Get to point A from Point B. That's how I used to schedule as much of my travel as possible. And that was the plan when I started planning my trip to the PCA this year.
It did not end up that way, and I couldn't be happier about the addition of Points C & D, and everything in between. Not many people can say they've had a Hangovertini in Thailand. More on that in a second.
It was late November, and I knew it was the time to finally prepare my PCA trip. This year it was much different than before, as I had to travel exactly half of the world (and 12 timezones) to get there. At first, I wanted to make it quick, non-stop travel, a few days at the Atlantis, and then back. But it seemed a little bit crazy, and I would probably be jet lagged all the time. So I started to do some planning. I have friends in Miami who always asked me to visit them when I am around. So I thought, let's do few days in Miami and few days at the PCA. Then I checked the NBA schedule, as I always try to get to some Heat games while in town, and I just could not believe my eyes. They were playing Golden State Warriors, my second favourite team, on January 2nd! At that moment, I KNEW that I would go for that game. But that would mean that I have to either not party during New Year's Eve at all and even spend the day traveling, just to be able to get to Miami on January 2nd in the afternoon. So there came another thought - why not spent New Year's Eve with my friends in Miami?
Deal me in!
That's how my plan looked. New Year's celebration, then Heat-Warriors and couple more days in Miami before leaving for the PCA. Seemed worthy of half-world trip. But as I travelled a lot in my 10-year poker career, I now really like to make my trip comfortable without getting up in the middle of the night or 8-hour stops at the airport.
Also, as I do not have any winter clothes here in Thailand, I could not make any stops in cold places. Therefore, I decided to go 'the wrong way', not through Europe but via Pacific and all of US. I found really nice flight from Bangkok to Los Angeles via Taipei. After that, the rest was easy.
I would go from Phuket to Bangkok on December 29th and leave next day at noon to LA. The funny thing was, that because of going 'wrong way', December 30th was the longest day in my life, lasting 39 hours. How is it possible? Well, I left Bangkok at 1pm that day, only to land in Los Angeles after 15-hour 1-stop flight... at the same hour of the same day! Of course, there is a cost of that - on the way back I lost the day of January 12th.
Now, since I knew that I was flying through Los Angeles, I checked the NBA schedule again. And boom, the Clippers were playing the Suns on the day of my arrival! And on the next day I would be leaving to Miami to get there just in time before New Year's party.
I was really happy with my planning, and it also got me thinking. I think this is why I love have poker as a job. Ten years ago, before I started playing poker professionally, you could count all my flights using one hand fingers. And during this 10-year period? Well, I stopped counting after 50, and my estimate would be around 125. Most of the travels were poker-related, but many of them were purely vacations, however paid by poker money as well. It does not seem spectacular, as so many poker players travel even more than me, but bear in mind that I am small stakes poker player. So most of the money won I did not spend to buy in for high buy-in tournaments (mostly I play in small to medium live tourneys, but they are only in addition to my online cash grind) but to see new places and making my dreams to come true. I love poker for that.
So how did my recent trip go? Here are some highlights:
I visited famous Lebua Hotel in Bangkok and drink the featured Hangovertini in the 52-floor Sky Bar made famous by Hangover 2 movie.
I went to Staples Center in Los Angeles for the first time to see Clippers game from the 4th row behind the basket. Boy, does Blake Griffin seem giant when you got him so close!
I spent New Year's Eve in Miami for the second time in my life. I really like this city!
I went to Heat vs Warriors game, which was like Christmas to me. I had a chance to see my all-time favourite player (also responsible for my motivation and work ethic in poker) live for the first time in my life - Ray Allen. Additionally, I could see the show that was put on by my second favourite player - Stephen Curry. Dreams do come true.
I spent great American-style evening with my friends who took me to Philadephia Eagles fan-bar for their NFL playoff game against New Orleans Saints. That was truly great time, even though the Eagles lost.
I arrived in style at the PCA thanks to PokerStars VIP Club complimentary limousine. But is that really a highlight anymore? The VIP Club has spoiled us!
I played with and beat Nanonoko at video game! I only had to trick him to play NBA 2k game instead of any other game that he would destroy me in. Now that's a highlight.
I was able to fulfill my another long time dream - do the EPT Live commentary with Joe Stapleton and James Hartigan! Life does not get any better than that!
All of that during my 2-week trip to the PCA. I can't wait for the next year!