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An Amazing Trip for our Platinum Pass Winner
The dust has finally settled on the inaugural PokerStars Players Championship in the Bahamas, and what a historic event it turned out to be, with every player at the final table becoming millionaires, and the eventual winner, 30-year-old Ramon Colillas from Spain, going on to win $5.1 million.

As most of you already know the field was swelled by over 320 Platinum Pass winners who basically won a freeroll into the tournament with expenses. One of those players was our very own John 'MacDaddy19830' McCarthy who won his entry via a promotion run at PokerStars School. You can relive the moment John won his Platinum Pass here. Now that he has landed home, just, and before he had even time to unpack, we caught up with John to relive some of the most memorable moments of his trip.

PokerStars School: So, John, the dust has finally settled on the inaugural PSPC, was it everything you thought it would be?
MacDaddy19830: From the start, to finish the PSPC was absolutely amazing! From Bruce Buffer opening the show to going out towards the end of Day 2, and the few days after soaking up the amazing beaches, pools & slides, and going onto the main island and mixing with the pros and fellow Platinum Pass winners, it was an unforgettable week.

Dainel Negreanu was one of the many Pros that John got to meet at the PSPC

PokerStars School: What steps did you take to prepare for the trip, did you do a little research into the hotel/venue beforehand or was it a case of just turn up and see what happens?
MacDaddy19830: I certainly viewed the website and watched some of the PCA 2018 to see the poker venue. However, I didn't watch any videos of the resort itself as I wanted to be blown away when I arrived & I sure was!

PokerStars School: Did you bring any friends or family members with you? If yes what did they think about all the hype?
MacDaddy19830: I brought my best mate with me and he was probably more excited on the opening day then I was. He has really gotten into playing poker too since I won the pass. He spent time on the first day taking videos and pictures of the grand ballroom.

PokerStars School: Was it difficult to get used to the jet-lag? Did you have much time to settle in before the start of the tournament?
MacDaddy19830: One of the biggest learning points I would take if I manage to qualify for a multi-day event in the future would be making sure I was as fresh as possible for the event. I arrived the day before after a 22 hour journey (with a 8 hour lay-over) and not much sleep and had a pretty decent sleep that first night but after the first day I really struggled to sleep and ended up with only a couple of hours (a combination of jet-lag and an over-active mind having made it through the first day) and by the middle of Day 2 I was feeling really exhausted at the tables which makes it far more difficult to make good decisions.

PokerStars School: In the end, you finished 272nd overall, outlasting many Pros and more experienced players. Did you enjoy the tournament or was it nerve-racking from start to finish?
MacDaddy19830: I was slightly nervous at the beginning but played very conservatively for the first day. In such a deep structure I didn't want to commit too many chips unless I had a premium hand. This led to a lot of pre-flop folds but my stack kept steady most of the day and later on I opened up a bit and took down a fair few pots pretty easily and I started to really enjoy myself. At the start of the 2nd day, I was feeling really nervy but once I had taken a few pots and some deep breaths I calmed down and had a great day apart from feeling exhausted. I wasn't feeling too down when I went out. I had a great run at it and almost made it to Day 3 and wasn't too far from making the money. I didn't blow my stack on a stupid play. It did get really tough out there just in terms of the quality of the players but I hung in there for as long as I could. Although extremely happy, you always think of what might happen only if...

PokerStars School: Did the tips and advice that Dave gave you in the training sessions prove useful?
MacDaddy19830:
Absolutely, I took a lot of great advice in terms of Day 1 play and not playing too many hands in such a deep structure. We also went through a lot of hands from a tournament I cashed in and I learnt a lot about position and ranges from those spots which helped me, especially in early/middle position whereby I may have played them but invariably having watched the cards fall I would have lost about 90% of them.

PokerStars School: What the key hands of your tournament?
MacDaddy19830:
The biggest hand I played came about an hour into Day 2. The guy to my immediate right, the table leader opened in early position with JJ and I had QQ. The flop brought down 4JQ. The turn an 8, and the river a 4, giving us both a full house. After betting all streets he went all in and it was an easy call to double me up to about 130k. Soon after I had both pocket KK and pocket AA against him but after 3-betting him he folded both.

I played that day with Fatima deMelo & after chipping up, with Christoph Vogelsang and Evan Mathis who was super aggressive. They both made a ton of chips but I was feeling it at that point and was pretty card dead after my earlier good run.

It was the biggest ever poker tournament John played, and now he's hungry for more

The end of my tournament came after my table broke and I was moved to Table 3 next to the stage. The table had at least 2 players who made the final table in Talal Shakerchi and Farid Jattin (Editors note: at one stage Farid jattin was chip leader of the tournament) and it was two hands with Farid that ended my tournament. I was down to about 110k and in need of chips and played A8 out of position on Farid. An 8 hit on the flop and the board played low. Jattin called all my bets and showed pocket 9s. That was probably the only hand I was a little disappointed with how I played. I was down to about 50k and picked up AK suited. I was all-in and Farid called from the big blind with J 10. The flop hit my A and the turn a K giving me two pair. You can guess that the river came a Q giving Farid the straight and I was out. (Editors note: Damn River, Grrr!!!).

PokerStars School: At one point we saw you seated at a table with Phil Hellmuth, what was that like?
MacDaddy19830:
Phil Hellmuth came to my table at the end of Day 1 for the last hour or so after registering. It was great. I had been opening up but I was card dead for the last hour and didn't play any pots against him. He did lose a couple of pots though and it was fun to watch him spewing every time.

PokerStars School: Did you bump into many other famous names while you were there? Who was your most memorable?
MacDaddy19830:
I saw Daniel Negreanu and got a photo with him, played Beer-pong with Chris Moneymaker and Fintan Hand and saw countless others. They were all great, approachable & friendly, and happy to chat and pose for pictures which really helped to make it unforgettable.

John chills out in the Players Room playing Beer-pong with Chris Moneymaker

PokerStars School: If you were to pick your number one most memorable experience from the trip what would it be?
MacDaddy19830:
I think the most memorable thing was just meeting so many fellow Platinum Pass winners, a mixture of professional & recreational players from all walks of life, and all over the World. There was a great friendly vibe amongst us all and it was a pleasure meeting them all and having a blast every day.

PokerStars School: What's next for John and poker, has this given you a taste for more live tournaments, or will you stick to online?
MacDaddy19830:
I for sure will play more live. I will now feel much more comfortable at the tables at my local casino and this experience will set me in good stead for the future. I will still also play online too and will still use the strategy articles & videos at the school as I still have a lot to learn to make my game better. But for sure I now know I can play alongside the best in the world and it is not impossible. Everyone here at the school should keep trying to improve and hopefully, there are big wins for us all around the corner. Thanks for all the support, I'm sorry I couldn't cash to bring back the freeroll for us all to play.

PokerStars School: John, you did great, and it was a pleasure to follow you on the rail!
 
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