Little One for One Drop offers WSOP Main Event alternative

Haley Hintze
Published by:
Posted on 11/10/2021

While almost all eyes in the poker world are focused on the World Series of Poker and its ongoing Main Event, there’s another multi-day tournament running alongside it that’s catching far fewer headlines than it deserves. That’s the charity-driven Little One for One Drop, Event #68 on the WSOP slate, which benefits the One Drop Foundation and its stated mission of providing clean-water sources for people around the planet.

The WSOP and One Drop have been partners for quite some time. Cirque du Soleil founder and noted poker whale Guy Laliberte founded the One Drop Foundation in 2007. Given Laliberte’s love for the game, it wasn’t long until the two sides joined forces to offer charity events that have been, collectively, a long-running success.

The WSOP/One Drop marriage began in 2012, when the inaugural $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop was launched, an elite event with its own special WSOP bracelet, captured that year by Antonio Esfandiari. Every year from 2012 through 2018, the WSOP hosted either the $1M Big One or a $100,000 High Roller for One Drop. However, the One Drop event was seemingly dropped from the WSOP slate for 2019, as the series increased its own emphasis on high-roller events.

Nearly a decade of relationship between WSOP and One Drop

The first Little One for One Drop first ran in 2013, and it’s the longer-running success story. It ran each year from 2013 through 2019, didn’t occur last year when the entire 2020 WSOP was canceled, and returned this year. Even as the WSOP has introduced other charitable initiatives, the One Drop partnership continues to hold firm.

That doesn’t mean the One Drop tourneys have been without controversy. That usually comes in the form of players accusing the WSOP of charging full rake for the event, then tacking on the charity-funding portion as a chip top-up that’s optional upon entering. This year, for example, the Little Drop is an $1,111 event; the actual tourney is a $1,000-buy-in tourney, for which each entrant receives 20,000 chips. That same player receives an extra 20,000 chips — or a doubled stack — for paying the additional $111 top-up. That $111 goes to the One Drop Foundation in this specific event.

Some players just don’t like that, accusing the WSOP of freerolling the whole concept of offering a charity event. A Tweet from Jared Jaffee today is typical of that mindset:

It’s true that the WSOP doesn’t make a direct donation to One Drop via this event. With that said, the WSOP does provide resources — table space, dealers, cards, other services — that often go overlooked. In Tuesday’s 1B Little One for One Drop action, for example, the flight ran in the Brasilia Room. Meanwhile, both the Main Event’s Day 1F and Day 2ABD flights were also ongoing. This contributed to the severe dealer shortage that was part of the WSOP’s worries about how a very busy Tuesday at the Rio would play out.

WSOP kept One Drop running on frantic Tuesday

To the WSOP’s credit, they juggled everything. And in the case of the Little One for One Drop’s Day 1B, it meant that some supervisors (meaning tournament directors) took a few downs as dealers themselves, helping to keep players in action at the tables.

It’s also true that in other charity events, the WSOP does contribute a direct slice of the initial buy-in. That occurred in both the other charity events on the WSOP’s slate, the COVID-19 Relief Event #3 as the series began, and the recent Salute to Warriors Event #63. In both of those events, a slice of the normal rake will go directly to the designated beneficiaries.

Charity events almost always involve higher rake. That’s part of the deal no matter where they’re scheduled. Many players subscribe heavily to the concept. Gershon Distenfeld, won Event #48, $1,500 NLH Shootout, then donated all of his winnings to charity. He was right there on Day 1A of the Little One. He busted late in the day, but he was right back at the tables on the Little One’s Day 1B for another try.

Several hundred other players have done the same thing, on one or both starting days, and an even larger turnout is expected for the Little One’s final starting flight, Day 1C, on Wednesday.

Featured image source: Haley Hintze