The world of poker often sets two conflicting ideologies against one another: the claim that there’s no such thing as a free lunch with the belief that there’s boundless riches on offer for the minimum of effort.
The truth is probably somewhere in between — hence the other maxim that poker is an hard way to make an easy living — but there’s a promotion running at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure this week that certainly does lean towards the money-for-nothing camp.
Team PokerStars Pro Online is in the Bahamas en masse this week, and poker’s favourite crew of organised button mashers will likely be chancing their arms in the unfamiliar live arena — in between trips back to the room for a fix online, of course.
But they are also being lined up as the sacrificial lambs in a series of tournaments played mano-a-mano on the PokerStars mobile client, offering free money to anyone
brave sensible enough to take them on.
The promotion, named HU4ROLLZ, really does sound too good to be true. But it isn’t. It’s for real. It’s as simple as this:
Anyone here at the PCA can sign up to play a heads up hyper-turbo sit n go on PokerStars against a member of Team Online. The matches are played on iPads in the Player’s Lounge, with competitors squaring up, battleships style, face to face.
If the Red Spade happens to win the match, so be it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. But if the challenger wins, he or she earns $20 for the trouble, and is invited to play again. If he or she wins the next sit n go, the prize is $50, then up to $100 for three on the bounce.
If you can play the rush a fourth and fifth time, the prize increases to $200 and then $500. Chris Jonat, manager of Team Online, is currently sitting behind a couple of bricks of cash, ready to go broke if his expertly honed horses let him down.
“There’s no catch,” Jonat said earlier today, despite the skepticism of a PokerStars Blog reporter dazzled by the sight of such inordinate wealth and a man apparently so happy to give it away.
It’s just as well too, because in the short time I spent watching the HU4ROLLZ event, the Team Onliners were getting smashed.
June Jenkins, a realtor from Hamilton, Ontario, was making mincemeat of Andre Coimbra. “Twenty bucks? I’ll take you out for a drink,” she said, as she won her first match against the Portuguese, known online as “acoimbra”.
A couple of minutes later, Jenkins’ arms were held aloft again as she polished off the second sit and go. “Did she win again?” Dylan Coady, PokerStars VIP events manager, who was compering the event, said. “You guys both lost?” Coady added, indicating that Mickey Petersen, sat alongside Coimbra, had also been beaten in his match.
“Did I mention that I love heads up,” Jenkins said at the end of a third encounter, guaranteeing her $100. “Good luck, Andre, but I hope I win,” she said not long after their fourth match began and Jenkins and Coimbra were racing for victory. Jenkins won. Of course.
One of Jenkins’ friends, Nola Doucet, arrived to rail the fifth and final match. “June! Go Toronto!” Doucet said. “Do it for Toronto!”
“Total bluff, ha, ha, ha,” Jenkins said as she scooped another pot. Coimbra was left looking sheepishly at his iPad as the Jenkins juggernaut rumbled on. “I love heads up!” she said again, and moments later Coimbra was out of his misery. Jenkins became the first $500 winner of the 2015 PCA.
Coimbra should not be too ashamed, however. Jenkins has been playing poker for longer than he has been alive. She told me that she first learned poker at the age of three, while sitting in a high chair observing her father’s home games, joining the fray about as soon as she could hold a chip and a card. “We were a big Catholic family with no money and a deck of cards,” she said.
Jenkins is in the Bahamas for the second consecutive year, one of a contingent from the Toronto Poker League that runs events throughout the year to earn passage to the PCA. Two of her friends are playing the Main Event today, while she said she will likely use her $500 money for nothing as part of a buy in to the ladies’ event later in the week.
Both Coimbra and Petersen have stepped down now from their duties in the HU4ROLLZ promotion, but other Team Online members will play throughout the rest of the day and tomorrow. Step up and take your shot.