Guy Laliberte got his start in show business at a young age, as a street performer in Quebec City, Canada. Like most street performers, he struggled to make ends meet, and ended up taking a job working at a power plant. His union went on strike though, putting him out of work, and he then decided to start performing on the street again. He never looked back.
His ultimate choice of careers turned out to be a very wise one indeed. Today, Guy is a billionaire showman, as the owner of the world famous Cirque du Soleil. Starting only with a relatively small government grant, his circus was only supposed to last one year, as a way to promote tourism in his native province.
He took this and really ran with it, continuing to expand things as time went on. Now, 30 years later, it still continues to grow in popularity, and now generates almost a billion dollars in revenue each year.
Laliberte’s passion also extends to poker, and in spite of his vast wealth and business success, he is considered to be a professional poker player as well. He is active both at the biggest live tournaments and at the highest stakes online.
He is best known in the poker world for sponsoring the World Series of Poker’s Big One, which started in 2012 and is now a fixture of the WSOP. With a heady one million dollar buy in, and first place prize money in the area of $20 million, it not only has attracted a lot of excitement in the poker world, it also has raised millions for charity as well.
Over 10 percent of the proceeds goes to Laliberte’s One Drop Foundation, whose mission is to provide those in need to better access to clean water. Laliberte himself has pledged $100 million to the project and it truly addresses a need which will certainly grow in the coming years.
While he is known in the poker world more for his fame and fortune away from the poker scene, Laliberte is certainly no slouch at the tables. He finished in 5th place at the inaugural WSOP Big One, among a field which included the world’s most successful poker pros. He also finished 4th in a WPT event, where once again he showed that he could hold his own with the world’s best players.
Professional poker is really just another form of show business, and while we may see Guy Laliberte as a side figure pretty much in the business, there’s no question that having such a consummate showman so passionate about the game so involved in it adds to the overall luster of big time poker.
So in spite of his relative lack of involvement and relative lack of success in professional poker circles, Laliberte still has made a significant contribution to it, and the poker world is clearly better for it.