Hello from Las Vegas. Yeah, that’s right; I flew in yesterday in order to witness the The Big One; the no limit hold’em tournament with a million dollar entry fee per player. The Big One is the brainchild of Guy Laliberte, Founder/Creator of Cirque du Soleil. The tournament is for charity, and, $111,111.11 from each player’s entry fee, will be donated to Laliberte’s charity, The One Drop Foundation. Some players have also pledged to donate additional monies based on what they win in the tournament.
It is a three day no limit hold’em tournament that started today, and will play Monday and Tuesday. Each player started with 3,000,000 in chips and the blinds started at 3000/6000 with a 1000 ante. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
When I arrived at the Rio Hotel today, I went directly to the WSOP area… The Big One was being played in the Amazon room. I was excited to get inside and scope out the area, looking for the best view. Sadly, unlike most other tournaments where spectators can walk around and see their favorite poker pros and all the action, the Big One area was cordoned off in one area and totally blocked off with black curtains in another. Police and security kept telling fans to move along…”Help us out and keep moving. No standing in this area.” According to the officer I spoke with, seating was reserved for family and friends of the players and those who had been invited were issued red wrist bands. I asked if the general public would be allowed in the seating area IF there were left-over seats from no-shows. He gave an emphatic, “No”.
Pitiful view, huh? I walked up and down the line as did the other hundred or so (about an hour before scheduled start time of 1:11pm) disappointed spectators… not really knowing what to do. I had flown into Vegas from Massachusetts specifically to witness a once-in-a-lifetime tournament – and – now I wasn’t going to be able to witness it.
After pacing up and down for a while, I walked down to the farthest end of the cordoned off area to regroup. As the start of the tournament got closer and closer I stood there weighing my options. Suddenly, about ten feet away from me, I saw a small group of people (10) without red wrist bands be ushered into the seating area. A number of other spectators noticed that and rushed to the area. I started over there myself. The long and short is: YES I got in – and I got the BEST seat on that side. No one in front of me and about mid table (of the featured table), and the featured table was about 15 feet away. Turns out that ESPN did not want to start the taping with empty seats. Thank you ESPN.
The starting time (1:11PM) came and went while ESPN, WSOP and RIO employees worked fast and furious to finalize the set.
Before the poker tournament started, the players were asked to pose for a group photo.
After that, the tournament began with introductions of each of the 48 players. Naturally, Phil Hellmuth had not arrived yet, and there was one other player whose name I did not recognize who was late.
Play got underway at 2:30-ish after a brief hello from Laliberte after the players went to their assigned tables.
The Big One…to be continued…I will post more info and pics tomorrow!
I will post