From my balcony, I can see two cruise ships on the horizon, two weddings on the grounds beneath me, and the stetting sun bathing the entire scene in a golden light. The sound of waterfalls and reggae music drifts up on a light breeze, which was a fierce windstorm as recently as last night.
The white sand of the beach is dotted with washed-over footprints, and the sting rays in the pool beneath me are settling into the shallows, now in shade, where they spend their evenings.
When I landed here in Nassau, and did some interviews to promote PokerStars and the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, I commented that even if I didn't make the money, the "consolation prize of a week" in paradise with my wife would do quite nicely.
It turns out that I was right.
Catching up on the last few days . . .
After Anne and I slept for fourteen hours to catch up from our post-holiday and red eye flight exhaustion, we wandered around the grounds here. We ate lunch, and had our first experience with the absolutely abominable service in the restaurants here. (Rude, slow, and disinterested seems to be the standard theme, always rewarded by the mandatory 15% tip which is helpfully included in all of our bills.)
After lunch, we went down to the beach where we played Scrabble and watched people parasail, ride jet skis, and play in the surf and sand. I've lived all over the world, and I've been to some really beautiful places, but there is nothing like the beauty of the Caribbean water on a sunny day. Even when the weather was lousy, like it was yesterday, the seas still managed to look excited, rather than angry, and when the sun poked through the clouds, it shot brilliant shafts of light down that looked like something from one of those awesome 1980s oil paintings you see over your grandparents' couch.
When the afternoon got late, and the wind kicked up, we headed back upstairs and got ready for the welcome party that PokerStars had for all the participants and staff. Before the party, I had a meeting with all the Team PokerStars members, and met 2005 WSOP Champion Joe Hachem for the first time. I didn't think it was possible to meet a poker player who is nicer and more friendly than Greg Raymer, but Joe is just as amazing as Greg is, and just as patient and kind to legion of fans who want a piece of him. After the meeting, I picked up Anne, and we walked with Greg, Joe, Isabelle Mercier (sigh), Lee Jones, and several of the PokerStars staff over to the welcome party.
The party was held poolside on this place they call The Royal Deck, because it sits in the shadows of the luxurious Royal Towers, and there was live music, lots of food, and enough open bars to keep a bunch of rowdy poker players happy. Dan Goldman took the stage after we'd all been there about thirty minutes, and introduced all the people who worked so hard to make this tournament happen. If I recall correctly, he said something like, "To make this happen, it takes six months of planning, three months of work, and two weeks of complete panic." One of the many reasons I'm so proud of my affiliation with PokerStars is because I get to work with people like Dan and Sharon and Lee, and too many other hardworking people to count, who really care about their players. I know I've talked about it before, but I don't know if I've written about how much it feels like a big family. I'm exceptionally lucky to be part of this company.
After the staff introductions, Dan introduced the members of Team PokerStars, minus Chris and Evelyn, who had flight issues, and after Joe made a brief speech where he said, "There are only two rules: when I raise, fold. And when I go all-in, fold." Ah, poker humor. While it lacks the subtlety of "pull my finger" jokes, it certainly makes up for it with the obscurity normally reserved for Monty Python jokes.
We all ate and drank (just water and juice for me, thanks) for a few hours, and I managed to, while completely sober, drop an entire 16 ounce cup of cranberry juice on the ground while talking with Terrance Chan and his girlfriend Jacqueline. Awesome. We also finally met Otis' wife, Mrs. Otis, which confirmed that poker bloggers always marry up. I don't know how we do it, but I'm glad we do. I also met a few people who were fans of my blog, my books, and my acting work, which is always cool, because I still feel out of my league at these things, and I'm always terrified that someone's going to figure out that they actually meant to recruit a different WIl Wheaton for Team PokerStars. I resolve to accept that I deserve to be at the next thing, whatever it is, and quit doubting my abilities as a player, and my legitimacy as a member of the team.
After the party, Anne and I were still hungry, so we ate in that Cafe place again, mostly because it was close, open, and we knew there were things on the menu we liked, before we turned in early enough for me to fall asleep before midnight, wake up at 12:30, and toss and turn until 5AM. When the alarm went off at 8:45, I felt like I had gremlins gnawing on my head and spikes shoved into my back, but I drank some coffee, ate a muffin, and shook it off in time for my interviews at 10:00.
The weddings below me are in full-swing, and the sun has dropped beneath the lowest bank of slowly-drifting clouds, flecking their edges gold and painting the horizon orange and red. I'm going to take this down to the PokerStars office so I can use their Internets to post it.
Next time: The Tournament. (For those of you who can't wait, check out Otis' updates at The Official PokerStars Blog.)