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PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Reportedly Discontinued After 16 Years

The PCA will end after a long run dating to 2004.

The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure is no more.

After 16 years, most of it spent being one of the premier live stops on the international poker scene, PokerStars has opted to discontinue the event, according to reporting from PocketFives.

The relevant sentence comes at the bottom of the linked piece, in a quote from PokerStars Marketing Director Eric Hollreiser.

"It’s no secret that after 15 successful years, the PCA [prior to last year’s PSPC] has been losing momentum and there’s been increasing player criticism of the location,” Hollreiser said. “As such, we will not be returning to Paradise Island in 2020."

History of the PCA

PCA began as a partnership with the World Poker Tour, taking place on a cruise ship in 2004 and hosting a field of 221 players. Poker legend Gus Hansen would ship the inaugural event, then a $7,500 buy-in, for $455,780.

The next year the PCA moved to its famous home at Atlantis Resort, the sprawling and opulent set-up that occupies almost half of Paradise Island.

Over the years there, the series would eventually evolve into becoming part of PokerStars' European Poker Tour, with the buy-in goosed up to $10,300. It would eventually stand as one of just a few remaining $10K main events on the overall live schedule, although the buy-in was dropped to $5,300 for a couple of years, including the one year the event was rebranded as PokerStars Championship Bahamas in 2017.

Harrison Gimbel - Champion!
Harrison Gimbel took down one of the biggest PCAs in 2010.

The PCA peaked in terms of prizes awarded in 2009, when little-known Canadian Poorya Nazari won a monstrous official first-place of $3 million, although it was widely reported thata deal had been struck at some point before the finish. In terms of entries, the PCA Main Event peaked during the two following years when 1,529 and 1,560 turned up, respectively.

The Main Event was far from the only big draw at PCA. It also hosted some of the first and biggest $100K events in poker before that was just another tournament in the procession of high rollers. The $25K High Roller was also usually one of the most well-attended on the calendar.

Declining Attendance

While the PCA for years could count itself a premier live poker stop, it had fallen on somewhat hard times in recent years.

After attendance peaked in 2011, the lack of online satellites available to North American players contributed to a large attendance drop back to 1,072 in 2012 — about two-thirds of the previous year's total. As the poker environment became tougher and edges shrank, the attractiveness of an expensive stay on an island resort went down as well.

A further drop of about 20 percent — from 1,031 to 816 — in 2015 convinced PokerStars brass to try lowering the buy-in to the aforementioned $5,300. The move did little, as a bump of about 100 entries just meant the prize pool dropped massively, awarding its first winner's prize below seven figures since 2005.

Things only got worse the following year, and 2018's return to $10,300 saw attendance drop in the number of entries to 582, a level not seen since 2005 as well.

The PCA received a major shot in the arm in 2019 when the PokerStars Players No-Limit Hold'em Championship was announced. While the landmark event would run alongside the PCA Main Event, the lure of the most lucrative $25K in history was enough to bring out plenty of grinders and push Main Event attendance back up to 865 for Chino Rheem's victory.

However, that always looked to be temporary fix given that the PSPC was thought to be a one-off and certainly looked unlikely to be repeated every year. With the news that the event will move to Barcelona for 2020, it was confirmed that there would be no similar life raft to keep the 2020 PCA afloat, and PokerStars opted to end the long-running event rather than risk continued decline.

Barring a reboot some time down the road, that means Rheem will go down as the final PCA Main Event champion, closing the books on one of poker's longest-running and most lucrative tournament series.

Chino Rheem Wins the 2019 PCA Main Event
Chino Rheem will go down as the last PCA Main Event champion, barring a reboot down the road.

Tables of PCA Major Event Winners

Main Event

YearBuy-InEntriesTotal Prize PoolWinnerFirst Prize
2004$7,500221$1,657,500Gus Hansen$455,780
2005$8,000461$3,487,200John Gale$890,600
2006$8,000724$5,647,200Steve Paul-Ambrose$1,388,600
2007$8,000937$7,063,842Ryan Daut$1,535,255
2008$8,0001,136$8,562,976Bertrand Grospellier$2,000,000
2009$10,0001,347$12,674,000Poorya Nazari$3,000,000
2010$10,3001,529$14,831,300Harrison Gimbel$2,200,000
2011$10,3001,560$15,132,000Galen Hall$2,300,000
2012$10,3001,072$10,398,400John Dibella$1,775,000
2013$10,300987$9,573,900Dimitar Danchev$1,859,000
2014$10,3001,031$10,070,000Dominik Panka$1,423,096
2015$10,300816$7,915,200Kevin Schulz$1,491,580
2016$5,300928$4,500,800Mike Watson$728,325
2017$5,000738$3,376,712Christian Harder$429,664
2018$10,300582$5,645,400Maria Lampropulos$1,081,100
2019$10,300865$8,390,500Chino Rheem$1,567,100

$100K Super High Roller

YearEntriesTotal Prize PoolWinnerPrize
201138$3,743,000Eugene Katchalov$1,500,000
201232$3,136,000Viktor Blom$1,254,400
201355$5,724,180Scott Seiver$2,003,480
201456$5,433,120Fabian Quoss$1,629,940
201566$6,402,000Steve O'Dwyer$1,872,580
201658$5,626,000Bryn Kenney$1,687,800
201754$5,239,080Jason Koon$1,650,300
201848$4,737,600Cary Katz$1,492,340
201961$5,918,220Sam Greenwood$1,775,460

$25K High Roller

YearEntriesTotal Prize PoolWinnerPrize
200948$1,200,000Bertrand Grospellier$433,500
201084$2,057,998William Reynolds$576,240
2011151$3,775,500Will Molson$1,072,850
2012148$3,626,000Alex Bilokur$1,134,930
2013204$4,998,000Vanessa Selbst$1,424,420
2014247$6,051,500Jake Schindler$1,192,624
2015269$6,456,000Ilkin Garibli$1,105,040
2016225$5,400,000Nick Maimone$996,480
2017159$3,895,500Luc Greenwood$740,032
2018142$3,484,800Chris Kruk$836,350
2019162$3,928,500Martin Zamani$895,110

The Stars Group owns a majority shareholding in iBus Media.

  • Say goodbye to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, one of the longest running events in poker.

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