Why The BIG One Figures to be Bigger and Better in 2018

Eric Wing blog pic

The date has been set for the 2018 renewal of The BIG One. It’s September 22-23, and once again, it will be hosted at Laurel Park.

Limited to a maximum of 57 entries, The BIG One is what we call a “high expectation” tournament with the top 20 finishers all earning a prize. In 2018, however, those expectations can be raised even higher because despite our holding the line on field size (57), we’ve added two additional Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entries (valued at $10,000 each) to the prize pool. So this year, the top 10 on the final leaderboard will win both an NHC seat and a BCBC entry.

The BIG One 2018 logo and date

We estimate the total cash purse (the bonus money we will pay to the top 10) of The Big One to wind up somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000. The final total will depend largely on participation levels in our bi-weekly qualifiers and whether we receive the maximum number of buy-in entries. (There is a limit of five buy-in entries permitted at $9,000 each.) Of course, players start with a live bankroll of $1,000 and get to also keep whatever they finish with from those live wagers.

Let’s say the 2018 edition winds up with a total prize pool of $175,000. Here’s what the prize structure would look like:

TBO Prizes based on 175K

At this level, if you were to add up the cash, the tournament seats, travel awards (included in every package), hotel accommodations (also included) and other first-rate amenities including open bar and buffet throughout the competition and a welcome dinner (again including open bar and buffet) the night prior to the tournament, the total would come to approximately $495,000.

Should you be in the enviable position, come September, of already being double qualified for the 2019 NHC, you will not be taking an expected-value haircut. Separate and apart from the existing prize structure, we will reach into our pocket and pay $5,000 to any double-qualifiees (I think I just invented a new word) who finish in the top 10. And if we do that, we’ll still award a total of 10 NHC seats. In that case, we’d just go farther down the standings to award the last seat or seats.

So all of the above speaks to why we think the 2018 The Big One will be bigger than ever before and belongs at or near the top of any contest player’s bucket list for the year. Here’s why we also think it will be better, from a quality-of-competition standpoint, than ever before:

There will now be a maximum wager per race of $250.

The starting bankroll size of $1,000 and the requirement to play at least $50 on 10 races during each of the two days of competition remain as they were before. So will the available bet types (win, place, exacta). Players, however, had the option to go “all-in” at any time, regardless of their bankroll size. No more.

In light of controversies surrounding live-money contest play in 2017, we feel this is an important step to simply and effectively retain the excitement of a live-money tournament while maintaining the fairest, most level playing field for all. We think you’ll enjoy this small but important change. And if you really love the idea of going all-in, you still can. Just be sure to first dwindle your bankroll down to $250 or less!

All joking aside, there is one additional change we think will improve the qualifying experience for you during 2018. This year, qualifiers will be held every two weeks—starting this Sunday, January 14—and each of those bi-weekly qualifiers will offer two guaranteed berths to The Big One, regardless of how many sign up.

0110 The BIG One early hump

With The BIG One still eight months in the distance and perhaps not quite top-of-mind for everyone, now may truly be the best time all year long to lock up one of the 50 available online qualifying spots.

For additional information about the 2018 The BIG One, visit

We’ll also be hosting on the website a current purse/qualifier status page that will be updated following each qualifier. I’d include a link to that for you here as well, but it’s really not much more than a blank page right now.

That will change after Sunday, though, and if you’re name makes it onto that roster of qualifiers, we’re confident that you’ll rate The BIG One as one of the highlights of your tournament-playing year.