Wednesday July 4, 2012 : ESFANDIARI THE CHAMP IN BIG ONE FOR ONE DROP POKER (Update)
Dedicates victory – and a quarter million dollar platinum bracelet – to his father
The biggest prize money in poker history – $18,346,673 – fell to 33-year-old US poker pro Antonio Esfandiari in Las Vegas Tuesday as he dominated a final table distilled from 48 original entrants in the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop tournament at the World Series of Poker.
Along with the top prize was a $250,000 winner's bracelet made from platinum, which Esfandiari dedicated to his father Bejan, who he said was his biggest fan and his inspiration. The proud father was at the Rio to watch his son make history.
Facing Esfandiari at the final table were UK pro Sam Trickett; businessman David Einhorn; 12-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth; Circe Soleil owner and businessman Guy Laliberte, who launched the concept of Big One; Brian Rast; Bobby Baldwin, Richard Yong; and Mike Sexton.
Broadcaster and poker elder statesman Mike Sexton was the first to go, earning himself $1,109,333 for his ninth position and the lowest pay-out from the massive $42,666,672 prize pool, from which water charities will benefit by receiving 11.1 percent, or around $5.3 million.
In addition, New York hedge fund manager David Einhorn has pledged to donate any winnings he makes to charity
Other pay-outs as the final table membership dwindled were:
8th Richard Yong $1,237,333
7th Bobby Baldwin $1,408,000
6th Brian Rast $1,621,333
5th Bobby Baldwin $1,408,000
4th Phil Hellmuth $2,645,333
3rd David Einhorn $4,352,000
That left Esfandiari facing 25-year-old Brit professional Sam Trickett in the heads up, with the American holding a 3 to 1 chip lead as the pair battled it out after a stressful three day tournament.
By hand 85 it was all over, Esfandiari maintained his significant lead to win with three fives he acquired before the turn and overcame Trickett's flush draw, leaving Trickett with a still very impressive runner up prize of $10,112,001.
Esfandiari rocketed into the top of the earnings chart for professional players with the historic pay day..
"It's unbelievable," Esfandiari told ESPN. “I just knew I was going to win. It's euphoric. I'm so happy right now, and I don't even think it has set in."
Trickett's big seven-number pay day positions him amongst a poker elite – only three other players can boast four or more seven-figure career tournament wins – Michael Mizrachi, Phil Ivey and Gus Hansen.
All eyes are now on this year's World Series of Poker main event, with organisers anticipating a bumper entry field in excess of 7,000 players for the $10,000 buy-in NLHE competition, starting July 7.