Water slides and sand castles aren’t even a thought for the remaining Platinum Pass winners in the PokerStars‘ Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC) right now. As the money bubble burst on Day 3, two notable Platinum Pass winners were sitting on a nice stack of chips.
Winning a Platinum Pass may have been the easy part. Gaining entry into the tournament and making a deep run in the event are two completely different things.
Burkhart playing for fun and family
Oregon’s Jackie Burkhart won her way into the tournament in quite a unique way. She won writer and PokerStars Ambassador Maria Konnikova’s #mypokerstory promotion in mid-October.
Burkhart, who works as a dental hygienist and plays poker part-time, wrote about how she learned the game from relatives at an early age and what poker means to her. The tale, titled “Shuffle Up and Deal,” also chronicles a bit of her mother’s battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and how her mother still plays poker with family and friends.
“It’s been amazing,” Burkhart said in an interview. “I’ve started every day with the goal of just having fun, and just playing my best and each hand as it comes. I’m playing it like it’s a freeroll because it is. A min-cash isn’t life-changing money from me, but clearly there’s some life-changing money up top. I sold a little bit of action, so I’d love for the people who believed in me to get some money back.”
In honor of her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s, Burkhart will donate 10 percent of whatever she makes in the tournament to the Alzheimer’s Association.
For Burkhart, the trip has been about more than just poker. She, her husband, and their 9-year-old son arrived in the Bahamas four days before the tournament began.
“We did every single water slide multiple times,” she said. “We saw the dolphins, (and) did about everything they have here.”
Unfortunately, Burkhart’s dream ended shortly after play began on Day 4. However, she’ll have 86,400 reasons to smile after visiting the payout window.
Sheaves says the PSPC feels different than other tournaments
Warren Sheaves won his Platinum Pass through PokerStars Ambassador Jen Shahade’s unique #mychesspokergame challenge. His combination of poker and chess skills have led to a nice score this week at the Atlantis Resort and Casino in the Bahamas.
Sheaves, who hails from Asheville, NC, began playing poker full-time in 2006. He has been playing ever since, although he took a couple of years off in 2011 to work full-time as a tree worker and landscaper.
With a mixed field of pros and lesser experienced players who won their way into the tournament, the PSPC has a unique dynamic. Sheaves felt the vibe in the room was different than other tournaments he’s played – there was a spirit of fun and enthusiasm. Even though it took over two hours of hand-for-hand play to reach the money, there were plenty of smiles and laughter around the room.
“I think there’s a lot of extra buzz in the air because of all the Platinum Pass winners and this is the largest $25K in history,” he said. “It makes it a little bit special and you can feel the energy in the room.”
Sadly, Sheaves’s tournament ended sooner than he would have preferred. He found himself out of chips in 121st place on Day 3. However, he received a $35,000 payout for three days of work.
The PSPC by the numbers
The PSPC has quickly become one of the biggest events in poker. It attracted 1,039 entries for a prize pool of almost $25.5 million.
The winner will walk home with $5.1 million. That massive score includes an added $1 million from PokerStars.
Fittingly, if the new millionaire is a fan of precious metals, he or she could purchase quite a bit of platinum. With the price of the metal hovering around $820 an ounce, the winner could purchase about 6,220 ounces of it. That much metal — almost 389 pounds of it — would create a special Platinum Pass indeed.