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One thing that strikes you about many players on board is how the growth in popularity of online poker has completely changed their lives. Take Chris Hinchcliffe as an example – he entered the PPM III as an online qualifier taking time off from his job as a construction worker and here he is two years later trying to better the third place he got then. Chris finished in the money in 32nd position with $19,000. He’s disappointed but he’s certainly covered all the costs of his trip and in all likelihood will go home Sunday in profit. He also has the satisfaction of knowing that he busted out last year’s champion Michael Gracz. Chris went all-in with A-9 and Michael did the same with A-8. Chris hit two pair on the flop.

Another good example is Aaron Kanter. I met him sat at the bar a couple of night’s ago and he just seemed like an ordinary guy. Then I had to keep telling myself that this guy won over $4 million in last year’s World Series. He finished fourth in the Main Event after qualifying online at but busted out first day on the cruise. I bought him a number of drinks – it really should have been the other way around!

Then there is Shannon Shorr – a star in the making who had the misfortune to be the first person out of the main tournament. Last night he was $3500 up – that’s a way of dealing with bad beat after bad beat on day one.

As I write, we have just started a key night of the tournament – at the end of which we will have our final table. Well respected pro Kenna James is in a very dominant position and there are plenty of confident supporters who think he can use his commanding chip lead to dominate proceedings this evening.

Earlier on they had a Calcutta on the boat where players out of the competition can effectively buy a player remaining in a tournament. There is $22,800 in the main pot here and Kenna was bought for $3000. The talk around here is that it could be a steal – it is the same as around a 3/1 bet. I just discussed this with the guy sitting opposite me – Richie Sklar from LA. He started the bidding for Kenna at $2400 but is now firmly in the camp that he would lay Kenna at around 3/1.

Anyway, today has been another quiet day in the poker room as the boat stopped off at the Cayman Islands. Highlight of the day was a beach barbecue where wedding couple Gary and Jackie Suffir were toasted in front of a packed house. Mike Sexton is becoming so drawn to this couple that any Calcutta on a future baby name would be interesting. What price they call him Mike? Less than 3/1? What price Kenna? My money is still on ‘Chip’ – I’m just disappointed that I couldn’t get a wedding message from the Mayor of Omaha for the couple who met in an online Omaha room.

I have certainly met some interesting characters on the boat and tonight everybody is in formal dress. Yet again while the main focus will be on the poker action, the diehards will be at the Karaoke in the Queen’s Lounge on Deck Two. What price someone gripping tightly to the songbook chooses Cher’s “Just Like Jesse James?â€? They could change the words in the chorus to “he’s going to go up in flames, just like Kenna James.â€? Tonight we will see – keep an eye out for updates from Mike O’Malley later on.

Talking of Mike, he is a very busy man and I’m sure he appreciates quips from me about having a pet cat called Thomas while he is focusing on the action. It may provoke him into taking my money in the poker room later in the week. The way I see it I’m just an “ordinary guyâ€? so I can’t write off my chances against the alley cat completely but the odds have got to be above 3/1. Anyway, I better get my coat after the poor Disney Aristocat quip. Actually, I better get my dinner jacket…


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