WSOP 2015: A deer in the headlights. Make that the windshield.
Jake Cody knows the World Series, but his first trip here in 2010 almost never happened. Cody himself tells the story.
"I'm literally at the end of May, start of June and I've got my flight booked. I'm getting a taxi to the airport, and no word of a lie, as we're on the way, in urban Rochdale, a deer just runs out in front of the road and jumps into the windscreen."
To put this into perspective, urban Rochdale is not exactly deer country. You're about as likely to see a giant panda in Rochdale as much as a deer. But whatever it was it smahed the front windscreen and put the car out of action. The instinctively flight-phobic Cody took it as an omen. He would skip his first ever summer in Las Vegas and play online, where it's safe.
But the lights of Vegas and the associated riches dragged him there anyway. "Basically before the main started I thought, 'I can't really miss it'."
That was Cody's first World Series in the same year he won both an EPT and WPT title. But while wildlife nearly put him off it for good he was back the next year, where he won a first bracelet to become the youngest ever winner of poker's Triple Crown.
Right now though, those memories seem a long way off.
"It's been literally the worst summer ever," he said at the break, reflecting on a swingy day one that was spent almost permanently on 14,000.
"I finished with 22 and a half which felt a lot because I'd been down low quite a few times, so I was just happy to be in there I guess."
But there's always a strain associated with long periods without a result, as Cody explained.
"I think a lot of people might have jumped off a bridge by now," he joked. "But honestly I'm really positive. I think I played really well, but I've played more than 20 tournaments and I've cashed one Venetian tournament and zero World Series events.
"If I'd been playing badly I would really be down on myself. I don't like to complain about being unlucky. I think it's like when a player goes through this run its kind of, they need to be mentally strong and keep it together and into think that the world's against them and stuff. It is just poker. It will turn round."
While Cody may yet rescue something from the Series, at least he has somewhere to escape to at the end of the day and regroup. Whether he wins or loses there's always a reason to be cheerful waiting for him. Home right now is a house 20 minutes away where his girlfriend Alex, and daughter Arianna, are ready to remind him of bigger priorities.
"It's nice to have them here. I mean how can I be annoyed about a bad beat when I get to go home to them?"
A fine sentiment. Just look out for deer on the taxi ride home.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.