Somewhere between the helicopter ride and the yacht party, your body and mind begin to accept that this is reality. The din of Monaco during its most exciting weekend no longer feels alien. Saying you feel like a million bucks is a cliché, but during this experience, it might just be true. You can thank PokerStars for that.
The gaming giant is one of the partners of Oracle Red Bull Racing, the F1 team currently sitting atop both the Drivers and Constructors championship rankings. And PokerStars is taking this opportunity to combine the thrill their players seek and the energy of an F1 race into one awesome package. That package is called the Red Spade Pass and is possibly the best seat to take in the entire Formula 1 experience, from the racing to the lifestyle.
We had a chance to enjoy the benefits of PokerStars Red Spade Pass during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, flying into Nice and joining Red Bull Racing star Sergio Perez for a rooftop hang on our very first day. What could I glean from the racer? “Never give up” is the mantra he lives by these days, referring to his mindset both when racing and playing poker—he’s a self-confessed card shark, though he calls himself an amateur.
The next day, we set off for Monaco in a helicopter. This trip would typically take over an hour by car through this weekend’s crowded streets, but it takes a mere seven minutes by air. Not only do you save time, but you also get expansive views of the Mediterranean as you land right off the port in Monaco.
The whole city seems devoted to Formula 1 this weekend. Huge signs promote Charles Leclerc, the local star who drives for Team Ferrari. You can’t miss the huge billboards promoting the hottest new watches, sandwiched between jumbotrons broadcasting the latest news from the track.
The track is actually city streets. Any other day of the year, you’d be able to walk around unaware that such an event transpired here. Other race tracks around the world are laid out over vast space, with technical corners, wide areas for passing, smooth asphalt, and plenty of run-off in case a driver misjudges their approach. In Monaco, the track is narrow, sinewy, and has little margin for error.
There are plenty of perks to attending a race in the coastal municipality, including the ability to watch from a yacht. Massive ships are lined up along the track for guests to view the action, an experience the PokerStars Red Spade Pass holders were able to have.
Greeted on board with a glass of champagne and a perfect view of the action, there’s no better way to catch the race. The drinks are bottomless, the music is flowing, and the sun is shining.
This isn’t even a one-time thing either. Every day of the race weekend, you get to enjoy the perks of the Red Spade Pass. Practice on Friday was a good way to get acclimatized but the qualifying sessions on Saturday were intense. Perez explained that since the track offers a limited number of passing opportunities, qualifying well is “95 per cent of the race.” The coach’s pep talk must have worked as he qualified third by the end of the day.
Race day featured dark clouds and a downpour, but it didn’t dampen the joy of the event. Sure, the standing start was called off, but the engines still roared to life and energized the crowd. After several wet mishaps from other drivers and some savvy strategizing from the Red Bull Racing, Sergio Perez won the event, which went down well with our hosts.
While race weekend’s other evenings included parties at the Red Bull Energy centre, this time around we hit the town, celebrating Perez’s win in the crowded streets.
Catching up with the Red Spade Pass holders, it’s clear the experience was one they wouldn’t forget anytime soon. From helicopters to yachts, to race cars and parties, the whole weekend was a never-ending stream of fun and excitement.
The Red Spade Pass isn’t just for the Monaco GP. PokerStars made it clear that they’re eyeing a similar experience for the Silverstone GP in the UK and the Mexico Grand Prix. The passes are awarded during a free-to-play PokerStars tournament where players have to keep an eye on PokerStars’ twitter account in order to receive a password for a freeroll. Different ways to win a Red Spade Pass will pop up in the PokerStars Universe throughout the F1 season.