One Drop's Move To Monte-Carlo May Help WSOP Expand In Europe

Leaving Las Vegas: The Big One For One Drop Heads To Monte-Carlo

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The WSOP and Guy Laliberté have announced that the world’s biggest buy-in tournament, the Big One for One Drop Invitational (One Drop), will be held in Monte-Carlo from October 13 to October 17 this year.

Sunday afternoon isn’t the usual time for posting newsworthy public relations messages, but Sunday July 10 — also the final day of WSOP Event 67: $111,111 High Roller for One Drop No-Limit Hold’em — turned out to be an exception.

The format of the event is also exceptional. Key features will be:

  • The buy-in will be €1,000,000 with no rake and €111,111 going to the ONE DROP charity founded by Guy Laliberté.
  • Unlimited re-entries will be allowed on Day 1.
  • Entry to the main tournament will be by invitation only to “businessmen, philanthropic and celebrity recreational players.” A few professional players such as Antonio Esfandiari and Daniel Negreanu may be invited.
  • Pro players will get involved as coaches to the tournament players, “creating unique television content.”
  • The One Drop will be the main feature of a week long “Big One For One Drop Extravaganza” which will include “a full slate of tournaments” and ultra-high stakes cash games.
  • The event will be held at the world famous Casino de Monte-Carlo.
  • Not only will players pay no rake, they will receive “complimentary accommodations and a variety of exclusive hospitality activities in the Principality.”

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The event comes with royal backing

Prince Albert II of Monaco has given his backing to the project.

“I am pleased that Monaco has been chosen to host the 2016 edition of The Big One for One Drop, one of the most innovative charity events. After only two editions, The Big One for One Drop has raised more than $10 million for water, a cause that I hold particularly dear. I wish an even greater success to the third edition of The Big One.”

The Casino de Monte-Carlo was founded by his ancestor Charles III, is an asset of the Société des Bains de Mer which is owned by the government of Monaco.

Guy Laliberté sees the move to Monaco as being symbolic of the transformation in the One Drop’s format:

“This year, by shifting the focus to recreational players, we’re looking to bring fun and innovation to charitable giving. We believe the events in Monaco will attract high net-worth individuals from across the globe to enjoy the game, the networking opportunities and the incredible VIP experiences only available in one of the world’s most iconic settings.”

The One Drop is not leaving the WSOP

The two $1 million One Drop tournaments that have been held so far took place in 2012 and 2014. Players who expected to see a third event on the schedule for WSOP 2016 were disappointed.

The only charitable One Drop tournaments announced for 2016 were the $111,111 High Roller for One Drop and Event #69: $1000 + 111 Little One for One Drop No-Limit Hold’em.

A note in the WSOP announcement for the schedule explained that this year’s $1 million event would be taking place elsewhere.

“For those who don’t notice the Big One for ONE DROP, the WSOP’s $1 million buy-in charity poker tournament on the schedule, don’t worry. It will indeed take place in 2016 in grand fashion; however, it won’t be in Las Vegas as part of the summer schedule.”

The One Drop may have left Las Vegas, but it retains the support of the WSOP. The WSOP brand is owned by Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE) and CEO Mitch Garber expressed his own delight that the event will take place in Monte-Carlo.

“Poker tournaments have already made a name for themselves as some of the most successful charitable initiatives in the world, and the special Monte-Carlo One Drop event promises to reach new heights. Monaco and Casino de Monte-Carlo are the perfect backdrop and partners for this event, and I would like to personally thank the Principality and H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco for his personal interest and support of the cause and ensuring a memorable week.”

A win or a loss for the WSOP?

There is no doubt of the added excitement that the $1 million One Drop brought to the WSOP in 2012 and 2014. The amounts of money to be won were staggering. When Antonio Esfandiari won the first event, he instantly rocketed to the top of the all time money list after recording first prize money of $18.3 million.

In the 2014 event, Connor Drinan and Cary Katz got all their chips in, each holding a pair of aces. When ESPN posted the YouTube video of Drinan losing after Katz rivered a flush, the video went viral, recording over five million views in the following two weeks. Note: the original video has been taken down, but the hand can be seen here.

Shifting the One Drop to Monaco looks on the face of it to be a loss for the WSOP. But, and it’s a big but, the WSOP is looking to expand in Europe.

Although well known in the U.S. the WSOP is not a big brand on the European poker scene.

Figures collected by the Global Poker Index (paywall) in 2014 showed that the European market was “responsible for nearly half of worldwide tournament dollars spent in tournaments with buy-ins between $5,000 and $10,000.”

The first step in bringing the WSOP brand to Europe began with the WSOP Europe event held in 2007.

The tournament awarded the first WSOP bracelet to be won outside the U.S. to Annette “Annette_15” Obrestad. At one day short of her nineteenth birthday she wouldn’t have been allowed to compete in a live tournament in the U.S. where the minimum age for players is 21.

In September last year, the first European WSOP Circuit event was held at the Casino of Campione d’Italia on the shores of Lake Lugano.

The Kings Casino in the Czech Republic handed out 13 WSOP Circuit rings when it hosted the WSOP for the first time last November. Since then there has also been a circuit event in Tbilisi, Georgia and one in the Casino de Marrakech in Morocco.

As a flagship event to promote the WSOP in Europe, the Big One For One Drop Extravaganza could be a powerful brand ambassador and the winner of the €1 million buy-in event will get a WSOP bracelet, “hand-crafted in platinum by famed jeweler Richard Mille.”

Guy Laliberté’s promotional video for the Extravaganza has already been posted and can be viewed here.

- A former founder of Poker Industry Pro and Head of Content at PokerNews publisher iBus Media, Joss Wood is a graduate in English from the University of Birmingham. Joss also holds a master’s degree in Organisational Development from the University of Manchester. His career path has taken him from the British Army, through business and finance to seven years as a successful professional poker player.
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