PCA 2012: The big grin
This place is full of happy people. Look around Atlantis on a warm, sunny Caribbean day such as this and you'll see grins wider than the bridge that connects our gargantuan resort on Paradise Island to Nassau. Some happy folk are families enjoying their dream vacation, but others are poker players. And the reason they are smiling? A few of them got here for nothing.
Take David Bernstein. He's a player from Canada who, after reading an article on the PokerStars Blog, entered a prize draw and won. His reward was a seat into the $10,000 Main Event (which starts on Saturday), flights and accommodation in Atlantis throughout. Not bad, eh?
"The feeling of winning the competition was surreal," Bernstein, 30, said. "It felt like a dream. Now I am going to try and win the tournament and take the money home to my family."
Bernstein had won the Ukash Ultimate Experience promotion for Canadian residents, simply by depositing on PokerStars using Ukash as his payment method. His name was the one that popped out from the prize draw.
Now he is one of the hundreds - probably nearer thousands - of players enjoying everything that Atlantis has to offer. There's the resort itself, of course, with swimming pools, lagoons, marine life and entertainment to enjoy. Then there's the small matter of the crystal-clear, turquoise sea lapping gently on the sand. If swimming or sunbathing is not his thing, a spot of water sports, fishing, or a gentle stroll around the bustling shopping district of Nassau town would do the trick.
Even just wandering the resort brings new things each day. It's so large, it would likely take you more than 25 minutes to walk briskly from one end of the hotel complex to another. One wag in the media room here said it had taken him 40 minutes, but he had stopped off for an ice cream half-way through.
As well as all those nice things, some visitors are today getting up close and personal with some of the best and wealthiest poker players in the world. As the $100,000 Super High Roller gets under way in the Adonis Room, a small rail is admiring their every move. Who needs sunshine and sea when there's some hot poker action going on?
Whatever Bernstein decides to do while he is not playing the Main Event, you can be sure he'll be grinning from ear to ear. Getting to Paradise for free will do that to a man.