Building the PCA

When you see a big production - a Broadway show, a concert extravaganza, whatever - do you ever wonder what it takes to put it together? All the tedious hard work that must happen before the audience experiences the magic? Of course, the PCA requires a ton of work before the first waves of players wander down the hall to the magic of the tournament floor.

And this year, well, there's more. If you think you've seen the PCA before, read on...

First, here's the obligatory outside shot at the Atlantis, because even when you've seen it a dozen times, it's pretty damned impressive.

Ah, where was I? Yes, getting ready for the PCA. Have you ever stopped to watch a bunch of ants working on whatever ants work on? Occasionally a couple of ants stop, and flicker their antennae to each other to indicate who's doing what. That's what it's like here. The three key ants you see here are James White, Neal Pleasance, and James Hartigan (yes, that James Hartigan) solving whatever problem or issue is at the top of their list. You'll see that the picture is a little blurry from movement - but you don't see the ants stop for long either.

There's also a glimpse of the set-ups for the secondary final tables with their fancy chairs.

By turning 180 degrees, we can see them getting ready for the cash games. I include this picture mostly because I took it and immediately had the caption in my head:

"Dude, I had the entire table on tilt."

Thank you; I'll be here all week. Don't forget to tip the wait-staff.

I had teased that there was something different this year than there was in 2017. I haven't even seen the new set in all its grandeur - I'm sure it's going to be amazing. But here's a little glimpse of what you'll see when you walk into the tournament room.

In case it's not clear, all those colors you see are video screens. I can't wait to see what they put on them.

As I was walking around, I could hear the whine of circular saws as they finished up the stage. You can also see that they're getting ready for a whole lotta poker players' butts.

There's more to come. Obviously, the most important place to hang out is right here on the PokerStars Blog. They'll bring you both the play-by-play and the color; people, there is nothing like the color that comes from the PCA.

Also, come join the PokerStars Discord server on I'll keep a running commentary in the #live_events channel of what I'm up to here at the PCA, and take requests for things you want to see and hear.

Before I go, I do have a piece of heartbreaking news for a certain subset of the PCA community. For years, the lounge/bar immediately off the Coral Tower lobby was the de facto gathering place for PokerStars staff, journalists, and all manner of hangers-on. After an absurdly long day, and before another absurdly long day, we'd gather there to drink (even the smokers could light up in the oldest days), regale each other with the stories, and bathe in the joy of the shared experience. The stories and beers went into the wee hours, long past good judgement, but the camaraderie was more than worth it. The lounge had seen better days, but it was the perfect watering hole.

So imagine my shock to turn the corner today and see the scene below. Where there should have been tired green-hued carpet and old wooden tables, there was harlequin tile and ice cream tables with wicker chairs. Just promise me, guys and gals, that you'll tell me where the new clubhouse is; I wouldn't miss those stories and Kaliks for the world.

Sic transit gloria mundi.


Lee Jones first joined PokerStars in 2003 and has been part of the professional poker world for over 30 years. You can read his occasional Twitter-bites at @leehjones