They say you should face your fears in life. For me, that meant entering the lion’s den or, more specifically, the bird’s nest. I’ve suffered from ornithophobia (a fear of birds) since childhood, so taking part in a flamingo yoga session organized by PokerStars probably wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had.
However, as well as saying you should face your fears, they (whoever “they” are) say you should do as the Romans do. I’m not in Rome, but I am at the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC).
So, with flamingos being a protected species in the Bahamas, special yoga sessions with the long-limbed birds have become a thing at Baha Mar. Why? I have no idea but, in the interests of stretching myself (quite literally), I accepted an invitation to participate.
I didn’t bond with birds, but it was still fun
Did I regret it? Yes. Would I do it again? Probably not, but the PSPC is all about having fun and trying new things. That’s what makes this different from any live poker event I’ve been to. The poker is world-class, but you can’t come to a resort like Baha Mar and focus solely on the felt.
PokerStars’ events team knows this, which is why they’ve been running extracurricular activities for Platinum Pass winners. The latest offering was, as I’ve said, flamingo yoga. Armed with the wrong type of shorts and more than a mild sense of trepidation, I entered the fray.
I’ve done yoga in the past. I wasn’t particularly good at it, but I’ve done it. The problem, however, is that I’ve been a powerlifter for the last three years. Strength often comes with size and a lack of flexibility, so getting back into the mix was a struggle.
My problems were compounded by the fact our gentle yoga session had been swapped for the slightly more intense Pilates. Regardless, I got onto a mat with a dozen other PokerStars qualifiers and we assumed our positions. At this point, the birds were released.
— Daniel Smyth (@DanSmythThePoet) February 1, 2023
Three of the prowling pink flamingos were perfectly pleasant. One was less so. Not only was this flamingo vocal, it had a penchant for pecking people. I swerved the bird’s advances for a good 30 minutes before it went for me.
The pecking didn’t hurt, but inside I was dying. I’d not been that close to a bird for years but I couldn’t crack. Everyone was watching, so I bluffed my way through the ordeal like a pro. Despite being a harrowing experience (for me), everyone else loved it.
PokerStars taking live events to new heights
The PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship is already a record-breaking $25,000 poker tournament. However, PokerStars is in the business of pushing boundaries and breaking new ground. It’s safe to say that no other live poker event has featured flamingo yoga and I’m pretty sure none ever will.
This is the advantage of hosting a live event in Baha Mar. It’s not easy flying halfway around the world and putting on a series of tournaments. However, the gamble pays off when things like flamingo yoga give Platinum Pass winners the chance to experience something different.
Posing in among a flamboyance of flamingos wasn’t for me, but that’s because I’m not a fan of birds. As a concept, I love it. Poker events are more than chips and cards. Offering something unique, something entertaining, is how you attract the masses.
Where the masses go, pros follow and, before you know it, you’ve created an event that everyone wants to play. The PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship is more than flamingo yoga, but I think it’s something else that’s taken this event to new heights.
Stay tuned to CardsChat for more personal insights and interviews from the 2023 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.