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Richest poker tourney kicks off WSOP April 13, 2012 10:39 AM by Staff & Wire Reports

The announcement really took place at last year’s World Series of Poker when officials planned an inaugural Big One for One Drop event that would top all previous money tournaments in the sport. This week was the confirmation.

A record $1 million buy-in for the three-day event slated to begin July 1 at the Rio is expected to generate more than $12 million to the winner – the richest payoff ever in poker.

WSOP officials announced Thursday that 30 players have committed to participate in the Big One for One Drop. That number of players puts the top prize at $12.3 million, which series spokesman Seth Palansky said tops the $12 million Jamie Gold won in 2006 for outlasting 8,773 players at no-limit Texas Hold’em in the main event.

ESPN will telecast the tourney, which will also feature a specially designed platinum bracelet for the victor. The newest event is one of 61 tournaments held as part of the 43rd annual World Series of Poker. So far, 20 of the 30 players who have signed up are nonpros.

The 30 confirmed players have already committed their buy-in, and series organizers expect to reach their cap of 48 entries. If the cap on participants is reached, the first-place prize awarded to the winner would be more than $18 million, Palansky said.

Eight-time gold bracelet winner Erik Seidel is entered along with Bob Bright, CEO of the stock trading firm Bright Trading LLC, and Paul Newey, co-founder of London-based private investment firm New Wave Ventures.

Professionals such as Johnny Chan, Tom Dwan and Daniel Negreanu will play poker with nonpros like Guy Laliberte, founder of Cirque du Soleil and One Drop, and Phil Ruffin, owner of Treasure Island .

Caesars Entertainment Corp., which owns the WSOP, will fund two tournament participants. The gaming company said one seat will go to the winner of a Mega Satellite event June 30 at the Rio while the other will come from a yet to be determined promotion.

One Drop is a nongovernmental organization that helps fight poverty by funding access to water projects worldwide.

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