PCA 2014: Freerolling George Ritchot and a ticked-twice Bucket List

George Ritchot is a man with some regrets.

He had a great job as a newspaper sales executive but lost it. He blames nepotism and a well-known villain in the publishing industry.

He once had a good amount of money, but he lost a lot of that, too. He blames slot machines.

He once had some choice women on his arm. He lost them, too. For that, he only blames himself.

"Let too many good looking women slip through my hands," he said.

Lest you think these regrets define the man at Table 15, you should know he doesn't pay them much mind. The descendent of a priest who founded Manitoba, Ritchot is at a place in his life where he's ready to start ticking items off his must-do list. He got two checkmarks in one go when he won a PokerStars freeroll to the 2014 PCA.

"One on my bucket list--ever since I saw the Atlantis hotel--was to stay here. The second thing is to play in a PokerStars event," Ritchot said. "One of my other bucket list events would be to play golf with Daniel (Negreanu). So, if I win the tournament, maybe I get to play golf with Daniel."

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Ritchot's freeroll win got him a $15,000 prize package to the PCA that included his seat here on Day 1B. He's in a weird spot. His table draw put him up against Eddy Sabat, Mike "Timex" McDonald, and actor Paul Johansson. It's a situation that could make a lot of people uncomfortable, but not Ritchot.

"The amazing things was, I've been watching all these guys, and I'm not intimidated for some reason," he said.

He admits, when he was sitting at home and watching the stars play on TV, he started to get a little worried. That changed when he showed up and watched a couple of days of the Super High Roller.

"When you see them live, you see them as humans," he said.

Now that he has taken the pros down off the their pedestal, he's spending less time thinking of them as unbeatable and more time practicing his own skill set.

"I've got my own way of telling tells, and I've been practicing that," Ritchot said. "They're going to have to read me, and I don't think it's going to be an easy read."

Ritchot is blessed with that endearing confidence that he tempers with the simple satisfaction of just being here. To him, the fact he's playing this event and staying at Atlantis for free is a big enough story to make his hometown newspaper.

At this suggestion, I told him that some PokerStars PR reps may want to talk to him if he makes Day 2.

Ritchot let me finish my sentence, and then with a smile simply said, "What do you mean if?"

Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging