What’s the one thing you really want to do when you’ve come to the Bahamas to play the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC) on a $30,000 freeroll but you were knocked out long ago?
You can swim. Of course you can. You can even swim with pigs. You can eat. Of course you can. You can eat in some of the best restaurants in the Caribbean.
You can play sports. You can sit on the beach. You can go on some waterslides, take a yacht ride, drink some cocktails, or you can sleep.
But what almost all of the Platinum Pass winners to the 2023 PSPC really want to do, now their dreams of winning millions are over, is to play poker. That’s what they love.
And they especially love doing it with fellow recreational players, for low stakes and where the emphasis is on just having fun.
And that’s where the Nikhil Segel Invitational event comes in.
At time of writing — around 7.45pm on Thursday, February 2 — the $25,000 PSPC is down to its last two tables. While the $250K Super High Roller plays to its winner and another $25K High Roller is under way.
But the biggest buzz in the room hovers over the other half of the tournament room. That’s where 230 players are currently playing a $50 buy-in event. It’s named after the super popular poker social media maven. The man who has done more to promote recreational poker, and the community that builds up around it, than any other.
LET’S PLAY SOME MORE POKER
Segel first came up with the idea at the PSPC in 2019, after he hosted a BYOB party in his hotel room for Platinum Pass winners at a loose end.
It was popular — “I woke up in the morning with more alcohol in the room than there was the night before,” Segel explains — and they had somehow arranged to go on a boat trip together the next day.
Battling hangovers, they enjoyed their time on the boat. But realised that all they really wanted to do was play poker.
And so they got former player liaison Garry Gates on the case to find them some tables, chips and dealers, and had an impromptu low-stakes game. They had four tables. But 150 players turned up.
“The Platinum Pass community is so strong,” Segel says. “I feel we enjoy the social side of poker. A lot of us are not professional players…Everybody on the boat said, ‘We’d love to play a game. We love to play but all the games are really expensive, a $1,000 buy-in. Can we do just a small game?'”
PokerStars ambassadors joined the game too, breaking the boundaries between pros and recreational players. And everyone had such a good time that people had been talking about a repeat for the next PSPC.
This time around, tournament organisers unofficially added the Nikhil Segel Invitational to the schedule far in advance — before, in fact, Segel himself had secured his passage to the Bahamas. He only got his Platinum Pass at the 11th hour — by which point he had been told, “Your game’s there, whether you’re there or not.”
GONNA NEED A BIGGER BOAT
But let’s be honest, the tournament couldn’t run without him. And Segel is in the thick of the action again, alongside those 200+ Platinum Pass winners and their guests.
Not only that, the PokerStars Live Events team has greatly bolstered the activities offering this time, giving players and their guest some incredible off-the-felt opportunities.
“Someone won a $30,000 package…he’s here for six days with the dream that he will play for five days, but then he busts day one or day two, what does he do for three days?” Segel says. “It’s fantastic to have these activities on the side, and a game like this.”
The action is frenetic, the atmosphere convivial and the host has already bust and re-entered twice. And the field? It’s big, but: “We would have been bigger,” Segel says. “But we’ve run out of tables.”
If you are a @PokerStars #platinumpass winner at the #PSPC I hope you and your +1’s are registered and ready to rumble in our very own little tournament for the community. Please ensure the plus 1’s have a @PokerStarsLIVE card. pic.twitter.com/4NcNyCS2HZ— Nikhil Segel (@NikhilSegel) February 2, 2023