PCA 2013: Once a shark, always a shark - Golfing with Ville Wahlbeck
There is more to the PCA than non-stop outstanding poker. The sun, sand, and outdoors can be a welcome reprieve from a bust-out or a gruelling day of stacking chips. One of the great recreation opportunities at PCA is nearby access to a world-class golf facility, the one and only Ocean Club. Golf fans will be familiar with the Ocean Club as the locale for a recent season of the popular TV show The Big Break, a kind of golf meets Survivor reality program.
One of the perks of the 2+2 Pokercast's long time relationship with the PokerStars VIP Club is getting to piggyback on their ability to come up with great promotions for our listeners, and no one does perks like the PokerStars VIP Club. So when we heard they wanted to offer a round of golf for Adam(co-host) and me to play the Ocean Club with not only a Pokercast listener but also Finnish Team Pokerstars Pro Ville Wahlbeck, it warmed our cold, wet Vancouver hearts.
Just as we are about to hit the tee, Ville rolls in looking mildly dishevelled, likely from another late night of $100 a point open faced Chinese or a juicy mixed game. His golf attire consisting of white jeans, sandals with socks and a half-dragged cigarette. Perhaps a typical Euro outfit, but certainly not what we're used to seeing on the first tee in North America.
Ville introduces himself, and within ten seconds of meeting wants to know what the match will be, how much, and who his partner is. Ville starts the negotiating by asking if we are playing mulligans (a do-over if you mess up on the 1st tee...avid golfers don't generally inquire about mulligans). Immediately Adam and I are thinking the same thing - the outfit, the sandals, the smoke, the mulligan request...
"They told us Ville was a golfer...and he's no golfer."
Adam plays well--a single digit handicapper--and I can break 80 on a good day. So what to do? He wants a match but we are the guests and don't want to take advantage of Ville who was nice enough to be part of the promotion, despite being an obvious novice.
Due to his enthusiasm, we agree to a small game and set the handicaps. Adam tells Ville he's about an 8, and Ville says "Okay. Sounds good. I'll play the same."
Now I can read what Adam is thinking.
"There must be some European conversion for handicaps. Like shoe sizes."
But Adam decides to go with it, and the match is set.
Ville tees it up, takes the driver back, swings and slips on the follow through, nearly falling over. Not a great tee shot. He says he needs to change his shoes. We humour him and offer him the mulligan with better footwear, expecting little difference. Ville stripes one down the fairway with an almost competent looking baby draw. We offer him some encouragement for a good shot and are pleased he won't embarrass himself.
Next shot, right on the green, near-missed putt for birdie, and holes out for par on the first hole. Next hole, solid drive, great approach, spin on the ball, another par. Then another, and another. Six holes in he is even par and winning all the matches.
We got got.
For a little background, Ville Wahlbeck is exactly what you'd expect from a high stakes poker-playing Scandi cut from similar cloth as countrymen Patrick Antonius and Ilari Sahamies. He's an action junkie. Ville wants to add a new game, one we've never played called "snake" which penalizes someone who takes three putts on a green.
As newbies to this wager and now aware of Ville's prowess for pulling off a golfing angle-shoot, we set modest stakes for the snake game. The first person to make a three-putt owes $10 to each player, the next person to make one takes over the debt and it doubles. With a three-putt on the 16th hole I was the last to hold the snake and owed $50 to each player. A fun game that makes those knee-knocking four footers even tougher.
At one point, I was watching Ville hit another perfect shot with a picturesque view of the turquoise ocean water in the background. I turned to Adam and joked "Hey Adam, Ville Ocean. Get it? Ville Ocean!"
He rolled his eyes and groaned as per all my lame jokes ,and the jovial Wahlbeck wanted to hear the joke. Trying to explain a joke that already flopped that references a cheezy 80s pop singer to someone who grew up in Finland is a traumatizing experience. Regardless of the awkward fail of a joke, every time I see Ville Wahlbeck's name on a chip-count leaderboard or high stakes rail report, he'll forever be Ville Ocean to me. Thank you Ville, and thank you PokerStars VIP Club for an unforgettable PCA experience.
Mike Johnson hosts the 2+2 Pokercast presented by the PokerStars VIP club. You can listen to their coverage of the 2013 PCA at pokercast.twoplustwo.com