PCA 2012: Freeroller still going Strong
Warren Strong had never played a live poker tournament in his life when he won a freeroll to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Here for free, with $10,000 tournament buy-in, flights and accommodation at Atlantis thrown in, Strong already considers himself a winner. But the dream is not over yet: in this, his first live experience, he's now in the money and guaranteed at least $15,000.
Furthermore, he's got more than 400,000 chips--twice the field average--and looking a good bet to run deep and make some really serious money.
All of this is a little surreal for Strong, 49. He owns a small art gallery with his wife, Tracey, back in Port Perry, Ontario. While he plays online poker for fun, he never quite expected to be here in the Bahamas with her, a trip made possible by winning the Class of 2004 freeroll on PokerStars, which was part of our 10th Anniversary celebrations.
"You see all the professional players on television," Strong said. "Then I started seeing them here, and now I'm playing with them. I can't quite believe it."
Well he'd better believe it; this thing is getting very real. At his table right now sits Carlos Mortensen, a former WSOP main event champion (2001) and holder of three WPT titles with total live winnings of $10.7 million. Sharing his table, too, is Martin Jacobson from Sweden who has $2.6 million in winnings, including two EPT final tables last year.
"I actually feel quite comfortable," Strong explained. "I had a good day yesterday, ending with 346,000, and I've chipped up nicely so far today and am over 400,000.
"I've played poker all my life as a hobby and started online in 2004 when I signed up with PokerStars. Aside from a few cash games and home games I have no live experience; certainly I have never played a live tournament like this.
"So to be here for nothing, and to have made the money already, feels wonderful. Also, PokerStars has looked after us so well here. It has been a great experience."
That 'experience' will get a whole lot better the longer he stays in the Main Event. Prize money keeps jumping now and rockets all the way up to $2 million for first place.
Win that lot, and Strong will be able to buy the odd masterpiece for that art gallery of his.
EDIT: Strong finished the day with a very healthy 725,000 chips, and is now guaranteed at least $32,500.