Cabo San Lucas, SCOOP, and Phil Ivey's Chef
After a pretty uneventful run at the EPT Monte Carlo I made a last-minute decision to go to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to play the final week of SCOOP tournaments. My fiancé Yvette and I love Cabo and travel there at least once a year, but we hadn't taken our daughter Lili with us yet. It had the potential to be a quiet relaxing week of sitting by the beach, grinding online, and hitting up some of our favorite restaurants. When I got home from Monaco, I started looking online for hotels, but since we were planning to be there close to Memorial Day weekend, all the places with family-size rooms were either sold out or ridiculously priced. I was ready to look for another location when Yvette's college roommate came through for us in the clutch. Her family has a vacation condo in Cabo and they generously offered to let us use it.
We flew down there, stocked up on groceries for the week, and picked up some fun pool toys for Lili. Once we were settled, I started playing the SCOOP right away. I didn't make any deep runs that first night but picked up some small cashes. The next day I made it deep in one of the turbos, but still got to spend time outside with Yvette and Lili. One of the cool things about the PokerStars mobile app is that I was able to take my iPad down to the pool with me and play the tournament while putting my feet in the water and watching Lili have fun. However, things took an unfortunate U-turn the next day when the air conditioning in the condo broke. We called maintenance and they came up to look at the unit, but I knew we were in serious trouble when the repairman turned to me and said "No bueno. Muerte!" Not only was it Yvette and Lili's last day in Cabo, but it was blazing hot. We got as many fans as we could to make it more comfortable overnight, but at 5 am, they headed out to the airport to make their flight back to Las Vegas.
So there I was, sitting in solitude with my laptop inside a hot box. After a while, it was completely torturous and I knew I had to come up with another plan if I was going to survive the weekend. I called up my friend Scott "SCTrojans" Freeman and told him my predicament. He immediately invited me to play the SCOOP at his place, and said there was a possibility he could get me my own unit for the weekend in his condo building.
The next morning I woke up around seven and the first SCOOP events didn't start until nine. I didn't have anything else to do, so I fired up PokerStars and played a $10 rebuy. Two hours later, I had an above-average stack and the SCOOPs were starting, so I couldn't really leave to go over to Scott's place. I thought that if I busted out of everything before noon, I could jet over there before the next set of SCOOP tournaments started. I did end up busting the rebuy, but I was still in two other tournaments. That's when PokerStars mobile came to the rescue. Once we hit the synchronized break, I packed up, launched the app on my iPhone, and continued playing both SCOOP events while I rode across town to Scott's place! It was so incredible being able to play two tournaments on my cell phone, just swiping back and forth between tables. When I finally got to Scott's place, he asked if I'd been sitting out the whole time. Then I showed him my phone. He was pretty amazed.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to snag a place of my own in Scott's building, but he generously allowed me to crash in his living room. We had a few other poker players grinding SCOOPs alongside us and it was a really fun environment. It reminded me of my Sunday grind before Black Friday. For the next two days I got to know these guys, ate some great street tacos, and picked up a few cashes along the way.
The SCOOP Main Event was on Sunday and I noticed Phil Ivey wasn't online. I knew he had a pretty amazing house in Cabo so I texted him and asked if he was planning to play. He texted back that he was and asked if I wanted to play the Main Event from his place. I mentioned it to Scott and the other guys, but I didn't want them to feel like I was ditching them. They all laughed and said, "Well, we'd ditch you!"
I got transportation and headed over to Phil's place. I've seen some nice houses in my time but nothing compares to this one. Situated right on a golf course, it has an amazing infinity pool and the beach is right in the backyard. When I arrived, I walked right inside but I didn't see Phil anywhere. A man greeted me and helped me with my bags, then asked if I was hungry.
"My name is Chef. I'll make you breakfast. Anything you like!" he said.
As I tried to pick my jaw up off the floor, I told Chef that I'd love whatever he made for the rest of the house this morning.
"You like Huevos Rancheros?" Chef asked.
Five minutes later, I was eating the freshest, best-tasting Huevos Rancheros I've ever had. Just then, the king of the house himself finally came downstairs. Phil sat next to me, loaded up his laptop and called out for Chef.
"Chef! How about some guacamole!"
So here I am, eating homemade guacamole and fresh-baked tortilla chips, enjoying a spectacular ocean view, and playing online poker side-by-side with Phil Ivey. Phil was playing all the high buy-in SCOOP events that day, but when he saw all the tables I had open on my screen, he kept pointing and asking about each tournament.
"Why am I not in this?" he asked, pointing to the Big Sunday $162. "What can I win?"
"Well, first place is about $65,000..."
"Too small. Nevermind."
I didn't make any deep runs that day and Phil busted out of the SCOOP high Main Event right at the end of the day. Phil decided to grind some cash games, so I pulled out my phone and Face Timed Yvette and Lili to show them the house.
While we were playing online, Phil's girlfriend, her sister, and her boyfriend were out on a deep-sea fishing excursion and when they returned around dinnertime, they were toting pounds upon pounds of fresh marlin. They'd hooked a 180-pounder, and showed us a video of the catch on an iPhone. When they returned to the dock, they ended up giving away most of the meat to some locals, but brought plenty back for Chef to work his magic. Chef also happens to be a sushi master and made marlin sashimi with jalapeno, a flash-fried version, a grilled version over white rice, and all different kinds of rolls. It was truly an amazing meal.
The next day I got ready to fly home, but was messaging back and forth the whole time with my good friend Noah Boeken. He made Day 2 of the SCOOP Main Event and I was sweating him on PokerStars Mobile until the plane took off. We landed for customs in San Diego and I fired up the phone again to see Noah was completely crushing and had made the final three! Noah got heads-up with Viktor Blom, and they battled for over an hour, but as Noah told me later, he never flopped a pair and Viktor always had it. Even though he fell just short of the win, Noah made a huge score, one that was a long time coming, and I was really proud of him. Even though my own SCOOP was a little lackluster, it was almost as sweet seeing a good friend have such great success.
David Williams is a member of Team PokerStars Pro