Poker Stories: The Big One for One Drop
Can you imagine buying into a poker tournament for a million dollars?
Though there have been bigger poker tournaments if you look at the overall prize pool, The Big One still remains the biggest buy-in tournament of all time. First held in 2012, all 48 seats quickly filled, giving a top prize of $18 million to the first place finisher and raising over $5 million for charity.
To look at what it’s like to play in such a massive tournament, we follow Sam Trickett, the UK’s biggest poker player. This plumber turned card shark made a meteoric rise in the poker scene, and The Big One gave him a perfect opportunity to really prove himself.
Day 3: All-in with Brian Rast
On the third and final day of the tournament, Trickett found himself with one of the larger stacks at the table, but he was still behind his biggest competition and chip leader Antonio Esfandiari. He wanted to stay alive as long as possible, but he also knew that he needed to grow his stack if he wanted to have a chance to win it all.
That’s when he found himself heads up against poker pro Brian Rast. Trickett raised from early position with a pair of threes, Rast called, and Trickett figured that he must have the best hand.
The flop brings all hearts: 348. Trickett makes a continuation bet of 3.8M. When Rast calls, Trickett knows that he's up against a good hand.
The turn is a brick: the 10 of spades. However, things get interesting on the river when the 3 of spades shows up. Trickett shoves all-in; Rast calls him with AJh. Trickett beats Rasts’s Ace-high flush with quad 3s, saying afterwards “I knew that guy had the nut flush.”
Luck or skill? You decide.
The Final Two
At last, all that stood between Trickett and the WSOP bracelet was his nemesis, Esfandiari. Though Esfandiari had a chip lead, he knew it was anyone’s game. That’s when the final showdown began.
He waited for his moment. “My strategy was to limp a lot,” explained Trickett, “and not get into an ego war.”
Then the moment came. Trickett was holding Q6d and the flop came J55 with two diamonds, giving Trickett a flush draw and an overcard. Esfandiari started the action with a small bet. Then the action went crazy: Trickett raised, Esfandiari re-raised, and Trickett pushed it all-in. This was going to be the hand that decided their fate.
Esfandiari shows his hand: 7d5s, giving him a set of 5s. The turn: 3h, a total blank. Everyone held their breath as the river came up a 2h. Esfandiari wins The Big One.
Although Trickett still won a “consolation prize” of $10 million, he was devastated not to win. With his true competitive spirit, he was in it to win it, and anything else was a loss. That’s the spirit that it takes to be a true poker pro.
Poker Tournament, World Series of Poker, Poker Stories, Antonio Esfandiari, Sam Trickett