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The One Drop Extravaganza is in the books and while the Big One earned over €3 million for charity, it was still a highly disappointing event overall. With a ban on pro players participating in the tournaments, attendance suffered and the side events barely ran.

The final field for the €1 million Big One failed to even meet the advertised numbers leading up to the event and the event lacked the importance of past incarnations. In the end, it was a novel experiment that proved the need of pro players in high stakes poker tournaments.

What Happened to a Third of the Field?

In a press release prior to the One Drop Extravaganza, there were supposedly 35 players committed to play in the event. However, once play began there were only 22 players in the field and only 26 once registration closed. What happened to the other 9 players?

Now it is understandable that a couple of players may have changed their mind last minute or maybe a conflict arose preventing them from playing. But 9 players? That seems highly unlikely.

Were the numbers inflated for promotional purposes? It makes one wonder. Regardless of what happened, it didn’t help the already damaged image of the event.

Let’s Play Poker Like it’s 1973

I didn’t check the stats on the side events until Sunday and at first, I thought what I was reading was a misprint until I pulled up the live blog over on PokerNews. Here are the attendance figures for the side events at the One Drop Extravaganza:

€10,000 NL Hold’em – 8 Players

€10,000 Mixed Games – 4 Players

€50,000 Heads-Up NL – 2 Players (You read that right)

€100,000 NL – 12 Players

It should be noted that the €100k event allowed pros to play, therefore bumping the numbers up slightly.

The results from the side events read like the results from the preliminary events of the 1973 World Series of Poker where most events only listed a winner. Two events only paid the winner while the other two paid the winner and runner-up.

Events Show the Need for Pro Players

Earl Burton tweeted over the weekend that we now know what happens when a poker tournament is held and nobody shows up. We knew that attendance on the €1 Million event would suffer but did anyone see the side events suffering the epic fail that happened?

Things were so bad that the €1 Million Cash Game didn’t even happen. While the €1 million event raised €3 million for charity, it is hard to consider this event a success overall, at least in poker terms.

The results of this event made it beyond painfully obvious that high roller tournaments need pro players in order to be viable. I salute Laliberte’s vision for the event but it is clear that he overestimated the popularity of high stakes events sans pro players.

Part of the thrill of playing poker at the high level is testing one’s skill against the best in the world, not against other businessmen of comparable skill. Sure, there are those that don’t want to play a €1 million buy-in tournament against pros but there are others that relish the opportunity.

What Changes are Needed for 2018

We can assume the Big One for ONE DROP will return in 2018, but there are obvious changes that need to be made. First, the banning of pros should be discontinued from the events. However, there are some modifications that can be made to ensure a balanced playing field.

Start by capping the number of pros in the field. May cap that number at 10 or 15 and the remaining slots go to high stakes businessmen and philanthropists. This would allow for some pros to get in there but not over-saturate it to the point where high stake amateurs won’t play.

Which pros get to play? You could always go the route of “first come, first serve” or maybe you can play up the charity angle. Any pro willing to make a non-refundable donation of $100k to One Drop ahead of the event will have their seat reserved. This is in addition to the $1 million fee, so pros would technically have to put up $1.1 million to play.

Personally, I would return the Big One to the WSOP schedule. While the One Drop Extravaganza was a novel idea, the fact that it isn’t a part of the WSOP schedule does diminish its importance in the minds of some.
If a repeat of the Extravaganza is attempted, drop the pro ban from the side events or eliminate the side events entirely. It is clear they cannot thrive without the pros and it’s silly to run them just to have a handful of players show up.

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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.