Poker Tales - Guy Laliberte, a Man With a Big Heart and Deep Pockets5 years ago
With help from a government grant in 1984, Guy Laliberte and a small group of friends started Cirque du Soleil, which was meant to be a one-year project. The circus grew fast and the government allowed it to spread and tour the country. Over the years, Cirque du Soleil grew and became an international phenomenon with annual revenue approaching $1 billion.
Guy in Poker
In 2005, the Canadian billionaire started taking an interest in poker. The circus owner immediately started playing in the biggest games in the world at the world famous Bobby’s room in Las Vegas. His exact results in those games are unknown as the games are fairly private, but most reports suggest that the pros got very excited every time Guy sat down at the table.
Guy also delved into tournament poker and in 2007 he finished fourth in a World Poker Tour event. Guy became known to a wider poker audience after appearing in Season 4 of the famous “High Stakes Poker” show where he appeared on television against the likes of Doyle Brunson, Barry Greenstein and Patrik Antonius. The season was action-packed, much thanks to Guy, who played two of the biggest televised pots in the history of poker.
The biggest-ever televised pot was battled between Guy and French pro David Benyamine. The money went in awfully easy, with Benyamine holding a nut flush draw and Guy flopping top two pair. The total pot amounted to a million dollars, but the two players agreed to take back most of the money, leaving the pot at “only” $238k, which Guy took without the turn and river being dealt.
The second huge pot of the season came between Guy and the Godfather of Poker, Doyle Brunson. In that pot, Doyle clearly made a fantastic read on the Canadian, putting in over $400k with a very questionable hand, but was correct. See how it all played out right here:
In 2008 and 2009, high stakes online poker games started heating up. Once again it was Guy Laliberte who got the games running at unprecedented levels. Over the course of two years that Guy spent playing under various nicknames on Full Tilt Poker, the likes of Tom Dwan, Phil Galfond and Phil Ivey won an estimated $26 million off of the rich businessman. A drop in the sea for the billionaire, yet a fortune that helped shape some of today’s best players’ bankrolls.
The Big One for One Drop
In 2012, Guy and some of his billionaire friends decided to join together for a good cause. On Guy’s initiative, the World Series of Poker that year included an unimaginable $1,000,000 buy-in tournament, with $111,111 of each buy-in going toward One Drop, Guy’s charity foundation. The tournament saw 48 players play for first place prize money in excess of $18 million. When all was said and done , Antonio Esfandiari won the event and Guy Laliberte came in fifth, cashing for $1.8 million.
Guy is certain to keep doing charitable work in the future, and even though his circus seems to be falling on hard times lately, he is very unlikely to stop playing in high stakes cash games and tournaments around the world as his passion to play and compete against the best in the game seems as alive as ever. We look forward to hearing about more of his poker exploits in the near future.
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