PCA 2014: Life through a Lensen, living the dream in an unusually literal sense
If you had asked Gert Lensen at the beginning of December where he expected to be spending the middle week of January, he would have described his job looking after the nets and painting the lines as a groundsman at a football club in Utrecht in The Netherlands.
But late one Thursday night about three weeks ago, he was woken by his son, Kevin, who wanted him to come upstairs. The weary nocturnal wander turned out to be the first few steps on a long journey to the Bahamas, where the father and son poker enthusiasts now find themselves living the dream in an unusually literal sense.
"I was asleep, it was two o'clock in the middle of the night," Gert said yesterday, relating the process that brought the Lensens to Paradise Island. "He [Kevin, 23] say, 'Dad, you come upstairs.' I say, 'What is it?' He say, 'The last five.' I say, 'The last five? I coming.' Tomorrow I was working, seven o'clock, but I say, 'The last five? I coming.'"
Kevin has had a few significant online poker scores over the past few years, at least in terms of ROI. According to his proud father, Kevin has turned $1 into $1,300 three times. So when he heard that Kevin was in the last five of a tournament that has lasted until 2am in Western Europe, Gert was expecting a payday to at least match the best of his young career.
"I say, 'What do you have?'" Gert said, rubbing sleep from his eyes and replacing it with imagined dollar signs. "He say, 'Nothing.'" Gert was incredulous. "I say, 'Nothing? Why have you made me wake?' He say, 'Watch.'"
Unbeknownst to Gert, Kevin was playing a satellite to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. There were two full packages on offer to this $10,000 buy-in Main Event, and a small pay-day for third. Gert was soon to get some first-hand experience of how satellite tournaments work on PokerStars. You can get all the way down to the top four and have nothing, but the riches on offer soon make it worth the wait.
"Then number five is out," Gert continued. "I say, 'What have we?' He say, 'Nothing.' I say, 'That is not good. Why you make me wake?' And he say, 'Listen.' And then he play and he have two aces and the other man have two kings. All in. He have won. I say, 'What you have?' He say, 'Thirteen hundred dollars.' I say, 'Yes! Yes! You are rich.'"
At this point in the story, Gert revealed that his wife was also now in the small posse around the computer screen. Mrs Lensen turned to her husband and said, "I hope he's not number one or number two."
Gert continued: "I say, 'Why not? It's more, it's better for us and for him.' She say, 'No, it's not good. Because he must go to holiday.' I say, 'Holiday?' She say, 'Yes, but alone.' I say, 'Oh. That's nice. But where?' And he say, 'You see. I go for the first.'"
Eventually, the third player was eliminated and Kevin had gone all the way. More than 700 hopefuls started and now Kevin found his name at the top of the tournament leader board, with the PCA package secured.
The conversation continued. "You have won. What have you won?" Gert said.
"I'm going to the Bahamas," Kevin said.
But then Gert found a snag in the plan. "But we have no money," he said.
Kevin explained the full details of what he had achieved. Not only had his long nightshift earned a $10,300 ticket to the PCA, but also $1,000 for food and drink, $1,000 for a flight and eight nights in the Royal Tower of the Atlantis. "All for nothing!" Gert said.
The thorny issue of who might accompany Kevin then raised its head. None of the family had ever travelled outside the Netherlands and none had ever been on a plane. "I say to my wife, 'May I?' Gert said. "She said, 'Yes. It's better.'"
The itinerary was therefore set, but the issue of actually getting to the Bahamas was not as simple as might first have been imagined. The trip to Schiphol airport in Amsterdam was fine--Gert asked his parents to drive them for a flight at 3am. But then the problems began. Gert, it turned out, was petrified of heights. And planes. And his son also joked that instead of taxis to get around the Bahamas, people only used boats.
"I looked at picture on the internet and said, 'No! That is not a good boat. Imagine if the flying is good and then the boat is sinking! The sharks!'"
Despite the fears--and a few issues at immigration in Miami, where they changed planes--the Lensens arrived safe and sound. The best attempts of a rattling window kept them up through their first night in this luxury hotel, but Kevin arrived early on Day 1B to prepare for his moment in the sun.
Both father and son are huge fans of Lex Veldhuis and Fatima Moreira de Melo, who they watch on television shows pretty much every night in The Netherlands. Moreira de Melo was only too happy to drop by to wish Kevin luck--and to pose with photos with Gert.
I asked the duo what they wanted from the week in the Bahamas and Gert fanned out three fingers of his right hand.
"Number one, I hope we get home safely to Holland," he said, wiping his brow as he remembered again the tiny puddle-jumper plane from Miami to Nassau. "Then I hope for a nice holiday with better weather, some sun, not rain."
Almost as an afterthought, he turned to his son and said, "And then I have a little hope that he wins some dollars."
Our coverage of the 2014 PCA is comprehensive on PokerStars Blog, and it is simple to follow. The PCA 2014 Main Event page has a box at the top in which you'll find hand-by-hand coverage and chip counts after the action commences at noon. Below that are feature pieces, interviews and analysis updated throughout the day. From 3pm, you can also follow the action on PCA Live.