Caribbean Adventure a poker story by Dominic Wells and CardspielCardspiel

Caribbean Adventure By Dominic Wells (Part 3 Of 15)

> read part one here:

Not long now till the action starts. I’m just observing today, not playing: there are so many entrants that the opening day is staggered across two days. At least half the field is expected to get knocked out on each day of Day One, so that the players will all fit on Day Two – which therefore actually takes place on the third day.

The space it takes place in is astonishing. It’s the hotel’s Imperial Ballroom, a vast room festooned with posters of past champions in which 80 tables have been lined up, nine players at each. Next to the battery-hen press of tables at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, this is Shangri-la. Even so, the noise of riffled chips is as ceaseless as cicadas on a hot summer’s day, and twice as deafening.

Most of the players here are male; many are in their twenties; fully half have qualified through online satellite tournaments on the PokerStars website. They haven’t, in other words, stumped up ten grand on their own: they have paid a much smaller sum to enter an online tournament, whose grand prize is a seat here.

This is what has irrevocably changed the face of live poker. Instead of grizzled professionals, men in their forties with minds like a pocket calculator and the ice-cold nerve of a contract killer, you get a bunch of kids with the recklessness of youth and the confidence that comes from not knowing how little you actually know. And, when this many people are competing, chances are it’s one of the risk-takers who will fluke out and go far.

And look, there’s Chris Moneymaker! A man whose real name is so apt, he doesn’t need a poker nickname. Moneymaker single-handedly kick-started the internet poker revolution when in 2003 he won the Main Event at the World Series of Poker, taking home $2.5 million. The quantum leap was that instead of paying the full $10,000 entry fee, he had qualified to play in an online tournament for a measly $39. Ever since, tens of thousands of bedroom players have dreamed of doing the same.

Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu stands up to play Master of Ceremonies. He’s won four WSOP bracelets and two World Poker Tour titles, and is ranked second in all-time poker earnings behind Phil “the Tiger Woods of poker” Ivey. His earrings and blond highlights whisper discreetly of money, but he still stoops and blinks and smiles apologetically in the spotlight like the poker nerd he is. Fifteen hundred players are expected to play from more than 50 countries, he announces, before uttering the immortal four words that precede every tournament: “Shuffle up and deal.”

> read part four here:

Photograph Queen of the Caribees by Robert S. Donovan

> Photographer website

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