I hadn't even reached the Bahamas yet before I'd met up with some of my PokerStars Team Online mates. Alex 'Kanu7' Millar was sitting right behind me on the London to Miami flight. Despite us hanging out for a couple of days on the Isle of Man just two months previous he didn't recognize me, even as he stood less than arm's length away directly facing me. Surely I'm not that easily forgettable? His girlfriend told me not to worry about it "he's even walked right past me in the street before." Probably too busy thinking about high level poker strategy to be concerned much with what's happening in the real world.
At Miami airport I met up with Felix 'xflixx' Schneiders who was on the same connecting flight to Nassau as me. Our flight was delayed for hours and as we sat at the gate surrounded by morbidly obese people Felix said "Do you think there's anywhere here I could get some decent, healthy food?", to which I responded "No mate, it's just all shitty American food like Pizza Hut and Dunkin Donuts".
The very moment that I said "shitty American...." about 20 people turned their head and looked like they wanted to murder me. Felix laughed nervously "I think you're about to get killed.". They'd have to catch me first though, and fortunately there was little to no chance of that. I looked around and said "I know you guys are really patriotic, but come on, your food IS shitty", and that's coming from a guy who was brought up in the land of the deep-fried Mars Bar.
At Nassau airport Felix and I were greeted by a stretch limousine to take us to our hotels. There was a nice bottle of champagne in there too. Felix didn't want any and I quit drinking 6 months ago but I hate missing out on value so I pulled it out of the ice bucket, dried it off and stuffed it into my bag, thrifty Scotsman style. I had arranged to trade it for a 6-pack of water with Scossett, which tells you something about how expensive bottled water is at Atlantis, but I ended up just giving it to Elena Stover who is a champagne addict. I'm just happy someone I know got value out of it rather than leaving it behind for the limo driver to nab.
This was my second trip to the Bahamas but my first trip to Atlantis / Paradise Island. Unfortunately all I got to see of it on my first day was during the two minute walk to the convention centre where I spent the rest of the day in meetings. It was great meeting up with my team mates and all but the only things on my mind were beaches and water slides.
Later that evening we were treated to a dinner at a luxury restaurant called Mesa Grill. I went there hungry, prepared to get maximum value out of the meal and despite Chris, the team manager, forbidding me to order two main meals, I did get my value by ordering two starters and two sides.
Rick Dacey from the PokerStars Blog joined us for dinner and wrote about it here, PCA 2014: Dining out on Team PokerStars Online.
Once the boring stuff was out the way I was free to spend the rest of my stay in Paradise Island floating around the Lazy River on a rubber tube. It's so big that it takes about half an hour to do one lap.
Other than the lazy river there were some cool water slides including two that take you right through a tank of sharks.
The whole time I was messing around having fun in the water park there was a major tournament series going on in the convention centre, but that was the last thing on my mind, I just wanted to be outside in the sunshine.
After a few days in vacation mode I did eventually spend a couple of hours playing poker. PokerStars ran a HU4ROLLZ promotion where people could come to the Players Lounge and take on Team Online members for free at Hyper Turbo Heads Up SNGs for a chance to win thousands of dollars.
It was a ton of fun with a good mix of players. After I defeated legendary HUSNG player Pistons87 his mom sat down to teach me a lesson. After floating me with T high, no draw on the flop and being good for a chop, I knew I was in for a spanking and she promptly defeated me in our first match.
My worst record was against a Russian guy who couldn't speak any English. He beat me 7 times before I won one. He was hitting every 3-outer, winning every flip, basically just how I run against Russians when I play on PokerStars.
I kept bumping into my Russian friend everywhere I went after that and every time he would come shake my hand or get a photo with me. I obviously made him a very happy man, not to mention a lot of money.
On the last day of my trip I was waiting in the queue for a water slide when I got a tap on the shoulder from a man wearing a tight pair of Speedos. I didn't recognise him at first, then he started grinning. Yes, it was my Russian nemesis. Even in the middle of the water park he was there to make sure that I never forgot about him beating me 7 straight games in a row.
DaWarsaw The Fish
|Throws money away even|
better than he throws cards.
We went out for a burger meal together and I paid for it on my Amex card. The fish threw $24 across the table to me, except that he actually gave me $123 as he'd mixed up a $100 note instead of a $1. I folded the money up with the $100 showing and held it against my face as I slouched on the table and continued to talk to him. A few minutes went by with him none the wiser and I asked him "so do you want your hundred bucks back?". He looked at me puzzled, "what hundred buck? what are you talking about?".
I waved the money in front of him and he still didn't get it. "I didn't give you a hundred buck." So I had to sit there and convince him with great difficulty that he gave me that Benjamin before I was able to give him his own money back that he mistakenly gave me. What a fish.
We then went to a bar to watch an NBA match, Miami versus New York. He offered me 3/1 odds to take New York. His $150 to my $50. I know nothing about basketball so I turned it down, but GodlikeRoy snapped it up. The match had about 5 minutes left, with New York leading by 9 points so I started taunting DaWarsaw who was sitting there looking tilted as hell. He said "if you're that confident, why don't you take the bet too, 3/1 odds, same offer."
I made the snappiest of snap calls on that one. Even knowing nothing about the sport, it just seemed absurdly good value. Two minutes later he was trying to buy out for half, which I refused, then a minute after that he paid me the full amount with a minute left on the clock. I almost felt guilty for taking the money. Greg, take my advice and just stick to poker son,
I ended up playing some poker at the PCA after all. Late one afternoon towards the end of the trip I jumped into a $1,100 Dealers Choice 4/5 Card PLO event. It was a Pot Limit Omaha tourney where the dealer got to choose if the hand was played with 4 or 5 hole cards.
In the field were GodlikeRoy and Gav101 who are world class PLO players, but overall the field was very soft.
When it was my button I always went with 4 cards. I think that against a weak field I have much more experience playing 4 card PLO than them, and we are all inexperience playing 5 card PLO, so it's to my advantage to play 4 card PLO. Also I think that 5 card PLO is a more skill-levelling game anyway.
There was one bloke at the table who was a miserable bastard from the moment we started, a wiseguy from New York. By the first break he'd already told two different dealers and a floorman to go f*** themselves. He was absolutely atrocious though, so all the players just let him be. Let him be his obnoxious self. You have to feel for the dealers though, as they have to put up with his crap and really get nothing out of it.
My table started off with me being the only one choosing 4 cards but by the time we were down to two tables and near the final table bubble, almost everyone left were 4-card players. I think that says a lot about the guys who were choosing 5 cards. :)
The obnoxious New Yorker was playing 100% VPIP, 100% raise when folded to and just running like god against everyone. Not against me though. I nittied it up pretty hard while he was busting everyone, and jammed over his raises when I had AAxx. He doubled me up 5 times throughout the tournament that way.
I coasted into the final table and the money with about 20 big blinds, which is huge when there's no ante and everyone is splashing around in every pot ICM-owning themselves.
When we were four handed a drunken Robert Williamson III approached the table, looking like he was pregnant with Robert Williamson IV, and started chatting to a withered old live pro who was sitting opposite me. I overheard him say "damn Stars pro at your table, make sure to send that bastard to the rail.". He must think it's still 2007 and there's some kind of Full Tilt / PokerStars pro rivalry going on. How did that work out for him?
Shortly later Team Online manager Chris came to the table to see how I was getting on. I was chatting to him for a minute when that obnoxious New Yorker started shouting and cursing "get this f***ing guy away from the table". The floorman came and
So I played a hand. He raised UTG and I jammed for 40% of my stack with AAxx. He flatted, the flop came down 552 and he lead into me for pot, putting me all in. I called and he had A962 rainbow and I held. Xmas was two weeks ago but gifts are still nice.
Next hand, he looked over at me and said "You Scottish people don't tan too well, do you?". I wasn't sure how to take that at first. It's likely he was just trying to insult me but I decided to take it as a joke and go along with it. "Yeah we're one of three colours depending on the time of year, pale white most of the time, but red in the summer and blue in the winter.". Maybe we don't tan too well but we don't take ourselves too seriously either.
He was tilting like crazy and busted a few hands later after getting it in in bad shape. As he left I said "unlucky bro, good game.", he just gave me a "whatever" and the table was less a miserable bastard. I thought that it would now be a nice, friendly game. Oh how I was mistaken.
We were three-handed when the withered old bald man chose 5-cards and opened for a pot-size raise from the button. I re-potted it from the small blind with AAxxx double suited, the kid in the big blind folded and the old man tanked for five minutes.
The bet was to about 50% of his stack. He kept staring me down and doing all this LOL ridiculous live pro stuff like suddenly grabbing his chips as if he was about to call or suddenly grabbing his cards as if he was about to muck, trying to get a read on me. It took all my energy to not burst out laughing. A whole five minutes (no exaggeration) went by with him doing this utter nonsense and then I noticed that he kept looking at the clock behind me. I turned round and saw that there was only 50 seconds left of the level, so I said "clock please, this guy is stalling".
To say that he went berserk would be the biggest understatement. The instant the floorman came to the table he mucked his cards without thinking, stood up and started shouting at the top of his voice, calling me a "f***ing idiot", "little piece of f***ing s***", "how dare you accuse me of stalling you f***ing moron?".
Face red and steam coming out of his ears. Tilt much?
He was best friends with the dealer and floorman, they go way back apparently, so he didn't even get a penalty. To be fair I didn't raise a complaint, but the floorman was standing right beside him as he's shouting and swearing at me. I shouldn't have to complain.
So after getting stared down and stalled on for five minutes I was treated to a full hour of abuse. Seriously, he didn't shut up for a full hour. He just wouldn't let it go. "You are a f***ing unethical piece of s***, how dare you accuse me of stalling you f***ing moron", again and again and again. He said "you sat there talking to your buddy, slowing the game down, and you're calling the clock on me you f***ing idiot?". Maybe he forgot about the time he himself spent talking to his fat pal, insulting me behind my back.
Rather than bring myself down to his level I sat there calm as you like and tried to be nice by apologising to him, just because I wanted to get on with the game "sorry man, I didn't mean to insult you, let's just forget about it and get on with the game.", That strategy backfired as it just seemed to make him think he was more in the right and a further furious tirade of verbal abuse was sent my way.
"Why the f*** would I want to stall? I'm the short stack you f***ing moron. What possible reason could I have?" he went on. In my mind I was thinking "well you clearly have no idea how to play this game so yeah, having the stacks as shallow as possible would suit you well.", but I just continued being a nice guy "sorry that you feel insulted man, but you need to let it go.".
The more he tilted and verbally abused myself, the better I felt about myself. In front of me was a man twice my age who couldn't control his emotions, and I was sitting there calm and mellow, not giving much of damn. It takes a real miserable bastard to come to Paradise Island, go deep in a poker tournament and still be filled with anger. F his life.
Thankfully the withered old git eventually busted to the nice quiet kid from Macau after getting it all in on the flop with an under-pair of deuces and 4-high flush draw up against an overpair, straight draw and better flush draw. He probably should have stared the kid down a bit before getting it in there. Maybe a live read could have prevented him getting it in with less than 10% equity on the flop at 5-card PLO.
I stood up, offered him a handshake and said "sorry that you think I insulted you man, good game anyway." At first he shook his head and was hesitant to take the handshake, then he decided to take it. As he shook my hand he said "ok then.... but you're still a F***ING IDIOT.".
So the table was less a dirty scumbag tilt-monkey who is an utter disgrace to the game of poker and Chenxiang Miao and I played heads up, him with about 60% of the chips. We only played 4 hands before I flopped the nut flush draw, gutter and backdoor flush draw and he flopped top set. All the money went in, the turn brought me a second flush draw so the river was a nice sweat, but I missed and he took the trophy and the glory. Well deserved as he played great and did well to sit there patiently and put up with the two obnoxious clowns that were at our table.
2nd place was worth $12,200. I had swapped 5% with GodlikeRoy on the dinner break but it felt like a win because I offered him 10%. He also cashed in 7th, so I ended up keeping about 97% of the payout. That score made the trip all the more enjoyable for me as I wasn't even expecting to play any poker when I was in the Bahamas.
At Atlantis I discovered Quiznos for the first time. I'd never heard of it before but from a glance it looked just like Subway and it was pretty cheap, especially by Atlantis standards.
I fell in love with Quiznos from the first bite. I thought it was going to be like Subway, and yeah it's like Subway if Subway like..... actually had high quality ingredients and tasted delicious. Really there's no comparison. The subs were so good at Quiznos that I can never eat a crappy Scrubway sub again in my life.
My favourite sub was "Turkey Breast, Smoky Bacon, Guacamole, All-Natural Mozzarella, Iceberg lettuce, Tomatoes, Onions, Buttermilk Ranch Dressing" on whole wheat bread. Out of this world, and the best food 12 bucks can buy you at Atlantis.
One of the first things I did when I got back to Scotland was find out of there were any Quiznos franchises. It seems there are none. They had opened a few shops a few years back but they went busto. Too healthy and delicious I guess. Meanwhile the deep-fried Mars Bar trade is still booming.
I also had my first ever visit to Nobu during this trip. It's a very upmarket Japanese / South American fusion restaurant that's become quite popular and famous.
I went there was a bunch of people including GodlikeRoy, Gavz101, Talonchick, TheCart3r and Josem. We all ordered the 8-course tasting menu at $200 a head. Pretty expensive but an experience well worth paying for.
The food was incredible. The highlight being the signature Nobu dish - Black Cod with Miso Glaze.
Black Cod comes from sub-antartic waters where it's pretty damn cold and so is one of the fattiest fish in the world. Fatty but not oily. It has the most wonderful soft texture and tastes smooth and delicious. It's no exaggeration when I say that the Nobu Black Cod Miso is one of the very best things I've tasted in my whole life.
One of the guys at the table had to leave after the 7th course, before dessert. When the desserts were brought to the table, a hot chocolate fondant with green tea ice cream, I got fired into it straight away. It was so delicious. Halfway through devouring it I looked up and noticed the spare dessert in front of the empty seat and was like "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh". Everyone started laughing because I was the last to notice, too busy stuffing my face, and they were already discussing playing credit card roulette to decide who would get the spare dessert.
But by the time everyone had finished their desserts nobody was interested in the spare one. They were all holding their stomachs, drifting into food comas. Josem and I were the only ones with room left in our massive bellies so we split the chocolate cake and I got all of the ice cream. Even at Nobu I managed to find some value!
I actually left Paradise Island one afternoon. I walked all the way over the big bridge into town. I'd heard people getting ripped off taking the 5 minute journey in a taxi and being charged $25 so walking felt pretty good. Burn calories, not money.
Once I was there I was really disappointed to find that everything was closed because It was a Sunday. But I found the Straw Market which was open and is where traders sell a bunch of handicrafts made out of straw or wood.
I ended up buying a couple of handmade wooden sharks for $8 which made the journey worth while, and I got some good exercise and sunshine, so the walk into town was overall a success.
On my last night there was a massive pool-side party, with unlimited fresh hot food and free alcohol. The set-up was incredible with massive flames coming out of the pool and awesome fireworks.
I hung out with my Team Online buddies there and after the party had finished, instead of going to Aura nightclub that had been booked out for us, we all went to the restaurant in the casino so we could sit and relax and chat. My kind of people. I think I'm well past the point where I find loud busy nightclubs fun, especially since I don't drink any more.
I stayed 8 nights in the Bahamas and had such a great time that I wanted to stay even longer. However PokerStars had organised a massive home game for me, otherwise known as UKIPT Edinburgh, so I had to fly home for that.