"If you had told me five years ago that we would be doing a 10K at the 2013 PCA, I would've said, 'There's no way we could swing that buy-in.'"
That's PokerStars' Lee Jones running down Nassau's Bay Street. The air smells like fish and salt and the exhaust of the passing morning traffic. It's still early, and Jones isn't due in to work for a few hours. He's up early with the fishermen and the fishmongers who have lined nearby boat ramps at Montagu Bay with giant white coolers full of ice. Girls in school uniforms wait at the bus stops. Traffic hums just a little too close to Jones' hips. The Caribbean Sea is a football's throw away. Jones is pleased, if sweating more than he would've at every other PCA.
As it happens, I have the pleasure of being right there beside him. It's a 10K run (6.2 miles) before Day 3 of the main event of the 2013 PCA, one that climbs over the ridiculously-steep Paradise Island Bridge, jogs past Potters Cay and the Poop Deck, and then heads east along Bay Street toward Montagu Bay. At some point, the run veers off onto something called the Eastern Road, a place with precious few sidewalks and more than a couple dogs.
Jones asks, "Did I send you the link of Graham Nash, Paul Simon, and David Crosby doing 'Here Comes the Sun?'"
It is a good day.
Lee Jones was at the first PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in 2004. He's been at most of them since. He was the first person I met at PokerStars, and he was the one who revealed to me nine years ago about this time that PokerStars was looking for someone to cover the EPT tournaments. He was the one who told me that person was probably going to be me. That decision resulted in the creation of this blog. So, score one for the good guys.
Neither of us were particularly healthy back then or in many of the years since. Our friendship grew over poker games, campsite guitar-picking, and more than a few not-so-healthy meals.
That is all a long way of saying, in all the PCAs Jones and I have attended together, the most active thing we've done together this string computer cables for the inaugural 2006 World Championship of Battleship Poker. Until today.
I hadn't seen Jones since last summer, so when he walked in earlier this week, I literally didn't recognize him. He had dropped 25 pounds and was as thin as I've ever seen him. It was all part of a self-betterment campaign that's reaping big dividends (although probably costing him a fortune in new clothes). He wrote about it earlier this week in "Balance."
Having been privy to my own attempts to fight off advancing age, Jones knew I've worn out a few pairs of running shoes over the past few years.
And so came the email a few weeks before the PCA. It instructed me to bring the new shoes and set a course that took us over the Paradise Island Bridge.
"Did you see that?"
That's Lee again as we hop off the sidewalk near Montagu Bay.
He tells me, and we agree it's not the type of color the PokerStars Blog needs. Suffice to say, the detritus of an outdoor romantic interlude stands in stark contrast to the blue water and even bluer sky. Half a mile later, we jump over the corpse of a rodent scavenger. It's not the prettiest picture. A police van--sirens blaring--rushes by too close, inexplicably guiding a school bus through the stop-and-go traffic.
They are the only marred moments of what is otherwise a perfect morning run, and they will probably go without further mention until I think more on it throughout the day.
Jones and I have a special affection for the PCA. It's defined the greater part of our careers for the past decade. It's an event with which we're proud to be associated. Nonetheless, it's work, and very hard work at that. Neither of us sleeps much. It's not always easy to eat well. Moments of exercise are few and far between. And if I'm being honest, when the 15-hour workdays are done, it's hard to think about anything but a cold Kalik or a giant BBQ brisket sandwich.
Put another way, like a beautiful run that crosses over a dead rat: life here is always going to be awesome, but it's not always pretty. The discipline failures and fatigued mistakes are just going to happen. The goal is to hop over them and move on until you get to the good stuff.
I didn't want to get out of bed at 7:30 this morning on five hours sleep. Even after I strapped on my shoes, I didn't feel much like running. But as my wife often reminds me, "If you do it, you won't regret it."
And so there I met Lee Jones--a true poker star--in the Coral Lobby of Atlantis, a place where so many PCA after-parties have occurred there should be assigned seating and a Hall of Fame. We left, hit the road, climbed the bridge, and ran until such time that it seemed smart to turn back and head toward our work day.
Part of our job here has always been a painful one. Our work visas prohibit us from playing poker while we're here. So, as long as we have the privilege of working at the PCA, we'll never experience the joy of playing the PCA main event.
And so, instead of a $10K buy-in, today it was a 10K run for two old-but-still-moving PCA vets.
And my wife was right (again): I didn't regret it.