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Registration for the 2016 WSOP Main Event is officially closed and the event drew the 5th largest field in Main Event history. Meanwhile, One Drop organizers have announced a new Big One event exclusively for recreational players.

Also, Fedor Holz has stolen Jason Mercier’s thunder after winning the One Drop High Roller and almost $5 million. Finally, Courtney Kennedy became the first African-American Ladies Champion in over three decades.

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Main Event Attendance = 6,737 – I Was Off by Six

Registration for the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event has officially closed and after a record-setting Day 1c, a total of 6,737 players registered for the event. Day 1c saw 4,240 players take to the felt, the largest starting day attendance figure in WSOP Main Event history.

This number is the highest number of players that the series has seen since 2011 and the event is the 5th largest in history. The total prize pool is $63,327,800. First place will pay $8 million.

Now it is time for a bit of a brag. Back at the start of the 2016 WSOP, I shared five predictions for the series. My prediction that two women would win open field bracelets was spot on but I had no clue that I would nail my Main Event prediction.

I predicted that the Main Event would experience 5% growth with a final total of 6,743 players. The final total was just six shy of my prediction. Now if I could just come up with the right PowerBall numbers.

One Drop Becomes a “Recreational Players Only” Event

On Sunday, Guy Laliberté dropped a huge video announcement for his new charitable initiative involving One Drop. The Big One for One Drop is receiving a few upgrades, with the biggest being the change to a “recreationals only” invitational.

On October 14, the Big One for One Drop Invitational will kick off from the Casino de Monte-Carlo in Monaco as part of the five-day One Drop Extravaganza. The event will feature the largest buy-in in the history of poker at €1,000,000. Out of each buy-in, €111,111 will be donated direct to One Drop.

The biggest change is that this year’s event will be closed to professional poker players. Only celebrities, businessmen and other philanthropic players will be allowed to participate. In addition, the event will feature unlimited re-entry for the first day with no cap on the number of participants.


Players wishing to play in the event will be treated to complimentary accommodations along with other hospitality events in the area. Also, players may use pro players as coaches and select pros will be on hand at the event to provide content for the event.

I must admit that I like this new concept for the Big One as it will encourage more participation by high rolling amateurs. As Laliberté explained, the 2014 Big One for One Drop was primarily pros and the high rolling amateurs that would normally have played instead hired pros to play for them in order to give them a better chance to win.

This new format will allow the amateurs to play and may even result in raising more money for the charity. After all, the purpose of the event is charity and not to pad the bankrolls of poker pros.


Mercier Who? Fedor Holz Wins One Drop High Roller – Has $14.65 in Earnings in 2016

Jason Mercier may have gotten the lion’s share of media attention this summer due to his bracelet wins and insane prop bets, but Fedor Holz has been winning most of the money on the felt this summer.

Early Monday morning, Holz won the $111,111 One Drop High Roller for $4.98 million to push his summer totals to $10.35 million. Holz’s first bracelet victory caps a summer that saw him win 3 Aria High Roller Events and finish 2nd in the Super High Roller Bowl.

After his bracelet win, Holz has won $14.65 million this year. Only Dan Colman has won more money in live tournaments in a single year. What’s perhaps more amazing about his accomplishment is that Holz is just 22 years old and has only been playing poker since 2012.

If there is one caveat that you could put on Holz’s epic run, it is that the majority of the money earned this year has been in high roller events. It’s no secret that High Roller tournaments have forever skewed Poker’s All-Time Money List and that “money earned” isn’t necessarily a valid benchmark for poker greatness.

Related: Do High Roller Tournaments Skew the View of the Poker World?

With that said, there is a big difference between a person winning one monster score and dropping off the planet and someone like Holz who seems to be winning (or making the final table) of every event he plays.

When Dan Colman won $22.38 million in 2015, many considered that the greatest individual year in live tournament history. While it was impressive, remember that $15.3 million of that total was just from the Big One for One Drop.

One can argue that Holz has already surpassed Colman for “greatest year ever” based on his consistency in play. The best part is that he still has five and a half months left in 2016.

Can he surpass Colman? Will he even try? Holz did hint that he might start playing less poker after his One Drop win. Then again, how many times have we heard that story just to see the pro resurface a few months to a couple of years later?

Courtney Kennedy Becomes Just the Second African-American WSOP Ladies Champion

Female bracelet winners are rare. There are many years where the only female winner was the Ladies Event champion. When Courtney Kennedy won the $10,000 Ladies Championship, she joined an exclusive club. However, at the same times she also became part of history.

Kennedy became just the second African-American woman to win the Ladies Championship in WSOP history. When I saw that she won, I started looking through the list of Ladies Champions and the listing was amazingly white or foreign. Since I couldn’t find pictures of most champions pre-Boom, I turned to the go-to sources of information for WSOP related matters, Kevmath and Nolan Dalla.

Both confirmed that Kennedy was not the first African-American woman to win the Ladies Championship. Back in 1983, Carolyn Gardner was the first African-America Ladies Champion. It is hard to believe it took 33 years to crown a second, but that moment finally arrived on Sunday.

Courtney Kennedy is a 37-year-old poker dealer from Detroit and works at the Motor City Casino. This year’s Ladies Event was the sixth time that she had played the event and the first time that she made the money. In fact, it is the only time that she has ever cashed in a WSOP event.

One time proved enough as Kennedy went on a remarkable run to the bracelet and $149,108. Maybe more impressive about her victory is that she survived a strong final table that included pros Amanda Musumeci, Yaxi Zhu, Wendy Freedman, Natalia Breviglieri, Michelle Deng and Amanda Baker. Kennedy defeated Baker heads-up for the title.

The 2016 WSOP has been a series full of history making and career-defining moments, so it is fitting that the winner of this event gave us the first African-American champion in over three decades.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.