Great success on a public stage, particularly the kind that brings money, almost always draws from the woodwork old friends and long-lost contacts, suddenly remembering their old buddy after all these years. Links can sometimes be tangential, motives often a little suspicious. But in the case of Garry Gates, we’re witnessing nothing but an outpouring of unadulterated, honest delight.

Rooting for the man that treated me like family, after knowing me for like 2 minutes,” wrote a poker player named Carlo Rodriguez on Facebook. Rodriguez was posting in the Platinum Pass Winner’s forum, a group set up in the run up to the PokerStars Players Championship in the Bahamas earlier this year.

Treating people like family who he has only met for two minutes is very much in the Gates playbook. That’s just his way. That’s just his style.


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As a senior figure in the planning for that spectacular January jamboree, Gates, and his assistant Willie Elliot, had a task that sounds simple but is astonishingly difficult to carry out. They were charged with making sure the 300 or so players who won passage to the €25,000 buy-in tournament had the time of their lives. This meant catering to people of vastly differing backgrounds, from across the entire spectrum of poker players, including top ranked high rollers, down to nickel and dime players on a remarkable run. It meant hands-on support, solid and reliable information, and someone who players could trust to be on their side throughout.

Garry Gates: Selfie with the fans

There’s almost nobody in the poker world who could make a success of a task like that. It really is only Garry Gates who could have done it, and the Platinum Pass winners, for whom Gates did so much, are now fully on his rail. The support, Gates said this afternoon, is greatly appreciated.

“It’s just bizarre, it’s really bizarre,” Gates said. “I don’t know how else to describe it. I’m so used to being on the opposite side of the rail and providing support for everybody else. It’s a bit overwhelming to see as much support as I’ve had. And it’s even better coming from the Platinum Pass winners because in a weird way I feel like I’m in their position. I’m living my own dream, and it’s becoming more and more real every day.”

Gates said every morning for the past few days, he’s woken up and seen hundreds of messages flooding in his direction on every social media channel, and that it’s given him particular gratification on this run.

“It fuels me,” he said. “It’s exciting to see so many people sharing their love and support. That makes it that much more special.”

Gates was actually due on a weekly conference call this morning as various heads of department at PokerStars got together to discuss their working week. But with only one topic of conversation likely to dominate the conversation, the meeting was cancelled in Gates’s honour–and the staff at the PokerStars HQ in the Isle of Man instead focused on expressing their love for their friend and colleague.

 

“As for the PokerStars team as well, I saw an amazing video that they produced at headquarters today, seeing everybody with the #LFGGG shirts,” Gates said. “That means everything to have their support. They’re in my corner the whole way. I appreciate all of that.”

The good news for all the fans is that Gates says he is in the best possible state of mind as they prepare for play on the second day of the final table.

“I got some sleep, and I rested this afternoon as well,” he said. “I feel calm and I’m ready for another day.”

We’re ready too, but calm? I don’t think any of us could make that claim.

 

*****

The plan for today is to play to the last three players, but official may make changes depending on the state of the tournament.

We have 28 minutes left on Level 38 (Blinds 600,000/1,200,000). Current stacks:

Hossein Ensan, Germany – 207.7 million (173 BBs)
Garry Gates, USA – 171.7 million (143 BBs)
Kevin Maahs, USA – 66.5 million (55 BBs)
Alex Livingston, Canada – 45.8 million (38 BBs)
Dario Sammartino – Italy – 23.1 million (19 BBs)

WSOP photography by PokerPhotoArchive

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