The BIG One Returns to Laurel Park in 2023—Now as an All-Cash Event

After a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The BIG One will finally return to Laurel Park this year. The dates for the 2023 renewal are Saturday and Sunday, October 21 and 22.

For those unfamiliar with The BIG One, we refer to it as the year’s “High Expectation Tourney” because it offers big prizes to a small field. Once again in 2023, we expect the maximum field size to be 57, with each contestant playing just one entry. Fifty of those available berths will be won in weekly qualifiers here at HorseTourneys. One has already gone to one of the prize winners in the Laurel Champions tournament last March. Another will go to one of our Tourney Triple bonus-prize winners. The rest will be available via buy-in as the event draws closer. (As of now, we anticipate the buy-in amount to be $12,000, but that could change between now and October.)

Another thing that The BIG One is synonymous with is high-end amenities. All contestants will receive buffet lunches and open bar throughout the two-day competition at Laurel. (Rumor has it that crab cakes may be making a long-awaited re-appearance.) There is also a welcome party on Friday night with full food and beverage on the house. And, of course, all who win a spot via one of our weekly qualifiers receive a $500 travel stipend plus a complimentary three-night hotel stay at the much-loved contest hotel—The Hotel at Arundel Preserve. Shuttle service between the hotel and track will also be provided on Saturday and Sunday.

Dan Flanigan at Laurel after capturing the 2016 edition of The BIG One

As per usual with both the on-site and online versions of The BIG One, the competition, itself, will be mythical $2 win and place plays at the designated contest tracks. There will be a small number of mandatory races each day, and the rest will be optional plays—similar to the NHC format.

Now here is the big change in store for 2023:

The BIG One will now feature an all-cash prize pool with prizes paid down to 15th place. We are guaranteeing the purse at $200,000, though it is our sincere hope that the final purse comfortably exceeds that $200,000 figure. As in earlier years, the final prize pool will be a function of how many people participate in our weekly guaranteed qualifiers, which carry an entry fee of $500. The more that play, the higher the purse contribution from each qualifier. As always, the latest purse information for The BIG One will be available on a dedicated page at the HorseTourneys Website, and it will be updated on a weekly basis.

Some of you may be wondering why we have switched to an all-cash prize pool, instead of offering BCBC/NHC/Pegasus seats to the top 10 finishers as was done in the past. 

Over the years, The BIG One developed a very loyal following. People really enjoyed the “smaller is friendlier” treatment and the camaraderie of spending time with the many skillful players they do battle with online all year long.

Ken Seeman won the 2021 The BIG One online…but even he will tell you the onsite version is more fun

The one “issue” in our minds was that the event had, over time, sort of become a de facto BCBC qualifier—and once those seats had been paid for, there was less cash left over for the prize pool than we would have liked.

Now there will be ample cash to go along with the ample amenities and, if you do well in The BIG One, you will likely win enough money to fund your own BCBC entry…if that is, indeed, your primary goal.

Here’s another new development: On a periodic basis, we will offer special $125 qualifiers to The BIG One with 1-in-100 earning a spot in the October event. These non-guaranteed qualifiers are designed to appeal to those who would love to play in The BIG One, but may not be comfortable with the $500 entry fee associated with our weekly, guaranteed play-ins.

We anticipate kicking off our qualifiers to The BIG One later this month, and we hope that you are fortunate—and skillful—enough to join us for what we believe is as enjoyable a contest experience as there is.