PCA 2012: Who wants to be a millionaire?

January 13, 2012


For the most part today’s high roller action has started in the same way it did yesterday. For the most part everyone looks like they’re simply passing the time before something exciting happens. For the most part they’re right, as players busy themselves with the usual electronic devices, of chat about the first thing that comes to mind as they wait for their moment s of terror and exhilaration in between long periods of relative boredom. Or something like that.

One difference has been the early fallers. After just 30 minute of play we’d lost enough scalps for the clock to tick down to 47 players, a pace that theoretically could have today wrapped up by about 3.45pm. That won’t happen of course; these long distance players are just getting comfortable.

Most comfortable seem to be the players on table five, where the likes of Galen Hall, Barry Greenstein, Pierre Neuville and Anton Makiievskyi shoot the breeze, Hall first talking about the protein in his drink before the conversation switches to what Makiievskyi is listening to. Shambees Derb in seat one wanted to know.


Galen Hall. With the protein.

“We’re you just listening to the Bee Gees?” he asked, before singing a kind of off-key falsetto “I’ve gotta get a message to you…”

Everyone listened then in unison said “no.”

“Maybe it was that song but it didn’t sound like that,” said Hall, grinning.

“It was a cover version,” added Greenstein.

Derb got the point.

A few tables along, and across the barricades, the World Cup of Poker was being introduced. Greenstein began to tell the story of “The Aces”, a now apocryphal story from the World Cup that happened two years ago and should only really be told around a campfire in the woods.


The answer is definitely ‘Barry Greenstein’

If you haven’t heard it it’s enough to chill the bones of any seasoned player, a case of a young and inexperienced member of the German team who, faced with a decision for the team’s tournament life, called a ‘time out’ to confer (actually his captain Jan Heitmann saw the panic in his colleagues eyes and called time out for him).

With the team in the huddle the player asked if he should call. Heitmann asked what he had, to which he replied “aces”. Heitmann, with remarkable restraint, suggested that he should call, and the team agreed. He did, and inadvertently created poker’s biggest slow roll.

Greenstein explained that the kid was just inexperienced, and there was sympathy from the others as they might have done the same in the same scenario – as if making sure that it’s okay to win.

This left Hall to tell the story of the first Who Wants to be a Millionaire winner, who sailed through the preliminary questions without relying on a life line.

When he got to the final question for the million, the contestant asked to phone a friend, his father actually, who answered the call and asked what the question was that needed answering. The contested said not to worry about the question, he knew the answer to that (“Divine Wind” being the definition of “Kamikaze”). He just wanted to tell his Dad he’d won the million.

Everyone at the table loved it, although each began to doubt themselves as being capable of speaking the right words even when knowing the answer. Greenstein, a seasoned gambler, suggested that, even when you knew the answer you’d still want to make sure, not trusting yourself to speak properly or press the right button.

The irony to all this isn’t difficult to spot. These players spent $25,000 to play this event, some even paid the $100,000 to play the Super High Roller, and each stands to win a potential million dollars tomorrow.


The high rollers

But there’s something about the story of the underdog that will put warmth in anyone’s heart. Perhaps what they were thinking looking over at the World Cup – obscure, amateur yet exciting, and with considerably less money at stake. Maybe what the high roller needs is an underdog. They’re pretty hard to find at $25,000 each.

Perhaps that’s where Bill Perkins comes in…


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