From Comcast SportsNetLAS VEGAS (AP) -- A never-before-seen 1 million buy-in tournament at the World Series of Poker this year will generate the richest top prize in poker history at more than 12 million -- and potentially more if additional players get in.Series officials planned to announce Thursday that 30 players are committed to participate in the Big One for One Drop starting July 1 in Las Vegas.That number puts the top prize at 12.3 million, which is more than the 12 million Jamie Gold won in 2006 for beating over 8,700 players at no-limit Texas Hold em in the 10,000 buy-in main event.The final table will air live on ESPN, series spokesman Seth Palansky told The Associated Press. The winner will also earn a specially designed platinum bracelet.Eight-time gold bracelet winner Erik Seidel has joined the field, along with the chief executives of a private college lender and a stock trading firm.The field is a mix of high-stakes poker sharks known for their tremendous skills and wealthy businessmen for whom 1 million isn't much to spend. Of the 30 players in the field so far, only 10 are professional poker players.Players such as Johnny Chan, Tom Dwan and Daniel Negreanu are salivating at the chance to match up against lesser players, but billionaires like casino owner Phil Ruffin, and tournament organizer and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte say they won't be as nervous with seven figures at stake.The 30 confirmed players have already put up their buy-ins, and series officials expect to reach a cap of 48 entries. With that many players, the top prize would be 18.3 million.The 1 million buy-in tournament includes a roughly 11 percent cut for charity but doesn't include the normal fees charged by the series for holding the tournament.Laliberte organized the tournament with WSOP officials to raise money for One Drop, a non-governmental organization he founded that pushes for access to water in poor countries.
ALAMEDA – Florida offensive tackle David Sharpe spent part of his pre-draft process dispelling rumors that he was legally blind in his right eye. The report came out this spring, and Sharpe denied it quickly.
The information reappeared Saturday morning, when NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock mentioned it shortly after the Raiders drafted Sharpe No. 129 overall. The draft analyst said Sharpe might be restricted to the offensive line’s left side.
Sharpe said that isn’t the case. He can play left or right tackle. And his vision is just fine, thank you very much.
“I’m not blind. I’m not legally blind,” Sharpe said. “The information is false, all of it is false. I just had a little cataract removal when I was younger and I’ve been battling that since I was young. But it doesn’t affect my play or vision or anything. I’m not blind.”
Sharpe said his right eye is a little blurrier than the left, but it doesn’t impact his play in any way.
The 6-foot-6, 343-pound blocker was projected to go in the first three rounds, but fell to the fourth. He wasn’t upset about an issue that was a non-issue.
“It doesn’t really make me mad,” Sharpe said. “I just brush it off. It was just false and I addressed it.”
The Raiders had some inside info on Sharpe’s play. Head coach Jack Del Rio’s son Luke is Florida’s quarterback, and vouched for Sharpe’s effectiveness before Oakland made the official selection.
“He actually texted me this morning and said his dad called him and asked about me,” Sharpe said. “There was a little hint there, so that was cool.”
ALAMEDA – The Raiders have struggled mightily covering tight ends. It hasn’t been a one-year thing. They’re notorious for letting that position run rampant over the past four years, allowing talent ranging from Travis Kelce to Gary Barnidge to tally huge totals against the Silver and Black.
The Raiders may have found a solution to that problem Friday in the second round. They selected massive combine freak and Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu, a 6-foot-4 speedster who can match up well with most anyone.
“Look, this is no secret, we’ve struggled for the last couple of years covering the opponents’ tight ends,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “We think this is a guy that can help out with his length, matchup against some of the bigger tight ends, some of the better tight ends. We’ll put him right in the mix.”
Del Rio can get creative with this kid. Melifonwu is a safety by trade, but can play cornerback – he proved that during Senior Bowl practices – and functions well from the slot. He can also play well in the box against the run game or deep in the pattern, providing versatility to the secondary.
The Raiders have incumbent starters at safety, with free safety Reggie Nelson and strong safety Karl Joseph. Nelson is 33 and entering a contract year, so Melifonwu could develop into a long-term partnership with Joseph, last year’s first-round pick.
Expect Melifonwu to help right away, especially against the recently bothersome tight end position.
“I feel like I’m a solid cover guy, especially versus tight ends,” Melifonwu said. “I feel like the majority of tight ends that I go up against I’m going to be faster than and really be able to cover them.”
The London, England native put on a show at the NFL scouting combine. He ran 40 yards in 4.40 seconds there, and did most every drill well.
“I think it did a lot for me,” Melifonwu said. “I think it showed my character, my poise and the ability to perform under pressure. And really the fact that not only am I an explosive player, I’m a player that has great hips and great range for somebody my size.”
Del Rio supported Melifonwu's solid game tape, which improved as his college career progressed. He finished with a career-high 118 tackles and four interceptions. He also had 2.5 tackles for a loss and three passes defensed. He accounts the improvement to improved football knowledge.
“Just having a better sense of the game of football,” Melifonwu said. “My defensive back coach Anthony Poindexter was a great college safety and a great NFL safety. He really did a great job of helping me fine tune things like run fits, formations and really keyed every week to watch and how to watch the game of football, how to study the game of football which in result, helped me have the season I had.”