Rokas Kelminskas was on a boat he thought was bound for Nassau. It was a holiday cruise with his mother, a vacation get-away that promised to dock in the Bahamas. Kelminskas had visions of Nassau, Paradise Island, and the fabulous Atlantis hotel. It didn't quite end that way.
"Our ship ended up on a different island that wasn't as exciting as we expected," Kelminskas said.
So, as the vacation ended, Kelminskas turned to his mother and made a vow.
"I'll come back to the right island soon by qualifying to the PCA," he promised.
Now, Kelminskas is about to make good on what he told his mother. He is among dozens of people who will be heading to the tenth annual PokerStars Caribbean Adventure after winning nearly-free seats in the weekly $10 PCA qualifiers.
As you probably know, the 2013 PCA in January will be the tenth, and PokerStars is celebrating that milestone by hosting a series of weekly $10 events that give away ten $16,000 PCA prize packages a week. Kelminskas, a 29-year-old from Lithuania, was one of those winners. He won his seat to the $10 tournament in a $1 satellite. He's already planning his trip, his poker plans, and his partying schedule. But he also has another idea.
"My mother lives in Miami, and her birthday is few days before the main event," he said. "So I'm planning to give her the best birthday present by visiting her."
Kelminskas would do well to speak to some of his fellow winners. João Paulo Fernandes dos Santos, 44 from Lisbon Portugal, will be making his second trip to the PCA. His first came last year when he won a freeroll during the PokerStars 10th anniversary celebration. Now, the civil engineer will be headed back to the Bahamas for another winter vacation. In total he will have spent $10 on two trips to the PCA.
While the Bahamas may be luring people from all over the world, there are more draws at the PCA than the beach. More than a few of the $10 winners are excited just to meet some heroes. Romania's Szabo Andras won his package to the PCA on his birthday a couple of weeks ago, and now hopes to continue the party with one of his heroes in the Bahamas.
"Seeing the biggest pros is what I'm looking forward to the most," he said. "I have many players that I like, but at the top of the list is Kid Poker. I love the guy."
Andras will have competition if he's trying to get Daniel Negreanu's attention. Deleanu Alexandru Valentin, 22, will be making his $10 trip all the way form Bucharest, and he has similar plans.
"I'm looking forward to live the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that was given to me and that I was lucky to win: to live the complete poker pro experience, to win the tournament, and most of all, to meet Daniel Negreanu," he said. "As I say to my friends when we joke around, it's time for the kid poker Negreanu to meet the new kid poker Deleanu."
There is still another full month of $10 PCA qualifiers. If you'd like to be among the 100 people headed to the PCA for the price of lunch, visit the PCA 10 page.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging