The PCA main event costs $10,300 to buy-in direct, but there are hundreds of players here who won their seat for less thanks to online qualifier tournaments at PokerStars. They make it possible to bag a prize package for just a few bucks, but for those that qualified via the FPP Mega Path, the journey from hometown to The Bahamas comes in even cheaper than that.
If you didn't already know, the FPP Mega Path runs online for months and months in the lead up to each PCA, and lets players use Frequent Player Points (FPPs) to win their trip to Paradise Island. This year's main event field has plenty of players who won their seat this way, including Dennis Jentson.
A casual online player from Germany, Dennis is here after winning his package for just 4 FPPs. It's his first-ever PCA, and his first-ever major live tournament appearance in fact. It's a million miles from his usual $5 Sit & Go grind, and Dennis admits he's a little nervous. He literally has nothing to lose and everything to gain though, which will no doubt help him relax now the action is underway. "I never expected to win a seat. I just had some FPPs, gave it a try and I won!" Dennis says.
Sitting a few tables across from Dennis is Stephen Westlund, from the UK. If a poster boy for the FPP Mega Path was ever needed, then this guy is it. Stephen won his seat this year for 500 FPPs via the Mega Path. But, incredibly, he did the exact same thing last year, and it turned out pretty well. The 2012 main event field included 1,072 runners, and Stephen outlasted most of them to finish a respectable 85th. It was a result good for $25,000, handing him an ROI that most players can only dream about.
For Stephen, the Mega Path is a no-brainer. Not only does it give him a reason to use his FPPs, it also gives him an edge that suits his game. "You don't even have to win the whole tournament, just your seat. It's great!" says Stephen, who looks calm and collected as he takes his seat here today. He'll now be looking to improve on last year' result with an even bigger finish this week, safe in the knowledge that he made his way here for less than probably everyone else at his table.
Whoever goes on to win the Main Event this week is guaranteed to walk away with a huge amount of cash in their pocket, and the players here who won their seat via the FPP Mega Path will be hoping its them. It does happen. Take Marat 'maratik' Sharafutdinov, who last year won the PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) main event for more than a million dollars, on the back of winning his seat for just 40 FPPs. This could be the year that someone at the PCA does the same.
Editor's note: Dennis Jentson went on to survive Day 1B with 25,100.