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Your All-Inclusive Guide To the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure

PCA

Last year was a big one for the poker industry, as evidenced by PokerNews’ Top 10 Stories of 2012, but now it’s 2013 and time for a whole new year of stories beginning with the 2013 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA). The prestigious event, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, will kick off the New Year this Saturday, Jan. 5 and run through Monday the 14th, and PokerNews will be there to bring you live updates from the $25,000 High Roller, $100,000 Super High Roller, and, of course, the cornerstone $10,000 Main Event.

Every year, the PCA, which is part of the European Poker Tour, has drawn a congregation of poker pros to Paradise Island at the Atlantis Casino and Resort for a full schedule of tournament action, and this year will be no different. Team PokerStars Pros Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Daniel Negreanu, Eugene Katchalov, Jason Mercier and Isaac Haxton are already confirmed for the $100,000 Super High Roller, as is first-time PCA participant Phil Hellmuth.

“There is no other live 10-day event where you will find the variety and number of games that the PCA offers," said Neil Johnson, live specialist for PokerStars. "It really is a unique event in terms of the amount of poker and the range of buy-in levels available, and we always try to add some new and fun variants that you won’t find anywhere else.”

Last year, the Main Event was won by 43-year-old stock trader John Dibella, who bested a field of 1,072 players, including Kyle Julius, Faraz Jaka and Xuan Liu at the final table, to win $1,775,000. Meanwhile, Viktor “Isildur1” Blom took down the Super High Roller for $1,254,400, while Leonid Bilokur defeated Team PokerStars Pro Jonathan Duhamel in heads-up play capture the High Roller title for $1,134,930.

Things are shaping up for this to be the best PCA yet, which is why we thought we’d take a look back at the event’s ten-year history with an examination of all the Main Events:

Hansen Becomes the First PCA Champ… On a Cruise Ship

The first incarnation of the PCA occurred way back in 2004 and was the only one held at sea. That’s right, that tournament, which attracted 221 players, took place on the Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas, which visited exotic locales such as Miami, Jamaica, Mexico, and the Cayman Islands.

Back then the event was actually a part of the World Poker Tour, and even though it was a small tournament by today’s standards, it was a rousing success — so much so that PokerStars was inspired to strike a deal with Bahamian officials to hold the PCA at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in 2005.

As you can see, that first final table was filled with some big-name pros who are still superstars in the game:

Gus Hansen won the inaugural PCA in 2004.
Gus Hansen won the inaugural PCA in 2004.

2004 PCA Main Event Results

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
$7,500221$1,657,500

PlacePlayerPrize
1stGus Hansen$455,780
2ndHoyt Corkins$290,065
3rdDaniel Negreanu$192,270
4thMichael Benedetto$132,600
5thJohn D’Agostino$99,450
6thRemco Schrijvers$74,590

John Gale Is King of Atlantis

In the PCA’s second year, the field more than doubled from 221 to 461. Here’s how the PCA’s website described it:

“The 2005 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure marked the first time that the event was held at the Atlantis in The Bahamas - the location that’s been its home ever since. There were 461 players in total, generating a total prize pool of $3,487,200. British player John Gale took the title, along with first place prize money of $890,600. There was also a cash finish for Team PokerStars Pro Greg Raymer, at the time still riding high after his World Series Main Event victory the previous summer. Daniel Negreanu and William Thorson also cashed.”

John Gale (Picture courtesy of PokerStars Blog)
John Gale (Picture courtesy of PokerStars Blog)

2005 PCA Main Event Results

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
$7,500461$3,487,200

PlacePlayerPrize
1stJohn Gale$890,600
2ndAlex Balandin$484,700
3rdMichael Westerlund$306,400
4thPatrick Hocking$207,700
5th“Miami” John Cernuto$155,800
6thNenad Medic$112,500

Ambrose Wins Over A Million In 2006

The next year marked the first time a million dollars would ever be awarded to the winner of the Main Event, which attracted 724 players and created a prize pool of $5,647,200. The winner in 2006 was then Team PokerStars Pro Steve-Paul Ambrose of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, who took home $1,388,600 by defeating Brook Lyter in heads-up play. Interestingly, both of those men qualified for the event on PokerStars. Since then, Ambrose has made two more deep runs in the PCA Main Event, finishing 20th in 2007 for $36,026; and 72nd out of 1,529 players in 2010 for $33,000.

Steve Paul-Ambrose (Picture courtesy of PokerStars)
Steve Paul-Ambrose (Picture courtesy of PokerStars)

2006 PCA Main Event Results

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
$7,800724$5,647,200

PlacePlayerPrize
1stSteve Paul-Ambrose$1,388,600
2ndBrook Lyter$681,500
3rdDavid Singer$436,200
4thMichael Higgins$327,100
5thAnders Henriksson$239,900
6thAurangzeb Sheikh$177,200

Ryan Daut Wins In 2007; Last PCA As A WPT

In 2007, the field size ballooned to 937 and became one of the more memorable in history as the final table, which took place outside on a windy day, was well stacked with players such as Jonathan Little, Robert Mizrachi, and Isaac Haxton. The final 13 players that year were all from the U.S.

In the end, Ryan Daut outlasted everyone else to seize the $1,535,255 first-place prize. “In 2006, I played very few tournaments and almost exclusively cash games. It was my first year as a pro, and I managed to have a $100,000 year,” Daut told PokerNews in a Where Are They Now interview. “I had a few friends going down to the Bahamas, so I played two super satellites and ended up bubbling them both. I decided that since it was a one-time tourney I would just buy in direct for about 8 percent of my bankroll.”

He went on to add: “At the time, the five younger guys were pretty much all unknowns, but from a limited amount of time playing with them I knew they were all pretty good players. At that point, the only thing I knew about Robert Mizrachi was that he was the Grinder's brother, and on Day 1, one of my buddies was really beating the Grinder's brains in all day, so I wasn’t intimidated going into the final table. The only thing I remember about playing outdoors was that the sun was in my eyes and it was pretty windy, so we had to be really careful with the cards all day. I wouldn’t want to do it again.”

He concluded: “It was only my second live tournament at the time, but I had played probably 50 hours of live cash and thought the tourney would have a good enough structure to favor a cash game player, so I played it and ended up getting pretty lucky there.”

Daut returned in 2008 in an unsuccessful bid to defend his title, and has not been back since because he prefers to play locally in California.

Ryan Daut (Picture courtesy of the PokerStars Blog)
Ryan Daut (Picture courtesy of the PokerStars Blog)

2007 PCA Main Event Results

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
$7,800937$7,063,842

PlacePlayerPrize
1stRyan Daut$1,535,255
2ndIsaac Haxton$861,789
3rdRobert Ford$550,980
4thRobert Mizrachi$409,703
5thJonathan Little$317,873
6thFrank Rusnak$247,234

The PCA Becomes Part Of The EPT; “ElkY” Claims Victory

After parting with the WPT, the PCA found a new home on the European Poker Tour in 2008. For the first time, the Main Event broke the 1,000-player mark (1,136 entries), allowing tournament officials to award the winner a healthy $2 million prize. That money eventually went to France’s Bertrand “ElkY” Grosspellier (the biggest score of his career), and immediately vaulted into poker super stardom and became a member of Team PokerSatrs Pro.

Bertrand "ElkY" Grosspellier (Picture courtesy of PokerStars Blog)
Bertrand "ElkY" Grosspellier (Picture courtesy of PokerStars Blog)

2008 PCA Main Event Results

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
$7,8001,136$8,562,976

PlacePlayerPrize
1stBertrand “ElkY” Grospellier$2,000,000
2ndHafiz Khan$1,094,976
3rdKristopher Kuykendall$800,000
4thDavid Pham$600,000
5thCraig Hopkins$450,000
6thJoe Elpayaa$300,000
7thChristian Harder$200,000
8thRich Fohrenbach$150,000

Nazari Lays Claim To $3 Million In 2009

We’ll let PokerStars explain 2009’s event, which awarded the biggest prize in PCA history:

“The 2009 PCA Main Event proved to be the biggest so far, with 1,347 runners and a prize pool of $12,674,000. PokerStars qualifier Poorya Nazari won the event, cashing for $3,000,000 – the biggest prize ever awarded in event history. The victory was all the sweeter for Poorya because he qualified for the Main Event through a $33 triple turbo rebuy on PokerStars – an incredible return on his investment. Also making the final table was Team PokerStars Pro Alexandre Gomes, who finished fourth for $750,000. Elsewhere, Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier took down the prestigious High Rollers tournament – good for $433,500.”

Poorya Nazari (Picture courtesy of PokerStars Blog)
Poorya Nazari (Picture courtesy of PokerStars Blog)

2009 PCA Main Event Results

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
$9,7001,347$12,674,000

PlacePlayerPrize
1stPoorya Nazari$3,000,000
2ndAnthony Gregg$1,700,000
3rdBenjamin Spindler$1,100,000
4thAlexandre Gomes$750,000
5thPieter Tielen$550,000
6thDustin Dirksen$400,000
7thDan Heimiller$300,000
8thKevin Saul$234,000

19-Year-Old Turns $1,000 Into $2.2 Million

The field grew once again for the 2010 PCA with 1,529 players taking to the felt and creating a $14,831,300 prize pool. Despite the increased attendance, the first-place prize was lowered to $2.2 million, allowing for deeper payouts. Although places like Las Vegas require participants to be 21 years old, the law in the Bahamas allows playing at 18, and that year a 19-year-old from Jupiter, Florida, made the most of it. Harrison Gimbel won a $1,000 satellite the day before the Main Event and managed to parlay that into a $2.2 million payday and become the youngest winner in PCA history.

Harrison Gimbel is the youngest champ ever.
Harrison Gimbel is the youngest champ ever.

2010 PCA Main Event Results

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
$10,0001,529$14,831,300

PlacePlayerPrize
1stHarrison Gimbel$2,200,000
2ndTyler Reiman$1,750,000
3rdBarry Shulman$1,350,000
4thBenjamin Zamani$1,000,000
5thRyan D’Angelo$700,000
6thAage Ravn$450,000
7thZachary Goldberg$300,000
8thThomas Koral$201,300

The PCA Smashes Records

To say the 2011 PCA was memorable would be an understatement. That year the Main Event field grew once again to 1,560 entries, the largest in its history, and saw Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker make a deep run. The atmosphere was electric as the man who started the poker boom competed for one of poker’s most prestigious titles, but he ultimately fell short of the final table, finishing in 11th place.

It was at the final table that perhaps the most interesting hand in PCA history took place. It happened when Galen Hall raised to 450,000 from the button holding {8-Clubs}{4-Hearts} and Chris Oliver called from the big blind with {A-Diamonds}{2-Spades}. The {5-Diamonds}{3-Diamonds}{2-Clubs} flop saw Oliver check-call a bet of 575,000, the dealer burn and turn the {2-Hearts}, and both players checked. Oliver then checked his full house on the {A-Spades} river and Hall bet 2 million with his straight. Oliver then check-raised all in, and Hall, who had the shorter stack, tanked for several minutes before laying down his hand.

The final table was being broadcast on a one-hour delay, and when that hand aired the consensus was Hall had just made an unbelievable laydown. It proved to be the right decision and ultimately led to Hall capturing the $2.3 million first-place prize.

Galen Hall hoisted the trophy in 2011.
Galen Hall hoisted the trophy in 2011.

2011 PCA Main Event Results

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
$10,0001,560$15,132,000

PlacePlayerPrize
1stGalen Hall$2,300,000
2ndChris Oliver$1,800,000
3rdAnton Ionel$1,350,000
4thSam Stein$1,000,000
5thMike Sowers$700,000
6thBolivar Palacios$450,000
7thMax Weinberg$300,000
8thPhilippe Plouffe$202,000

An Amateur From The States Wins $1.775 Million In 2012

For the final time, we turn to the PCA website for their explanation: “The 2012 edition of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) was a huge success with millions of dollars awarded in cash prizes across 10 days of incredible live poker action. The Main Event drew a field of 1,072 players and was won by amateur player John Dibella from the USA, who scooped $1,775,000 and the title. The $100,000 Super High Roller was won by Swedish Team PokerStars Pro Viktor ‘Isildur1’ Blom for $1,254,400, and Leonid Bilokur snagged the High Roller, collecting $1,134,930. There was also a standout performance from Team Pro Jonathan Duhamel who cashed for over $1,200,000 in various events during the festival.”

Here’s what we had to say in our Live Blog Recap from last year’s event: “It wouldn't be exactly appropriate to call John Dibella an unlikely champion. But if the sports book here at the Atlantis had been taking wagers on this final table, he would have been a prohibitive underdog. Despite everything stacked against him today — a below-average starting stack, amateur status, an impossible seat draw — despite all of that, Dibella has found a way today. The 43-year-old stock trader from Westchester, New York has just climbed his way to the top of the tallest anthill on Paradise Island, winning the 2012 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event and adding $1.775 million to his career earnings. We feel comfortable calling that a remarkable win considering Dibella's previous tournament cashes totaled just $42,405.”

John Dibella is the defending PCA champ.
John Dibella is the defending PCA champ.

2011 PCA Main Event Results

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
$10,0001,072$10,398,400

PlacePlayerCountryPrize
*1John DibellaUSA$1,775,000
*2Kyle JuliusUSA$1,500,000
3Faraz JakaUSA$755,000
4Xuan LiuCanada$600,000
5Mark DroverCanada$468,000
6Anthony GreggUSA$364,000
7David BernsteinCanada$260,000
8Ruben VisserThe Netherlands$156,600

*denotes heads-up deal leaving $275,000 to the winner

Who will be the next player to join the following list and cement his legacy as a PCA champion?

The PCA trophy
The PCA trophy

PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event Champions

YearPlayerPrize
2004Gus Hansen$455,780
2005John Gale$890,600
2006Steve Paul-Ambrose$1,388,600
2007Ryan Daut$1,535,255
2008Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier$2,000,000
2009Poorya Nazari$3,000,000
2010Harrison Gimbel$2,200,000
2011Galen Hall$2,300,000
2012John Dibella$1,775,000

The Main Event is obviously the stop’s big attraction every year, but it’s just one facet of the poker festival, which has enjoyed a long and luxurious history. Here are ten essential PCA facts according to the PCA’s official website:

  • The PCA was responsible for bringing poker to The Bahamas. Before the PCA, there was no poker in the islands.
  • Tournament director Mike Ward has been in charge of every PCA festival from its inception in 2004 to the 10th Anniversary in 2013.
  • The Bahamian archipelago is made up of 700 islands, covering 100,000 square miles, but only 40 of the islands are inhabited.
  • The PokerStars Blog began life at the PCA. Way back in 2005 the PCA Blog was one of the first online sites to cover a live poker tournament start to finish.
  • The World Championship of Battleship Poker first took place in 2006 and was won by Michael ‘luckylady519’ Banducci.
  • In 2008 the World Cup of Poker made its first appearance at the PCA. Germany won the title that year, captained by Jan Heitmann.
  • Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier’s biggest-ever live tournament score was at the PCA. The Frenchman scooped $2,000,000 for his Main Event win in 2008.
  • Canada’s Poorya Nazari won the PCA’s biggest-ever single cash prize, when he won the Main Event in 2009 for an incredible $3,000,000.
  • Aged just 19 in 2010, Harrison Gimbel from Jupiter, Florida, is the youngest-ever winner of the PCA Main Event.
  • In an incredible run, Canada’s Will Molson finished runner-up in the $25,000 High Roller Event in 2009 and 2010 before finally winning it in 2011.

Finally, here’s a look at this year’s PCA schedule, which will include 40 events such as the $100,000 Super High Roller with unlimited reentries, a $25,000 High Roller with one optional reentry, a $1,000 triple stud event, a $1,000 Zoom Mobile Challenge, and of course, the $10,000 Main Event. The final tables of the Super High Roller, High Roller, and Main Event will be broadcasted with cards-up on EPT Live on a one-hour delay.

The complete schedule is listed below. Each of the 10 events with an asterisk (*) next to it is a "Signature Trophy Event" to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the PCA.

DateEventBuy in
12:00 Jan. 5Event #1: NLH Super High Roller “Unlimited Re-Entry” Day 1*$98,000 + $2,000
   
12:00 Jan. 6Event #1: NLH Super High Roller “Unlimited Re-Entry” Day 2*$98,000 + $2,000
17:00 Jan. 6Event #2: NLH One Optional Rebuy Super Satellite to Main Event$1,025 + $75
18:00 Jan. 6Event #3: NLH Turbo$2,000 + $150
19:00 Jan. 6Event #4: NLH Turbo$270 + $30
   
12:00 Jan. 7Event #1: NLH Super High Roller “Unlimited Re-Entry” Final Table*$98,000 + $2,000
12:00 Jan. 7Event #5: NLH Main Event Day 1A$10,000 + $300
14:00 Jan. 7Event #6: Canada CupInvitation
14:00 Jan. 7Event #7: NLH Turbo$5,000 + $200
17:00 Jan. 7Event #8: NLH One Optional Rebuy Super Satellite to Main Event$1,025 + $75
19:00 Jan. 7Event #9: NLH Turbo$270 + $30
   
12:00 Jan. 8Event #5: NLH Main Event Day 1B*$10,000 + $300
12:00 Jan. 8Event #10: Zoom Mobile Challenge $50k Guaranteed$1,000 + $25
14:00 Jan. 8Event #11: PLO Turbo$5,000 + $200
16:00 Jan. 8Event #12: H. O. E. Day 1$1,000 + $100
18:00 Jan. 8Event #13: NLH Turbo Bounty$1,000 + $1,000 + $150
   
12:00 Jan. 9Event #5: NLH Main Event Day 2*$10,000 + $300
12:00 Jan. 9Event #10: Zoom Mobile Challenge $50k Guaranteed$1,000 + $25
12:00 Jan. 9Event #14: NLH Win The Button Day 1$1,000 + $100
13:00 Jan. 9Event #12: H. O. E. Day 2$1,000 + $100
14:00 Jan. 9Event #15: PLO Day 1*$5,000 + $300
16:00 Jan. 9Event #16: H.O.R.S.E. Day 1$1,000 + $100
18:00 Jan. 9Event #17: NLH Turbo$2,000 + $150
   
12:00 Jan. 10Event #5: NLH Main Event Day 3*$10,000 + $300
12:00 Jan. 10Event #10: Zoom Mobile Challenge $50k Guaranteed$1,000 + $25
12:00 Jan. 10Event #18: NLH Day 1*$5,000 + $300
13:00 Jan. 10Event #15: PLO Day 2*$5,000 + $300
13:00 Jan. 10Event #16: H.O.R.S.E. Day 2$1,000 + $100
14:00 Jan. 10Event #19: NLH Day 1*$1,000 + $100
16:00 Jan. 10Event #20: PLO Dealer Choice 5 or 4 Cards Day 1$1,000 + $100
18:00 Jan. 10Event #21: NLH Turbo$5,000 + $200
19:00 Jan. 10Event #22: NLH Turbo$270 + $30
   
12:00 Jan. 11Event #5: NLH Main Event Day 4*$10,000 + $300
12:00 Jan. 11Event #10: Zoom Mobile Challenge $50k Guaranteed$1,000 + $25
12:00 Jan. 11Event #23: NLH Day 1$2,000 + $150
12:00 Jan. 11Event #24: World Cup of Poker Day 1Invitational
12:00 Jan. 11Event #18: NLH Day 2*$5,000 + $300
13:00 Jan. 11Event #25: NLH Heads-Up Day 1 (64 Player Cap)*$5,000 + $300
13:00 Jan. 11Event #19: NLH Day 2*$1,000 + $100
13:00 Jan. 11Event #20: PLO Dealer Choice 5 or 4 Cards Day 2$1,000 + $100
16:00 Jan. 11Event #26: Omaha High-Low 8 or Better Day 1$1,000 + $100
18:00 Jan. 11Event #27: NLH One Rebuy Super to NLH High Roller$2,850 + $150
19:00 Jan. 11Event #28: NLH Turbo$270 + $30
   
12:00 Jan. 12Event #5: NLH Main Event Day 5*$10,000 + $300
12:00 Jan. 12Event #10: Zoom Mobile Challenge $50k Guaranteed$1,000 + $25
12:00 Jan. 12Event #29: NLH Unlimited Re-Entry Day 1A *$1,000 + $100
13:00 Jan. 12Event #30: NLH High Roller 1 Optional Re-Entry Day 1*$25,000 + $500
13:00 Jan. 12Event #23: NLH Day 2$2,000 + $150
13:00 Jan. 12Event #26: Omaha High-Low 8 or Better Day 2$1,000 + $100
14:00 Jan. 12Event #31: NLH Ladies Only Day 1*$1,000 + $100
16:00 Jan. 12Event #32: Triple Stud Day 1 (7-Card Stud, Razz & 7-Card Stud High-Low 8 or Better)$1,000 + $100
18:00 Jan. 12Event #29: NLH Unlimited Re-Entry Day 1B$1,000 + $100
19:00 Jan. 12Event #33: NLH Turbo$270 + $30
   
12:00 Jan. 13Event #5: NLH Main Event Final Table*$10,000 + $300
12:00 Jan. 13Event #30: NLH High Roller 1 Optional Re-Entry Day 2*$25,000 + $500
12:00 Jan. 13Event #34: NLH 6-Handed Day 1$5,000 + $300
13:00 Jan. 13Event #29: NLH Unlimited Re-Entry Day 2 *$1,000 + $100
13:00 Jan. 13Event #31: NLH Ladies Only Day 2*$1,000 + $100
13:00 Jan. 13Event #32: Triple Stud Day 2 (7-Card Stud, Razz & 7-Card Stud High-Low 8 or Better)$1,000 + $100
14:00 Jan. 13Event #35: NLH 6-Handed Day 1$1,000 + $100
16:00 Jan. 13Event #36: PLO Day 1$1,000 + $100
18:00 Jan. 13Event #37: NLH Turbo Bounty$1,000 + $1,000 + $150
19:00 Jan. 13Event #38: NLH Turbo$270 + $30
   
12:00 Jan. 14Event #30: NLH High Roller 1 Optional Re-Entry Final Table*$25,000 + $500
12:00 Jan. 14Event #39: NLH Turbo PCA Main Event Edition$270 + $30
13:00 Jan. 14Event #34: NLH 6-Handed Day 2$5,000 + $300
13:00 Jan. 14Event #35: NLH 6-Handed Day 2$1,000 + $100
13:00 Jan. 14Event #36: PLO Day 2$1,000 + $100
14:00 Jan. 14Event #40: NLH Turbo 6-Handed$10,000 + $300

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