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PCA 2012: The unlikely story of Nick Yunis & the $25,000 High Roller

PCA-2010-thumbnail.jpg"That doesn't make sense," I said. And I meant it. Despite my adoration for PCA media coordinator, ombudsman, and all-around Girl Friday Mad Harper, it was starting to get late, and I'd just learned that the $25,000 High Roller was playing until 2am. On little sleep already, I might have been a little edgy.

"Yes!" Mad declared in a way only she could. "Maybe unprecedented!"

In the back of my mind, I thought, "Mad is probably tired. She's certainly mistaken. Also, that doesn't make sense."

Here's the story.

Nick Yunis bought into the $25,000 High Roller and busted our shortly thereafter. There was a record of him buying in, but none of us witnessed Yunis busting out of the tournament. They were harried, frightening times at the beginning of this tournament. None of us could be blamed. In any case, that wasn't the part that didn't make sense.

According to Mad, Yunis immediately bolted for the satellite area and joined a late-starting winner-take-all $2,600 satellite. First prize? A one-way ticket right back where he came from. And, of course (because, what's the point of telling this story if it didn't work out this way), Yunis won and immediately went back to the High Roller.

Hogwash, I thought. Somebody has her wires crossed. Love Mad to pieces, but, well...as we say where I come from, bless her heart.

I was prepared to dismiss the story as some apocryphal silliness produced by too many late nights and not enough roughage in our diets. Still, it gnawed at me. Before long, I found myself walking over the Tournament Director Mike Ward.

"What's this Yunis story?" I asked.

"Oh yeah," Ward said with his trademark New England growl. "That happened. We had one more satellite running over there."

The story seemed to check out. So, I wandered through the field and found Yunis. He was in a hand, so I let him be...for the moment.

In the decade prior to joining the traveling circus of PokerStars events, I worked as a television news reporter and trained among some of the best modern journalists in North America. Though it was a past life, I knew what I had to do. I had to talk to Yunis. The whole "horse's mouth" thing, you know.

When I arrived, he was three-betting out of the blinds and taking down a pot.

"I heard this story," I said. "Something about you busting out, but then satelliting back in? Is that really true?"

A wide smile broke on Nick Yunis' face.

"It's crazier than that," he said.


And Yunis then began to spin a tale of bad luck, good fortune, and wild turns-of-events that--if I hadn't heard them now three times--I still wouldn't believe were true.

Last night, Yunis won a mega-satellite to earn his seat into the $25,000 High Roller. That was all well and good until he showed up today.

"I played for like three hours and busted out. I was walking out all bummed out, and they announced there was one seat left in a one-table satellite," he said. "And I thought, how crazy would that be?"

But Yunis had no intention of putting himself through the $25,000 hell again. Instead, he was going to play a small side event and work on changing his luck. While he considered what to do, he wandered toward the PokerStars bank to withdraw some money.

A staffer apologized and told Yunis he would have to wait about ten minutes for his checks to arrive. No matter, he thought. He didn't really want to play another satellite, anyway.

The ten minutes passed, his chips arrived, and Yunis walked back into the tournament room where Will "The Thrill" Faillla and others were remarkably still waiting for one more person to sit down.

"They were looking at me like 'Please play!'" Yunis said with a smile.

And so he did. He sat down, played the satellite, and earned his second entry into the $25,000 event.

Now, despite all reason and social order suggesting he should be somewhere else, Yunis is sitting comfortably back in the $25,000 event.

Knowing he had better things to do than talk to me, I told him thanks for the good story. As I stood to talk away, Yunis turned his head toward me.

"It's going to get better," he said.

For Yunis' sake, I hope he's right, even if nobody would ever believe it.

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