PCA 2012: Quiet bubble pop

PCA-2010-thumbnail.jpgWhen the bubble burst in the PCA Main Event on Tuesday, loud whooping and cheering swept the room. Some 160 players had just made themselves at least $15,000 and they were happy. For many, this was their biggest live score; a dream realised and a first return on a poker hobby that had eaten up so much of their leisure time back home.

That's what happens in big poker tournaments; you may have seen similar scenes from EPTs or the WSOP on television. The relief for those in the money is not just real, it's noisy. At the same time, the poor, unfortunate soul to go out on the bubble feels wretched.

Contrast the understandable reaction of these high-fiving, excited players with what we've just witnessed in the PCA $25,000 High Roller. Just now the bubble not so much burst, but popped gently. "Congratulations, players, you're all in the money," said the floor staff. No one cheered; no one so much as said a word. You see, for these guys, this is a living. Making a minimum cash--albeit a sizeable $58,000 minimum cash--means very little. It's loose change in their gold-plated pockets. For them, it's winning this thing and the $1,134,930 first prize that really matters.

Unless you were standing right by the last three tables during hand-for-hand play, and concentrating very hard, you may have missed it altogether. In fact, aside from seeing bubble boy Mike 'Timex' McDonald walking quietly from the tournament floor, only his nemesis Bill Perkins was a clue to what had just happened.

"Do I get $100 from all of you for getting you in the money?" he joked to the rest of his table. "You guys have to buy me a drink later."

Among the 16 wealthy people remaining in this event, Perkins is perhaps the man who needs the prize money least. He's made a fortune as a venture capitalist back home in Texas, but as the most inexperienced player here (he's playing for kicks), he has every right to be the most excited. Or as we should say in England, chuffed.

For the record, he and McDonald had got it in pre-flop; A-K for Perkins, A-Q for McDonald. "Don't get me," implored Perkins. And McDonald didn't. A polite shake of hands and the Canadian was off.


Shove: McDonald moves all-in


Wince: He's up against A-K


Out: He gets up to leave

With each player now guaranteed at least $58,000, we now play on to a final table of eight.