What’s your best ever haul from a trick or treat excursion? A bucket of candy that lasts until December, maybe?
Brandon Means can beat it. He got a Platinum Pass.
It’s the kind of story that needs some explaining, so here goes.
Back in October last year, poker players in Pennsylvania could qualify for an online freeroll in a leader board promotion, the winner of which would receive a Platinum Pass to the PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) in the Bahamas in January.
The final tournament played out on October 31 — Halloween, in other words. Means had a ticket to the game, turned on PokerStars, registered, and quickly doubled his chip stack in the early all-in insanity that tends to characterise huge field free-rolls.
He then sat out and went out trick or treating with his kids. They hit up a few houses in their Sewickley, PA neighborhood, riding the sugar rush back home.
Eventually, the buzzing kids went to bed (brushing their teeth well, one assumes) while their dad turned PokerStars back on and discovered he still had chips in the tournament. Although it was a meagre stack by now — “Had it have been 20 minutes later, I would have blinded away,” Means says — he somehow managed to run it up again.
“I didn’t really know what the winner got at the time,” Means says, explaining his casual approach to the event. “I knew there was something very valuable, because second place was $2,500. The final table got $350.”
He continues: “I doubled up a couple of times, the bubble burst, and we got into the money. I just kept playing, got to the final table, and eventually I went online and looked up, ‘What is this Platinum Pass?’ I was like, ‘Wait a second. If I win this thing, am I going to the Bahamas? Playing in a real high stakes tournament?'”
Yes indeed. And a few hours later he was the champion.
Honey, we’re going to the Bahamas
The Platinum Pass has long been likened to Roald Dahl’s Golden Ticket, the gleaming passport that allowed five children the run of Willy Wonka’s magical chocolate factory. Means’ acquisition of the Pass in a freeroll was the poker equivalent of opening that whipple-scrumptious fudgemallow delight and seeing a golden glint.
Inside was a $30,000 package to the PSPC, including a buy-in to what seems certain to be the biggest $25,000 tournament in world poker.
He might not have known what it meant at the start, but it soon began to sink in.
“I told my wife, ‘How do you feel about going to the Bahamas in January?’ She was like, ‘Sounds like a good idea. There’s probably other places I’d rather go.’ But then I explained the circumstances around it and she was like, ‘Well, I guess we’ve gotta go.’
“I’m really excited. I can’t wait. This is going to be a really cool experience. I’m a little bit nervous, but at the same time I won a Platinum Pass, so it’s not like I’m forking out the $25K. It’s going to be a just a fun experience. Worst case scenario, I bust out and I get to have five days in the Bahamas.”
Another ridiculous parlay
For many other players, the odds of landing the Platinum Pass might have seemed too long to contemplate. But Means, a keen sports bettor, is well versed in delivering the unlikely.
“I’ll put together ridiculous parlays and hope that one of them hit,” he says. “I know they’re huge moneymakers for the casinos, but it just adds a little something.”
He goes on to detail a bet from the final day of the 2021/22 NFL regular season, which required three unlikely occurrences for him to hit a huge payout. Means needed Jacksonville to beat Indianapolis (+750), his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers to beat the Baltimore Ravens (+187) and then the Chargers and the Raiders to go to overtime in the Sunday night game (+1,400).
If all three happened, and the Chargers and Raiders played out a scoreless OT, both those teams would make the playoffs — at the Steelers’ expense. Means titled the parlay: “Steelers Will Miss The Playoffs in the Most Devastating Fashion Possible”, preparing himself for the heartbreak that would follow any against-the-odds success.
As it turned out, however, Means somehow managed to triumph on all fronts. The Jaguars did indeed overcome the Colts. The Steelers then beat the Ravens, and the only way they could miss out on the playoffs would be if the Chargers and Raiders tied.
The score in that game was level as the clock ran out, landing Means his huge score. But the devoted Steelers man had every reason to watch on from behind the couch, expecting the two teams to just run down the overtime clock as well.
“By all means both teams could have just kneeled on the ball and ended the game,” Means explains. “However, something happened in the waning moments of the game. The Raiders decided to kick a game-winning field goal as time expired in overtime to end the Chargers’ season.”
He continues: “It ended up being a massive payday, and the Steelers made the playoffs — only to get slaughtered the next week.”
The advantage of being ‘over your skis’
By day, Means works in the energy sector, doing contract work for oil and gas providers, but dates his interest in poker back to the early booms days. Like millions of others, he watched Chris Moneymaker win the World Series in 2003 and started playing poker while at college in upstate New York.
He used to go with a few friends to play hold’em at a reservation casino, and dabbled online, but allowed poker to slip away post Black Friday. However, the relatively recent return of the online game to Pennsylvania rekindled his passion and he now fires up a few tournaments “when regular life doesn’t get in the way”.
He confesses he’ll be an underdog in the Bahamas, but is approaching the PSPC knowing his strengths. “No one knows who I am, or how I play,” he says. “I’m just thrilled to go to this thing. I would never buy into something like this on my own, but I can potentially be a dangerous player only because I literally have nothing to lose.”
But there should be reason for cautious optimism. Means laid out his approach to picking his sports bets as follows: “What I’ve learned to do is that whenever I have an instinct, I bet the exact opposite of what I think is going to happen…It seems to always work out that my hunch is usually wrong, so I’m better off going the other way.”
And by that logic, the man who says about the PSPC, “I’m a bit over my skis on this one” has got to be a favorite, right?
MORE PLATINUM PASS PROFILES
- FRANCO SPITALE: CHARITY SPURS HIM ON AFTER COLLAPSED LUNG AGONY
- RISH IYER: WOMEN’S CHAMPION HOPING FOR PSPC TELL-ALL
- TANAY SAMANT: PLATINUM PASS WINNER WORKING TO CURE CANCER
- JONATHAN NEWMAN: ‘LIFELONG LEARNER’ TRADES CLASSROOM FOR POKER SUCCESS
- STEPHEN GRAY: FREEROLLING EN ROUTE TO AN OIL RIG