PCA 2015: Cat and mouse
"The door got busted, I grabbed the cash and went out the window onto the fire escape. I bailed off the second storey into a dumpster with $300 stuffed in my pockets. I was the only guy who got away".
Talking to Jeff Michels, that's not hard to believe. Some people are lucky, and Jeff's one of them.
Jeff learned his poker in the cash games of Ottawa, Canada before (and obviously for some time after) the casino arrived in town and the 'cash houses' got closed down. Daring escapes aside, just how lucky is Jeff? Well, he's freerolled his way right to the PCA Main Event and a shot at a seven-figure prize. But that's only part of the story.
The first PCA freeroll Jeff played on PokerStars had 32,500 runners, with the top 20 qualifying for the final satellite. With 21 players left, Jeff only had a single ante left and was preparing himself for the pain of going out on the bubble on the very next hand. Lo and behold, a player at another table busted and Jeff locked up his spot in the final freeroll, where 660 players would compete for three PCA packages.
He then did something that few successful qualifiers tend to do: he forgot all about the upcoming tournament.
"I forgot about it completely. Then one day I'm heading out of the house and I go back in my room for a pair of socks, and I step on the cat. The cat jumps on the bed and knocks my mouse - the screen comes on and I see I'm logged in to PokerStars and getting blinded out, I've got 500 chips left. I go all-in on the small blind and the big blind folds for, like, 275 chips. He must have had 2-3 off-suit or something. I'm up to about 1,000. 10 minutes later I'm the chip leader, and I maintain the top 10 for the entire tournament, finish in the top 3, and here I am".
Like I said, Jeff's lucky. So how has he been preparing for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?
"I've been practicing deep stack poker specifically for the last month straight. It's about trying to keep your head focused and keep your mindset clear. Each hand, one at a time, don't get antsy, think about position, realise who you're playing and understand what the components of the game are all about. There's just so much to take in".
You can say that again. Jeff takes his seat today in the PCA Main Event with nothing to lose and everything to gain. His best previous result was a $1,000 win in a local pub tournament, but thanks to some help from the poker gods - and a cat called Stormy - all that could soon change. I think he's got a chance.
Because Jeff's lucky.
Follow all the action from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure on PokerStars Blog. Everything from the Main Event is on the Main Event page, while the LAPT event has reached its final table. Full coverage is on the LAPT Bahamas page and on EPT Live.
Adam Hampton is a copywriter for PokerStars.