PCA 2015: Is this the real life? A Bahamian rhapsody
"Do you know what's going on in real life?"
The question was asked of me repeatedly yesterday. In each instance I answered similarly.
"I have no idea."
The first ever LAPT Bahamas Main Event concluded last night. Drawing an unreal 736 entries ("I personally would be happy with 250 players," said LAPT President David Carrion on tourney's eve) the tournament was a smash hit by all meaningful measures, with Josh Kay's heads-up comeback versus Martin Finger at the end a final, unpredictable twist fittingly punctuating the shared three-day reverie.
There was an interesting, uncanny mix of participants in the LAPT event, with many LAPT regulars players and others -- like Kay and Finger -- entirely new to the tour. Adding to the tournament's same-but-different vibe was the fact that yesterday's LAPT Bahamas Main Event final table received the full EPT Live treatment with a cards-up live stream.
The LAPT routinely features live streams of its Main Event final tables in Spanish and Portuguese, though in real time with cards down. EPT Live watchers well know how showing hole cards requires a delay, meaning those writing about the event dutifully wait until action has been witnessed by viewers before chronicling what's happened in their reports.
Such was the spot your humble scribbler was in yesterday, which explains why that question was being posed so frequently. Watching the live stream in one corner of the spacious Imperial Ballroom meant living an hour in the past, while "real life" was happening over in the opposite corner.
To describe playing poker as something other than "real life" is hardly a novel observation. The game can be so immersive, it's easy to shut out everything else.
The game's many idiosyncracies suggest endless parallels with "real life" problems, too. And when someone notices how betting a draw is like investing in an uncertain stock, or raising frequently is like driving in the fast lane, or how bluffing is like other imprecise, purposely misleading actions or statements made to gain an advantage, all of those analogies remind us that poker is like "real life."
But they suggest there's a difference, too. Because something can't be like something else without being different from it in some way. Right?
Playing in a poker tournament in a setting such as the Atlantis in the middle of winter even further heightens the effect. The resort is described as "All Inclusive" and that is entirely accurate -- one truly doesn't have to leave the carefully-charted territory spelled out on the foldout maps provided upon check-in.
But one submits to such confinement at one's peril, as "real life" -- where there's snow and cold and bananas cost a quarter, not three dollars -- becomes increasingly less distinct the longer you do.
There are other ways we're all fooling ourselves into thinking this is something other than the real life here. For those new to the scene, the sheer newness of it all slips us free from our usual moorings, as Adam Hampton was discussing earlier this week.
Team PokerStars Pro Barry Greenstein was noting not long ago how the PCA has long stood as a kind of "convention for online poker players," and once more many online stars have again found the Bahamas an inviting destination to play poker "IRL" (in real life). For some forming that crowd -- like Team PokerStars Pro online member Alex "kanu7" Millar who much prefers sticking close to home to play at the virtual tables -- online poker is closer to "real life" than this, although Millar adapted well here where he's returning to one of the biggest stacks in the room to start Day 2.
Do I know what's going on in real life? Depends on what you mean. Is this the "real life," or is this something else? Just fantasy...?
Does it really matter?
Martin Harris is Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.