Antonio Esfandiari wins Big One

Dave Bland

Posted by Dave Bland 04.07.2012

The largest buy-in poker tournament of all-time came to a finish this morning as Antonio ‘The Magician’ Esfandiari defeated British pro Sam Trickett heads-up in Event 55 at the World Series of Poker. The tournament, known as ‘The BIG ONE for ONE DROP’, was a $ 1m buy-in event and Esfandiari pocketed an incredible $ 18,346,673 for his first-place finish.

48 players bought in to the tournament, and included poker’s finest – Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Tom Dwan and Gus Hansen all included in the line-up. It was the Poker Brat though who shone the brightest, with Phil Hellmuth trying to capture another WSOP bracelet. He made the final table, but would eventually succumb in 4th place.

ONE DROP was a tournament conceived by Cirque du Soleil founder and poker player Guy Laliberte. Having started from humble beginnings, Laliberte has found his own success through producing some of the most mesmerising shows in Las Vegas. He has since turned his attention to raising awareness for ONE DROP, a charity which seeks to generate sustainable water supplies to combat worldwide poverty.

The cause is one which the poker pros supported, with $ 111,111 being deducted from each buy-in and donated to the ONE DROP charity. This tournament alone generated over $ 5.3m to help bring water to some of the most needed areas around the world, and while Esfandiari will bask in the glory of the tournament win, the staggering fund raising should not be forgotten.

As you’d expect with a tournament of this magnitude, the final table was stacked. WPT announcer Mike Sexton, online poker phenom Brian Rast and an old school icon in the form of Bobby Baldwin joined Phil Hellmuth, Trickett and Esfandiari. It was perhaps fitting that the man put in so much to the tournament concept was rewarded as well, with Guy Laliberte finishing in 5th place.

British poker players are also rightly proud of Sam Trickett, who finished in second place for over $ 10m. Sam now moves his tournament earnings to almost $ 16.5m. Congratulations to Sam, and of course to Antonio Esfandiari.

(Photo credit: Neil Stoddart) 

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