2008 PCA: Warming up

The atmosphere is changing outside on the grounds of the Atlantis resort as the temperature rises and the sky clears, but things are also getting hotter inside the Grand Ballroom. There's a palpable change in the air here. You can feel it as you walk through the tournament area. Everyone who made it to Day 2 knows that they've outlasted 700 others, including some big names in the poker world, and they all want a piece of that $8.6 million prize pool.

There's also a little more emotion on the rail today. Steve Paul-Ambrose's mom is there, riding what she calls an emotional roller coaster, as her son tries to battle back from a significant chip loss. She's sitting next to Tina Cooper, whose husband, Michael, is playing in his second PCA. He made it to Day 2 last year as well, but that's where his tournament ended. His goal is to make the money this year. Tina is here for the first time, and she's likely more nervous than her husband.

Tournament Director, Mike Ward, is running a tight ship as always. He's reminding the spectators of the high stakes and asking them to respect the players by watching from the rail. It's a big request for some people, who clearly want to belly-up to the tables to take in all the action.

Touring the tables is like being an extra in a commercial for iPod or Bose. Nearly every table has at least one of each. Those two companies could find a few spokespeople in this crowd, for sure. Everyone has their own way of getting into the zone, and for some people, tuning out the chatter is the best way.

The PokerStars blog team intends to stay tuned-in to all the action here. Keep hitting refresh for the latest on your favorite players and some rising PokerStars.