You could probably forgive a casual observer for thinking that the PCA Main Event was concluding today in a dark corner of the tournament room, far from the television stage.
The noise emanating from a table over there was far louder than anything that has come from the actual PCA tournament area, even as the $10,000 buy-in tournament plays ever closer to the very big money.
But that other table was hosting a series of Crazy Pineapple Flip qualifiers, costing $30 a pop, whose players were hoping to take a first step on a long road to glory in the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC).
You may be wondering what’s a Crazy Pineapple Flip. And you may be wondering why it meant half an hour of shouting and squealing. These are valid questions. Here are the answers.
A CHEAP ROUTE TO THE BIG ONE
As has been well documented, players from across the globe have been qualifying for the highly-anticipated $25,000 buy-in PSPC for more than three years. And as the tournament now draws ever closer, time is running out to book a seat on the cheap.
The best remaining route is via Event #46 on the PCA/PSPC calendar, a live satellite scheduled for Sunday, the eve of the event itself. That’s because PokerStars is adding at least three Platinum Pass packages to winners in that qualifier — some tremendous added value to a tournament that is already certain to be a thriller.
How ever many entries are generated by the money in the prize pool itself, there will be at least three more packages worth $30K apiece in added value.
Entry to Event #46 is restricted to players who have won into it via “Step” tournaments, with buy-ins of $300 and $600, which have been taking place daily. There are another couple tonight and tomorrow.
The Crazy Pineapple flips offer entry into those $300 and $600 tournaments, and a seat costs only $30 or $60, respectively.
CRAZY PINEAPPLE FLIP MADNESS
As soon as 10 people are seated, the fun can begin. Each player gets three cards and they play a single hand of crazy pineapple — everyone all-in, winner takes all. Although players need to discard one of their cards after the flop, there’s not a whole lot of skill involved.
It’s basically a ten-handed lottery for a ticket to the tournament, but it’s exciting because the cards come out like in a regular poker hand. Flop, pause, turn, pause, and then river.
Fortunes fluctuate at every street. And for $30, who even cares if it doesn’t work out.
These flips are relaxed and raucous; exciting but not too tense. They allow players to dream of winning millions, but cost only about as much as a couple of beers to play.
THREE BIG CRAZY PINEAPPLE FLIP WINNERS
The first winner was Kelly Kellner, a pretty well known Canadian grinder, who probably has the roll to play the $300 qualifier anyway, but knows fun and value when he sees it.
Kellner’s seat was quickly occupied by someone else and they played another round. This time Walter Treccarichi, an Italian pro with $1.6 million in tournament winnings, won through. It goes to show that even the best players sometimes get themselves a bit of run good.
There was rebellion from one of the players. “I’m done with that,” she said, standing up from the table.
“We can’t play again?” another player asked.
“If we get 10 players we can.”
“I don’t have cash,” someone else said.
An offer came in. “You can Venmo me.”
There were eight players seated, so two more were needed to get a game. “Can I buy more than one seat?” one of the players asked.
The tournament director headed off to get a ruling. No, he could not. One seat maximum.
At that point, a friend of some of the gang wandered into the room.
“Hey, you wanna play this thirty buck thing?”
“Sure,” the newcomer said, before he’d even established what was going on. He sat down, put his money on the table, and only then asked what it was.
Another player arrived, and so they had their ten. The dealer quickly took in the money, dealt the cards and then a flop: 8♦ 4♠ 8♥ . Everyone discarded and showed their cards.
Two players had eights in their hands, one with a nine and one, Michael Dentale, with a king. Something that sounded like an auction then began, with everyone bidding for the most unlikely outdraw for their hand to hit.
“I need running hearts!”
“I need running sevens!”
“I’ve got two fives. I need another one!”
DENTALE ON THE LIST
The turn and river were blank, however, and the trip eights, with the king kicker, stayed good for Dentale. “I folded a ten,” one player lamented, noting that he would have had a straight.
Dentale wandered over to the payouts desk to put his name on the list for the satellite. He was later joined by Gustavo Mastello, who won a fourth entry in the last of today’s $30 flips.
Will one of them win a Platinum Pass and a chance at glory? It’s still a long shot. But you’ve got to be in it to win it. And these guys are in it now.