PCA 2012: Breaking down at the PCA

PCA-2010-thumbnail.jpgThe Imperial Ballroom at Atlantis is one of the biggest you'll ever see. With 50,000 square feet and 26-foot high ceilings, it can host functions so grand that others, even the neighbouring Grand Ballroom, can't. That's only 25,000 square feet. It's in this cavernous space that the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure has been running all week.

There are 152 poker tables and 1,672 chairs in this room. There is a television stage, TV back stage area, tournament staff area and media row. Across every wall are PokerStars branding banners and TV screens for tournament clocks. There are hundreds of yards of rails and, for today at least, nine huge country flags that stand proudly next to the World Cup of Poker tournament area.


A small part of the Imperial Ballroom


The PCA television set

By 6am tomorrow, all this will be gone. It will be as if someone flicked a magic switch and the whole lot just disappeared.

Truth is, from the moment the last card is dealt tonight, and the last cheers of victory fade away towards the nearest bar, a small army of men and women get to work. Within hours, the TV set will be gone, the tables and chairs packed away, the branding dismantled.


Branding everywhere, even behind golfer Sergio Garcia

Seeing the Imperial Ballroom empty after working the PCA for ten days is sobering; even for a PokerStars blogger. A year or so ago one of our absent-minded team came down the morning after the PCA had finished to try and find his jumper. Who would be daft enough to need a jumper in the Caribbean? I'm glad you asked. But I won't tell tales and reveal his name. Anyway, the point is his jumper was still in the Imperial Ballroom. It was resting on the back of an empty chair, the only piece of furniture left in an otherwise empty 50,000 square-foot ballroom.


Blogger's identity hidden to save embarrassment

So here's what will be happening while players are at the PokerStars party tonight, and no doubt scattered around various bars and clubs afterwards. For starters, everything in the Imperial must be gone by 6am tomorrow. Add to that the branding in the 'rotunda' and hallways, as well as back-office equipment, and the huge satellite truck that is beaming today's high roller webcast around the world.


A hallway leading to the Imperial Ballroom


The rotunda outside the ballroom

Once loaded, there will be 60 pallets heaving with the guts of a world-class poker tournament. By tomorrow night all of those pallets will have been piled carefully into six crates and passed on to a freight handling agent here on the Bahamas. Then it will be shipped out by plane or boat to various worldwide locations for storage.

Before that, every single item will have been sorted, coded and added to a complicated-look inventory sheet. The reason for that, of course, is that when this whole circus comes back next year, it will be easier to unpack and set up. In fact, the brains behind events like this are already planning for 2013.

So spare a thought for the poor souls who will be breaking down the PCA long after most players and visitors are already headed home. At least the good news for them, according to my man with a clipboard, is that it is three times quicker to break down an event than it is to set it up.