Antonio, OneDrop, and City Year win in Historic Poker Event

As I alluded to in my post yesterday, there was a poker tournament in Las Vegas over the past three days with a $1 million dollar buy-in, the largest ever in history. With a total prize pool of nearly $43 million and a first place purse of $18.3 million (largest ever in any sporting event outside of boxing), the 48-player event attracted top poker professionals and wealthy businessmen from all across the globe. The tournament wrapped up last night with popular poker pro Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari besting top poker star Sam Trickett heads-up to win this epic event.

What I want to touch upon in this post is the charity work woven into this poker tournament, officially called the Big One for One Drop. OneDrop, the official charity partner of the World Series of Poker, is a Canadien international NGO dedicated to making safe water accessible to all. OneDrop was established by Guy Laliberte, the billionaire founder of Cirque du Soleil and amateur poker player who also organized this event. Of each player’s $1 million entry fee, $111,111 is going toward OneDrop, for a total of roughly $5.5 million.

Additionally, David Einhorn, president of Greenlight Capital and an amateur poker enthusiast, had pledge to donate all his winnings to a charitable organization. Einhorn finished in third place behind Esfandiari and Trickett to win a prize of $4.35 million, all of which is going to City Year, a Boston-based organization that works with public schools across the country to prevent student dropouts.

Despite its increasing popularity, particularly during the poker boom of the mid-2000s, poker still has to contend with its image as a game played by degenerate gamblers who contribute little to society. An event like the Big One for One Drop is great, not only for the spectacle and high-level play it provides to fans of the game, but for the way it showcases the spirit of philanthropy in many of its players. Kudos to Antonio on his historical win, but kudos also to the WSOP, OneDrop, Guy Laliberte, and David Einhorn.


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