LAS VEGAS -- Daniel Colman let his poker play speak for itself.
Colman, a 23-year-old professional online poker player from Holden, Mass. (though he has lived in Montreal and Rio de Janeiro to maximize his online opportunities), won the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop event at the World Series of Poker on Tuesday night. First prize was worth $15,306,688 and Colman's first WSOP bracelet as he topped six-time bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu in the final heads-up battle.
Colman ran off after doing the wrap-up interview for the ESPN broadcast of the event (July 29, Aug. 5 and Aug. 12), but Olivier Busquet, another online pro who has served as Colman's mentor and backer, said Colman doesn't like to do interviews and that he said in one interview that the focus should be on the charity. That's a good place to start.
One Drop was created by Guy Laliberte, the founder of Cirque du Soleil, in 2007 to raise money (and awareness) of the charity that brings much-needed water to parts of the world that don't have adequate sanitation systems. The Big One for One Drop tournament debuted in 2012 when 48 poker pros and businessmen entered and out of each million-dollar entry fee, $111,111 goes to One Drop. This year, 42 players entered to raise $4,666,662. One Drop is based in Montreal, so another nice tie-in with part-time resident Colman and the Canadian-born Negreanu.
"The focus should be on the charity, otherwise it's just a bunch of rich guys playing for obscene amounts of money," Negreanu said. "Poker is his (Colman's) job and he's here to work. If he doesn't want to do interviews, I respect it completely."
Colman has earned his reputations as a heads-up sit-and-go specialist and finished third ($111,942) in the $10,000 buy-in heads-up no-limit hold 'em event that concluded a week ago Saturday. So, even though Negreanu was seen as the more experienced player ("KidPoker" turns 40 on July 26) and held a slight 68.5 million in chips to 57.5 million, he knew he was in for a battle.
"In heads-up, he's one of the best in the world," Negreanu said. "I'm happy with how I played and luck plays a role in this format, but he played great, too. He's going to win a lot more of these."
The end of the battle came on the 46th hand of heads-up play as Colman held about a 5-1 chip advantage. Blinds were at 800K/1.6M and after Negreanu limped in on the button, Colman raised to 4 million. Negreanu went all-in and Colman called. Negreanu led with A-4 against Colman's K-Q and hit two pair on a flop of A-J-4. To the shock of the crowd at the Rio, Colman hit his straight on the turn and eliminated Negreanu who wasn't able to fill up on the river (7s).
Colman earned the lead only 15 hands earlier in a 60-million chip pot that featured Negreanu paying off his opponent on the river after a five-minute tank. When asked if that was the turning point, Negreanu actually pointed two hands earlier.
"I would say it was the A-8 versus A-Q hand," he said. "I was really cruising at that point and had a chance to take a bigger lead."
Entering that hand, Negreanu lead 74 million to 51 million. He bet 2.5 million preflop and offered a 2.5 million continuation bet after a flop of J-J-9. Another J hit the board on the turn and Negreanu bet 4 million. Colman called and after an 8 on the river, both players checked. Colman's key catch there cut into Negreanu's lead and changed the feeling of the match. and Colman called.
Negreanu collected $8,288,001 and his consolation prize moved him atop the all-time poker tournament earnings list at $29.8 million, just $3 million ahead of 2012 One Drop winner Antonio Esfandiari. Colman's biggest previous tournament win was $2.2 million at EPT Monte Carlo a few months ago. Now he's sixth on the all-time list.
Tuesday's action started at 3 p.m. local time after the action lasted past 4 a.m. the night before with intentions of breaking the money bubble. After 30 hands of bubble play, organizers halted the action, but once the players returned, the biggest bubble of the year burst quickly. On Tuesday's first hand, businessman and Macau cash gamer Tom Hall lost a race to Negreanu (10-10 < A-Q) and left empty-handed. The remaining players were guaranteed at least $1.3 million and eliminations came quickly as four players remained with over 20 million in chips while the other four were under 10 million. By the next two levels, Cary Katz (eighth), Paul Newey (seventh), Scott Seiver (the only other previous bracelet winner at the final tables beside Negreanu, sixth) and Tobias Reinkemeier (fifth) had all fallen. Rick Salomon, the chip leader at the end of Monday's action, held on for fourth to collect $2.8 million. German Christoph Vogelsang took third for $4,480,000.
"I didn't win it, but it was cool to watch," said Negreanu. Or it will be once the show goes through post-production.
Below are the complete results of Event 37 at the 2014 World Series of Poker:
Event 57: Big One for One Drop
Buy-in: $1 million
Prize pool: $37,333,338
Players in the money: 8
1. Daniel Colman ($15,306,668)
2. Daniel Negreanu ($8,288,001)
3. Christoph Vogelsang ($4,480,001)
4. Rick Salomon ($2,800,000)
5. Tobias Reinkemeir ($2,053,334)
6. Scott Seiver ($1,680,000)
7. Paul Newey ($1,418,667)
8. Cary Katz ($1,306,667)