Last October, Anthony Gregg was by Greg Merson's side as he cemented his place in poker history as champion of the 2012 World Series of Poker main event. On Saturday in Las Vegas, the roles were reversed as Gregg won $4.8 million in the largest high roller event in the history of the game. A head-shaking 166 players spent $111,111 to participate in the One Drop High Roller, Event 47 of the 2013 WSOP, and Gregg outlasted them all to capture his first piece of WSOP gold.
"Ever since I saw the tournament on the WSOP schedule, I thought I was going to win," Gregg said after his victory.
The field of this "charity" event was composed of wealthy businessmen, philanthropists and the best in the game. Out of the $111,111 buy-in, $3,000 of each entry went to support One Drop, an organization aimed to bring access to clean water for everyone in the world. While the buy-in was tiny compared to the $1 million spent on the Big One for One Drop in 2012, the poker economy showed surprising depth as players from all backgrounds took their shot for what was a life-changing top prize. Gregg, a World Poker Tour (WPT) champion who recently played in a similar buy-in event in Macau, put up the buy-in and put his money to work with an outstanding four-day performance that will be remembered by many.
Everyone hailed the event as a great success, but the one challenge might have been the quick-paced structure that allowed for a flurry of eliminations during the final stages. Businessman Bill Perkins entered the final four as the chip leader and, only five minutes into play, Chris Klodnicki and Antonio Esfandiari found themselves in a race for 40 percent of the chips on the table. Klodnicki's Ace-9 hit on the river against Esfandiari's 8-8 and left Esfandiari standing and staring, simply stunned at the result. Esfandiari, the winner of the $1 million buy-in One Drop a year ago, earned $1.4 million for this effort.
With Klodnicki in the lead, Perkins decided to change his strategy and simply move all-in preflop to avoid playing postflop against his opponents. That strategy backfired quickly as Gregg called all-in with Ace-Jack and beat Perkins' Ace-10 to severely cripple the businessman's stack. A few hands later, Gregg finished the job and eliminated Perkins with Ace-Queen to Ace-5. While he's considered an amateur, Perkins has played against the game's best a great amount over the past five years.
Gregg held the advantage to start heads-up play and looked to hand Klodnicki his fourth WSOP runner-up finish. Klodnicki chipped away at first, but one big hand essentially made all the difference in the match. On that hand, Gregg opened and Klodnicki called. After a flop of Ace of spades-Queen of clubs-10 of spades, Klodnicki checked, Gregg bet and Klodnicki called. The turn was another spade (5), and, again, Klodnicki checked, Gregg bet and Klodnicki called. With 8.3 million already into the pot, the dealer placed the 3 of diamonds on the river, and, for a third time, Klodnicki checked. Gregg decided to push out 5.9 million in chips and got the call he hoped for as he held Ace-10 for top two pair. Klodnicki had Queen-8, mucked, and was down by a 4:1 ratio.
Twelve hands later, Gregg's 5:1 lead forced the action from Klodnicki. On the final hand, Klodnicki limped and Gregg checked. The flop came 9-4-3, Gregg checked, Klodnicki bet, Gregg raised, Klodnicki moved all-in and Gregg called. Holding 9-2, Gregg's top pair was in great shape against Klodnicki's 7-5. The turn and river offered Klodnicki no help, and Gregg had immediately surged to the No. 1 spot on the 2013 money list.
"It's just a lot of relief," he said. "I had high hopes for this tournament, and it's like a real roller coaster ride … I just tried to stay positive."
Immediately after his victory, Gregg wasted no time hopping into his seat in the $25,000 buy-in Event 52. After all, there's another $1.2 million up for the champion of that event as well.
The $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop will return to the WSOP in 2014.
Below are the complete results of Event 47 at the 2013 World Series of Poker:
Event 47: One Drop High Roller
Prize pool: $17,891,148
Players in the money: 24
1. Anthony Gregg ($4,830,619)
2. Chris Klodnicki ($2,985,495)
3. William Perkins ($1,965,163)
4. Antonio Esfandiari ($1,433,438)
5. Richard Fullerton ($1,066,491)
6. Martin Jacobson ($807,427)
7. Brandon Steven ($621,180)
8. Nick Schulman ($485,029)
9. Olivier Busquet ($384,122)
10. Lawrence Greenberg ($384,122)
11. Connor Drinan ($308,622)
12. Jeremy Ausmus ($308,622)
13. Matt Glantz ($251,549)
14. Martin Finger ($251,549)
15. Blake Bohn ($208,968)
16. Mike Sexton ($208,968)
17. Daniel Alaei ($173,723)
18. Andrew Lichtenberger ($173,723)
19. Phil Laak ($173,723)
20. Shaun Deeb ($173,723)
21. Jason Koon ($173,723)
22. Farshad Fardad ($173,723)
23. Dan Shak ($173,723)
24. Steve Gross ($173,723)