$1,650 National Championship

Event Info

Players 290

Level Info

Level 27
Blinds 30,000 / 60,000
Ante 10,000
$1,650 National Championship
Day 3 Completed

Friend of PokerStars Maria Konnikova Wins the $1,650 PCA National Championship for $84,600

ajlamers • Level 27: 30,000-60,000, 10,000 ante
Maria Konnikova
Maria Konnikova

One of the premier events at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure 2018 has drawn to a close and it was Maria Konnikova capturing the title in the $1,650 PCA National. Konnikova battled her way through three long and grueling days to take home her first ever title and $84,600.

Konnikova entered heads-up play against Alexander Ziskin with a three-to-one chip lead and it didn't take long for her to finish things off. After a few quick hands of Konnikova raising and taking down the blinds, she got her opponent all in on the turn and drawing to just nine outs. Ziskin was unable to connect with the river and Konnikova raised her arms in victory.

An interesting story follows the Russian-American female that has captured the hearts of the poker community. Konnikova moved to the United States from Russia and earned degrees from Havard and Columbia, including a Ph.D. in psychology. She became a writer for publications like the New York Times, The Atlantic, Scientific American, and the list goes on. About a year ago at the PokerStars festival in Monte Carlo, Konnikova decided to learn the game of poker and asked the infamous, Erik Seidel to help mentor/coach her. Her goal in all of this was to play poker for a year, to learn the game, and then write a book about it.

Since the poker career began, Konnikova has gathered a few second place finishes, amassing to around $30,000 in tournament earnings. She never expected to come this far in this short period of time. Winning a prestige event at the PCA? "It feels amazing. I started poker from scratch a year ago. I have the best coach in the world, Erik Seidel, so I've been very lucky. I've been working really hard and it's so validating to achieve this."

Final Table Results

PositionPlayerCountryPrize (USD)
1Maria KonnikovaUnited States$84,600
2Alexander ZiskinUnited States$56,250
3Kevin MacDonaldCanada$41,140
4Loek van WelyNedtherlands$33,210
5Harrison GimbelUnited States$26,040
6Ryan SmithCanada$19,710
7Marcos Carneiro AntunesBrazil$14,480
8Chris MoormanUnited Kingdom$10,640

This three-day tournament began with a total of 290 entries and was dwindled down to just 62 players after 14 hours of play on Day 1. Many notables took to the felt including PokerStars Team Pros Barry Greenstein and Jake Cody, Mike Leah, Kevin MacPhee, and Joseph Cheong who all packed their bags early. When Day 2 arrived, the money bubble approached quickly with 39 places getting paid. Some notables to reach the money included Sylvain Loosli (38th Place - $2,900), Katie Lindsay (32nd Place - $2,900), Simon Deadman (23rd Place - $4,140), Dylan Wilkerson (20th Place - $4,560), and Rex Clinkscales (13th Place - $6,460).

The unofficial final table was reached late on Day 2 when Thomas Taylor was eliminated in 10th place for $7,380. The final nine players gathered at one table and would play down to the final eight. It was Sharman Olshan, who showed great poise throughout the tournament, that busted in 9th place when she was unable to win a flip against Ryan Smith. With that, the players bagged and tagged and headed off to get some much-needed rest.

Final Table Summary

When the final table assembled on Day 3, there were still a few familiar faces remaining. Chris Moorman, a WSOP bracelet holder and online crusher from the UK, was the first to fall. Not long after, Brazilian, Marcos Carneiro Antunes hit the rail and they were down to six players. Nearly two hours later without an elimination, short-stacked Ryan Smith ran into a red-hot Konnikova with each of them flopping a set, Konnikova's being the larger one.

With five players left, chips were passed around the table with each player taking their share of the chip lead. Harrison Gimbel was the most recognized player left in the field, but unfortunately, the blinds caught up with him and he hit the rail in fifth place. Four-handed play lasted another two hours, before a couple quick eliminations of Loek van Wely and Kevin MacDonald resulted in heads-up play.

That wraps up our coverage for the 2018 PCA National, but stay locked in as the PokerNews live reporting team will bring you up-to-date action throughout the remaining events here in the Bahamas.

Maria Konnikova

Tags: Alexander ZiskinBarry GreensteinChris MoormanDylan WilkersonErik SeidelHarrison GimbelJake CodyJoseph CheongKatie LindsayKevin MacDonaldKevin MacPheeLoek van WelyMarcos Carneiro AntunesMaria KonnikovaMike LeahPokerStars Caribbean AdventureRex ClinkscalesRyan SmithSharman OlshanSimon DeadmanSylvain LoosliThomas Taylor

Alexander Ziskin Eliminated in 2nd Place ($56,250)

ajlamers • Level 27: 30,000-60,000, 10,000 ante
Alexander Ziskin
Alexander Ziskin

Maria Konnikova entered heads-up play with a healthy chip lead and she never slowed down. Konnikova raised to 125,000 on the button and Alexander Ziskin called. The flop came {10-Diamonds}{10-Spades}{7-Spades} and Ziskin checked to Konnikova who bet 125,000. Ziskin check-raised to 300,000 and Konnikova called.

The turn brought the {2-Spades} and Ziskin pushed all in for 550,000. Konnikova asked for a count and then made the call. Ziskin turned over {j-Diamonds}{8-Spades} for a straight and flush draw and Konnikova tabled {a-Clubs}{k-Spades} for ace-high and a bigger flush draw. Konnikova would need to fade nine outs to take the title and she waited patiently as the cameras gathered with one card to come.

The dealer burned and turned the {k-Hearts} on the river and Konnikova made two pair, kings and tens, to eliminate Ziskin and become the PCA National champion.

Maria Konnikova us 5,800,000 1,330,000
Alexander Ziskin us Busted

Tags: Alexander ZiskinMaria Konnikova


Kevin MacDonald Eliminated in 3rd Place ($41,140)

ajlamers • Level 26: 25,000-50,000, 5,000 ante

Kevin MacDonald raised to 150,000 from the small blind and Maria Konnikova pushed forward a three-bet to 600,000 out of the big blind. MacDonald announced all in for 1,600,000 and Konnikova snapped him off.

Maria Konnikova: {a-Hearts}{k-Hearts}
Kevin MacDonald: {a-Diamonds}{2-Spades}

MacDonald was in danger of being eliminated and the when the board ran out {j-Clubs}{8-Clubs}{7-Diamonds}{q-Hearts}{10-Clubs}, Konnikova made a straight to make this a heads-up duel.

Maria Konnikova us 4,470,000 2,440,000
Alexander Ziskin us 1,400,000
Kevin MacDonald ca Busted

Tags: Kevin MacDonaldMaria Konnikova

Konnikova Doubles Through MacDonald

simkha • Level 26: 25,000-50,000, 5,000 ante

Kevin MacDonald raised to 150,000 from the button, Maria Konnikova three-bet to 600,000 from the big blind, MacDonald four-bet jammed, and Konnikova called to put herself at risk.

MacDonald: {Q-Clubs}{10-Clubs}
Konnikova: {K-Hearts}{J-Hearts}

Konnikova had the preflop advantage and extended her lead on the {J-Clubs}{J-Spades}{4-Clubs} flop, but it wasn't over as MacDonald picked up a flush draw. The {9-Spades} on the turn gave MacDonald a few more outs, and although the {K-Diamonds} river gave MacDonald a straight, it also gave Konnikova the a full house, so she took the pot to double up.

Maria Konnikova us 2,030,000 840,000
Kevin MacDonald ca 1,725,000 -100,000

Tags: Kevin MacDonaldMaria Konnikova

Loek Van Wely Eliminated in 4th Place ($33,210)

simkha • Level 26: 25,000-50,000, 5,000 ante

Kevin MacDonald raised to 125,000 in the small blind and Loek van Wely shoved all in for 760,000 in the big blind. MacDonald quickly called and the cards were on their backs.

Kevin MacDonald: {a-Spades}{q-Spades}
Loek van Wely: {k-Spades}{9-Spades}

The board ran out {10-Hearts}{3-Clubs}{2-Spades}{2-Diamonds}{4-Clubs} and MacDonald's ace-high was good enough to eliminate van Wely in fourth place.

Kevin MacDonald ca 2,770,000 945,000
Loek van Wely NL Busted

Tags: Kevin MacDonaldLoek van Wely

MacDonald Takes From Konnikova

simkha • Level 26: 25,000-50,000, 5,000 ante

Kevin MacDonald raised to 125,000 from the button and Maria Konnikova called from the big blind.

The flop came {10-Clubs}{8-Hearts}{5-Spades} and Konnikova checked. MacDonald bet 100,000 and Konnikova called.

The turn brought the {3-Spades} and both players checked.

The {2-Diamonds} fell on the river and Konnikova checked. MacDonald bet 240,000, Konnikova called, and MacDonald showed {A-Diamonds}{4-Clubs} for a rivered wheel. Konnikova tossed her cards into the muck and MacDonald took the pot.

Kevin MacDonald ca 1,825,000 -215,000
Maria Konnikova us 1,190,000 -140,000

Tags: Kevin MacDonaldMaria Konnikova

Konnikova Cracks Aces to Double Up

simkha • Level 26: 25,000-50,000, 5,000 ante
Maria Konnikova
Maria Konnikova

Action folded around to the blinds and Loek van Wely raised to 125,000 from the small. Maria Konnikova three-bet shoved from the big for 680,000 and van Wely called to put her at risk.

Van Wely: {A-Spades}{A-Clubs}
Konnikova: {7-Clubs}{7-Diamonds}

Van Wely had a commanding lead with his aces and Konnikova needed a lot of help from the deck to preserve her tournament life. She picked up some additional outs in the form of an open-ended straight draw when the flop came {9-Spades}{8-Spades}{6-Spades}. The {10-Clubs} on the turn made Konnikova's straight and left van Wely in need of a spade on the river. The {2-Clubs} changed nothing and Konnikova took the pot to double up.

Maria Konnikova us 1,330,000 395,000
Loek van Wely NL 860,000 -750,000

Tags: Loek van WelyMaria Konnikova

Ziskin Turns Two Pair

ajlamers • Level 26: 25,000-50,000, 5,000 ante

Loek van Wely attempted to raise on the button but only stuck in 60,000, which was ruled as a call. Alexander Ziskin was able to check his option from the big blind and the flop came {q-Spades}{7-Spades}{3-Diamonds}.

Ziskin check-called a bet of 50,000 from van Wely and the {8-Hearts} rolled off on the turn. Ziskin led out for 100,000 and van Wely quickly called. The {10-Diamonds} completed the board and Ziskin placed a bet of 275,000. After counting out his chips, van Wely made the call, only to see Ziskin table {q-Diamonds}{8-Spades} for two pair and scooped the pot.

Loek van Wely NL 1,610,000 -280,000
Alexander Ziskin us 1,400,000 370,000

Tags: Alexander ZiskinLoek van Wely