Pennsylvania grinder Thai Ha woke up this morning at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure expecting to sit down to his 130,300 stack and do everything he could to make Day 3. He arrived at his table a little bit late and almost missed out on what will probably end up being the most exciting – and profitable – part of his day.
Ha’s table, one of 45 in play at the start of play Wednesday, was randomly chosen to be part of the PokerStars Players Championship promotion. As the cameras moved in, Joe Stapleton explained the rules to everybody. Each of the seven players was going to be dealt a hand of Hold’em. The dealer would then run out the flop, turn, and river. Whichever player had the best hand after the river was going to be given a PSPC Platinum Pass worth $30,000.
As the dealer began dealing, Ha wasn’t at the table yet. He was running about a minute behind. He did make it to the table just in time to see the river dealt, but with the crowd that had formed around the table, Ha wasn’t quite able to get to his seat. The player on his left turned his hand face up and Ha discovered he had rivered trip eights to beat out Mike Leah’s flopped top pair.
“It was amazing. I would never expect that to happen to me, obviously. That was unreal – it’s a free $25,000, plus the trip,” said Ha. The promotion, which awards 300 Platinum Passes over the course of 2018, is geared towards making the PSPC the biggest – and potentially softest – $25,000 buy-in event in history. Players can win them through various means throughout the year. The 2018 PCA Main Event champion will also earn one.
“I was going to play that event regardless. Now I’m saving my $25,000,” laughed Ha.
The 26-year-old has only been playing poker since 2014, but he’s managed to move up in stakes relatively quickly.
“I was born in Vietnam, so I didn’t even know about poker until I moved to the United States. That was 2007, but I went to school so I just focused on school. After I graduated, I started playing poker,” said Ha, who has $659,518 career earnings.
This past summer he finished 226th in the World Series of Poker Main Event for an official cash of $40,181, but just like this trip to the Bahamas gave him a little bit more equity, Ha found a way to make a little more than that $40K.
“For the Main Event, bought 20% of myself on PokerShares. I punished them a little bit,” said Ha, who paid 1.5 through the site. Now that he’s saved the $25,000 entry fee on the PSPC, he might spend some of that on himself on PokerShares for the event.
“I’m probably going to do that,” said Ha, who regularly plays Pot Limit Omaha and No Limit Hold’em cash games and tournaments at Parx, Sugar House and the Borgata and only travels for some of the bigger events.