PCA 2014: Patch etiquette, salad news and heads-up for rolls -- inside the Player Lounge
Let me tell you about the Player Lounge. Basically it does exactly what it says it should do. It's for players, and in it they can lounge. There's nothing exclusive about it.
The white leather sofas may make it look like a place for VIPs, but no. If you're a player, or are travelling with one, or are even the mother of one, you're welcome to come in, play blood thirsty video games, talk poker, or get a drink - although you'll need to buy tickets from the nice lady opposite the bar first.
The Lounge is designed to be a place to unwind. Sure, not one person has opted into the staff "Silent Disco" held each day at 4pm, and having seen in action none is expected. But the staff members are friendly and will help when they can and listen to bad beat confessionals in the style of sympathetic nurse.
It's also a great source of information. There's a pride among staff in answering every question asked, everything from "can I change the game on the PS3?" (yes, we have other shooting games), "What is the Team Pro Q&A?", "What are the ingredients of a Caesar salad," and "Can you tell my son to wear his Supernova badge?"
Another question that crops up is "Can I win money for free?" To which the answer is "yes", thanks to a competition that has gripped the player lounge all week - the "HU4Rollz" contest.
If you didn't already work it out for yourself, that jumble stands for "Heads-up for rolls", it's a simple concept, requiring only one side of legal size paper to explain, and one that will reward one player $2,500 at the end of the day.
Heads up for rolls
It's a challenge hosted by the VIP club and involving Team Online Pros, including the likes of Randy "nanonoko" Lew, Isaac Haxton, Marc-Andre Ladouceur and others, two of whom were taking on all-comers in the final day today.
All you have to do is win, and keep winning. You score 50 points every time you beat the pro, 10 points if you lose, but when you lose your session comes to an end. The winner is the player with the most points at the end of the day.
Earlier today the action was thick and heavy. Actually that's not true. It was more sedate than anything. There was very little conversation, just music playing in the background. Every so often Dale "Daleroxxu" Philip, one of the Online Pros on duty, would shake hands with someone he'd just beaten, and a new name would be called out by the host Chris overseeing things, all in relative hush.
It's kind of like a dental surgery. You wait, reading old motoring magazines, or in this case the PCA guide, and get up only when your name to be called. At which point the hygienist, or member of the PS staff, guides you to a seat on a sofa on stage opposite the pro you're about to play. They then set about destroying you, with the evidence beamed onto a big screen behind them.
Dale Philip in action
At least that's their plan. Today's record is seven wins in a row, recorded by a Russian player against Daleroxxu. "Russian guy," he said. "Same as online, I get crushed by the Russian guy."
Even though the odds are against most players the waiting list grows by the minute, and things are kept moving to give everyone an opportunity to play. "Neena!" says Chris. "Neena!"
Neena Mandavia heads up for rolls against Dale Philip
After a few seconds Neena Mandavia came into view, approaching the stage, worried about her spectacles, but ready to take on Daleroxxu, which she did, tentatively getting her chips in several times before the screen went blank.
"Well done," said Daleroxxu.
"I lose?" replied Mandavia.
"You win!" said Daleroxxu, laughing. Everyone else laughed too, including Neena's son Ankush Mandavia, also known as piston87 online, watching from the sofa.
She didn't last too much longer, Daleroxxu seeing her off before she moved to take on Grzegorz "DaWarsaw" Mikielewicz. Daleroxxu meanwhile welcomed another challenger, the latest in a stream of players who will play today - final results from which will be known later tonight.
And for the record staff cannot force sons to wear their SuperNova patches. They're big boys now.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.