PCA 2015: Alex Millar, lion, homebody on the road
It's weird to see a lion in South Carolina, mane hanging around its neck, ready to eat any gazelle that may make the mistake of poking its nose in the wrong place. It's weird, indeed, but I have seen just that thing. The zoo in my town has a lion prancing around a glass enclosure. It typically looks rather bored, listless, and generally uncomfortable outside its natural habitat. It's been put there for our enjoyment, I'm told, but I'm never convinced.
Alex Millar looks like that lion today.
Millar (known as kanu7 on PokerStars) is member of Team PokerStars Pro Online. He's won millions playing online from the confines of his home in Bristol, England, and he's happy with that. If he is a lion, his new home in Bristol is his shimmering savannah full of limping gazelles.
"I've got everything I need around," he said. "When you go away, you're staying in hotels. You're like, 'Where am I going to go eat?'"
But here he is, an online pro playing in a live tournament. The last time he did such a thing? Here, exactly one year ago.
"I just prefer online, I think," Millar said. "I have a pretty settled life back in Bristol."
It's not that online powerhouses can't play in live arenas. To wit, fellow Team Online member Ike Haxton sits at Millar's table in his second live tournament in three days. Despite having more than enough money to go on the road, Millar just hasn't found the gumption to do so.
"It's just so easy to chill out at home and work from home with friends around," he said. "Also, I suck at booking flights, organizing stuff, and getting around to sorting myself out."
Millar's girlfriend has been working on her PhD and is too busy to travel the circuit with him on any sort of regular basis. What's more, outside of the PCA, Millar usually only knows a couple of people at a given live tournament. If those people bust early, Millar is usually stuck sitting by himself at dinner. He turns out looking like that lion in the glass enclosure, eating in front of people he doesn't know, thinking about home.
At home, Millar can play for 20-40 hours a week and work on his game after that. He can also bank some quick cash without sleeping on lumpy mattresses and browsing menus at restaurants he barely knows. He also has a new house, a girlfriend, and friends whenever he wants them.
"I don't travel so much, so I don't know so many people around," he said. "I barely know anyone that travels the tournament circuit."
The PCA is admittedly better, he says. All of Team Online is here. He knows a lot more people. There are a lot of places for a fish out of water to swim.
And so Alex Millar sits in the PCA $10,000 Main Event, a man far from home, a predator in the wrong habitat. He's lasted more than three hours, which he can probably book as an accomplishment. And maybe, just maybe, this will be the year he finds a gazelle that's run too far from the savannah. If not, he knows the way home.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging