Big One for One Drop Encore Not Quite as Big

Jean-Robert-Bellande-One-Drop-2014The 2012 Big One for One Drop was a complete unknown. The buildup to the tournament was fraught with all kinds of speculation and anticipation, so much so that when the first cards went in the air everything else stopped and the entire poker world stood and watched.

Nothing of this magnitude had ever been attempted before, and it wasn’t just the $1,000,000 buy-in that had people wondering what the turnout would be and whether this tournament would go down as a success or an ISPT-esque overreach.

Would the 11% cut that went to charity keep players away?

Would the swath of non-professionals attract players?

Would the play be up to snuff?

Would the TV cameras attract more players? The special bracelet? The guarantee of the biggest payday in poker history?

In the end it could not have gone any more swimmingly for the WSOP, ESPN, and most importantly for Guy Laliberte and One Drop. The tournament sold out before the players were seated (all 48 of them) and Justin Bonomo was famously turned away at the cage with $1 million in hand –who knows how many players would have found their way in had late registration been an option?

Fast forward to 2014, where the cap on the field was raised to 56 players, with a first place prize estimated to be in the $20 million range. Everyone expected the tournament to easily sell out based on the 2012 running.

The unknown of 2012 turned into the expected in 2014.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Rio on June 29th; only 42 players entered the tournament, 6 less than 2012. Attendance dropped despite players understanding what the tournament was going to be all about this time around.

Will it matter?

The payouts will be smaller (although $15 million up top is nothing to scoff at) and the buzz and the electricity regarding the tournament are simply not there this time around, more on that in a minute.

It will be interesting to see if the tournament’s perceived failure (can I call 42 entries in a $1 million tournament a failure?) has a lasting effect on not just the amount of coverage the tournament receives this year, but whether it continues to pop up on the WSOP schedule every two years.

In my opinion, the Big One for One Drop needs to be fresh; it needs to be a tournament the poker world cannot wait to happen; an event that the poker forums say doesn’t occur often enough. If absence makes the heart grow fonder then One Drop needs to go away completely for a couple years.

Without the buzz. the electricity, and people clamoring for it, One Drop simply doesn’t work.

Sure it can be a success every two years with 40 or so entries (give or take 10 either way), but it has the potential to be much more than that in my opinion. The fact that it regressed in just its second appearance on the WSOP schedule means something went wrong somewhere; especially considering not many people expected it to regress.

The success of 2012

The success of 2012 may have created a situation where the WSOP and One Drop just assumed everything they did would work.

But the poker world may be getting One Drop’ed out, with the Little One for One Drop and the One Drop High Roller occurring every year.

Maybe the right line was to make the Big One for One Drop a biannual or even triannual event, and run the Little One for One Drop in off years only? The One Drop High Roller is too close to the actual Big One for One Drop tournament for me, and doesn’t allow the poker world to clamor for the $1 million buy-in tournament with massive prize-pools.

No live stream is disappointing

One potential decision that will almost certainly hurt the amount of coverage the tournament receives is the decision to not offer One Drop coverage on a live stream, something the 2012 One Drop tournament used.

There will be six hours of One Drop coverage on ESPN this year (which is almost certainly why there isn’t a live stream) but for hardcore poker fans this is the one event they are going to watch every second of.

Furthermore, every poker reporter will likely have found a different story arc, with some fascinated by the play of the businessmen, while other focused on their favorite pro(s), and still others on certain dynamics that occur (such as the Cates vs. Polk verbal spat early on).

So instead of multiple storylines, written by 10 different writers (all with different styles) the One Drop coverage this year will basically be a single official version.

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