PCA 2015: What it takes is whatever it takes
The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure is not what you think it is. In fact, what you see here on the blog, on Twitter, and everywhere else is barely a fraction of what lies beneath.
This is a look behind the curtain of what happens in this pink palace.
Last night, David Carrion, Director of Live Operations here at the PCA, pulled together his people and put the majesty of the PCA in perspective.
"People come here to be mesmerized," he said. "Hopefully you'll be mesmerized, too."
If, from the outside, that sounds like a platitude, it's not. It's an authentic take on exactly how Carrion approaches this event. He knows that the people who have been here know what to expect, but he also knows that 60% of the people who will be here this year were not here last year. More than 30% of the Main Event field will be people who qualified online. The point is, there are many people here who are experiencing the PCA for the first time, and Carrion wants to dazzle them.
"There are people who come here who have never left their home country," he said. "There are some people with no money in their wallets. Some are millionaires."
Carrion wants to serve them all, and the team he's assembled is unlike anything you've seen.
Right now, we're looking out over the largest ballroom in the Nassau area. It's big enough that there was a basketball tournament here just a few weeks ago. It's 50,000 square feet (4645.2 square meters) and holds enough poker tables that they actually disappear over an imagined horizon line on the far side of the room. Before the end of the PCA, the dealers here will have pitched more than 200,000 hands of poker.
James White, the PCA Event Manager, put it simply.
"That's huge," he said. "It's massive."
When it's all done and dusted there will be more than 200 hours of television footage shot, edited, and directed by a staff of more than 150 TV production crew members. There will be TV shows, new champions, and millions upon millions of dollars in prize money leaving the Bahamas for bankrolls around the globe.
Again...it's simply huge.
Carrion said this entire event is exactly what PokerStars is all about.
"We run the most tournaments in the world. We run the biggest tournaments in the world. The PCA is a testament to that," he said.
No matter where you go--a festival, a convention, a sporting event--it's likely you don't spend a great deal of time thinking about the people who work behind the scenes to make sure everything goes as well as possible. At the PCA, that effort includes 120 members of the tournament staff and dozens of other employees who have come here from PokerStars on a working holiday.
Overall, the staff decorated this ballroom and its surroundings with more than 300 different banners, monitors, and do-dads to turn an ordinary conference center into the Caribbean's biggest poker room. To get here, the staff answered 4,000 emails and will eventually process more than 7,000 registrations.
Carrion, White, and the people who work alongside them don't simply want to please.
"We need to exceed expectations," Carrion said.
And so, this week, they have set out to do that. The unspoken creed here could be defined as such:
Question: What does it take to run the PCA?
Answer: Whatever it takes.
"We love what we do," Carrion said. "We truly do want these players to have the time of their lives."
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging