For a period of several months in 2017, the mere existence of something called a Platinum Pass was the most tightly-guarded secret at PokerStars HQ. Those who knew what it was were sworn to secrecy, and those who didn’t were left wondering what all the whispering was about. The answer was one of the biggest and most ambitious PokerStars promotions in the company’s history.
It was a multimillion-dollar promotion, one that would seed history’s biggest $25,000 buy-in poker tournament with $8 million in free entries and give recreational players around the world a chance to compete against the best for life-changing money. All of those free entries, each valued at $30,000, would be called a Platinum Pass. The plan: to spend an entire year spreading those Platinum Passes around the world like poker’s version of Willy Wonka.
This weekend, all of those Platinum Pass winners will meet the world’s best poker players in the Bahamas to fight it out for millions of dollars. There are hundreds of winners, all of them with different life stories and goals. Internally, PokerStars began to number them all one at a time. The number climbed to 100, then 200, and all the way up to the legion currently getting on paradise-bound planes.
To reach that point, PokerStars had to decide how to give out the first Platinum Pass. Nothing could stop the moment from being one of the biggest poker news stories of the year, and executives at PokerStars knew they had to get it right. They planned for months. They met in secret. They informed people only on a need-to-know basis. Nothing was left to chance.
And then everything went sideways.
This is that behind-the-scenes story, told in the words of the people who lived through it: the tale of the first Platinum Pass and how no amount of planning and dedication could account for what happened that day at EPT Prague.
CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET?
Joe Stapleton (PokerStars Live Host): This day started out pretty weird for me. Why? Because I was ten minutes early for work. That never happens. It was because we had some big announcement or something. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew that all the grown-ups were freaking out about something. In general, if there’s something that needs to be kept secret, I generally ask that they don’t tell me at all. I don’t need that kind of pressure.
Howard Swains (PokerStars Blog): I think everyone had the same response when they heard the idea of the PSPC: that sounds great. The biggest $25,000 buy-in event in world poker? What’s not to love? It was also doubly exciting because for perhaps the first time ahead of a major announcement, it came as a real surprise. Very often poker’s gossip-mongers are spookily well informed, but in this case the shroud of secrecy had remained efficiently in place.
Daniel Negreanu (PokerStars Ambassador): I flew to Prague for literally 24 hours to help make the official announcement and unveil the sizzle video. Pretty historic moment and I didn’t want to miss it.
Neil Stoddart (EPT Chief Photographer): Two days before the announcement. I’d just been handed the only Platinum Pass in existence. It was pre-production version of the pass that the PR department needed some images of so that as soon as the reveal was made, there was an image to attach to the release. I got some props from the chip room and found a closed off area in one of the side rooms to create an image.
Juan Covacevich (PSPC Manager): To start in a bold way, we decided to give the first Platinum Pass to someone that was going to really value it. We knew that the saddest runner of a poker tournament, the bubble boy, was going to receive our very first Platinum Pass. It would bring to life one of the most ambitious projects Stars has ever done. It was perfect! I loved this idea. I still do!
Samantha Woods (PokerStars PR): There is an excited buzz. We suspect that everyone knows something is going to happen that might be exciting, but, boy they don’t know what’s in store, and when we reveal all, we hope that it is going to blow their minds.
Sophie Kniveton (Project Associate): It’s fair to say that the day the first Platinum Pass was given away was like no other I have ever witnessed in the office and definitely the most fun Friday afternoon I’ve ever had in work.
Juan Covacevich (PSPC Manager): We had agreed on the minute-by-minute schedule that morning with the TV team, and we were all ready waiting to make this amazing project a reality. We were sure this was a great news for poker.
Daniel Negreanu (PokerStars Ambassador): No one even knew I was in Prague, so I was kind of hiding out backstage until the big moment. It was exciting, especially because nothing like this has ever really happened in poker.
Samantha Woods (PokerStars PR): I was told roughly when the bubble was going to hit and huddled hopefully unobtrusively at the back of the hall.
Rebecca McAdam (Head of Public Relations): I had concern for Sam’s sanity, but in all seriousness, largely I was worried that something would spoil the news. There were a few little hiccups along the way, but there always are. I worried about timing an announcement to a bubble! That’s something I wouldn’t be too quick to do again! When do you set the website live?! Who knows?!
“THE WORLD’S A BUBBLE”
Stephen Bartley (PokerStars Blog): With any bubble, you’re hanging around the tournament floor waiting for something exciting to happen. The only problem is you’re not entirely sure when that will happen.
Juan Covacevich (PSPC Manager): It had been a very tense week. After several months planning, discussing and polishing all the details, the day had finally come.
Samantha Woods (Public Relations): I find out when the bubble is going to burst but as we all know that is like figuring out how long is a piece of string – I sit nervously waiting to spring into action, everyone is primed, we have talked about it for so long, what can go wrong? We had considered everything.
Howard Swains (PokerStars Blog): Even though we had heard that there was a “big announcement” due (and that Daniel Negreanu, who was not playing any events, had been seen in the hotel) I genuinely had no clue of the specifics.
Mihai Manole (First Platinum Pass winner): I started Day 2 with a big stack, but at the end of the first level, some stomach pains appeared that transformed into painful cramps. I spent Level 2 mostly in the toilets. I went to the pharmacy for some pills. I only played two pots and lost both on the river. The next two levels, I played zero hands as I struggled with the pain. Somehow ended Day 2 with 12 big blinds and became pretty confident I would not bubble.
Neil Stoddart (EPT Chief Photographer): Once play on the day preceding the bubble was completed, a locked-door meeting was being held in the production office of the TV crew. After I’d uploaded my chip leader shots from the day I headed up there. The meeting was already underway but after knocking on the door several times I was ushered in. About 40 TV, Events, PR, Marketing and others PokerStars staff were crowded into the room to discuss how to implement Pokerstars Live’s biggest secret, the launch of the PokerStars Players Championship and the Platinum Pass.
Rebecca McAdam (Head of Public Relations) I had slipped out for an errand not far from the IOM headquarters. Samantha contacted me as I was driving around and I sat in the car. She was constantly sending me pictures and updates. “Oh we’re near the bubble! It’s going to happen any second…” I sat in my car furiously typing and trying to get reception to answer her calls. I drove to a different spot for better signal! What’s happpppeningggg! I was also texting my manager and he was watching it live, joining in the hype, and waiting for the moment!
Sophie Kniveton (Project Associate): Other departments who hadn’t been working on the project were all staring at us wondering what the fuss was all about.
Mihai Manole (First Platinum Pass winner): Before the tournament nobody knew what a Platinum Pass was. This made it even more exciting for me. I don’t remember having bubbled a major tournament before–and I have played hundreds–so if I’d known, I would’ve said “Keep your Platinum Pass. I won’t be that guy.”
Justyna Baran (PokerStars Live Producer): The whole team was getting ready even more than usual for the bubble as this is when the PSPC and EPT announcements were meant to happen. Cameras, commentators, technical team, lighting…
Toby Stone (Tournament Director): I was the TD. I oversaw the whole bubble process. I had a lot of concerns. Comes with the job. Concerns about keeping it secret, as it’s a much bigger prize than the lowest position and could affect play. Also, about it all fitting together with the TV crew, Daniel, the announcement, seamlessly with as little disruption to the tournament and players.
Daniel Negreanu (PokerStars Ambassador): The only concern I had was being able to adequately explain what this event was so that players would get excited about it.
Joe Stapleton (PokerStars Live Host): So, when I came in ten minutes early, I walked in on Daniel being briefed on the announcement. No one had given him a script, and while in general I try to stay out of these things, it was difficult to not weigh in. Especially when Daniel mentioned he was going open with a joke about a Rabbi and a Priest stuck in a rowboat. I couldn’t even believe I had to tell him what a mistake that was. The word dinghy is much funnier.
Neil Stoddart (EPT Chief Photographer): A timeline of events was laid out. Daniel would arrive as soon as the bubble had burst and make the big announcement. Details of what shots would be needed were laid out. Shots of Daniel making the announcement, shots of Daniel with the pass. Daniel with the winner, both at the table and against the brand-new Players Championship back drop. Reactions from the other players as the announcement was being made. The bubble is the most hectic moment in any tournament and a giant curve ball had just been thrown into the mix.
Howard Swains (PokerStars Blog): I have to say, I did have a couple of reservations about the plan to make the announcement after the bubble bursts. Because I didn’t know the specifics–that the player on the bubble was getting the Platinum Pass–I didn’t realize how crucial this element was. As we all know, there’s no certainty as to when the bubble will actually burst, and I remember saying: “Have they got a contingency in case the bubble bursts on Day 2?” As it happens, it wasn’t that particular part of the plan that was a problem.
James Hartigan (PokerStars Live Host): From the start of the day, we’d been teasing on the live stream there was going to be a “big announcement.” As we got closer and closer to the money, we started to ramp up the excitement (“Not long to wait now until Daniel makes a major announcement that all poker fans are going to want to hear”). But we were acutely aware that, if the bubble dragged on a bit, which they have a tendency to do, the audience’s patience was going to wane. There was also the danger of raising their expectations too high; overpromising and under-delivering.
Joe Stapleton (PokerStars Live Host): This whole thing was super annoying because I knew all the execs would be watching today, and honestly, the less they hear of my commentary the better. Everyone else knew they’d be watching too, which is why they were all so stressed out. Hartigan generally has little time for my shenanigans and on this day he had about as much patience for me as a Rabbi and a priest stuck in a rowboat.
Sophie Kniveton (Project Associate): The entire Corporate Communications team had the live stream from Prague up. We also had it up on our TV screens. Everyone was absolutely glued to their screens when the bubble was about the burst. I remember it was at lunch time and our department typically grabs lunch early, but no one wanted to miss the moment that the Platinum Pass was going to be given away.
Samantha Woods (Public Relations): The person before the bubble went out, and I didn’t know where to look knowing that he would soon realize what he was so near to winning the very first Platinum Pass.
Toby Stone (Tournament Director): I was running the bubble, sweating, hoping all would be well. I had everyone in place and was feeling confident.
Stephen Bartley (PokerStars Blog): So, we were all excited. But as the bubble went on longer and longer attention faded a little. As always, in this case you spend more attention to stretching your aching legs than trying to predict what’s going to happen next. Then of course it all kicked off.
Samantha Woods (Public Relations): I scurried to the table where the action was at to get a front row view, excitingly telling some players on the way what the commotion is all about.
Sophie Kniveton (Project Associate): At one point the cameras zoomed in on PokerStars Ambassador Jake Cody and we all thought for a moment that maybe he had gone all-in. We also heard that fellow ambassador Igor was short stacked – we all had a bit of a panic thinking has a plan been thought of if an Ambassador wins the Platinum Pass?
Juan Covacevich (PSPC Manager): Bubble time! Finally, the moment I had been waiting for the last four months!
aka “Oh, no. Not again.”
Samantha Woods (Public Relations): I called Rebecca to let her know that the bubble was going to burst. We have all been working so long and hard on this. I am the only one on site. I am trying to keep in touch with everyone so they can share the excitement and madness. I call team colleagues Sophie and then Monique, field WhatsApp messages and emails, pinging Rebecca to let her know that the moment is almost here.
Howard Swains (PokerStars Blog): I’m still not totally sure it was smart to give the Platinum Pass to the player knocked out on the bubble. Anyone who was in Barcelona a few years ago, when tournament officials had to try to figure out how to chop a guitar between six simultaneous bubblers, will remember that things don’t always go to plan.
Mihai Manole (First Platinum Pass winner): I found myself with 2.5 big blinds in the big blind. Everybody folded and the big-stacked button raised to put me and the small blind all-in. If I folded, I would have had chips only for two more hands. It was a great spot for me, as I had A3 against any two cards from the button. Called against AJ and lost. A sad day was about to start… when I heard that is another all in – call. I thought “Oh nice, maybe we get some money after all. So, I rushed to the other table. Unfortunately, the all-in guy had a set against a gutshot. But miracles do happen, and the gutshot hit the straight. Alright, will be a decent day after all. Got my buy-in back!
Toby Stone (Tournament Director): The moment I knew had two bubble guys, I thought, “Oh, no, not again.” because I am the king of complicated bubbles
Joe Stapleton (PokerStars Live Host): It had been decided ahead of time that the bubble person was going to get this Platinum Pass. Nobody knew that though, which is why there were only two people that bubbled at the same time instead of 80.
Juan Covacevich (PSPC Manager): We finally received the signal. We have the one! Oh, wait! Of course, it’s not only one. We had two players. After two hours waiting, we had two players busting at the same time.
Samantha Woods (Public Relations): Two bemused guys who don’t exactly know what’s going on come together. I high five one or two people from the wider team as I scurry to see the action. After all, the guy that wins the first Platinum Pass is going to be my first poster boy for the PSPC. I want to see it all unravel!
Sophie Kniveton (Project Associate): Then we got to the Double Bubble™. Everyone was thinking what are the chances? What is going to happen next? We were panicking, wondering if a backup plan been thought through. Daniel didn’t seem to appear for what felt like ages. Then we thought that the guys who bubbled are walking away! We were all in a bit of a mad panic. The atmosphere was so tense.
James Hartigan (PokerStars Live Host): There was another complication: Daniel was with us in the PokerStars TV booth, commenting on the action, helping us with our World Famous Bubble Coverage™ and would need to dash down to the tournament floor the moment the bubble burst. But Daniel had recently been diagnosed with a torn ACL. He was wearing a knee brace, and could barely walk, let alone run! This resulted in a decent amount of “filling” (i.e. Hartigan talking inane nonsense for an extended period of time) to give Daniel the opportunity to hobble downstairs, get into position and make his much-hyped big announcement.
Samantha Woods (Public Relations): Daniel announces what is actually happening: the bubble isn’t the bubble. I call the office – I’ve called them two, three four times maybe in the last hour each time telling the bubble was about to burst. See, they are on time delay along with everyone else watching the screen
Joe Stapleton (PokerStars Live Host): Daniel nailed the punchline on the dinghy joke (“I said STARBOARD!”). Turns out we were giving away something called a Platinum Pass. I didn’t know what that was, but I knew my self-pay health insurance is called the “Platinum Plan” so I knew it had to be something very expensive you have to wait months to use.
WE’RE GONNA NEED A PLAN D
James Hartigan (PokerStars Live Host): It all went swimmingly well, until it came to awarding the actual Platinum Pass. Even though a few of us had raised the possibility of there being a double bubble, no one had given it serious consideration, and there wasn’t really a plan in place.
Juan Covacevich (PSPC Manager): Of course, we had a plan.
Howard Swains (PokerStars Blog): I spoke to a member of staff who said he had sat in a meeting and said: “What about if two players get knocked out at the same time?” He said his concerns were waved away. “How often does that happen?” he was told.
Juan Covacevich (PSPC Manager): We had Plan A, Plan B and obviously an alternative Plan C for two or more bubble guys! They were going to play one single hand. All-in. Cards facing up! What a great moment.
Sophie Kniveton (Project Associate): The heads-up game just added to the tension even more, I can’t even say people were at the edge of their seats because I’m pretty sure everyone was stood up, jumping about.
James Hartigan (PokerStars Live Host): None of us working on the live stream knew there was going to be an ad hoc all-in shootout, but we just went with it.
Joe Stapleton (PokerStars Live Host): I suggested that the loser should get the pass since no one should have to bubble two hands in a row, but I think I still had glitter on my face from being at Darlings the night before, so no one was really taking me seriously.
Juan Covacevich (PSPC Manager): Someone shouted “Let’s go! We have this!”
Joe Stapleton (PokerStars Live Host): I kept my commentary clean and made sure to talk lots about how great poker is and how much fun it is to play and how great our tours are and how much I love Spin & Go’s, and about how the best players always win. Finally, the announcement happened and it actually went pretty smoothly. Our production handled it brilliantly, and James remembered to turn off my microphone so I couldn’t mess it up.
Daniel Negreanu: (PokerStars Ambassador): So, we ended up in an awkward situation where we had two players eliminated on the bubble. We already had a plan in place for that situation, which was to deal out a hand and the winner of the hand would get the Platinum Pass.
James Hartigan (PokerStars Live Host): The camera crew managed to follow Daniel to an empty table, navigating a bank of chairs and players… and they witnessed…
Juan Covacevich (PSPC Manager): Daniel gives the order and the dealer deals this hand that is meant to be priceless. The players got their cards, the flop, the turn and the river. Annnnnnd…nothing! No winner.
James Hartigan (PokerStars Live Host): …. the most anti-climactic hand in poker history, and I speak as someone who normally loves a chop pot.
Juan Covacevich (PSPC Manager): Of course, it couldn’t be easy. We knew it! Let’s do this again. Dealer, cards, flop, turn, river and…we have our first winner! Daniel was super excited while giving the first Platinum Pass to Mihai Manole.
Daniel Negreanu (PokerStars Ambassador): We shuffled up and dealt another hand, and I saw KT high beat K5 high, so we had a winner on the second hand… or did we?
Toby Stone (Tournament Director): I was watching the dealer and vaguely following the action, but I was also watching the players and room to gauge their reactions. When Daniel announced the winner, I had a fleeting “that’s not right” thought, but then dismissed it. I mean, it is Daniel after all!
Juan Covacevich (PSPC Manager): We all saw a weird look in the dealer’s face. It didn’t matter. The PSPC was alive!
Neil Stoddart (EPT Chief Photographer): Daniel congratulated Mihai, and I grabbed all the shots I could before leading them out of the tournament room where the new background was all set up ready to go. A few shots of Daniel with the winner, Daniel on his own with the Platinum Pass, and Mihai with the Pass, and we were done. All that was left was to get the shots over to the PR department for release to the poker world.
Samantha Woods (Public Relations): The winner is announced, there is a cheer, and we spring into action. I manage to high five a couple of people on my way off to talk to poker press and set into motion all things PR.
Stephen Bartley (PokerStars Blog): I didn’t know that things had gone sideways immediately. The blog team had a few people on hand to record what was going on, so while I was catching up things they stood by to report it. Then it turned out the first version of that story wasn’t entirely correct.
Howard Swains (PokerStars Blog): You’d expect the world’s best tournament poker player to be able to spot a split pot, so some other elements were a little less easy to legislate for…
EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONTROL
Samantha Woods (Public Relations): We have a loser…or a winner. Thank God. I am beside myself with excitement. After being sworn to secrecy for so long, I can now talk about this monster tournament. I’m about to run off to find the journalists that I told to be in the tournament room and let them know the real deal, share the press release, and arrange interviews for Daniel.
Juan Covacevich (PSPC Manager): We were taking pictures, doing interviews and calling the family. We were happy that all went well! We really needed to shake off the tension. That’s when Mike Ward from Live Events comes over to me and says, “Juan, we have a problem. I said, “Easy, Mike, it’s all good.”
“Juan,” he said. “We really have a problem.”
Samantha Woods (Public Relations): I come back ready to go. Neil Stoddart is in place. I go to chat to Toby and Mike and a perplexed-looking Juan as to how well it went. I overhear the words a PR rep ever wants to hear…there has been a mistake!
Neil Stoddart (EPT Chief Photographer): Word came ’round that there had been a glitch in the matrix. Daniel had mis-called the second hand. It was also a chop.
Joe Stapleton (PokerStars Live Host): the funny thing is that we all missed it too. Because this was happening away from the rest of the tournament we didn’t have great camera coverage on it, and we were counting on Daniel to walk us through audio-wise. The best part is that he even mentions the chop outs on the turn, and then somehow fails to recognize it on the river.
Juan Covacevich (PSPC Manager): With the poor dealer behind him, Mike Ward explained the hand, and obviously, it was again a split pot. The dealer always knew, but who can blame him? You have all these professionals around you, cheering and applauding. It must be you. Your eyes could be playing a bad playing a joke…but he always knew.
Toby Stone (Tournament Director): The moment we realized Daniel had got it wrong, I kept my composure…as if all was under control.
Daniel Negreanu (PokerStars Ambassador): Not until one of the players left was I alerted to the fact the hand was caught on camera and was, in fact, a chopped pot. We’d already awarded Mihai his pass, so it felt wrong to take it away from him and deal another hand.
Samantha Woods (Public Relations): I even managed to tell my boss in all the confusion that we had a bubble boy – incorrect info minutes later. That resulted in comedic exchange who’s won, what he hasn’t won, what’s happened, what’s happening?
Toby Stone (Tournament Director): Obviously, I was roasted by the staff for missing this, especially by Dave Curtis. We have a relationship where we more or less take the piss out of each other constantly, so we are always looking for opportunities like this. In the staff room in front of many PokerStars staff he presented me with a shirt.
Juan Covacevich (PSPC Manager): For as tense that the scene seems, it was never an issue. The next steps were easy. It didn’t matter! This came up as a gift. We are not going to have only one winner today. We are going to have two!
Neil Stoddart (EPT Chief Photographer): No one could find him. By this time the other bubble boy had left the area and no-one knew where he was. The events staff went into overdrive trying to locate him.
Rebecca McAdam (Head of Public Relations): First of all, an embargoed press story was set live before it should have been. Thankfully, it was incorrect anyway. Then our website landing pages went live…and had to be taken down again. Then I was terribly confused when we thought we had a winner. I told my team I think we can press go on all the communications. Then Sam came back, “No! No! Don’t! We don’t!” Then, “Yes! Yes! We do! We have two!”
Samantha Woods (Public Relations): I hear them say that they have to find the guy. I am asked if I know where he went and I point wordlessly to the exit. We are all whispering furiously not knowing exactly what to do or actually or knowing what we should do.
Justyna Baran (PokerStars Live Producer): Anna Colley (Event Manager) asked me to try to contact Andrejz Tomasz Siemieniak who just disappeared. He was from Poland and they were suspecting he didn’t understand English very well. So, I tried to get in touch by all means possible – called his phone, emailed him, called his hotel room, and sent a message on WhatsApp. No reply.
Samantha Woods (Public Relations) : I keep the current winner happy with some chit chat. He’s still alternately grinning like a Cheshire cat and looking shocked at his win, oblivious to what is going on. I tell him I like his Christmas jumper. I imagine that we will find the double bubble boy in a bar.
Neil Stoddart (EPT Chief Photographer): And then there he was, wandering down the corridor. I ran up to the events office to let everyone know we’d found him and the gears of the team cranked back up as PR, TV and events staff rushed down to get interviews and images.
Samantha Woods (Public Relations): We take some photographs of the Platinum Pass winner tightly griping the first pass and ask him some interview questions. And then a bewildered chap looking like he has gone to hell and back walks slowly into the hall. It’s double bubble boy…who it turns out is not the double bubble boy. It also turns out that his English is not that great.
Justyna Baran (PokerStars Live Producer): Around ten minutes later someone messaged me he is downstairs with Neil and Toby. Andrzej indeed couldn’t really understand English and didn’t know what actually happened. So, I did explain that in the heads-up match there was a chop pot and both players won. I explained the prize and what comes with it. He seemed very surprised and excited at the same time about winning a Platinum Pass.
Samantha Woods (Public Relations): He beams and then looks confused, asking again “What is it?”
Justyna Baran (PokerStars Live Producer): He said that he won the Prague entry by buying in to a satellite with some leftover money he had in his Stars account. He was the man of the hour…and he asked for a photo with me and Sam Woods from PR.
Juan Covacevich (PSPC Manager): You know what? It couldn’t have gone any other way. We had all the players already in the money and the two bubble guys already registered for the biggest $25,000 tournament in history.
Stephen Bartley (PokerStars Blog): If anything, it made the day more memorable, and if anyone can laugh off something like that it was Daniel Negreanu.
Toby Stone (Tournament Director): Stars handled the whole outcome very well, I thought. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s fine as long as we learn from them and fix them in the fairest way.
Rebecca McAdam (Head of Public Relations): Everyone enjoyed that bit- a double celebration to kick things off. I loved the decision! It has all the qualities of what this event is about. It’s truly for the players and it’s a great fun thing for poker that has creates some amazing stories, some of which I hope will grab the attention of those considering our beautiful game!
Juan Covacevich (PSPC Manager): I took five minutes to confirm with David Carrion what we were going to do. The decision was obvious, but I needed the blessing. David, as always, was even more excited than I, and more positive. We discussed with Daniel and Mike, always with a smile on our faces. We are doing this for the players and this is the best example of our unofficial creed: “For the player, for the game.”
Joe Stapleton (PokerStars Live Host): I’m really glad Daniel screwed this up though, because the Company did the right thing ended up just giving away two Platinum Passes instead. Daniel remains my idol. He’s the only guy who could screw something like that up, cost the Company a bunch of money, and still come out of it a hero to everyone. Sure, I might have gotten something wrong on the air before, but it’s never cost the Company thirty grand. Not yet at least.
Howard Swains (PokerStars Blog): One more thing about bubble prizes: all it really does is mean another person is the actual bubble. And when we had Mihai Manole and Andrzej Siemieniak splitting 128th-place prize money, I think the really cool thing to have done would be to have hunted down Amjad Nader Mustafa, the player who went out in 129th. I’d have liked to have seen him chased in a taxi to the airport and given a $30,000 buy-in.