Taking place from Jan. 6-14, the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) marks the 13th installment of the famed poker festival. The series "promises to be the biggest PokerStars festival ever held" and is comprised of 104 events, with a wide variety of buy-ins ranging from $120 to $100,000.
It all started in 2004 on a luxury cruise ship visiting Jamaica, Mexico, and the Cayman Islands. That first year, the event was co-branded by PokerStars and the World Poker Tour. In 2008, WPT sponsorship of the event ended and the stop became part of the European Poker Tour (EPT). In 2010 and 2011, the event was a featured stop of the North American Poker Tour, and then it returned as part of the EPT in 2012.
Currently, the PCA makes his home as the highly anticipated midway point on the EPT schedule.
While the PCA Main Event is widely considered as one of the most important and prestigious poker tournaments of the year, we'd like to kick off our PCA retrospective series with focus on the $100,000 Super High Roller event, taking place Jan. 6-8, 2016. This event is coming off a record-setting edition in 2015, with 66 entries, and it's a marquee event that poker enthusiasts everywhere look forward to.
2011: First Year Sees Katchalov Defeat Negreanu
I can still remember how I felt when it was announced that the 2011 edition of the PCA would feature a mammoth $100,000 buy-in poker tournament. Estimations quickly made ways around the PokerNews offices as to how many entries the event would get and who would show up, but none of that chatter had me prepared for the buzzing feeling that ran through my veins while walking the floor of the event as the first cards were pitched in the air. For the players, this was a six-figure buy-in event and some were, without question, overextending themselves by taking a shot. For the media, we all knew the same — this was a six-figure buy-in event and some of these players were without question overextending themselves by taking a shot.
The first few hands of the event were played in almost complete silence, but the tension broke just 30 minutes into play when Dutch player Koen Berendsen hit the rail in spectacular fashion. For Berendsen, his $100,000 ticket saw him wake up to pocket kings halfway through the first level of the day. Each player began with 250,000 in chips and a stack of 250 big blinds. That didn't stop Berendsen from getting every last one of those chips into the middle against Nick Schulman. Unfortunately for Berendsen, Schulman woke up to a brighter sunrise that day in the Bahamas, as he held pocket aces. Berendsen couldn't improve and was the first player sent packing.
"Seat open!" was the cry from the voice of Daniel Negreanu at the table, which prompted plenty of jaw dropping and chatter from around the room.
As the day wore on, 38 players entered the competition. Day 1 finished with 23 left and German Tobias Reinkemeier in the lead.
With a prize pool of $3.743 million up for grabs, the grind to the final table on Day 2 was exactly that, a grind. Following the completion of Day 2, the field had been cut down to just seven, and it was Schulman leading the pack. Only the top five spots were set to reach the money, meaning two unfortunate players would go home with nothing to show for their efforts come Day 3.
Andrew Lichtenberger was the first player to go on Day 3, and his elimination set up the bubble. Then, the richest person in Hungary and 1980 TIME Magazine Man of the Year, Sandor Demjan, busted in sixth place to Eugene Katchalov.
With everyone then in the money, Humberto Brenes hit the rail in fifth place for $200,000, Schulman fell in fourth for $400,000, and Bryn Kenney was knocked out in third for $643,000. That set up a near-even heads-up duel between Katchalov and Negreanu, and it didn't take long for Katchalov to pull away.
A couple big pots for Katchalov gave him a sizable lead, but then Negreanu doubled back to give himself additional life. Even so, Katchalov took a chip lead of nearly 4-1 into the dinner break. Upon their return, Katchalov didn't stop the charge and soon finished off his opponent to earn the $1.5 million top prize and the inaugural PCA $100,000 Super High Roller title. Negreanu scored an even $1 million for his runner-up finish.
2012: Online Legend Viktor Blom Scores the Massive Win
The following year, the $100,000 Super High Roller returned to the 2012 PCA schedule. The second edition of the event tallied 30 players and 32 entries, thanks to the reentries of Bill Perkins and Jonathan Duhamel. The attendance was down from the opening installment, but nevertheless a prize pool of $3.136 million was generated. Of that, $1.254 million would be awarded to the winner and the top five spots were slated to pay out.
Day 1 of the event saw 18 players advance to Day 2 with Isaac Haxton in the lead. Day 2 finished with eight players remaining and Galen Hall atop the pack. Also still alive at this point were Brenes and Negreanu, who both made Day 3 and cashed the prior year. Duhamel, who was in the event for $200,000 in buy-ins, also maneuvered his way to Day 3.
Brenes fell short of a cash in eighth place, and then Mike "Timex" McDonald busted in seventh. With the tournament on the official bubble with six players remaining, Scott Seiver saw his stack get shorter and shorter. Eventually, Seiver ran pocket jacks into Hall's pocket kings and finished as the event's "bubble boy."
Negreanu was the first to go in the money, earning $250,900 and brining his two-year total in this event to $1.25 million. Duhamel then busted in fourth place, winning $313,600 and profiting $113,600 on his run. Both of those eliminations were taken care of by Viktor "Isildur1" Blom.
Hall then busted in third, leaving Blom and Dan Shak heads up with Blom in front. The two jabbed back and forth in the early portion of the match, but then Blom took the first big chunk from his opponent to really extend his lead. Not too long after that, Blom finished Shak off to earn the $1.254 million first-place prize. Shak scored $846,700 for his second-place result.
2013: From Bubble To Champion, Redemption for Seiver
Seiver's $100,000 entry in 2012 didn't work despite the player putting in three days of work. After earning the unwanted title of "bubble boy," Seiver was back in the action the following year and looking to reach the money. After Day 1, he trailed only Philipp Gruissem on the leaderboard, and the final number of entries came in at 59.
With a prize pool over $5.724 million, the top eight spots were planned to pay out. First place was over $2 million, and Seiver found his way at the final table once again with the sixth-best stack. Antonio Esfandiari was eliminated as the "bubble boy" to end Day 2, meaning Seiver, and the others, had locked up at least $228,960 in prize money.
The action at the final table came fast and furious. On just the third hand of the day, the prior year's runner-up, Shak, busted in eighth place. He was quickly followed out the door by Vladimir Troyanovskiy in seventh place and Greg Jensen in sixth place during the same level. Gruissem then busted in fifth place for $400,700 a little over an hour later and four players remained. Seiver had busted both Shak and Gruissem.
David "Doc" Sands maintained his chip lead for quite some time before Seiver finally edged him out with four players left. Then, Sands busted Cary Katz in fourth, and it was a neck-and-neck between Seiver and Sands while Schulman, who finished fourth in 2011, brought up the rear. Eventually, Sands took out Schulman and entered heads-up play with the lead.
Sands quickly extended his lead in the match, but Seiver fought back until a big clash in Level 24 with the blinds at 100,000/200,000/30,000 saw Seiver get lucky and double. It was his pocket nines that were all in preflop against the pocket tens of Sands, but Seiver spiked a nine on the flop to take nearly a 6-1 chip lead. Shortly thereafter, Sands was eliminated in second place and earned over $1.25 million.
2014: Dan Shak Reaches Third Final Table in a Row
After a runner-up finish in 2012 for $846,700 and an eighth-place finish in 2013 for $228,960, the familiar face of Shak returned to the final table for the third year in a row. This time he had done so in a field of 56 entries and found himself leading the final seven players into Day 3.
After a double elimination on the bubble to end Day 2 saw Paul Newey finish one spot outside the money in ninth place and McDonald cash in eighth for $217,320, the group returned the next day to see Ole Schemion bust seventh, Tony Gregg go out sixth, and Matt Glantz finish in fifth. Esfandiari, who was the prior year's "bubble boy," fell in fourth place and earned $575,920.
In the final trio, Shak was joined by the tough competition of Vanessa Selbst and Fabian Quoss. Despite at one point holding the chip lead over her opponents and looking like she would go on to win, the tides turned for Selbst quickly when Quoss doubled through to to lead knock her to the bottom of the group. Shortly after that, she was all in against Quoss once again, and this time she was eliminated.
Quoss entered heads-up play with about a 2-1 advantage over Shak, soon extended the gap, and there wasn't much Shak could do. Shak was certainly hoping to improve upon his second-place finish from two years prior with a victory, but it would be another bridesmaid result for the semi-professional high-stakes poker player and hedge fund manager. This time around, Shak scored nearly $1.2 million for his result and brought his three-year total in this event from 2012-2014 over $2.25 million.
For Quoss, he banked over $1.6 million and ignited the best year of his poker career. When 2014 was all said and done, Quoss had won over $3.12 million.
2015: Steve O'Dwyer Tops Record-Setting Field
The 2015 edition of the PCA $100,000 Super High Roller was a record-setting affair. There were 66 entries in all, stemming from 50 unique entries and 16 reentries. That generated a prize pool of $6.402 million and first place was set at nearly $1.9 million.
At the start of Day 2, there were 44 players remaining with Sam Greenwood in the lead. The top nine places were to pay out, and that meant one player had to go home empty handed with 10 players left. That proved to be David Peters to send the remaining nine into the money.
To close out Day 2, Jake Schindler fell in ninth place and Seiver, the winner from two years prior, busted in eighth place.
Sorel Mizzi led the way over the final seven players with everyone left guaranteed at least $313,700. On Day 3, Andrew Robl was the first to go, and then Greenwood's run ended with a sixth-place finish worth $396,920. Fifth place was then secured by Christoph Vogelsang, before Mizzi's run landed him with a fourth-place result.
The final three players were Steve O'Dwyer, Roger Sippl, and Kenney, who finished in third place in 2011. At the time three-handed play began, O'Dwyer was last in chips, but fortunes would see him come out on top when it was all said and done.
First, O'Dwyer doubled through Sippl to take the lead, and then O'Dwyer busted Kenney to give Kenney another third-place finish in this event. That prompted heads-up play between O'Dwyer and Sippl, with O'Dwyer holding a big lead.
In the heads-up match, O'Dwyer drew first blood and Sippl could never really gain his footing. Eventually, it was all over shortly into Level 23 with the blinds at 80,000/160,000/20,000 when O'Dwyer's beat out Sippl's . For the win, O'Dwyer earned over $1.87 million and catapulted himself to having a career year that would see him earn nearly $4.9 million. Sippl scored almost $1.35 million for finishing in second place.
That concludes the first part of our retrospective series on the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. The 2016 PCA $100,000 Super High Roller will commence on Wednesday, Jan. 6, and is anticipated to be another spectacular event with big names involved and huge prizes up for grabs. You'll be able to find live reporting coverage right here on PokerNews, plus stayed tuned for more to come from our retrospective series as PokerNews will look at both the Main Event and $25,000 High Roller.