Team PokerStars Pros rail poker reporter to WSOP bracelet

I'm a blessed man. Not only do I get the chance to travel to Las Vegas each summer for the World Series of Poker (not to mention stops on the European Poker Tour) to report on my favorite players, most of which are Team PokerStars Pros, but this summer I actually had a dream come true--I joined many of those players as a WSOP bracelet winner.

While most of you know me as either a contributor to the PokerStars Blog or Senior Editor for PokerNews, now I have the honor of being the 2013 WSOP Event #1 Casino Employees champion. Not only did I win a gold bracelet, I also took home the $84,915 first-place prize. It was a surreal experience, one that hasn't really sunk in yet, and I was honored to have three bracelet-winning Team PokerStars Pros--Daniel Negreanu, Jason Mercier and Angel Guillen--rail me to victory. Let me explain.

After making the final table of the 898-player field, word quickly spread that a member of the poker media was making a bracelet run. Soon various colleagues were seated on the rail sweating the action, and it was during this time that Negreanu heard the news and made his way over.

"Go Chad, let's do it," I recall him saying as he squinted through the bright lights of the "mothership" trying to find me. It was actually poor timing as I was up out of my seat and chatting with some friends on the rail. Eventually Negreanu was able to locate me and loudly wished me good luck. It was a touching moment that I'll never forget, but I can't help but wonder how the other players felt when someone they no doubt envy was giving his support solely to me.

Speaking of which, when action was three-handed the one and only Jason Mercier came to watch the action. He sat right down among my media colleagues and even took to Twitter to show his support. Here's what he had to say:

- Sweating @ChadAHolloway aka "birdshirt" 3 handed for a bracelet #event1 #casinoemployees
- Wow... @ChadAHolloway makes a big call to take a massive lead in the casino employees event #letsgooo #birdshirt
- Heads up for the bracelet.... Lets go @chadaholloway #nochopchad
- Nice long break to talk chop... Ends with @chadaholloway waving his finger like mutombo ... #nochopchad
- Shipppppp!!! @chadaholloway wins event 1 casino employees event !! What a boss!!! #nochopchad

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Unfortunately Mercier left before he could hop in the group winner's photo, and let's face it, having him in that would have been badass. With that said, my good friend and member of Team PokerStars Mexico, Angel Guillen, was there to share in my special moment. Guillen is currently dating my colleague, PokerNews hostess Lynn Gilmartin, and both were vocal supporters at the final table. Can you spot Mercier and Guillen in the photo above?

In addition to Negreanu, Mercier and Guillen making personal appearances, I was elated to find messages of support on Twitter from various members of Team PokerStars. Here are some examples:

- Victor Ramdin: "CONGRATS !! It couldn't happen to nicer person. Extremely happy for you ☺ #bigup#yahman#bling
- Adrienne Rowsome: "Get all the chips @ChadAHolloway...just don't put any in your pocket #proadvice
- Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier: "Congrats !!!"
- David Williams: "Congrats man!"
- Shane Schleger: "Props to @ChadAHolloway not just for winning the bracelet in event 1, but more so for showing up to work the next day @PokerNews!"
- Eugene Katchalov: "congratulations!! Really cool!"

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Winning a World Series of Poker bracelet was the highlight of my poker career and I sincerely thank the various members of Team PokerStars for their support. I've no doubt that before the summer is over I'll be back to the grind and live reporting one of them as they look to capture a bracelet of their own.