So far, 15 deep-pocketed players have announced their intention to participate in the super high-roller event, including poker pros Daniel Negreanu, Tom Dwan, Johnny Chan, Partik Antonius, Gus Hansen and Tony Guoga. Laliberte heads the list of deep-pocketed non-pros, which includes Treasure Island casino owner Phil Ruffin, City Center Group CEO Bobby Baldwin and Texas billionaire Andy Beal. If the number of entrants tops 22, the WSOP will present the winner with a special platinum bracelet. The maximum number of entrants will be capped at 48.
The previous high-water mark for high-roller poker tourneys was the AU $250k buy-in at January’s Aussie Millions. Erik Seidel beat out 19 other entrants in that event, pocketing $2.5m for his troubles. The winner of The Big One can expect a far larger payday.
Asked how the stakes might affect his play, Negreanu told the Associated Press that “nothing makes you nervous, but what it does do is make you question your sanity.” Ruffin didn’t hold out much hope of emerging as the winner against the big-name pros, but figured his billionaire status may yet give him an edge, in that $1m represents a far smaller chunk of his net worth than his opponents. Let’s hope the organizers can convince Kleenex to sign on as a sponsor, because this is serious nosebleed territory.