The dream, when you register for a big buy-in poker tournament like the APPT Cebu Main Event, is to take the thing down for a major score. Fly halfway around the world, play like a beast, and fly home a few hundred thousand dollars richer. That's the dream.
The reality of the dream is that only one player can manage that feat and only 9 can make the final day of the tournament. For everyone else who enters the tournament, disappointment is going to strike somewhere on Days 1, 2 or 3. Assuming that jet lag doesn't do you in first, of course.
When the dream dies, Cebu offers up its welcoming embrace. Try some of the ripest, freshest mangoes you've ever had in your life. Go for a swim. Do some diving. Head into town and down a few San Miguels with the locals.
If you're really fortunate, you'll know a local who will take you to the 38th floor of a building in the center of town and let you hang off the side of it, overlooking a 400-foot drop at a 55-degree angle. Though I would recommend that if you're at all fearful of heights, you skip that bit of sightseeing. Your palms will grow clammy the moment the machine starts to lift you over the edge of the building.
But if you're in Cebu for the Cebu Main Event (or at any of the PokerStars live tours), chances are you like to play a little bit of poker. As was the case in Seoul, as is the case at every major PokerStars tour stop, there is side action to feed to your inner poker action junkie.
The side action is modest here, to be sure. There are daily tournaments ranging in buy-in from 10,000 pesos (about US$250) to 50,000 pesos (US$1,250). When players are called for cash game seats, it sounds like they've been knighted. "Sir Dave, Sir Heath, Sir Sam, your seats are available in our new game on Table 2." Eight tables are reserved for those cash games, although here on the first day of the Main Event only three are in use and all are small stakes: 50-100 NLHE, 100-200 NLHE, and even a 25-50 NLHE table.
You might turn your nose up at those stakes, especially the 25-50 game, which in US Dollar terms would be about $0.60-$1.20. But aren't those games some of the most fun? People splash around and just generally have a good time, without being too concerned about the win-or-lose outcome. This is Cebu, after all. Even for professionals who make their living at this game of cards, when you're in this town you just can't be that serious all the time. The sun is shining, the people are friendly, and it's really just a place to take a load off and not worry about anything for a while.
The dream can live on some other day. For today, have some fun. Whether it's mangoes and beer or playing like a braying jackass in a 25-50 peso NLHE game - forget the dream.