2016 Big One: No Pros and The Dan Colman Effect!

Many of the world’s top poker sites have revamped their online environments to be more heavily weighted in favor of their recreational players, a group that for so long has been dissuaded from playing the game for fear of being picked off by their professional counterparts. It would seem that the policy overhaul has now made its way into the live arena, too, and last month One Drop founder Guy Laliberté announced that this year’s Big One for One Drop charity event would be by invitation only, and that professional poker players would not be allowed to compete.
The 2016 Big One for One Drop will command a buy-in fee of €1 million, with the tournament taking place over three days at the Casino de Monte-Carlo on the French Riviera. From each buy-in and re-entry fee, €111,111 will be donated to the One Drop Organization which aims to provide free water for impoverished regions around the world.
While the One Drop Organization has held several charitable tournaments over the years, only two previous “Big One” tournaments involving buy-ins of $1 million have been held. The first one held in 2012 featured a field split 50-50 between pros and recreational players, with the event eventually won by Antonio Esfandiari for $18,346,673. In contrast to the jubilation associated with Esfandiari’s victory, in 2014 Daniel Colman subsequently beat Daniel Negreanu to win the event for $15,306,668,but what should have been a celebration soon turned into controversy after the pro expressed “no interest in promoting poker”, and quickly vanished out the back door only to later slate poker for being a “very dark game.”
Whether this may have been a contributing factor for the pros no longer being welcomed to enter the prestigious event is uncertain, although during the last tournament competing businessmen seemed much less thrilled at the prospects of playing in such a pro heavy field. Commenting on the development, Guy Laliberté recently explained:
“Our priority is of course to raise as much money as we can for One Drop. That’s the number one goal, but we also want to create a fun and comfortable poker environment for recreational players where they are not under the threat of being bled out by the pros.”
That said, it appears that a small number of individual pros may still be allowed to take part in the invitation only event, or to be given an opportunity to qualify for a seat. In any case, the tournament will continue to attract a great deal of interest from the media, and poker fans alike.

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