I've got a golden ticket...to the Bahamas

It's a Wednesday afternoon and I'm sat in a half-empty bathtub wearing my girlfriend's bikini with a sign that reads "Send me 2 the PCA" taped to my chest. As a 28-year-old man, it may or may not surprise you to hear that this isn't part of my daily routine.

I'm trying to find the best angle to take a picture of myself so that I get the majority of me in the frame without exposing too much - it's a tight squeeze, to say the least. The water is freezing given that it's December in London and my boiler is broken, but that's not my biggest concern. I'm more worried that the precariously positioned iPad I'm using to take the picture might fall into the water and that my girlfriend would arrive home later to find me dead in the tub... like this. No note, no explanation.

So, what exactly am I doing?

Well, the answer is relatively straightforward. The reason I've decided to face inevitable humiliation and a potential lifelong lack of future job prospects is to win a competition. But not just any competition.

I'm doing this to win a trip to the very first PokerStars Championship in the Bahamas: a week-long adventure in poker paradise where I'll be flown in, put up in a luxury hotel, given $1500 in buy-ins for tournaments and dedicated training from the likes of Antonio Esfandiari, Ike Haxton, Jeff Gross and Sam Abernathy.

Hold on. What kind of competition is this? And why the bikini?!

Okay. Let's rewind...

At the end of 2016, word spread that multi-millionaire hedge fund manager and amateur poker player Bill Perkins was giving away packages to the PokerStars Championship Bahamas. It seemed almost too good to be true - why, who would win, what would they get, and could I be in with a chance of winning?

I started digging for answers. In my search, I came across Joe Ingram's podcast with Bill, where he explained the big idea: To gather a team of 'poker nuts', send them to the Bahamas and see how they would get on playing high-stakes poker. An experiment of sorts, winners would be part of Team Perkins and get to experience a once in a lifetime trip.

And so, just like that, it began. Like a jet-setting, poker loving Willy Wonka, Bill started handing out the golden tickets. Often live-streaming himself playing high-stakes cash games on board his private yacht, Billy Wonka divvied out packages at random to followers of The Thirst Lounge and his Twitter feed.

Time and time again I tuned in with hopes of winning. I watched every stream, followed Bill's movements on every social media outlet, re-tweeted like a madman, subscribed to his Twitch channel, and typed in any and every code into the Twitch chat box as many times as I could to be in with a chance.

But as 5 packages turned into 15, my hopes were disappearing fast. Until... towards the end of one of many streams, Bill announced at that he would give away a package to whoever posted the funniest comment on his girlfriend's Instagram by the end of the day.

Could this be my chance?

To be honest, I wasn't that optimistic. With an offer this good, surely hundreds of people would write hilarious comments. How could I top them? Could it even be done? I racked my brains until I an idea: I'd attempt to emulate one of her pictures.

And here it is...

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Later on, at my weekly pub poker game, I explained the story to my fellow poker mates over a drink. Some had already seen the image on Instagram and had some serious questions - a few were even worried about me. After I'd finished explaining the story I got another notification from Instagram. "Here we go again", I thought, convinced it would be yet another friend mocking me, or perhaps even a family member scheduling my intervention.

Instead I read two simple words: "You win!!!"

And just like that I'm on Team Perkins. I'm off to the Bahamas.


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So what's in store for me and the 20 other package winners that I'll be with? Are we destined to make some cash? Will any of us bink a tournament? Will we fall into the chocolatey river of failure, or fly off into the sky in a glass elevator (or private jet, perhaps more fittingly) with Billy Wonka himself?

To find out, make sure to follow the PokerStars Blog here where I'll be positing live updates on Team Perkins progress.

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Dan Jones is an amateur poker player from London who was most recently was featured in the PokerStars Blog audio feature The New Guy

Dan Jones
@PokerStars in PokerStars Championship