Finding a spot to stand on the PokerStars Players Championship PSPC final table rail is like trying to get a table at the only reasonably priced (and delicious) Asian food restaurant here at Baha Mar during a Day 1 dinner break.
In other words, it’s tough to get, but well worth it when you do.
As the final six players (including two Platinum Pass winners) took the seats that could today alter their life trajectories, we squeezed our way onto the rail of both Niclas “Flushiisback” Thumm and Max Menzel, the two Platinum heroes representing a community of more than 400.
But what’s it like on a big final table rail with so much at stake?
THIS IS THE RAIL TO BE ON
As you begin to climb the stairs leading you up to the grand television stage, you’re met with blasting bright lights and the nervous feeling you’re about to trip on a camera cable and make a fool of yourself (just me? OK). We can only imagine what those steps were like for the players.
We shimmy our way along, worming through the crowd. It’s five minutes before PSPC final table play begins and it’s already packed.
The first faces we recognise belong to PokerStars Team Pros Nick Walsh and Lasse “Wistern” Jagd Lauritsen. “This is the one to rail,” Lauritsen tells us as we gingerly squeeze past others.
We end up standing behind Felix “xflixx” Schneiders, Platinum Pass winner Frank “Knueppel” Stockhaus, and many other members of the German Twitch community. They’re leading a chant in German, which translates to:
“Everything for Flushii! Everything for the club!”
Schneiders and many German players are naturally here rooting for Thumm, the 29-year-old Platinum Pass winner who won his trip to the PSPC when the Twitch community voted for him in the Dare2Stream competition.
But Max Menzel, also German, and also a Platinum Pass winner, is here too.
Stockhaus then insists they change the lyrics to the chant to:
“Everything for Flushii! Everything for Max!”
ALL OF THE LIGHTS
By now, play on the final table has begun. We tiptoe deeper into the rail and bump into two-time Platinum Pass winner Jennifer Carter. “Live reporting from the rail!” she says.
The barrier of the rail in front of us is occupied by more of Thumm’s supporters. There’s Georgina “GJ Reggie” James (who won her first live title on this trip), Mason “pyefacepoker” Pye, and RichyRob sporting a Flushiisback hoodie, the same one Thumm is rocking on the FT. He’s scrolling through his phone, showing Pye the support that Thumm is getting on Twitter.
But it’s hot back here under these bright lights, and it seems even hotter when Thumm looks like he’s about to play a hand.
As Thumm thinks through his options, everyone on the rail leans forward with focus.
For a few moments, it’s eerily quiet.
THE FIRST ALL IN
And then Thumm moves almost his entire stack into the middle. The crowd starts whispering.
It folds to Menzel and he makes the call. Platinum Pass winner versus Platinum Pass winner.
Thumm: A♠ K♣
Menzel: A♣ 3♥
Suddenly, everyone comes alive as they see that Thumm is in a dominating position to double up.
The 2♠ 2♦ Q♦ kept Thumm in front but created some opportunities for a chop.
“C’mon Flushii!” someone chants. “Queen!” shouts a Menzel supporter.
But then the K♦ turn hit the turn, guaranteeing Thumm the pot.
Needless to say, Thumm’s rail goes nuts and a huge round of applause breaks out.
Thumm glances back at the crowd, finds his boyfriend amongst them, and breaks into an enormous smile.
With that, we slink off to write it all down.