Don't miss the $10 PCA qualifiers running every Sunday on PokerStars. The top ten finishers all get seats to the 2013 PCA!
People head down to the Bahamas for various reasons but if you're a poker player and you're in Nassau during January, you're probably there for the PCA. The PCA draws some of the best players from around the world to compete for a seven-figure first place prize but even if you're not playing in the main event, there are plenty of reasons as to why one might be staying at the Atlantis resort while the tournament is taking place. For me, although I wasn't actually playing in the main event, I was given the opportunity to fly down to the PCA this year and meet most of my fellow Team Online members as well as several other colleagues that I speak to and work with on a regular basis (but had yet to actually shake hands with in person). Since I would be playing a limited amount of poker, the trip also served as a bit of a vacation for myself and gave me a chance to sit poolside and enjoy the sunshine in January...something that is a rarity for a Vancouverite.
Aside from just putting faces to screen-names, the purpose of assembling Team Online in one common location was also to educate everyone about the history and background of PokerStars and to shed light on how the company operates and makes decisions on a day to day basis. Also, we were each scheduled to have a one on one session with a media trainer at some point during the trip, which turned out to be very interesting and informative. I remember being very jet-lagged when I had to wake up for a 10am meeting and had very little clue as to what to expect out of the day or from my teammates. After arriving 15 minutes late or so to the meeting, I saw that only about half the team had shown up on time and quickly thought that I may have more in common with these guys (and girl!) than I thought. Once everyone eventually staggered in and we got to know each other a bit, we all hung out for the lecture and a quick photo shoot later on. Afterwards, most of us went to grab drinks and food and talk more casually for a while. The casual meals would prove to be a recurring theme throughout the week, although the venue would often change. Normally the majority of the team would assemble at night and we would all meet up for a great dinner together. I remember eating anything from burgers to seafood and the most memorable dinner came on the last day when the team went out for sushi and most people played credit card roulette for the bill (I bailed for 2 reasons: 1) I'm a nit (more on this later) and 2) I ordered way less than average). Tzen1 got stuck with the 4-figure bill.
There were a handful of Team Online members that were also down there not playing the Main Event and I spent the majority of my time with Tzen1 and Dawarsaw during the day (and later acoimbra, foucault, TalonChick+ others as they busted out of the tournament) poolside. At night, Dawarsaw and I would often begin the evening by watching some basketball games in the casino bar and then transition to a different bar or even a nightclub on the resort as more colleagues would turn up. Aside from myself, the award for best dance moves has to go to Tzen "crazy legs" 1 for this trip...you'd never see it coming by just looking at him but don't be fooled, this guy can throw some shapes.
Another memorable moment from the trip was an epic tennis match between myself/vgreen22 against shaniac/Tzen1. From the very first meeting at the PCA there was talk amongst us that we all played a bit of tennis and everyone agreed that it would be a fun to schedule a match. Nobody had seen each other play before so everyone's skill level was unknown. We got out to the courts and started warming up and Shane and Richard seemed pretty decent, I was playing terrible and vgreen was by far the best. Fortunately, I got paired with vgreen based on how our skills looked in the warm-up and was able to play way better in the actual game. To be honest though, it really didn't matter how well or poor that I played because let's just say Rafa may not be the best tennis pro PokerStars has ever signed! vgreen was amazing and probably never missed a shot...with that said, we won quite handedly but I can't remember the exact score. Hopefully a rematch will be in order in the near future!
Although it may not have seemed like it based on this blog entry thus far, I did in fact play some poker on the trip as well. I put in several hours at some 200nl tables and turned a very small profit when it was all said and done but more importantly, I took down a Sit N Go played exclusively by Team Online members. To determine who was in fact the best player on Team Online, 9 or 10 of us decided to play a 1-table, 8 game SNG and the winner would obviously be the undisputed #1 player on the team. Everyone except me anted up $100 for a last-longer bet (see, I told you I was a nit) but other than that there was no buy-in. The reason that I wanted no part in the last-longer was simply because before that SNG, I think that I had only played 3 out of the 8 games in my entire life and had no clue what I was doing in anything but Hold'em. However, the deck decided to hit me in the face for most of the tournament and I became a huge fish on a heater in the games that I didn't know at all and before I knew it we were 5 handed. At this point, *fact* Tzen1 announced to the entire table and witnesses that he would in fact (and I quote) "quit poker if frosty wins." Well, it didn't take long before I was heads-up and I remember that I got all the money in with the nut flush draw and binked it to take down the SNG!
You can see Tzen is thrilled for me and that I was a very gracious winner. Don't worry Tzen, you don't have to quit poker.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time down at the PCA and it was awesome to have the chance to meet a lot of really cool people, some of who I now consider really good friends. I think that it's extremely tough to coordinate a meeting for a team that is so global so I definitely found the trip to be very special and a unique experience. Hopefully another Team Online reunion is in the cards in the near future. I know that I would love the chance to catch up with some "old" friends and even meet some new faces on the roster. Also, the PCA was a very interactive experience between Team Online and other fellow poker players and fans. It was a great chance to meet some people that follow my blog on a regular basis and hang out and talk some poker. If anyone is going to the PCA in 2013, I hope that you enjoy it and have an awesome time too!