2008 World Series: Passport to the main event
For one guy playing today the World Series main event is just the next stop on a worldwide poker playing adventure. Thanks to his win in the PokerStars Passport competition, 23-year-old Dustin Mele gets to play ten tournaments of his choosing and in any destination he wants. Not a bad prize.
He's already played a few, ticking off some glamorous locations across Europe as he goes - getting to grips with EPT action in Dortmund, Copenhagen, San Remo and the Grand Final in Monte Carlo, each time edging deeper into the event but yet to find that all important first score.
As Dustin wrote on the PokerStars blog after his first bundle of tournaments...
"I'm getting more experience, which is very valuable as a poker player. I know that if I can avoid getting unlucky I can take down my first title."
Dustin's girlfriend Tracey, who travels to events with him, is not the only one watching over Dustin's progress. A certain number of PokerStars players also have an eye on proceedings with a little more than friendly support. Ten per cent of any money that Dustin wins on his yearlong furlow on to the poker circuit will be returned, making up part of the prize pool for a special VIP event - with PokerStars matching the amount.
Ten per cent? In the next couple of weeks that could potentially be anything up to $800,000... although Dustin might have a little work to do first.
It's not his first experience of playing at the World Series, having played in 2006 where he memorably witnessed one of those hands that probably deserves its own X-File.
"It seemed that there was an ace or sometimes two on every flop, and players were betting, raising and flipping over pockets aces. Aces were everywhere. Finally I had the aces, a player raised under-the-gun and I pushed all-in.
"The player that raised was the only caller and the dealer said, 'Turn your hands up.' I turned over the ace of clubs and ace of spades. The other player turned over ace of spades and queen of hearts. We both had the ace of spades in our hands."
It's the kind of freakiness that could be a drag if the hand was declared dead. None of that happening here though as Dustin takes his day one turn, down a few grand but no major problems early one.
"I have about 22K, nothing really major. Slow but steady."
But so far the experience has been more of a blast than anything resembling work for Dustin, who already has his timetable in place for where he's headed next...
"We've picked them all - EPT Barcelona, then EPT London, then to Sydney for the APPT, back to the Bahamas for the PCA and then one last EPT in Deauville, France."
We'll see him there. First he has a main event to win.
Dustin has been interviewed coutless times on his travels, but rarely by someone as lovely as the lady who took him on a tour of San Remo during the EPT event there. Kara Scott is running in Day 1C today and slipped out during her break to give us a brief update.
Watch WSOP 08: Kara Scott Break Time Chat on PokerStars.tv