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The Cruise

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  • The Cruise


    I'm back from the Briny Deep. Back from my first ever ocean cruise and it was totally awesome.


    Well, at least I'm going to spend the next year working on qualifying so I can go again. And I have every confidence I'll be there next year.

    For those of you who aren't sure what "The Cruise" is I'm sure a little research will get you to where you know what I'm talking about.

    I was quite fortunate this year in that I qualified for "The Cruise" fairly easily. Last year I was in all four semi finals and didn't even come close to qualifying. This year it seemed almost too easy. I'm sure this last year a PSO has helped me immensely and I probably wouldn't have qualified so easily without the more that 1100 PSO tournaments under my belt.

    Actually, I wasn't even planning on trying again this year but early in January I decided to give it a shot. I qualified for the semi final on my second try. In the final that I played there were 523 people and the top 13 got to go on "The Cruise". The tournament was supposed to start at 8pm but was almost an hour late getting under way due to technical problems and it took us about 6 1/2 hours to get down to the top 13. I went to bed that morning dreaming of going on my first ever cruise.

    I needed a little financial assistance because I really couldn't afford the air fare to get to Florida to catch the boat. I found a poker playing buddy (Dave) who wanted to go and was willing to spring for half my air fare. I was really looking for someone to cover the whole cost but he had just returned from a poker excursion to L. A. and hadn't done very well so I settled for half. A couple of weeks before "The Cruise" I tightened the screws down, played as tough as I could in the Single Table Sats and, about a week before we were to leave I cashed in $1,300. I now had some spending money for the trip. Everything was looking good.

    Friday March 28th (the day we left) was a pretty chilly day in Edmonton but not quite as cold as it had been on Monday of that week (-31 C). Because winter is basically coming to and end here by the end of February I was looking forward to returning to some milder weather. Boy was I wrong. As I sit here in front of my computer outside the door it is -35 C. OUCH!

    Our flight had a stop over in Denver where we changed planes and headed for Orlando. We arrived in Orlando at 12am. Our shuttle to Port Canaveral wasn't leaving until around 8:30 or 9am so we had 8 plus hours to kill. The smart thing to do would have been to get a hotel room and get a little sleep but we didn't do the smart thing. We just sat around the airport and waited . Won't make that mistake again.

    It was a short 40 minute drive to Port Canaveral where we boarded the ms Zaandam and set sail at 5pm Saturday afternoon. Our itinerary included stops at St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. Due to cirumstances beyond our control we had to forego the stop in the Bahamas, but I'll get to that.

    Saturday evening was spent exploring the ship and getting to know some of the other cruisers. We checked out the poker room and were quite surprised at how much room they had. The main room had 9 tables. A smaller connecting room had five tables and there were five more tables set up outside the main room. There were a number of food tables set up in the hallway and there always seemed to be something there for the players to munch on.

    The big tournament was to get under way at 10:00am Sunday morning. The ticket included only one entry so Dave wouldn't get to play in it. He could have bought in for $5,200 but that was just a little too much of and outlay for his bankroll so he decided to just play in the ring games.

    There were quite a few people who did pay for their own cruise and bought into the the tournament though. Some of the names will be quite familiar to most of you. Names like: Phil Hellmuth, T. J. Cloutier, Kathy Liebert (Kathy was last year's winner), Daniel Negreanu, Jennifer Harmon, Scotty Nguyen, Men Nguyen, Erik Siedel, Chip Jett, Howard Lederer and Joe "Cowboy" Simpkins. I'm sure I missed a few but as you can see it was a virtual who's who in the poker world.

    This year's tournament structure was quite a change from last year's. Last year the first prize was $1M and it dropped right down to about $93K for second. This year the prize structure wasn't nearly as top heavy and was as follows:

    1st place got $263,850 and a $25K entry into the WPT championship/second place = $175,900/third place =$105,540 fourth place = 79,155/fifth place = $52,770/sixth place = $43,975. I actually don't remember what 7th, 8th and 9th place got but 10th though 18th places got $8,800/19th through 90th got $1,000, and 91st through 108th got $500.

    I was only planning on playing in the big tournament so the ring games weren't on my list but that would change.

    We had 178 players and the poker room couldn't handle the field in one sitting so we were broken down into to two flights. Half of us played day one on Sunday and the other half played day one on Monday. I was in the first half and we got down to 43 players. Monday was an off day and I decided to play a little 4/8 holdem. Can't believe I pumped $500 into that game. Just couldn't make it work that day.

    Tuesday we were in port at St. Maarten and the poker room would be closed until we got back under way that afternoon. I was a little disappointed with St. Maarten. It wasn't nearly as picturesque as I had thought it would be. We took a taxi into town and began to tour the shops. Again, disappointment. After the first half dozen shops everything was just a repeat. All the jewellery shops were selling the same stuff. All the clothing shops were selling the same stuff. All the electronics shops were selling the same stuff. Basically we could have done about half a dozen shops and not bothered with the rest. The one shop that was different was the Belgian chocolate shop. If you haven't experienced Belgian chocolates you're missing out on something. Oh, and one more thing. One of the big draws is the lure of "Duty Free" shopping. Don't you believe it. There was no such thing. This is what I call false advertising or maybe just out and out lying. Most of the merchandise available can be gotten back home for basically the same price and sometimes a little cheaper.

    We were back on board by about 1pm. The boat sailed about 5:30 and day two of the tournament got under way at 8pm. I didn't make it to day 3. I got knocked out in 45th spot. I might possibly have made it to the top 18 (which would have gotten me $8,800) but I made a couple of glaring errors and just couldn't recover. Next year I hope to play better and finish higher. When day two (actually the third day of play) was finished there were 18 players left.

    Wednesday we hit St. Thomas. Now I'm impressed. Much more picturesque than St. Maarten. The streets were wider and cleaner. Seemed to be much more class here. If I went on the eastern Caribbean cruise again I would probably not even get off the boat at St. Maarten. I must admit that I didn't indulge in any of the shore excursions though and I might check one or two of them out if I went back.

    Back on the boat and day four would see the tournament whittled down to 6 players. I would settle down into a 10/20 ring game and recoup a couple hundred. After two more sessions I would have my original $500 back and end up with a $200 profit from ring games. This made my total profit for the trip $1,200. I wasn't at all disappointed.

    The final table would be played Thursday evening in the main lounge under the lights and in front of the television cameras. This tournament is part of the World Poker Tour and will be shown on the Travel Channel on June 11th. I suggest you check it out because each seat had a camera focused so that each players cards could be seen. We couldn't see them live but they will be shown when the program airs.

    It was quite a production. The final table had Chip Jett in seat 1 with $303K/Maureen Feduniak in seat 3 with $167K/Dan Coupal in seat 4 with $77K(Dan is a 21 year old law student from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)/Howard Lederer in seat 6 with $227K/Tim Lark in seat 8 with $85K and Cowboy in seat 10 with $28K.

    They were about 20 minutes late getting under way but under way they finally did get. (How's that for proper grammar?) There was a lot of excitement in the air. There were around two hundred and fifty spectators and there was much cheering and hand-clapping going on at the end of each hand.

    The first to get knocked off was Dan Coupal who received $43, 975 for his effort. Watch for this young fellow. I think he has a great career ahead of him.

    Not long after that Tim Lark was gone. He collected $52,770.

    At this point the chip stacks were as follows: Chip Jett had about $455K, Maureen Feduniak had $40K, Howard Lederer had $250K and Cowboy had 125K.

    At about 9pm Maureen bit the dust in 4th place and collected $79,155.

    This left Chip with about $535K, Howard with $250K and Cowboy with $55.

    Cowboy hit a couple of hands and it looked like he might be on the comeback trail. At one point Chip had about $585K with Howard and Cowboy pretty close to even around $150K to $160K. It was looking like Chip was going to be the eventual winner.

    At this point in time the lure of the ring games got to me and I decided to head for the poker room to play a little myself. Besides, I'll get to see it when it airs on the Travel Channel.

    I found out later that Cowboy got knocked out in third spot and took down $105,000. Howard made a comeback and knocked Chip out in 2nd place for $175, 900. Howard of course took 1st place and won $263, 850.

    While we were docked at St. Thomas the ship had a massive power failure and we couldn't leave port until they got it fixed. When we finally did get under way it was too late for our stop in the Bahamas so we missed that part. The cruise line reimbursed us $50.

    So, there you have it. A great time was had by all. The poker staff did an excellent job. The cruise staff were exemplary and the over all experience is something I would recommend to anyone and everyone. If you haven't already started trying to qualify for this cruise I suggest you give it a shot. If you do qualify I'm sure you will really enjoy the experience.

    And if you do happen to be there I look forward to seeing you because I'm definitely planning on being there again next year.


  • #2



    • #3

      I just qualified for my first semi final for next year's cruise.

      Look out...Here I come!



      • #4
        congrats sarge!!!!!!! thanks for sharing all the info, great report!!!!!


        • #5
          how and where do you qualify for this??



          • #6
            Conflict of Interest?

            Not sure my post will stay if I answer the question here.

            For more info email me at:


            • #7
              We could have a party and play some poker. Drink a little beer, eat some chips, and maybe win a trip to cruise the caribean seas.


              • #8
                Thanks so much for the trip report. I'll say it again, trip reports are the best use of this forum. (IMO). Just Great.




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