PCA 2013: Joel Micka leading the island hopping Supernovas to a million dollar payday
What do you do if you're a young American who smashes the pokers but due to certain regulatory decisions you can't play from the US? You up sticks and move country obviously. Thailand seems as good choice as any: it's a beautiful hot country with low living costs, good food, loads of beaches and some Bacchanalian full moon parties.
Joel Micka, who is down to the last two tables here, is among the poker migrants that hit up Thailand. Supernovas* Joseph 'BigPapaLind' Lind, Ryan 'Piggysnipz' Pignatelli, Patrick 'PSCProdigy' Crivelli, Jordan 'JWPRODIIGY' Westmorland, Joel 'JMPRODIGY' Micka and Brady 'BAustinMC' Austin have spent the last year house sharing with Micka down on the island of Phuket but have temporarily traded islands to rail Micka.
* With the exception of Austin, for the time being at least.
Micka is currently one of the shorter stacks here in the PCA Main Event with just 12 players remaining and just a few bust outs away from his first major final table. Playing under the name 'JMPRODIGY' Micka has won $352,842 in online tournaments on PokerStars and is following up an APPT High Roller win of $64,350 last year with a deep run here, which is being well supported by his fellow poker migrants who have been hugging the rail - and more than a few cups of beer - for the last couple of days.
Their support isn't purely based on camaraderie though, they all have a bit of Micka's action from Lind's 12.5% down to Pignatelli's "two or three percent" swap. Micka still has a healthy 50% cut of his own action, which is now good for a minimum $47,500 (half of the $95,000 that is paid out to 12th place). While giving away half of the $1,859,000 that's put up for first place could be painful the good news would be that, well, you get to keep half of $1,859,000. Nine hundred 'k' would buy a lot of Pad Thai.
His success so far has come as little surprise to the group. When asked who the best player is he's quickly pointed at - a concession that few poker players would normally make so quickly.
"This guy obviously," said Pignatelli, pointing to Micka.
But is that just because he's running deep?
"No. His results are just better. We've always accepted that he's the better of the group, but he's the least hard working," said Pignatelli.
"He's the laziest of the group for sure," added Austin.
Pignatelli, who we saw winning online in the Players Lounge earlier in the week, had gone to Thailand for a one month vacation. He ended up staying for the year: "I met all these grinders and thought, "Wow, I love it here" so I stayed. I think we're now going to do Vancouver for six months, maybe Costa Rica for six months," said Pignatelli.
Although living in paradise (Thailand, not Paradise Island) is obviously incredible it was pointed out that there were a couple of things that you have to do; get used to late evening starts for the major tournaments on PokerStars and quickly develop the ability to spot large hands and feet on certain 'ladies'.
There's variance for you.
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Rick Dacey is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.