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What You Need to Know About the 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure

Poker in Paradise: What You Need to Know About the 2018 PCA 0001
  • The PCA is back! @PokerTraditions gets you ready for the highly-anticipated series in the Bahamas.

Sun, fun, cards – and maybe even a nice frozen drink. The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure returns to the beautiful Atlantis Paradise Island Resort this weekend with action for every bankroll running January 6-14. Since its inception in 2004, the PCA has become one of the favorites on the tournament schedule for many players seeking a post-holiday getaway and plenty of sunshine in the Bahamas.

Poker in Paradise

With this year marking the 15th anniversary of the series, events are set to get underway on Saturday. Players will have plenty of events to choose from and the PCA always offers some unique tournaments on its schedule to make the event a bit different.

This year’s event features 31 events with buy-ins ranging from $100,000 to $315. Lower-buy-in qualifiers are also available for those looking to win their way into the bigger buy-in events for as low as $160. Plenty of cash games of multiple varieties and levels will also be running.

Along with plenty of PokerStars qualifiers and big names looking for a nice score, PokerStars’ own lineup of players will be making the trip.

Along with Negreanu, other members of Team PokerStars Pros expected to make an appearance include Andre Akkari, Jeff Gross, Kevin Martin, Jaime Staples, Jake Cody, Fatima Moreira De Melo, Igor Kurganov, and Liv Boeree.

As of Thursday, Boeree and Kurganov were looking to leave the American east coast’s snow behind for the tropics. However, the weather wasn’t making it easy.

The recently-announced Platinum Pass promotion will be well underway at this year’s PCA. The event will award five passes to the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC), worth a total of $150,000. Platinum Passes are worth $30,000, and include the $25,000 PSPC buy-in, accommodation at the Atlantis Resort and around $2,000 for travel and expenses. Some prime platinum will be awarded to:

  • The PCA Main Event winner
  • A Main Event Day 2 drawing winner – On the start of Day 2, a single table will be chosen at random and those players will play a single hand of poker with the winner awarded a pass.
  • National Championship winner
  • A player in the money – PokerStars brings the promotion to every tournament at the PCA. When a tournament reaches the money, all remaining players will be dealt a single hand of poker. Winners from each table will be entered into a drawing at the end of the event to award one pass,
  • Wild Card Winner – When a tournament reaches the end of registration, all remaining players will be dealt a single hand of poker. Winners will be entered into a second phase drawing at the end of the event, which will award one final pass.

A PokerStars Player of the Year will also be crowned on Jan. 5. A single-table tournament will award the winner $100,000, and rounders looking to claim the title include Bryn Kenney, Chris Hunichen, Nick Petrangelo, Daniel Dvoress, Koray Aldemir, and Vladimir Troyanovskiy.

A Sunny Schedule

Since its beginning in 2004, the PCA has been a nice bullet point on a player’s poker resume. That initial main event was won by none other than Gus Hansen, who bested a field of 221 entrants to take home a $455,780 million top prize. Other winners through the years have included: Bertrand Grospellier (2008), Harrison Gimbel (2010), Galen Hall (2011), and Mike Watson (2016).

From 2006 to 2015, first-place payouts exceeded $1 million in the Main Event – topping out with a $3 million payday for Canada’s Poorya Nazari in 2009. With a return to the PCA name after it was dropped in 2017 for the “PokerStars Championship Bahamas” moniker, PokerStars is hoping plenty of card players make their way seaside and that prize pool moves back up.

Faraz Jaka finished third in the 2012 Main Event for $755,000 and seemed excited to get back to the Bahamas and go for a win.

Last year, it was Christian Harder who took home the Main Event title for $429,664 in the events second-lowest number of entries, 738. The $10,300 PCA Main Event kicks off with two starting flights on Jan. 8 and 9, and will play out over six days.

The action kicks off on Saturday with a $100,000 unlimited re-entry Super High Roller, which should attract plenty of pros with big bankrolls. Jason Koon won last year’s event for $1.65 million. Those with a bit less in their wallets may instead want to jump in the $550 No Limit Hold’em freezeout event, a one-day event.

Other interesting tournaments on the schedule include:

  • $1,650 PCA National Championship with a single re-entry (Jan. 6) – Last year’s event attracted 421 entries and it was Canada’s Nicola Basile taking home the title and $131,680 in cash.
  • No Limit Hold’em Cash Qualifiers – For $1,050, multiple players have a shot at scoring $10,300 in this event. Plenty of players will be in the money in what should be a fun event with unlimited re-entry. There are several cash qualifiers on the schedule including a $3,300 variety for a buy-in of only $315, a $2,200 qualifier for only $210, and even a $25,000 event for $2,650. Grab your share of the loot.
  • $330 No Limit Hold’em PCA Cup (Jan. 12) – This two-day, unlimited re-entry tournament offers plenty of bang for the buck and should make for a nice top prize for rounders with a smaller bankroll. In 2017, Canadian Michael Malm took down this event (previously a $00 buy-in) and took home more than 18,000.
  • High Roller Hijinks – Along with the $100,000 Super High Roller a $25,000 (Jan. 6), PokerStars will be offering a $50,000 event (Jan. 8) and $25,000 (Jan. 11).
  • Knockout Day (Jan. 13) – Snag a $100, $500, or $5,000 knockout prize for each player you eliminate. With four events on the schedule with buy-ins of $330, $550, $1,650, and $10,300, players have plenty of opportunities to get in on the pugilism.

View the full 2018 PCA schedule here

Smaller trophies called "Spadies" are awarded to side event winners and larger engraved trophies awarded for winners of the majors such as the Main Event and Super High Roller.

More than 300 players have already qualified online for the Main Event with seven of these winning a Main Event package for stakes of between $1 and $55. A score in the event for one of those seven would certainly be a major return on investment.

How to Follow the PCA

Can’t make it to the island for the fun? PokerStars TV will be streaming eight days of action starting with Day 2 of the Super High Roller on Jan. 7. PSTV will then follow with the $50,000 High Roller on Jan. 9, and Main Event coverage Jan 10-14. Hosts James Hartigan and Joe Stapleton will be mixing up live commentary and studio guest appearances with quizzes, promotions, and more. The stream will be available in a wide range of languages, and available on desktop and mobile at as well as on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch channels.

The PokerNews Live Reporting team will also be on the floor covering all the action from six marquee events, including the $50,000 High Roller and the $10,000 Main Event.

Fun in the Sun & Usain Bolt vs. Kevin Hart

Along with some great action on the felt, the PCA can be always be counted on for some extra fun away from the tables as players combine poker with a tropical vacation.

On Jan. 13, the Player Party at Aura Nightclub offers free drinks from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Take a break from the action and take in the cool vibes. Those attending can grab two party wristbands at the the information desk through the event.

Players can watch out for Hollywood funnyman Kevin Hart and the world’s fastest man and eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt. The two will be taking in the action and face off heads-up in PokerStars’ #GameOn promotion. The event should make for plenty of fireworks.

Other amenities for players at the PCA include:

  • Player bags for all Main Event entrants with plenty of swag.
  • Final table gifts going to all regular final tables with up to a $500 value. Prizes include iPads, GoPros, digital cameras, and more.
  • The Player Lounge will offer NFL playoff viewing parties on weekends with beer pong and football squares competitions and prizes.

Along with the fun and daily action, PokerStars is offering players even more ways to win. The $50,000 Freeroll Tournament kicks off on Jan. 14 and is open to anyone who has played in even a single PCA event. The tournament even offers two optional $100 rebuys to keep the hope alive.

Another chance to score some cash is the $50,000 Player Giveaway. Players will have opportunities to earn giveaway tickets throughout the tournament series for achievements such as being in their seat by the end of the first level bubble. First place pays $20,000, second $10,000 and third – sixth earn $5,000. Players can cash in when the drawing is held Jan. 14.

So pack the lucky charm, chip protector, and highlight your favorite events on the schedule. The Bahamas are calling – some big winnings and Caribbean breezes might be in your future. Don’t forget the sunblock.

Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Dallas, Texas, and the writer and host of the new “True Gambling Stories” podcast, which makes its debut as part of the PokerNews Podcasting Network on Jan. 31. The show will feature unique stories from poker and gambling lore. For more on the show, follow on Twitter @GamblingPod and on Facebook @TrueGamblingStories.

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