PCA 2013: My best moment of the PCA
I'm not sure what day it was. This is not as unusual as one might suspect - ask any PokerStars staffer who has been at the PCA. You just go out and do what you need to do; the particular day of the week isn't relevant. And if you make the mistake of asking a player, blogger, or dealer, "What's today?", you get an answer such as "1B", which really doesn't help much.
Anyway, it was late - the tournament area was largely empty, though the cash games were rocking hard and would only ramp up as the wee hours arrived. I was headed toward my room with my backpack, with visions of pajamas and my Kindle running through my head. As I came through the rotunda outside the tournament area, I spotted a young man - early 20's - trying to take a picture of himself in front of the big PCA10 mural. As one does, I stopped to ask him if he'd like me to take his picture - he grinned and said that would be great.
So I took a couple of shots with his smart phone and he pronounced himself quite pleased. That would have been it, but then I remembered the speech that PCA President David Carrion had given us the night before the event began (approximately a month ago, by my fuzzy calculations). As he described interacting with visitors (or even fellow staffers we didn't know), the conversation always started with the hand extended and "Hi - I'm David..."
"Hi - I'm Lee; I work for PokerStars."
He shook my hand and gave me a winning smile. "I'm Luis; I'm from Brazil."
"Are you here for the PCA?"
"Oh no - I work on a cruise ship. But I love poker. I've been watching the tournament in there (he gestured toward the tournament room); of course I don't have money to play, but I enjoy being around it."
We chatted for a couple of minutes and then parted. I headed to the staff room to pick up a couple of things, and then crossed over to the player lounge to say goodnight to the folks in there.
Luis and an older woman colleague were admiring the items from the PokerStars VIP store in the display case in the lounge. "Is it possible to buy these items?" he asked me. I explained that they were only available via mail through the online VIP store. Luis was disappointed but nodded his understanding.
Right about then I had one of my better ideas of the week.
I went to my friends and colleagues Dylan Coady and Carly Booth, who were hosting the lounge. "Do we have any hats or t-shirts?" "No," smiled Dylan, "But I've got card setups and card protectors." "So perfect."
Dylan got a setup and card protector for each of our two guests and handed them to me. I thanked him and said "Watch this - I think we're about to make somebody's day." Dylan chuckled, "Yeah - this should be good."
I approached Luis and his friend. "Here - we'd like you folks to have these, from your friends at PokerStars."
You'd have thought we'd given him the keys to one of the yachts parked out in the marina. His eyes widened and the smile broke his face in half. "Oh thank you so much. I... this is so generous of you."
He and his friend headed out of the lounge and back up the hall, chatting in Portugese and admiring their gifts.
But all said, I think Dylan, Carly, and I got the best of that whole encounter. And a tip of the PokerStars baseball cap to my temporary boss, David Carrion, who reminded me what great things can happen when I start an encounter by sticking out my hand and saying "Hi - I'm Lee..."
Lee Jones first joined PokerStars in 2003 and has been involved in the professional poker world for over 25 years.