PCA 2014: Preventing polar vortexes from becoming tropical quagmires
Atlantis is braced for the arrival of several hundred poker players today.
This is the day that the PokerStars Caribbean adventure comes to life. With the Main Event starting tomorrow players are touching down, turning up and checking in. An endless convoy of taxis has been pulling up at the front door all day, an airport-to-Atlantis round trip that that will go on into tomorrow.
Getting them all here happy is a monumental logistical challenge, but one dealt with calmly and collectively by staff and one in particular whose job it is to keep every arrival happy.
Jocelyn White knows how to manage several hundred egos and the demands of this delicate breed. She keeps the ship steady with a clever combination of patience and tact. Maybe her soft spoken consideration is an act. Perhaps she's just moments away from shouting down the phone and throwing her computer at the wall. But I doubt this somehow. Hers may be an unenviable task, but she seems ideally suited to this job that she handles with aplomb.
Players arriving today checking in at Atlantis
All this takes place in the Atropos Room in Atlantis, named after the goddess Atropos of Greek mythology, known as "inflexible" or "inevitable". It contrasts nicely with White's plan, which is to get everyone here and happy. And so she sits with a MacBook in front of her, a notebook open to one side with a pen ready. Next to that is the phone that rings every few minutes. On the other end a voice asks for help on someone's behalf. White's answer is always the same. "What's their first name?" and then, "We can do that."
What "we" can do is fairly straight forward. For most people it's all about extending their stay, bringing a guest, or arranging an upgrade. Every once in a while a special request comes along, apocryphal sometimes, such as when one player asked for a picture of actor Nicolas Cage to be waiting for him in his room. But generally all is well.
So if you're escaping some miserable weather to get here all of that is good news. It could easily have turned ugly.
"The snowstorm meant it was a sell-out here on the fourth, which has never happened before," said White. "People were just unable to fly home."
The weather, with the polar vortex top left
It was this that threatened to cause her a logistical nightmare. The problem was not those arriving but previous guests leaving.
Guests here for New Year found that their flights home were cancelled, with airports across the United States closed due to the type of weather that normally fills prime time viewing on the National Geographic channel.
In the traditional way players heads straight for the player bag desk
Unable to leave they made an about turn and came back to Atlantis, settling back into the rooms that were already being lined with club sandwiches ashtrays for the Main Event field expected any moment.
White though knows a thing or two about the great hotel room waltz, and, using some creativity, manoeuvred the balance of players into available rooms, preventing a Polar Vortex from becoming a quagmire.
Not that that means an easy day today. White was at her desk at 7am to begin working through the emails that came through overnight, and will be here until midnight making sure everyone is tucked in and happy. Then, it'll be the same again tomorrow.
Sleep well everybody.