PCA 2014: Pick a square, any square
The common mistake many Americans make is assuming everybody has a working knowledge of our sports institutions. Each year, however, as we come here for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, I'm reminded just how little folks from other parts of the globe know (or, admittedly, care) about the games and contests we Yanks hold dear.
"The blue quarterback just threw the ball to that big man in red," one of my colleagues might say. "Is that good or bad?"
For the unfamiliar, this is the most important time of the year for fans of American football. The amount of speculating, wagering, and insanity can only be matched by what we call March Madness (the biggest time of year for college basketball).
"Wait!" my colleague will say. "You actually follow and care about a university basketball team?"
Some things are hard to translate, which is why this thing may be hard to explain.
That's Christoph Vogelsang on his way to play the Super High Roller final table. But before he gets there, he's going to take his (free!) chance at American football glory. This is what we call Squares, and when you participate, you are automatically entered into one of the most intense, exciting, and completely luck-based games in the world.
Oh, and there are prizes on the line here at the PCA. Our man Garry Gates (resident VIP concierge and football fanatic) put together a quick Q&A for the uninitiated.
1) How does the contest work?
From Thursday, January 8th we'll have four squares grids set up in the player lounge - one for each of the four NFL playoff games (two on Saturday and two on Sunday). Each board consists of 100 squares, to be filled in with players' names (one square per player, per board). Before the start of each game (and of course after all 100 squares have been filled in), we will draw 10 numbers (0-9) out of a hat in order to randomize the vertical and horizontal rows on the grid, as illustrated in the sample below:
From there, let the games begin. The first game kicks off at 4:35 p.m. featuring the Baltimore Ravens vs. the New England Patriots. The score of the game at the end of each quarter will determine the four winners of the grid for that game. For example, at the end of the first quarter if the score is:
NEW ENGLAND 14
The second number in each team's score (in this case 4, 7) is used to determine the winner. You simply locate the 4, 7 square on the grid and the person's name in that box wins the prize. The game then carries on through the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarters, and three more prizes are awarded for that game.
At the conclusion of the game, the New England vs. Baltimore board is put aside and a new board with new names/numbers will be unveiled for the next game.
2) What does it cost to enter?
Nothing! The contest is completely free.
3) How many times can a player enter?
One square per game, per player, so a grand total of four entries are permitted over the weekend.
4) What are the prizes?
Four prizes are awarded per game as follows:
First quarter: $100 Mandara Spa voucher
Second quarter (halftime): $100 Mandara Spa voucher + $100 restaurant voucher
Third quarter: $100 restaurant voucher
End of game: Buy-in to the $600 NLH Turbo Edition of the PCA Main Event
5) I won! How do I collect my prize?
At the end of the quarter, bring your photo ID to the PCA staff member overseeing the squares board to claim your prize.
So, if you happen to be here at the PCA, head on over to the Players Lounge and get your square today.
And if you have any questions, just look for anyone in an American football jersey. They'll steer you right.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging