PCA 2014: What's in the bag?!

It's a tricky proposition getting into this room.

I tried it two days ago days ago using my two sons as unknowing patsies for the security team. We were immediately accosted by a guard who--quite literally--chased us down the hall inquiring about our intentions.

What were we doing? What did we want? What possible business did we have entering the Grand Ballroom?

I played the role of a stupid tourist and escaped without further incident into the video game arcade. I played Mrs. Pacman. Badly.

But the point is this: no one gets in this room without an escort, and for good reason. It's the room where boxes sit on top of boxes on top of boxes, and each one of those boxes can turn a guy into "Se7en"-era Brad Pitt screaming "What's in the boooooooooox?!!!!"

Inside those boxes, friends, are the PokerStars player bags, the most sought-after souvenirs from each of the past eleven PCAs. Each box holds four bags, and each bag holds...what?

Well, that was the question posed to us on Twitter today by @hickey409, and we thought we should investigate. Our search led us to something that looked like this.


There is a secret to getting inside the room full of boxes full of bags. It's the same secret to getting anything you want. You ask for Emma.

Emma is the resident fixer here at the PCA. She's like Red in "Shawshank Redemption." If you need something, Emma can get it. To wit: when I found her (it's never hard, because she appears like The Great Gazoo whenever you need her), she was immediately accosted and asked to source a laptop. She wrote down the request in a Moleskine notebook, and though she immediately attended to me, I felt like she existed simultaneously on another plane where she also immediately found the laptop.

In a matter of just a a few seconds, Emma flashed a sweet black bag that will make any poker player appear a lot more distinguished than the normal "hobo with an old knapsack" look. It immediately occurred to me that it didn't matter what was in the bag because the bag itself was enough.

Nevertheless, Emma was pulling things out like a child unwrapping holiday gifts. Out came a hoodie, and then what Emma described as a giant and fantastic beach towel.

It was at this point I noticed a security guard in a safari-style hard hat eying me warily. I couldn't be sure, but it might have been the man who chased me days earlier.

"Sunscreen!" Emma declared, a magician playing to a room of two people. She produced a black carabiner with custom lotions attached. "Chapstick!"

She offered to remove it all from its plastic wrapping, but it was time to move on. The security guard was starting to look froggy, and Emma was needed in four or five different places.

I slipped out a side door and tried to look more innocent than I am. This time, though, I didn't play Mrs. Pacman. After all, there's a $100,000 tournament going on here.

No word on whether these guys get a bag.

Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging