PCA 2012: Keeping up with the joneses
There is no methadone for the kind of jones the staff members of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure suffer every year. Nothing can ease the twitching, sometimes painful itch, the one that rises up like a sharp-toothed nicotine fit or deep, maniacal hunger. Imagine a fasting monk at a Vegas buffet. Picture a married man at the Adult Video News awards. Think of Charlie Sheen...actually don't. It's not quite that bad.
In any case, there is a great misunderstanding among people who don't know everything about PCA jobs. Many people believe the workers here spend their off-hours engaged in one of their favorites pastimes. So many times have I been asked, "So, how much poker are you getting to play?" The answer...none. None at all. For eight years running at the PCA, not one hand.
It's not just me. Every writer, photographer, dealer, floor person, presenter, videographer, events manager, massage therapist, TV director, and PokerStars staffer is prohibited from playing poker for the duration of the PCA. Each one of us is issued a temporary Bahamian work permit for this event, and ipso facto, we're essentially Bahamians for the week. And Bahamians aren't allowed to play poker. In fact, Bahamians aren't allowed to gamble at all.
It's one of the nation's somewhat controversial curiosities. Although gambling is readily available here, it is available--except in very limited circumstances--only to tourists. Locals are prohibited by law from playing cards, betting on black, or pulling the arm of a slot machine. So are we.
This is not a trivial matter. Our jobs depend on it. Each of us knows that if we even try to play, it would mean our jobs. And we need these jobs. Let's be frank, if any of us could make a living playing poker, we'd probably be doing that.
The real struggle here comes from the fact that a great many of the people who work at the PCA got into this line of work because of our love for the game. In other parts of the world, we'd be soothing our after-hours time with a few hands of hold'em at the end of the night. Here, that's verboten. Really, really verboten.
And, so, the itch. It's always there, and there's no getting rid of it. Even eight years into my PCA tenure, I still feel it in my gut when a seat opens in the cash games or registration is about to close in a side tournament. My colleagues feel it, too. The dealers have it the worst. They actually have to touch the cards and chips.
Over the years, we've all developed our own coping methods. It's cold comfort to be sure, but here are the top five ways PCA staffers persevere.
Of course, we members of Team PokerStars Blog do our best to avoid all of the above. To quote our venerable leader Simon Young, "When the work day is done, my team and I simply run to our rooms and curl up with a good book."