiari – 39,925,000
Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari made a number of opponents disappear while building his sizable stack. One of his biggest vanishing acts was midway through the day when Esfandiari found pocket aces and got stacks in preflop against Jason Mercier’s pocket kings, moving him into a chip lead as the bubble loomed.
Esfandiari had finished third in a $3,000 no-limit hold’em event just a week before this $1,000,000 buy-in began. He has already locked up nearly three times the first prize in that event simply by making the money, and surely has a great shot at his second WSOP gold bracelet and the $18.3 million first-place prize.
2. Sam Trickett – 37,000,000
East Retford, England’s Sam Trickett turned 26 today. Making the final table of the largest buy-in poker tournament in history seems like a pretty good birthday present for the young pro, and the fact that he has the second largest stack surely makes it even better.
Trickett has more than $6.3 million in lifetime earnings, with considerable success in previous high roller events. At the 2011 Aussie Millions, he won a $100,000 high roller and finished second four days later in the $250,000 buy-in event there, earning over $3 million in a matter of days. Trickett now is staring down the opportunity to win more than six times as much as that and his first gold bracelet. What more could a poker pro wish for as they blow out the candles on their birthday cake?
3. Guy Laliberté – 21,700,000
Guy Laliberté, the 52-year-old founder and CEO of Cirque du Soleil, was the driving force behind this historic tournament. The event has been a great success, meeting the 48-player cap and raising $5,333,328 for the One Drop Foundation, which he also founded. It seems only fitting that Laliberté should be rewarded for his hard work with a shot at the title.
Originally a street performer, Laliberté built an empire on excellence in performance, and now has a reported net worth of $1.5 billion. Laliberté is no stranger to the poker table, with experience playing in the highest-stakes cash games in the world, and nearly $750,000 in prior tournament earnings, including a fourth place finish in the World Poker Tour Championship $25,000 main event.
4. Brian Rast – 11,350,000
Brian Rast was the only player to win two gold bracelets at the 2011 WSOP, topping a $1,500 pot-limit hold’em event for his first WSOP title and then following that win up by defeating fellow final tablist of this event Phil Hellmuth heads-up to win the $50,000 Poker Players Championship for $1.7 million. He is back again, looking for his third bracelet and the biggest payout in tournament history.
Rast enters the final table in the middle of the pack, but solidly below the roughly 18-million-chip average stack. With years of experience playing high-stakes cash games live and online, the player known on the virtual felts as “tsarrast” will surely feel as comfortable as one can when eight-figures are on the line.
5. Phil Hellmuth – 10,925,000
Phil Hellmuth is the all-time leader in bracelets with 12 World Series of Poker titles to his name, including the 1989 WSOP main event. One of poker’s most recognizable names, Hellmuth undoubtedly has his eyes on capturing his record-furthering 13 and the massive prize money that comes along with it. The 47-year-old won his twelfth bracelet just weeks ago in a $2,500 Razz event, his first WSOP win in a non-hold’em event.
Hellmuth is already fifth on the all-time money list with $12,970,089 in live-tournament winnings, and can take a stranglehold on the lead and increase his earnings to more than $30 million if he were able to build his stack and take home this prestigious title.
6. David Einhorn – 8,375,000
43-year-old David Einhorn is a highly successful hedge fund manager and the Founder and President of Greenlight Capital. The Rye, New York native is no stranger to the felt, however, as he previously made a deep run in the event that held the previous record for largest first-place prize in a poker tournament, the 2006 WSOP main event.
Einhorn finished 18th out of 8,773 entrants. More impressive than his strong showing in the was the fact that he donated his $659,000 in winnings to the Michael J. Fox Foundation. $111,111 of Einhorn’s million dollar buy-in already went to the One Drop charity, but he also has announced that he intends to donate his winning from this tournament to the City Year Foundation, an education-focused non-profit that partners with high-need public schools to provide full-time targeted student interventions.
7. Richard Yong – 7,475,000
Richard Yong is a 54-year-old businessman from Asia who currently resides in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He has many businesses worldwide, his main ones being data mining and IT-related companies. Yong’s biggest tournament cash was for finishing fourth in a super high roller event at the 2012 Asian Poker Tour Manila, for which he earned $463,454.
Yong has participated in the highest buy-in cash games and tournaments around the world, including the much-discussed games in Macau that have drawn top pros like Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan, and final tablists of this event Sam Trickett and Brian rast.
8. Bobby Baldwin – 7,150,000
The shortest stack at this historic final table is far from short on accomplishments. Bobby Baldwin won the 1978 WSOP main event, as well as three other WSOP titles, and has continued to play in some of the biggest cash games in the world, when he has time. Now 62-years-old, Baldwin has transitioned to the other side of the industry, rising to the rank of casino industry executive. The most famous high stakes cash games in the world have taken place in Bobby’s room at Bellagio, named after Baldwin.
Baldwin served for a time as a consultant for the Golden Nugget Casino, was named its president in 1984. He has also headed The Mirage and was named president of the Bellagio in 1998. He served under Steve Wynn as CFO of Mirage Resorts from 1999-2000. He now serves as president and CEO of City Center.
Here is a look at the seating assignments at the final table:
Some additional biographical information was provided by the WSOP.
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