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2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure: History of the Event


The poker year gets started with a bang each and every turn of the calendar, and this year will be no different with the 2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA). The festival is set to bring poker players from all over the world together for some fun in the sun and exciting poker action. Part of the European Poker Tour (EPT), the PCA has settled into a home on Paradise Island at the Atlantis Casino and Resort for many years, and that will once again be the case in January.

The 2015 PCA will take place over the course of nine days, from January 6-14 and features a total of 35 events including the $10,300 Main Event, $100,000 Super High Roller, $25,000 High Roller, and a $600 Women's Event. Outside of those, there is a little something for everyone including a crazy pineapple tournament and a couple of "Double Bubble" turbo events.

Last year, Poland's Dominik Panka won the Main Event and $1,423,096 as he edged out Mike "Timex" McDonald to become the highest-earning player from his country.

With an event involving such rich history, PokerNews would like to take a look at its history, which dates back to 2004.

2004: Gus Hansen Wins Inaugural Event

It all got started in 2004 when a luxury cruise ship leaving Miami, Florida, and visiting Jamaica, Mexico, and the Cayman Islands happened to also have a World Poker Tour (WPT) tournament taking place on it.

There were 221 players with a prize pool of $1,657,500. Daniel Negreanu would finish third to eventual winner Gus Hansen, who collected $455,780. To this day, that prize pool and winner's payout are the smallest numbers the PCA Main Event has ever seen.

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
1Gus Hansen$455,780
2Hoyt Corkins$290,065
3Daniel Negreanu$192,270
4Michael Benedetto$132,600
5John D’Agostino$99,450
6Remco Schrijvers$74,590

PokerStars found a new home, though, with Atlantis Paradise Island becoming the host venue in 2005.

2005: A Brit Takes the Title

The field more than doubled from 2004's 221 entrants when 461 players took part in 2005 to create a $3,487,200 prize pool. Notables like Greg Raymer, Negreanu, Erick Lindgren, Allen Cunningham, and Patrik Antonius all cashed, but it would be British player John Gale who would emerge as the winner.

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
1John Gale$890,600
2Alex Balandin$484,700
3Michael Westerlund$306,400
4Patrick Hocking$207,700
5“Miami” John Cernuto$155,800
6Nenad Medic$112,500

Gale collected $890,600 for his title after outlasting a tough final table that included Nenad Medic and "Miami" John Cernuto.

2006: Millionaire Maker

The first millionaire in PCA history was minted after Steve-Paul Ambrose from Ontario, Canada, defeated Brook Lyter heads-up to collect the $1,388,600 first-place prize money.

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
1Steve Paul-Ambrose$1,388,600
2Brook Lyter$681,500
3David Singer$436,200
4Michael Higgins$327,100
5Anders Henriksson$239,900
6Ozzy Sheikh$177,200

A total of 724 players created a prize pool of $5,647,200 with over half a million dollars of those seats coming as a result of PokerStars online qualifiers, including both Ambrose and Lyter.

2007: The End of an Era

The 2007 PCA would be its last time the event was branded as a WPT event, as it would move to the EPT in 2008. A record field of 937 players created a staggering prize pool of $7,063,842, with Ryan Daut from New Jersey taking home $1,535,255 for his win.

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
1Ryan Daut$1,535,255
2Isaac Haxton$861,789
3Robert Ford$550,980
4Robert Mizrachi$409,703
5Jonathan Little$317,873
6Frank Rusnak$247,234

It was a US-dominated Main Event, as the final 13 would all be residents of that country. The stacked final table included Jonathan Little, Robert Mizrachi, and eventual runner-up Isaac Haxton. One interesting thing about the final table was that it took place outside on a sunny, but very windy day that had players struggling with their cards.

2008: Over 1,000

The numbers continued to grow in 2008 as 1,136 entrants created a prize pool of $8,562,976. First place was an overwhelming $2,000,000, and that pile of cash would be awarded to none other than Team PokerStars Pro member Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier.

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
1Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier$2,000,000
2Hafiz Khan$1,094,976
3Kristopher Kuykendall$800,000
4David Pham$600,000
5Craig Hopkins$450,000
6Joe Elpayaa$300,000
7Christian Harder$200,000
8Rich Fohrenbach$150,000

In what would be the biggest score of his career, Grospellier would outlast a final table that included Christian Harder, David Pham, and eventual runner-up Hafiz Khan.

2009: $33 Rebuy Entry Turns Into $3,000,000

The poker players continued to flock to the Bahamas, and in 2009 1,347 entrants created the biggest prize pool thus far for the PCA. First place would receive the lion's share of that $12,674,000 prize pool, and it would be Poorya Nazari who would collect the $3,000,000 when all was said and done.

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
1Poorya Nazari$3,000,000
2Tony Gregg$1,700,000
3Benjamin Spindler$1,100,000
4Alexandre Gomes$750,000
5Pieter Tielen$550,000
6Dustin Dirksen$400,000
7Dan Heimiller$300,000
8Kevin Saul$234,000

It was an amazing turn of events for Nazari, who qualifed for the Main Event through a $33 triple-turbo rebuy tournament on PokerStars. It was a tough final table that had notable pros like Kevin Saul, Dan Heimiller, Dustin Dirksen, and Alexandre Gomes. Finishing second and taking home $1,700,000 was Tony Gregg.

Also, Grospellier would continue to enjoy the Caribbean with a win in the $25,000 High Roller event.

2010: Youth Gone Wild

Another year, another record, as 1,529 players took part in the Main Event creating a prize pool of $14,831,300. Harrison Gimbel, at the ripe old age of 19, would turn a $1,000 satellite the day before the Main Event into $2,200,000 after outlasting a final table that included Tom Koral, Ryan D'Angelo, Ben Zamani, Barry Shulman, and Ty Reiman.

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
1Harrison Gimbel$2,200,000
2Ty Reiman$1,750,000
3Barry Shulman$1,350,000
4Ben Zamani$1,000,000
5Ryan D’Angelo$700,000
6Aage Ravn$450,000
7Zachary Goldberg$300,000
8Tom Koral$201,300

Elsewhere, William Reynolds would win $576,240 for outlasting a field of 83 players in the $25,000 High Roller event.

2011: Hall Lays Down a Monster

With the final table being broadcast on ESPN with a one-hour delay, eventual winner Galen Hall would make an incredible fold when he let go of a straight on the river to his opponent, Chris Oliver, who had rivered a full house. It was the momentum Hall would need, as he turned the tables on Oliver to take home the title and the $2,300,000 first-place prize.

Among the 1,560 entries was Team PokerStars Pro Chris Moneymaker, and the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event champion would make a deep run, but ultimately finished in 11th place. Other notables running deep included Max Weinberg, Mike Sowers, and Sam Stein.

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
1Galen Hall$2,300,000
2Chris Oliver$1,800,000
3Anton Ionel$1,350,000
4Sam Stein$1,000,000
5Mike Sowers$700,000
6Bolivar Palacios$450,000
7Max Weinberg$300,000
8Philippe Plouffe$202,000

This was also the first year of the $100,000 Super High Roller, and Eugene Katchalov would emerge with the win and $1,500,000 in prize money. Will Molson won the $25,000 High Roller and secured $1,072,850 for that victory after placed second in the event in 2010 and 2009 for $322,075 and $228,000, respectively.

2012: Anyone Can Win

Proof positive that anyone with a buy-in has a shot, as amateur John Dibella outlasted a field of 1,072 entrants to win the $1,775,000 first place prize. The Westchester, New York, stock trader had only $42,405 in tournament cashes prior to the Main Event, but he was the last man standing.

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
*1John Dibella$1,775,000
*2Kyle Julius$1,500,000
3Faraz Jaka$755,000
4Xuan Liu$600,000
5Mark Drover$468,000
6Tony Gregg$364,000
7David Bernstein$260,000
8Ruben Visser$156,600

*Denotes heads-up deal.

It was a remarkable series that saw Tony Gregg make his second PCA Main Event final table finishing in fifth, the legend known as Viktor "Isildur1'" Blom won the $100,000 Super High Roller, and Leonid "Alex" Bilokur took home $1,134,930 for his win in the $25,000 High Roller.

Team PokerStars Pro Jonathan Duhamel would also add to his impressive poker résumé by cashing for over $1,200,000 during the festival.

2013: The Stars Align

Bulgarian Dimitar Danchev would outlast a field of 987 entrants to collect the $1,859,000 first-place prize. The final table would last over seven hours, and Danchev would have to battle against the likes of Owen Crowe, Jerry Wong, Yann Dion, and Jonathan Roy to take home the title.

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
1Dimitar Danchev$1,859,000
2Joel Micka$1,190,000
3Jerry Wong$725,000
4Jonathan Roy$560,000
5Owen Crowe$435,000
6Andrey Shatilov$325,000
7Yann Dion$230,000
8Joao Nogueira$165,900

The $100,000 Super High Roller and $25,000 High Roller events were won by two of the biggest names in poker. Scott Seiver won the $100,000 Super High Roller for $2,003,480, and Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Selbst won the $25,000 High Roller. The $1,424,420 that Selbst added to her career tournament earnings made her the highest-earning female poker player of all time.

2014: McDonald Denied

Mike "Timex" McDonald would come oh so close to becoming the first player to ever win two EPT titles (an honor that would eventually go to Vicky Coren Mitchell later in the year) when he finished second to eventual winner Dominik Panka. The Poland native outlasted a field of 1,031 players on his way to winning $1,423,096. In addition to McDonald, deep runs were made by Isaac Baron, Antoine Saout (15th), and Fabian Ortiz.

Buy-inEntrantsPrize Pool
1Dominik Panka$1,423,096
2Mike McDonald$1,064,865
3Isaac Baron$1,207,599
4Madis Muur$581,040
5Daniel Gamez$447,040
6Shyam Srinivasan$328,020
7Pascal Lefrancois$242,020
8Fabian Ortiz$173,220
9Max Silver$135,400

The $25,000 High Roller title went to Jake Schindler. He won $1,192,624 after beating WSOP Main Event winner Greg Merson in heads-up play. The $100,000 Super High Roller title went to Fabian Quoss, who collected $1,629,940 for besting runner-up Dan Shak.

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