After a four-year hiatus, PokerStars brought back their most popular live tournament series – the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) – which was shuttered in 2019.
Beginning in the mid-2000s, the Bahamas had become a popular destination for poker players all over the world. The PCA was initially a bucket-list event for grinders, but once you got a taste of poker in the Bahamas, you couldn’t wait for a return trip.
Pros on the international circuit carved out time for their annual pilgrimage to Paradise Island in the Bahamas every January. The PCA ballooned to a massive festival of poker that included live tournaments, cash games, and satellites at the Atlantis Resort. And when the daily grind was over, it was time to head to one of the numerous resort bars to knock back Kalik beer or sip on rum-laced umbrella drinks.
Amateurs loved the PCA because they had a chance to go swimming with sharks by winning a lucrative prize package and free trip to the Bahamas.
Poker pros loved the PCA because it gave them a chance to have a legit working vacation where they could have a quick swim in the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean before heading into the gigantic tournament room to bust a bunch of Euro donks.
Poker players with families had an affinity for the PCA because it gave them a chance to pad their bankroll and take their kids on a Caribbean holiday in the same trip. Poker players with significant others had a chance to enjoy a legit holiday and romantic getaway at the PCA, which was the complete opposite of the gaudy casino environments like Las Vegas or Atlantic City.
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PCA Makes Splash in Bahamas
The triumphant return of the PCA took place at Paradise Island in the Bahamas, but with a venue change at the swanky Baha Mar Resort. Of course, the $10,000 buy-in Main Event had always been the marquee tournament at the PCA. When a pro won the PCA Main Event, it was a prestigious accomplishment. If an amateur won the Main Event, it made them an overnight poker celebrity.
Simply making the final table of the PCA Main Event was a big deal. Since the PCA was the beginning of the new calendar year, a deep run in the Main Event let the entire poker world know that you’re someone to keep an eye on the rest of the year.
Right now, the spotlight is on pro from Portugal by the name of Michel Dattani, who outlasted 889 runners to win the 2023 PCA Main Event. This year’s PCA Main Event prize pool swelled to $8.6 million with $1.5 million set aside to the champion. The final table of six included two players from Portugal, two more from Canada, a Russian pro, a cash-game specialist from America who decided to fly down to the Bahamas on a last-second whim.
Jamil Wakil from Toronto, Canada got his start playing online poker and won a couple of big events at PokerStars before he became a full-time pro. Wakil finished in sixth place, but added $307,500 to his bankroll.
Christoph Csik, pro from New Jersey, moved to Florida where he was a cash-game specialist. The Bahamas is a short flight away from Florida, and he’s glad he made the last-minute trip to Paradise Island. Csik was knocked out in fifth place, but won a smidge under $400K.
Alexandre Raymond from Montreal, Quebec, Canada was the last-standing online qualifier. He won a prize package to the PCA on PokerStars for a $550 investment, which he parlayed into a $519,600 score when he busted in fourth place.
Russian pro Artur Martirosian made a name for himself with a big win at the 2021 EPT Sochi in Russia, which he followed up with a $1.4 million score at the Super High Roller Bowl in Cyprus. Martirosian missed a chance to become the first player in PokerStars history to win the PCA and an EPT event. Although he was picked off in third place, the Russian shark banked $677,400 for less than a week of work.
Dattani Outlasts Neves for Win
Dattani and Pedro Neves were the last two players at the final table, and they both happened to hail from Portugal. Neves is an up-and-coming pro, while Dattani is an established grinder on the European circuit who owned multiple business on the side.
The two Portuguese players chopped the remaining money, with $1.5 million initially set aside for first place and $1 million for the runner-up. Dattani held a 15M to 10M chip lead before heads-up began, but the final two agreed on a ICM money chop. Dattani locked up $1,266,963, and Neves secured $1,183,037. They left $50,000 on the table to the eventual champion along with the coveted PCA winner’s trophy.
When the dust settled, Neves was knocked out in second place and Dattani emerged the victor in the Bahamas. Dattani earned a first-place payday worth a total of $1,316,963, and etched his name in the history books as the winner of the 2023 PCA Main Event.
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