PCA 2012: On the run with Galen Hall

PCA-2010-thumbnail.jpgIt needs to be said. 2011 PCA champion Galen Hall and I have some things in common.

We're both men, of course, which probably needn't be said, but there it is. We both know the rules of poker. We both need to go to the bathroom more than your average guy and we're both runners. This probably requires some explanation.

I've seen it happen twice already that Hall has leapt from his table, broken into a gallop, and aimed directly for the men's room (which happens to be about a tenth of a mile from his $100,000 Super High Roller seat). Today, with a pair of fuzzy salmon-colored socks as the only protection for his feet, Hall ran for the toilet with the sure intent to make it back to his seat before he missed a hand. If a millionaire poker playing business student could be transported into the realm of the Mexican Tarahumara tribe of runners, this is what it would look like.

I saw this happen as I, too, was on my way to the men's room. We set off on our journeys at about the same time, but I'm no sprinter. In fact, Hall finished and was on his way back to his seat before I'd even considered preparing for the crucial midpoint of my journey. I didn't see any water dripping from Hall's hands, so I was left to assume he was so fast he'd had time to dry them after a thorough washing. As fast as he was moving, it could well have been that he had counted on the rushing air around him blowing his hands dry. In any case, Hall got his run in today, a veritable racehorse on the fast track here at Atlantis.

galen_hall_2012_pokerstars_super_high_roller.jpg

Galen Hall smiling at how similar his life is to a PokerStars Blogger

My run this morning was more relaxed and lacked a stop at a urinal. Anyone looking for a good jog around Atlantis has his work cut out for him. Designated running paths don't exist, and it's up to adventurous types to blaze their own path. Sure, there is a fitness center, but it's indoors and has a daily entry fee (something Galen Hall might be able to afford, but not part of a blogger's per diem). Even so, here on Paradise Island, it pays to get outside. As they say about umbrella rental agents, Florida TV news reporters, and public pool lifeguards, PCA bloggers get paid in sunshine.

My run left from the Coral Tower lobby, down past the marina and the shops, and cut through the winding sidewalks of a nearby condo development. From there it was into a steep underwater tunnel that smelled of sulfur but led me to the Promised Land at Atlantis. There on the horizon sat the Royal Tower and the hyper-exclusive enclave known as The Cove. This is a place where the unwashed aren't welcome. Though I have no poof, I suspect there are no mini-bars in The Cove because each room surely has a full bar and bartender. And pillows made of money, too.

On well-worn running shoes, I trod lightly on the sidewalks around The Cove and worked my way back toward the Royal Tower pool.

Some people are such superheroes that even their backs and shoulders are recognizable. As I weaved back and forth along the sidewalks, I saw at a distance the backs of two men who were--without question--ElkY and Eugene Katchalov, two young men out for a day at the pool together, both multimillionaires, one of whom was on his way to the Day 2 start of the Super High Roller. As I ran by, I heard Katchalov begin to muse, "There are weaker players..."

Weaker players? Who was he talking about? A real blogger would've stopped for an interview, but I was not yet on the clock, and really, when I stop running, I stop running. This was no time for a chat.

I left ElkY and Katchalov behind and found a path to the beach. We've all seen it before, the fit runner bounding down the beach, as close to the water as he can get without getting damp, a smile on his face, a Labrador jogging beside him, and beautiful admirers watching his gait. This did not look like that. Instead, it was a sweating, sandy stumble that made me wish I was back toiling in the sulfurous tunnel near the Royal Tower.

I had no time to properly hate myself because...yes..., oh, God. What is that? Indeed, it was Rob, one of the TV crew's videographers shooting b-roll on the very same beach. If his lens swung in my direction, "laughing stock" wouldn't begin to describe my role at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.

And so I darted back onto the poolside sidewalks, dodged young women in bikinis, and finished off my run, my circuit ending near the Beach Tower. I collapsed and considered how much Galen Hall and I must be alike. We could be brothers, if not twins, I think.

It should be pointed out that Hall's run ended more fortuitously than mine. Where I had time for a quick shower before toiling for my per diem, Hall managed to get in his seat and double through Jason Mercier with pocket jacks to Mercier's king-queen. Same thing, really.

This is how we live here at the PCA. We breathe the same air, are warmed by the same sun, and use the same restrooms. We run toward our goals and live as brothers of the felt. Old bloggers squeeze in exercise between blog posts and pulled pork sandwiches. Young millionaires wear fuzzy socks and play $100,000 buy-in tournaments.

It's clear...we're just the same.