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Pros, businessmen have one thing in common at WSOP $1 million Big One for One Drop

1 July 2012

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- The players in the $1 million Big One for One Drop at the World Series of Poker come at the game from very different positions, but they all shared one thing in common as the tournament got underway at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino on Sunday afternoon.

They were all keenly aware of the huge spotlight on this event and the good that it will do for One Drop and for poker.

"I'm excited about supporting a cause," said Bill Perkins, the owner of a private equity and venture capital business in Texas. "When I walked into this room and I saw the lights and the pomp and circumstance, I said, 'Wow, this is a real big deal,' and I realize how great a platform it is for Guy Laliberte's charity for one, and two for poker."

Perkins is one of about 20 non-professional players in the field of 48 players for the Big One for One Drop. And while the professional players were drooling at the prospect of playing a field that included a good percentage of "dead money," they also understood the tournament's importance.

"[The PGA Tour] gives to local charities and national charities every week on the tour," said Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton. "They've got huge corporate sponsorships for individuals and the tournaments, and I think poker should follow that model."

Many professional players also expressed a great deal of gratitude for the opportunity to play in such a historic event.

"I think it's great what the poker community is doing here," said Antonio Esfandiari. "Five million dollars to charity is amazing, and it's a great charity, because everybody in the world should have clean water. It's an honor to be a part of this tournament."

Others said that the impact will go far beyond the $5.5 million raised for One Drop in the tournament itself.

"When you think about how many people are going to be impacted because of this tournament, not just the money made, but the exposure for the charity, it’s really incredible," said Hall of Famer Erik Seidel, who has done very well in high-roller tournaments in the past two years. "A lot of people are not aware that there are 2 million people dying every year, most of them very young, because they lack clean water. That was the driving force behind this event, and that's why Guy worked so hard. It definitely is more than just a poker tournament."

The charitable impact of the tournament may go far beyond One Drop, as well. Some of the players have already expressed their intention to donate some of their winnings, if they are fortunate enough to finish in the top nine and make it into the money.

Brandon Steven, whom many poker fans may remember as the November Nine bubble boy in 2010, says he intends to make donations to charities around his local Wichita, Kansas area, if he finishes in the money.

"The only reason I’m here is for charity," said Steven. "If I win the thing, seven different Wichita charities stand to get a total of over $2 million. So it's a big deal for our local community, and that's in addition to what the One Drop foundation gets."

Dan Shak is one player who sits on both sides of the businessman/poker player divide. The hedge fund manager has made a name in the poker world, but has a long history of supporting charitable endeavors. In 2007, he was a co-winner of the Ante Up for Africa event at the WSOP, and donated the entire first-place prize to charity.

"I think charity is important in every field, not just in poker," said Shak. "I have mixed feelings on this event, because if a pro wins it keeps money in the poker world, and if an amateur wins, maybe more money can go to the charity world. But you know what, I've got to [root for] the charity world. That's how I was raised."

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Day 1 of the tournament started out slowly, with the first elimination occurring early in the third level. The professional players were hit much harder than the businessmen on Day 1, with 10 pros, including Seidel, eliminated compared to just one amateur.

Thirty-seven players remain heading into Day 2. Brian Rast holds the chip lead with 10.7 million chips, with Phil Hellmuth in second with nearly 8.4 million.

The tournament will play down to the final nine on Monday, with the winner being crowned on Tuesday. First place will pay a record $18.3 million, while second is worth $10.1 million.
Pros, businessmen have one thing in common at WSOP $1 million Big One for One Drop is republished from CasinoVendors.com.
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Best of Aaron Todd
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.