Poker players and fans have come to expect big celebrations from tournament winners. And when you’re winning the second-largest prize in tournament history, the expectations for your reaction go through the roof. But sometimes it’s not about the spotlight, and some players are happier just to take their winnings and head on home.
That seemed to be the case on Tuesday night, when 23-year-old poker pro Daniel Colman defeated Daniel Negreanu in heads-up play to win the 2014 World Series of Poker’s Big One for One Drop. Colman took home the unbelievable prize of $15.3 million, vaulting his career earnings to just under $18 million total and placing him sixth on the all-time live tournament money list.
Just 42 players signed up for this year’s charity tournament, down from 48 in the original One Drop event two years ago. But that wasn’t shocking, as the $1 million buy-in is difficult for most players to raise, and fewer were willing to back players in what promised to be an extraordinarily tough field. The tournament was still a massive success for the One Drop charity: $111,111 from each entry went directly to them, helping to raise more than $4.6 million for clean water access worldwide.
The tournament saw eight players make the money, with several big names still alive heading into the final table. Scott Seiver dropped in 6th place ($1,680,000) and German star Tobias Reinkemeier followed him out in 5th ($2,053,334). When Chris Vogelsang went out in 3rd place ($4,480,001), that left just Colman and Negreanu to battle for the title.
Heads-up play lasted for 46 hands, and most of that time saw Colman stretching his chip lead over the Canadian poker icon. On the final hand, Colman had a 5-1 chip lead, but Negreanu got his remaining money in good with A4 against Colman’s KQ. Negreanu flopped two pair, but Colman made a straight on the turn to take the lead. No help came on the river, earning Colman the biggest title of his life.
One of the biggest stories of the event, though, became Colman’s reaction after his victory. It seemed as though the winner had to be talked into taking the traditional photos with the bracelet and cash. Colman then declined to give any interviews, turning down even ESPN, the network that will air highlights of the tournament later this month.
While some may have seen it as a missed opportunity for Colman to help promote poker, others noted that he was also choosing not to promote himself. Runner-up Daniel Negreanu (who spent about a half-hour with reporters after the tournament ended), who is known for his outgoing personality, said he had no problem with Colman’s decision.
“To each his own,” Negreanu said of Colman’s reluctance to take the spotlight. “If it’s not something he wants to do then I think we should all give him a break.”
The tournament was also a big success for Negreanu. By winning nearly $8.3 million for his runner-up finish, Negreanu was able to retake the lead on the all-time tournament money list. He has now won close to $29.8 million in his career, ahead of 2012 One Drop Winner Antonio Esfandiari, who has $26.2 million in career earnings. Phil Ivey, Erik Seidel and Sam Trickett are the only other players with at least $20 million in tournament cashes.