It’s been five years since the last $1,000,000 buy-in Big One for One Drop, and Phil Ivey can’t wait any longer. This December, one of the biggest tournaments in history returns in partnership with World Poker Tour as a part of the WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas festival – with Ivey announced as the first official participant.
There have been four iterations of this event, dating back to 2012, which have produced some of the most memorable moments in poker history. And what has made those moments? The players. And it takes a specific type of player to find their way into an event of this magnitude. You either need to have an unwavering belief in your skill to post the seven-figure buy-in, or you have to have a robust liferoll and a desire to test yourself against the best in the world.
While it’s all in the name of a dedicated charitable effort to bringing “sustainable access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene for communities everywhere,” there’s also a bunch of money on the line. And that’s why Ivey is in. Let’s take a look at a few names of others we’d love to see join him in the Big One battle.
Justin Bonomo and Bryn Kenney have gone toe-to-toe atop Poker’s All-Time Money List for the better part of two years and the Big One for One Drop is one of those rare tournaments that can provide some serious separation for one of these two elite nosebleed crushers. Kenney, the current leader, surged back to the top of the list after his $6.8 million victory in the most recent $250,000 Triton Poker Super High Roller in London. Bonomo is, essentially, the reigning/defending Big One for One Drop champion having won the last iteration of the event back in 2018 for $10,000,000.
And sure, the All Time Money List is not a perfect reflection of “poker’s best”, but it is some kind of nod to poker’s risk/reward metric. You simply don’t get to earn more than $60 million – Kenney and Bonomo being the only two in history to have done so – without putting up big-time buy-ins. So, if we have the opportunity to see these two at the same table jockeying for position that might just make for must-see poker TV.
Speaking of the All-Time Money List, it wasn’t that long ago that Daniel Negreanu was sitting at the top of the ATML. A high-stakes crusher in his own right, Negreanu is not only one of the most popular poker players on the planet, he’s also one of the most competitive. And, if given the opportunity, there’s little doubt he’d like a second shot at taking down Daniel Colman in the 2014 version of this event. Of course, that’s not possible, but his runner-up finish for $8.2 million still stands at the largest score of his career. Negreanu doesn’t travel as much as he used to and it’s been some time since we’ve been able to see him battle in the nosebleed streets. With the Big One for One Drop in his backyard in Las Vegas, fans would love to see him in the mix; hopefully, party lines don’t keep him from a shot at booking that One Drop win he barely missed out on nearly a decade ago.
Another player who we’d love to see get some redemption is Chicago’s Connor Drinan, the unfortunate loser in one of the Big One for One Drop’s – hell, maybe poker history’s – most iconic hands. Drinan, who had won a satellite into the 2014 edition of the event picked up pocket aces at the same time as PokerGO founder Cary Katz. As you likely know, all the money got in the middle and after Katz flopped two hearts he went runner runner to four flush Drinan out of the million-dollar event short of the money. Wynn Las Vegas will, very likely, hold a number of satellites into the Big One for One Drop, and it would be justice to have Drinan and his tinted shades find his way back into the event – and maybe, just maybe – hold this time.
Chris Brewer knows a little bit about running bad as, before 2023, he’d been going through it and coming up just short in some of the biggest spots of his life. But this year, things have been clicking for ultra high stakes pro, including a career-high cash in the 2023 WSOP $250,000 Super High Roller for $5.2 million – his second seven-figure score of the year. After a tremendous showing at the most recent Triton Series in London, where he cashed six times for a total of nearly $2 million, Brewer is sun running. At the time of this writing, he’s sitting second in total earnings for 2023 at $11.3 million, second only to WSOP Main Event champ Daniel Weinman. With everything coming up Brewer, there’s a good chance he’s going to make a run in his first-ever One Drop.
However, if there’s one player who is nearly a lock to be in the field it’s recreational high-stakes cash game killer Rick Solomon. Not only does Solomon have the multi-million dollar bankroll and a love of putting the pros in difficult situations, he’s also proven himself as a bit of a Big One for One Drop specialist by cashing in three of the four iterations. For the record: he finished 4th in 2014 for $2.8 million, 3rd in 2016 for $3.3 million, and 4th in 2018 for $2.8 million. That’s nearly $9 million in three tournaments. He’s “only” got $9.9 million in career tournament earnings, so yeah, he should be back in the hunt for his fourth Big One cash and more importantly, seeking his first Big One title.
While on the topic of tough recs, another face we’d like to see return is that of hedge fund manager David Einhorn. Einhorn doesn’t have a long list of tournament entries but he has been an enthusiast for the better part of two decades with a number of notable results. Old-school fans might remember him from his deep run in the 2006 WSOP Main Event, where he played for charity and finished in 18th place. When it comes to One Drop, Einhorn has some fond memories as well, finishing in third place in the inaugural event for more than $4.3 million, a decent day’s work even for the best of financiers. These major events are always better when fearless non-pros are in the mix relying, perhaps, more on their life skills than their knowledge of PIO, and that has us hoping Einhorn has another deep run on the horizon.
There have been so few women who have entered the Big One for One Drop, and of course, we’d love for that to change. Perhaps Kristen Foxen, who has proven time and time again to be an elite high-stakes pro, could break through and become the first woman to make the money in one of these million-dollar events. With $6.7 million in earnings, Foxen has more than 20 six-figure scores, three WSOP gold bracelets, a Poker Masters victory, and a World Poker Tour $5K side event title. Foxen clearly has the skill and temperament to deal with the pressure of high stakes and she’d fit right in with the elite field that will be taking a seat in the Big One.
Of course, you want elite talent and gutty recreational players. But what this tournament really needs is personality. Personalities as big as the buy-in. And perhaps there’s none bigger in the poker personality department than one of the original high-stakes bosses: Tony G. The G has it all – between his legendary table talk and on-the-felt skill, if Tony G is on camera, it’s appointment television. Tony was originally supposed to play in the 2012 event but, due to other obligations, was forced to opt-out. It’s more than 10 years later and Tony now has another shot to get involved. It’s true that he doesn’t make it to the U.S. quite as much as he used to, but he’s still battling in the world’s biggest cash games and, as recently as last year, cashing in tournaments with six-figure buy-ins. It’s time for Tony to get on his bike and make plans to be at Wynn Las Vegas in December.
Finally, there’s no shot we’re going to forget Phil Hellmuth. For all of the Poker Brat’s achievements, including his 17 WSOP gold bracelets, his fourth-place finish in the 2012 Big One for One Drop remains as the largest cash of his storied career. With the Big One for One Drop in partnership with the WPT, it only makes sense for the Raw Deal host to be in the mix.
Even though he may not be totally comfortable putting up the $1 million himself, his investors can look to his recent WSOP run as a sign that he may be on a bit of a heater. This summer, Hellmuth racked up 13 cashes including his 17th bracelet in the $10K Super Turbo Bounty for more than $800,000, as well as a ninth-place finish in the WSOP $10K Six-Handed Championship for another $86,118 – a tournament littered with elite talent. Hellmuth’s Hall of Fame resume grows every year, but this year’s Big One for One Drop is the rare opportunity to outdo himself.
Plus there will be a bunch of cameras…he loves that.