Poker | Caribbean Adventure | Dominic Wells | Part 1Cardspiel

Caribbean Adventure by Dominic Wells

I’m sick. Very sick.

I should be in bed, not hurtling through frozen air at 500 miles an hour 30,000 feet above the ground.  Instead I’m shivering with a temperature of 101 and all my warm clothes packed away in the hold.

I press the call button yet again.  Finally: a stewardess. “Excuse me,” I ask, in the manner of Oliver Twist requesting more gruel, “could I please have a blanket?

”She flashes me a huge smile: “I’m sorry, sir, we have no blankets at this time!” She says it as she says everything, in a happy sing-song voice. She’d use the same tone, I’m pretty sure, if advising passengers that the plane was about to crash in a blazing fireball and they had only seconds to live.

Great. I look at my watch. I’ve been travelling for 20 hours now. This will be a 24-hour journey from London, with two changes. Is it worth it?

I read through the brochures again. The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure is a week-long pokerfest on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. The Main Event, in which I will be playing, has a nerve-shredding $10,000 buy-in.  The total prize pool is about $14 million, and the overall winner will take away a cool $2 million. Side-events include a glittering celebrity tournament for charity. And I’m going to be interviewing Boris Becker, formerly the youngest ever Wimbledon tennis champion, now a would-be poker pro. Having swapped serving aces for pocket Aces, he will be playing in both tournaments.

So, yes. It’s worth it. If I can actually stay upright at the poker table.
My eyes hurt. I reach over to switch off the light, and from inside my shirt comes the most peculiar noise. My neighbour looks at me. I freeze. That is, I stop dead — I’m frozen already.

I’ve been afraid of this. Every time I move, I rustle. It is kind of suspicious. Someone’s bound to notice, bound to see the suspicious bulges around my body, bound to contact the authorities.

Is the smiling stewardess, even now, phoning airport police at the other end? Are her colleagues watching my every move? If I go to the toilet, will they follow? Because it’s true: for the last few hours, ever since Chicago, I have had something strapped to my chest.

It was while dragging my feet along in the airport, shivering from the flu and with snow grounding flights all over the States, that I had a brainwave. I took a tip from park-bench tramps, and wrapped a newspaper around myself for insulation. The Daily Telegraph, in fact. A better class of tramp.

The only problem is, someone somewhere is bound to see that, under my shirt, I’m packing. I don’t mind being mistaken for a tramp, but being mistaken for a terrorist will put a serious crimp in my trip.

In the end, I make it to Nassau airport without being bundled off to a back room to be waterboarded. I’ve staved off hypothermia, and there’s the added benefit that if I get bored over the next few days I can just remove my shirt and read the stories inked across my chest.  Now all I need is a taxi to the Atlantis Resort and Casino. Have a bath. Get warm. Relax.

Instead, to save money, I end up sharing a taxi with two British madmen, also just arrived for the tournament.

“Where are the girls?” they ask the driver, almost as soon as they get in.He’s not thrown in the slightest. “Girls, of course! I’ll take you, no problem. I know a very good place.”“And we’ll need some coke. You got coke in this country, yeah?”

“Of course, of course. I make some calls. Stick with me, I’ll show you a good time. Which do you want first: hotel, or girls?”
“Girls!” say both madmen in unison.

Then, as if remembering only now that I too am sharing the cab, one of them turns to me: “All right, mate? Cheer up! Whossyer problem? Girls! Drugs! Poker!”

I’m beyond exhausted. I’ve been travelling for 24 hours. I’m so cold that if anyone kissed me, their lips would stick to my skin.

“I just want to go straight to the hotel,” I say feebly.

“Suit yourself,” he says. “We’ll drop you off first then. But we are going out to get trolleyed, mate.” In the week that follows, I don’t see either of them again.

> Read Part 2

Image ‘1958 Douglas DC-6’ by Mark Wheadon

> Foto

> Licencia