When Guy Laliberte announced the first edition of the Big One for One Drop in 2011, anticipation for the event could not have been higher. As the event neared in 2012, players jockeyed to grab one of the 48 seats, and numerous players were eventually turned away from putting up the $1 million buy-in – including Shaun Deeb, who won $1 million in lieu of a seat for finishing second in the $25,300 satellite held the night before.
The $111,111 One Drop High Roller drew a similarly successful crowd in 2013, so when the return of a $1 million buy-in to the WSOP schedule was announced for 2014, there was once again a buzz throughout the poker community. The maximum field size was increased to 56, but in the days that led up to the tournament players were scrambling to put together all the necessary cash, and a sellout seemed unlikely.
The 2014 Big One for One Drop still had all the highlights and excitement you’d hope for and expect from a $1 million buy-in, though, including a thrilling conclusion between one of the game’s biggest stars and an enigmatic 23-year-old superstar in the making. Daniel Colman caused some controversy with his refusal to do interviews following his $15 million win, but what was undeniable at the conclusion of the tournament was how cool, calm and collected he was under the brightest spotlight imaginable.
After the majority of the players registered before the start of play posed for a group photo, each of the 37 players in the field either picked a seat card or had one picked for them, and play got underway almost immediately thereafter. Erik Seidel, David Sands, Rono Lo and Rick Salomon quickly joined the fray over the course of the first two hours to push the total field to 41 as the first break approached. As the last hands of level two were being dealt, Gabe Kaplan bought his seat to make it 42 players, and it appeared as if a slow trickle of players would continue to get in throughout the six levels of late registration.
As the next few levels were played, and the dinner break came and went, not a single additional player plunked down the $1 million buy-in. As the seventh level of play began, however, one more player appeared poised to join — the one and only Phil Hellmuth. A stack was seemingly set aside for the Poker Brat to be the 43rd member of the 2014 Big One for One Drop field as he headed to put up his $1 million, but after a short span in Level 7 all of the unplayed stacks were collected and the field redrew to five tables of eight. Hellmuth, the fourth-place finisher in the original Big One for One Drop, offered some clarification on Twitter.
“PH Reality Show: thought I had $1 million, went over to buy into ‘One drop’, but $130,000 that was supposed to be at cage wasn’t there!”
Hellmuth was one of many who ended up not returning to the 2014 One Drop field after playing in 2012, with more than half the field opting not to return to play again. A host of new players did get in, though, and with 42 players the payout table was set. The winner would be getting $15.3 million, while the runner-up would have to settle for $8.3 million and six others would reach the money.
Even with all of the fresh faces in the field, it was 2012 runner-up Sam Trickett stealing all of the headlines on Day 1. He knocked fellow 2012 One Drop final table member David Einhorn in the first level and didn’t look back, bagging 13.4 million to end the night. Tom Hall followed in second, with Phil Ivey, Colman and 2012 champion Antonio Esfandiari rounding out the top five.
There were 10 players who joined Einhorn in making their exit on Day 1. Trickett singlehandedly dispatched Einhorn, Igor Kurganov and Vanessa Selbst, the only woman ever to play this event. Stanley Choi, Max Altergott, Brian Rast, Philipp Gruissem, Jason Mercier, Niklas Heinecker, Dan Smith and Rono Lo each saw their $1 million disappear in a single day of action.
During the first half of the second day, it looked very much as if Esfandiari would make another run at a One Drop final table. The field was more than cut in half by the dinner break, with Esfandiari and Hall well out in front of the rest of the pack.
The eliminations started early and didn’t slow down until the final level before dinner, when only one player went out. John Morgan might have gotten somebody to lay down quads in the 2012 version of this event, but he was the first player knocked out on Day 2, courtesy of Cary Katz. Talal Shakerchi was the next to go as he ran [Ac] [Qh] into Scott Seiver’s pocket aces, followed to the rail by Jean-Robert Bellande, who went out against satellite qualifier Connor Drinan.
Laliberté could not make his dream of back-to-back final tables in his own event a reality after Isaac Haxton cracked his pocket queens. Daniel Cates and Greg Merson were both eliminated by Rick Salomon, while Doug Polk knocked out David Sands. Ivey ended John Juanda’s tournament, Tobias Reinkemeier picked off Erick Lindgren with pocket jacks, and Esfandiari knocked out both Bellagio qualifier Bill Klein and early leader Schwartz in quick succession. Hall made a good chunk of his early chips by picking up pocket aces to Haxton’s pocket queens.
Speaking of pocket aces, one of the sickest hands in the history of tournament poker was recorded for posterity and should be a truly memorable moment when the tournament is broadcast on ESPN. Katz was first to act and he raised to 225,000, with the action folding around to Drinan in the big blind. Drinan three-bet to 580,000, Katz four-bet to 2 million and Drinan five-bet all in, which Katz quickly called. It was [Ac] [Ad] for Drinan and [Ah] [As] for Katz, with a chop an almost certain fate until the [Kh] [5h] [2d] flop. Katz was freerolling, but needed running hearts to take the unlikely pot. The [4h] made it possible as tension grew around the main TV stage and, as if scripted by the producers of the show, the [2h] fell on the river to audible groans and gasps. Both players were virtually even and Drinan was eventually found to be the shorter of the two stacks, going out in an 11 million chip pot that won’t soon be forgotten.
Polk got short-stacked and open-shoved his last 14 big blinds only to run into Ivey’s pocket nines to bust. His elimination forced the two-table redraw as the last 16 players each got new seats at one of the two televised tables. Negreanu started his run toward the top of the chip counts with a double through Colman, as both his pocket aces and Colman’s pocket tens flopped a set after they both got it in pre-flop — the first of several major confrontations between the two Daniels.
Vogelsang got his big double through Ivey, and the German crested above the 10 million mark by picking up the final pre-dinner elimination on the final hand of Level 14. Vogelsang open-shoved on Anthony Gregg in the big blind and the 2013 One Drop High Roller champion called off his last 13 big blinds with ace-deuce offsuit. Vogelsang was in surprisingly good shape with pocket threes and held, knocking Gregg out in 16th.
It took the better part of the first level back from dinner for fireworks to explode between Negreanu and Sam Trickett. Negreanu raised to 360,000, Trickett three-bet to 800,000 from the small blind and Negreanu called, bringing down a flop of [9s] [6c] [5d]. Trickett checked, Negreanu checked it back and the turn was the [Th]. Trickett led out for 1.2 million, Negreanu called, and the river was the [9c]. Trickett open-shoved his remaining stack of 3,865,000, which was just over 24 big blinds, and Negreanu thought it over for a little while, asking for an exact count. They were essentially even in chips, and eventually Negreanu found a call, causing Trickett to confidently table his [Ad] [Ac]. Negreanu got it on the river, though, as his [Jd] [9d] made trips and sent the 2012 Big One for One Drop runner-up out in 15th place.
The action slowed significantly with 14 left, but Ivey’s run at a sixth career $1 million-plus score ended at Katz’s hands, with Katz’s trip queens turning a full house to cut off any hope for Ivey’s flush draw. Negreanu flopped a flush in a three-way pot to oust Galfond in 13th place, and both tables were suddenly six-handed. Two guys who’ve likely crossed paths in Hollywood home games clashed, as Salomon continued to build toward a chip lead by taking out Kaplan with pocket sixes to [Ad] [Qs].
Brandon Steven continued his run of historically painful near-misses, losing a coin flip with [Ah] [Ks] to Christoph Vogelsang’s pocket nines for almost all of his chips. Despite several tournament-saving doubles, Steven eventually went out against Katz, adding an 11th-place finish in the 2014 Big One for One Drop to his 10th in the 2010 WSOP Main Event and 12th in the 2012 Big One for One Drop.
Esfandiari’s run at back-to-back final tables ended when he lost two pots with lesser aces against Tobias Reinkemeier, reducing the field to a single table of nine. Despite trying as hard as they could to bust the $1.3 million bubble, with short-stacks Seiver and Paul Newey getting doubles, once 4:15 a.m. PST hit, they called it a night with nine players left. It was a very polarized set of chip counts, with Salomon, Reinkemeier, Colman and Negreanu over 20 million and Katz, Seiver, Hall, Vogelsang and Newey under 10 million.
Even with five short stacks, the specter of a long and drawn out $1.3 million bubble loomed large. So when Hall went all in from the hijack for 12 big blinds and four other short stacks in similarly dire position, there was a high likelihood that he had a big hand. It took Negreanu a little bit of time, but he three-bet all in for 20,625,000 total and the remainder of the table got out of the way. It was pocket tens for Hall against [As] [Qd] for Negreanu, and with the [Ac] on the flop and no help for Hall to speak of, the man known as “Hong Kong Tom” was officially cast out as the bubble boy in ninth place.
After a brief Cirque du Soleil introduction, the official final table got underway. Newey was the shortest stack by a fair margin, but doubled through both Negreanu and Reinkemeier to make himself relevant in the hunt for the One Drop title. The fourth all in within the first 10 hands saw Katz get it in with [8h] [8c], only to run into Negreanu’s [Js] [Jh] as the chip leader continued to be very active. No help came from the board, and Katz was sent out in eighth place.
Another TV highlight in the making saw Seiver bluff Reinkemeier out of a pot where the German held pocket aces, which was quickly followed by a huge run for Vogelsang. After doubling through Colman with [As] [Qs] to [Ah] [Td], Vogelsang coolered Salomon with [As] [7c] against [8c] [7h] on an [Ac] [7s] [7d] [9h] [5c] board for a huge double that sent him rocketing into the chip lead.
Reinkemeier doubled through Newey with [As] [Jc] against [Kh] [Qd], leaving Newey with just a single big blind. Both Seiver and Salomon called, and Salomon reduced it to heads-up with a bet on a [Kh] [7d] [2h] flop, tabling [Ah] [4h]. Newey was tenuously ahead with [Ac] [Jh], but the [Qh] brought his tournament to a swift end in seventh.
Colman, who slipped in early action, picked up pocket aces and doubled through Reinkemeier and his pocket fives, crippling Reinkemeier’s stack in a very similar way that Reinkemeier did it to Newey. Before he could get those last two big blinds in, however, the flat bottom-half of the payout structure led Seiver to go for the gusto against Negreanu.
On a [Jd] [Ts] [9d] flop, in a battle of the blinds, Negreanu check-raised enough to put Seiver all in and got called. Negreanu was ahead with [Jh] [3s], but he had a lot of outs to dodge against Seiver’s [Td] [5d]. A couple of bricks later, Seiver was left to settle for sixth-best. Negreanu dispatched Reinkemeier shortly thereafter, betting Vogelsang out of a sidepot on a [9d] [8d] [7d] flop, tabling [Qd] [Td] for a flopped flush. Reinkemeier couldn’t get runner-runner with [Js] [8s], and he finished fifth.
Salomon never truly recovered from his hand against Vogelsang, and on the hand immediately following Reinkemeier’s elimination he open-shoved all in from the hijack and Colman called on the button. That set up a showdown between Salomon’s pocket eights and Colman’s [Ac] [Th]. This time the ace-ten worked out well for Colman, as the [Tc] [Ts] [3h] flop put him firmly in the lead he wouldn’t give up. Salomon’s once mighty stack was no more, and in 40 hands of play his fourth-place elimination made him the sixth player to exit in the first two hours on Day 3.
Vogelsang was left as the short stack, and fell victim to a little bit of bad luck as his [Kh] [Jc] chopped all in to Negreanu’s [Ks] [Td]. Eventually Vogelsang was left with almost nothing, getting his last 3.8 million in against both Negreanu and Colman. It got checked all the way down on a board of [8h] [6d] [2d] [6h] [4d], and Colman’s [5d] [5h] was enough to hold off Vogelsang’s [Kd] [Qc], leaving Negreanu and Colman to fight it out for the title.
Colman and Negreanu slugged it out, trading the lead back and forth in a series of massive pots. After making full houses on the river twice in big spots, Colman took a 3-to-1 lead and looked poised to close out Negreanu. On the 118th hand of the final table, Negreanu limped on the button, Colman raised to 4 million and Negreanu raised all in for 20,850,000. Colman called with [Kd] [Qh] and Negreanu was slightly ahead going to the flop with [Ad] [4c].
The crowd exploded as the [Ah] [Js] [4s] flop gave Negreanu two-pair and a massive lead in the hand, reducing Colman to four outs to a gutshot straight. A silence fell over the stadium as the dealer burned and dealt the turn. It was the [Ts], and a different section of the crowd — this one filled with Colman’s friends — erupted into cheers as Colman spiked his unlikely straight and left Negreanu with four outs to survive. The river was the [7s], and Colman had seized victory in the 2014 Big One for One Drop in grand fashion.
After answering just one question from Kara Scott for the ESPN broadcast, regarding the One Drop Foundation, Colman stuck with his policy of declining to do interviews and didn’t take an official winner’s photo. It was a controversial end to an epic event, but along with Colman’s EPT Grand Final Super High Roller win just a few months prior, the 23-year-old has set himself apart as a serious force to be reckoned with.
After controversy sprung from his decision to decline interviews following his $15.3 million Big One for One Drop win, Daniel Colman took to 2+2 to explain where the motivation for that decision came from.
I really don’t owe anyone an explanation but Ill give one …
First off, I don’t owe poker a single thing. I’ve been fortunate enough to benefit financially from this game, but I have played it long enough to see the ugly side of this world. It is not a game where the pros are always happy and living a fulfilling life. To have a job where you are at the mercy of variance can be insanely stressful and can lead to a lot of unhealthy habits. I would never in a million years recommend for someone to try and make it as a poker pro.
It is also not a game where the amateurs are always happy to be losing their money for the sake of entertainment. The losers lose way more money at this game than winners are winning. A lot of this is money they can’t afford to lose. This is fine of course because if someone is dumb enough to gamble with money they can’t afford to lose, that’s their problem. Im not really buying that though. In a perfect world, markets are based on informed consumers making rational transactions. In reality sadly that’s not the case, markets are based on advertising trying to play on peoples impulses and targeting their weaknesses in order for them to make irrational decisions. I get it if someone wants to go and play poker on their own free will, but I don’t agree with gambling being advertised just like I don’t agree with cigarettes and alcohol being advertised.
It bothers me that people care so much about poker’s well being. As poker is a game that has such a net negative effect on the people playing it. Both financially and emotionally.
As for promoting myself, I feel that individual achievements should rarely be celebrated. I am not going to take part in it for others and I wouldn’t want it for myself. If you wonder why our society is so infatuated by individuals and their success, and being a baller, it is not that way for no reason. It is their because it serves a clear purpose. If you get people to look up to someone and adhere to the “gain wealth, forget all but self” motto, then you can get them to ignore the social contract which is very good for power systems. Also it serves as a means of distraction to get people to not pay attention to the things that do matter.
These are just my personal views. And yes, I realize I am conflicted. I capitalize off this game that targets peoples weaknesses. I do enjoy it, I love the strategy part of it, but I do see it as a very dark game.
Happy to read anyones opinions that could convince me otherwise of my views.