PCA 2014: Sergio Garcia? Never heard of him...
"Him? He's the golfer. Should I get my picture taken with him?"
Standing near Sergio Garcia on the main floor this afternoon, phrases like this were uttered only sporadically. This is not Sergio Garcia's first PCA. It's not even his second. The much-loved club-swinger has become a fixture at Paradise Island this time of year, even cashing in the 2012 Main Event for $35,000. And now he's back in the Ballroom.
Garcia's playing the Main Event, or, to be more accurate: he's playing the Main Event tomorrow. Today was all about hanging out with friends at the cash game tables. Friends like Team PokerStars Pro Juan Manuel Pastor.
Pastor once played poker coach to Garcia, and as they sat for a while at a welcoming table in the heart of the room, the action was a secondary issue. Yet despite their loud chats in Spanish and frequent laughs, you could count on one hand those over-eager golf fans craning their necks to stare. To be honest, it was mainly me.
It gets you thinking: is there anywhere better for a top athlete to unwind publicly than with a few hundred other people in the middle of a poker room?
Around Garcia everyone's head was down. There's money to be made at the Atlantis Resort, and not an ounce of available concentration was being wasted. For them, surviving Day 1A of the Main Event was more important than who was or wasn't in the room, the same went for those grinding out the cash game dollars.
Garcia was hiding in plain sight.
He's an eight-time PGA Tour champion. He's the recipient of approximately $45 million in tournament earnings ($20 million more than poker's all-time money winner, Antonio Esfandiari). But in here, among the poker pros, amateurs and fanatics, he's just another player. And he couldn't look happier... I guess I'll wait and get his autograph another time.
Keir Mackay is a copywriter for PokerStars.