Should the World Series of Poker Uncap the Big One for One Drop?
On Thursday, the World Series of Poker announced a dozen more entrants for the Big One for One Drop, which will begin on July 1. The list of new players includes poker pros Jason Mercier, Eugene Katchalov, David “Viffer” Peat, Vivek Rajkumar, Andrew Robl, Nick Schulman, Sam Trickett, and Noah Schwartz. Also on that list are Roger Teska, Jens Kyllönen, John Morgan (CEO of Winmark Corporation), and an anonymous hedge fund manager.
With this new batch of players, there are now 42 players registered, but that doesn’t count 2011 WSOP Player of the Year Ben Lamb and Jean-Robert Bellande, who have both confirmed via Twitter that they’re participating.
If JRB and Lamb are indeed registered, then we’re just four entrants shy of the 48-player cap. Jack Effel has guaranteed that the winner/s of the $25,300 buy-in mega satellite on June 30 will receive a seat (or seats), so right now, the only way we’re going to exceed 48 players is if the event is already capped before the satellite begins. If that’s the case, and the field has 49 players, then they’ll open up another table. Instead of having six tables of eight-handed poker, they’ll have seven tables of seven-handed poker. When the first person is eliminated from the tournament, then they’ll break the seventh table, distribute the six players among the six other tables, and we’ll have six tables of eight-handed poker.
If that’s the case, and they have to open up a whole new table for one extra player, then why not extend the cap to 56 players? The seven extra players can fill the empty chairs at each table, the biggest poker tournament in history will increase its field size, and, most importantly, the One Drop Foundation will receive an extra $777,777.
In a perfect world, this event wouldn’t be capped at all. Effel has previously stated on the ESPN Poker Edge Podcast that the event was capped because the WSOP staff doesn’t want to break the poker world, but in actuality, nobody is reaching into their own pocket and handing the person at the cage $1 million of their own money. There are pieces being sold and investments being made outside of the poker industry. In fact, I’m willing to wager that, with all of the businessmen playing and all of the investments being made, less than half of the prize pool will come from poker players’ bankrolls.
A million-dollar tournament is a one-time deal. If the WSOP runs this every year, then yes, they would eventually break the poker world, but they’re smarter than that. The WSOP staff knows that the Big One would be a lot less special if we saw a million-dollar tournament more than once every four years. So don’t exclude the players to protect them, let the players choose whether or not they want to take the risk — that’s an integral part of poker. If they want to grab three stacks of high society, battle with Teddy KGB, and learn a hard lesson, then good for them. They had the right to choose, and they accepted the consequences.
The only problem I can see with removing the cap, is dealing with the Nevada Gaming Commission. Earlier in the series, when Joseph Cheong and Aubin Cazals wanted to postpone their heads-up match in Event 6: $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em Mixed-Max, they were informed that the NGC wouldn’t allow it because the tournament structure had already been submitted, and evidently the WSOP isn’t allowed to deviate from the plan. According to Dennis Jones, the tournament director who was on the phone with Effel while Cheong and Cazals were waiting for a decision, Effel called the NGC, but they were unable to accommodate him.
If this is the case, then Effel should get on the horn right now and do everything he can to lift the cap. If there’s an issue with the television crew, then Effel should pick up the phone and have a conversation with Mori Eskandandi, the guru behind Poker PROductions. All-in-all, Effel should do everything he can to lift the cap before July 1, because when Phil Ivey shows up with a dufflebag full of money, and wants to register, it’s going to be really hard to look him in the eyes and say, “no.”
Trust me, I’ve made accidental eye contact with the man. Those eyes are piercing, even when he’s munching on an apple.
Ivey’s not the only notable who could jump into the Big One on a moment’s notice either. Phil Hellmuth (11-time WSOP bracelet winner and fourth on the all-time money list), Michael Mizrachi (former winner of the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship and fifth on the all-time money list) and John Juanda (sixth on the all-time money list) should all be capable of receiving the proper investments to play should they choose to. There are also young studs like Justin Bonomo, who is still trying to raise the money, and fearless players like Viktor “Isildur1” Blom, who are capable of doing anything at anytime.
Again, above all, if you lift the cap, then you’re generating an extra $111,111 per player for the One Drop Foundation. More money for One Drop makes Guy Laliberté happy, it makes the WSOP look more charitable, and it sheds a positive light on the poker industry for the first time in many months. Please WSOP staff, if there’s anything you can do, lift the cap. You won’t be breaking the poker world if you do so, rather you’ll be raising more money for a great charity and making sure that the biggest buy-in tournament in the history of poker is as entertaining as possible.
That’s a win-win for everybody.