There are two things keeping Lea Zarka from watching her husband Christian play in the PCA Main Event, and they are as cute as buttons.
The Zarkas traveled to Paradise Island after Christian won a freeroll for his trip and Main Event seat. The architect brought his wife, but she can't enter the tournament room because the couple also brought their two daughters. Tournament regulations forbid people under the age of 18 from passing the threshold into the Imperial Ballroom.
"We come during the breaks to see him," Lea explained yesterday afternoon when I met her in the hallway.
Over the first couple of days, it wasn't that big of a deal. The ladies all went to the pool while Christian slogged through Day 1 and Day 2. On Day 2, he worked his stack from 25,000 up to 90,000.
Now, however, as we enter Day 3, he's down to 70,000, about half of the average stack. It's going to be one heck of a sweat for the man playing his first live tournament. Why? Because there's something really at stake now. Specifically, Zarka is exactly 66 eliminations away from turning his freeroll entry into $17,600. Asked what he'd do if he managed a min-cash today, Zarka smiled.
"I don't have a lot of chips," Zarka said. "but I'm going for the $1.8 million, not the $17,000."
Regardless of whether it's a min-cash or the full monty, Zarka's hoping to make good on the family vacation he promised his wife. If things work out well, he might be able to see his girls in the pool before going back to snowy Canada.
"We're going to extend our trip," he said.
As luck would have it, Zarka drew a table and seat right in front of our desk today, so we'll be able to see how he's faring.
We'll be sure to go tell Lea what happens.
In the meantime, here's how Sarah Grant and I set up the day.
Our coverage of the 2014 PCA is comprehensive on PokerStars Blog, and it is simple to follow. The PCA 2014 Main Event page has a box at the top in which you'll find hand-by-hand coverage and chip counts after the action commences at noon. Below that are feature pieces, interviews and analysis updated throughout the day. You can also follow the action on PCA Live.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging