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Reserved star or rich scrub? Colman causes question after $15 million WSOP win

Heads-up specialist Colman beats Daniel Negreanu heads-up for Big One For One Drop title

Big One for One Drop Final Table

Sam Morris

Tournament winner Daniel Colman avoids interviews after winning the final table of the Big One for One Drop tournament at the World Series of Poker on Tuesday, July 1, 2014, at the Rio. Colman took home first place and $15,306,668 in prize money.

Big One for One Drop Final Table

Daniel Colman holds up his bracelet after winning the final table of the Big One for One Drop tournament at the World Series of Poker on Tuesday, July 1, 2014, at the Rio. Colman is joined by Caesars Acquisitions CEO Mitch Garber, One Drop CEO Catherine B. Bachand and second-place winner Daniel Negreanu. Colman took home first place and $15,306,668 in prize money. Launch slideshow »

Big One For One Drop Results

  • Daniel Colman (1st): $15,306,668
  • Daniel Negreanu (2nd): $8,288,001
  • Christoph Vogelsang (3rd): $4,480,001
  • Rick Salomon (4th): $2,800,000
  • Tobias Reinkemeier (5th): $2,053,334
  • Scott Seiver (6th): $1,680,000
  • Paul Newey (7th): $1,418,667
  • Cary Katz (8th): $1,306,607

Daniel Colman shot down the rest of the Big One For One Drop final table like a Wild West gunslinger Tuesday night, then fled the scene with winnings of $15.3 million like a bank robber.

The 23-year-old professional card player from Boston stole a chunk of aura from the 2014 World Series of Poker’s grandiose event, a $1 million buy-in tournament benefiting Guy Laliberte’s One Drop charity. After dueling past Daniel Negreanu to win the second-largest prize in the history of poker, Colman refused to speak or at first even smile.

Channeling a petulant child, Colman had to be persuaded to pose with the winnings and bracelet most poker players spend their whole lives fighting toward. Caesars Entertainment executives and ESPN officials got their way with that one, but Colman would spare no more satisfaction.

He turned down every request, even with the giant sports network that will air six hours documenting his victory starting later this month, to talk about outlasting 41 other players over the last three days.

Flanked by Olivier Busquet and Haralabos Voulgaris, high-rolling gamblers presumed to have covered a portion of his buy-in, Colman sped out of the Rio’s Amazon Room within five minutes of the greatest achievement of his career.

Colman or one of his handlers appeared to state he had, “no interest in promoting poker,” on his way out the door.

How painstaking it must have sounded to answer a couple of questions to help an industry that could use any and every bit of possible positive promotion. An industry that enabled Colman to uncover his exceptional ability for one-on-one poker and allowed him the success to move to a swanky home in Rio de Janeiro while peers lived in college dorms.

Not having the dignity to mumble out a few words for the sake of poker wasn’t the surprise, though. There are self-absorbed types in every profession.

The jarring part is that Colman concurrently came off as having an anti-Machiavellian streak with no interest in promoting himself either.

He could have lined himself up for any number of sponsorships or endorsements just by acting decent. Antonio Esfandiari set himself up in a lucrative gig as the face of Ultimate Poker, the first licensed online poker room in America, by winning the inaugural Big One For One Drop two years ago.

The best example of the benefits of approachability, however, was right in front of Colman. Negreanu spent more than 30 minutes chatting with reporters on the ESPN stage.

His second-place finish was good for $8.3 million, putting him above Esfandiari as tournament poker’s all-time winningest player at nearly $29.8 million. Negreanu has proven one of the best players in the history of poker over the last 16 years, but partnerships with the likes of have assisted the longevity he’s achieved and the height he’s reached.

He’s always had an outspoken and candid personality. Negreanu understands if Colman is the opposite.

“I respect it completely,” Negreanu said of Colman’s reticence. “To each his own. If it’s not something he wants to do then I think we should all give him a break.”

Colman certainly doesn’t deserve the same accessibility burden of a professional athlete. He’s not getting paid to appear on television.

Poker players pay to compete in events, even though it’s murky how much Colman forked over for the One Drop. One player around the stage after the tournament who may or may not have been part of the winner’s entourage said Colman had less than 10 percent of his own action in the event.

There’s no way to confirm the figure, but it’s too bad Colman couldn’t give himself the opportunity to address the rumor. If he did put up only a maximum $100,000 of his own money, then his winnings wouldn’t exceed $1.53 million.

If correct, it’s too bad he couldn’t have positioned himself for another easy windfall with a better attitude.

“I love the way he plays,” Negreanu said. “He’s got a perfect style for tournament poker. He’s going to win a bunch more. I promise you that.”

That might be true, but it’s too bad that no one will care.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

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