In this edition of the PokerNews What To Watch For, three events are moving towards completion. Of those three, all eyes will be fixed on the $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop. Also to be completed are Event 53: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em and Event 54: $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em.
Esfandiari and Trickett Way Out in Front
The Big One for One Drop has provided the largest buy-in poker event in history, and the final table was reached on Monday. Only eight players remain and Antonio Esfandiari is leading the way while chasing his second gold bracelet and buckets of cash. Trailing closely behind him is high-stakes superstar Sam Trickett, who has yet to earn his first World Series of Poker gold bracelet. Esfandiari and Trickett will enter the final table with 39.925 million and 37 million in chips, respectively.
Both these players are aggressive and like to stay active, meaning things could get a bit explosive at the final table. Both have been involved in numerous large pots already in the event, including a massive clash between Esfandiari and Jason Mercier when both players were yielding a top-five stack.
Another Epic Battle for Rast and Hellmuth Lurks
Last year at the 2011 WSOP, Brian Rast and Phil Hellmuth played heads-up at the $50,000 Poker Player's Championship. Rast came out on top and Hellmuth was left with his third second-place finish of the summer. That final table was played in No-Limit Hold'em format and Rast excelled against Hellmuth.
For much of Day 2 on Monday, Rast butted heads with Hellmuth. Whether it was simply a timing coincidence, Hellmuth's ego getting in the way or Rast's choosing to attack the 12-time bracelet winner, the two had some great back-and-forth action all day long. You can expect to see much more of the same at the final table, but this time Hellmuth will have direct position on Rast. Things could eventually come down to these two and Hellmuth will surely be looking to redeem himself.
Laliberté Looks To Win His Event
Guy Laliberté was the man behind this event from the get-go and has done extremely well to find his way to the final table. Not only did he work extremely hard to make the Big One for One Drop happen successfully, but Laliberté buckled down and was all business at the tables for the past two days. He's now reaping the benefits. Laliberté sits in third place coming into the final table with 27 million in chips and will be looking to win the very event he created.
Here's a closer look at the eight players remaining in the historic $1 million Big One for One Drop:
Bobby Baldwin — Chief Design and Construction Officer, MGM Resorts Intl
Chips: 7,150,000 (eighth place)
Bobby Baldwin is a 62-year-old resident of Las Vegas and a longtime casino industry executive. In 1978, he cemented his standing as a premier poker player by winning the $10,000 WSOP World Championship (The Main Event). In all, Baldwin has nearly $1 million in lifetime tournament winnings and is the owner of four WSOP gold bracelets, a rare distinction among the world’s millions of poker players.
Baldwin, who 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 chief financial officer of Mirage Resorts from 1999-2000. He now serves as president and CEO of City Center.
David Einhorn — Hedge Fund Manager
Chips: 8,375,000 (sixth place)
David Einhorn is a 43-year-old hedge-fund manager from Rye, New York. He is the founder and president of Greenlight Capital. Greenlight Capital is a "long-short value-oriented hedge fund." Started in 1996 with $900,000, Greenlight’s annualized return for investors is about 22 percent. When not running his successful business, Einhorn has been known to play cards, and play them well. In the 2006 WSOP Main Event — the largest poker tournament in history with 8,773 entrants — Einhorn finished in 18th place and went on to donate his $659,000 in winnings to the Michael J. Fox Foundation. An active philanthropist, Einhorn has stated his intention to donate to the City Year Foundation for this event. City Year is an education-focused nonprofit that partners with high-need public schools to provide full-time targeted student interventions.
Antonio Esfandiari — Professional Poker Player
Chips: 39,925,000 (first place)
Antonio Esfandiari is a 33-year-old professional poker player. Known to the poker community as “The Magician,” the Las Vegas resident is a former magician turned poker player. With nearly $5 million in lifetime earnings, including one WSOP gold bracelet and two other titles, Esfandiari is one of the game’s most recognized and entertaining personalities.
Guy Laliberté - Founder, Cirque de Soleil/OneDrop.org Canada Founder
Chips: 21,700,000 (third place)
Guy Laliberté is the 52-year-old founder and chief executive officer of Canada’s famous Cirque du Soleil circus troupe. Originally a street performer, Laliberté owns 95 percent of the company. According to Forbes Magazine, his net worth is $1.5 billion (U.S.), making him the 654th richest man in the world. His most notable tournament success came in the form of a fourth-place finish in a 2007 World Poker Tour event. He became Canada’s first private explorer in space and the first to engage in a Poetic Social Mission in space. He is also the founder of the One Drop Foundation, a philanthropic foundation to fight poverty in the world by giving everyone access to water and of course the beneficiary in this great event.
Brian Rast — Professional Poker Player
Chips: 11,350,000 (fourth place)
Brian Rast is one of the top young high-stakes cash-game players. Rast has accumulated more than $2.8 million in worldwide tournament earnings. The 30-year-old poker pro found success playing a limited tournament schedule in 2011 when he won two World Series of Poker bracelets, including the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. Rast was born in Denver, Colorado, where he was the valedictorian of his high school class.
Sam Trickett — Professional Poker Player
Chips: 37,000,000 (second place)
Sam Trickett is a 25-year-old professional poker player from East Retford, England. Trickett began playing poker in 2005 after a knee injury ended his career with the professional football club Hartlepool United. Trickett has amassed $6,359,096 in worldwide earnings. He has $1,068,931 in WSOP earnings.
Richard Yong — Businessman
Chips: 7,475,000 (seventh place)
Richard Yong is a 54-year-old businessman from Asia who resides in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He has many businesses worldwide, his main ones being data mining and IT-related companies. Yong has participated in the highest buy-in cash games and tournaments around the world, including the Million Dollar Cash came in Melbourne, Australia.
Phil Hellmuth — Professional Poker Player
Chips: 10,925,000 (fifth place)
Phil Hellmuth is a 47-year-old poker pro from Palo Alto, California. Widely regarded as one of the greatest poker players of all-time, Hellmuth has a record 12 World Series of Poker bracelets and 90 World Series of Poker cashes to his credit. Earlier this year, Hellmuth won his first non-hold'em bracelet in a $2,500 Razz event. Nicknamed the "Poker Brat" for his bizarre antics at the table, Hellmuth has more than $13.4 million in lifetime tournament cashes.
Event 53: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em
Willerson and Mefodichev Heads Up for the Title
Event 53 is yet another event at the WSOP that has run over scheduled time and will need a fourth day to be completed. Coming into the final day are just two players, Neil Willerson and Vladimir Mefodichev. Willerson holds to edge in the match with 8.92 million to Mefodichev's 5.335 million, but one big pot could swing things the other way quickly. Be sure to tune into this event as well, as the players fight for the $737,248 top prize.
Event 54: $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em
Will It Be Another Title for Bakes?
Earlier this summer, the poker world saw David “Bakes” Baker take home his second WSOP bracelet in Event 32: $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Baker looks to make another run at it in Event 54 to find number three.
Baker held the chip lead near the end of the night on Day 2, but a few stumbles and a big hand against Will Jaffe caused Baker to finish in the middle of pack. Still, he's got plenty of skill and experience on his side and will be one of the most feared players returning for Day 3.
Jaffe Looks To Ride Big Lead To Victory
Jaffe comes into Day 3 of Event 54: $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em with a substantial chip lead. Jaffe holds two cashes so far in this WSOP, with his best finish being 32nd place in Event 14: $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout. An eighth-place finish or better would secure Jaffe's biggest poker score.
As always, you can find PokerNews' coverage of the 2012 WSOP on our Live Reporting Pages. We look forward to having you follow along and stay tuned for plenty more from our What To Watch For series.