Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure Review

The latest Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure has just finished its latest run in the Bahamas. This year saw the usual get together of star names from the poker community hailing from every corner of the globe.

 

A Little History

The Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) came to life in 2004, the year after Chris Moneymaker kicked off the poker boom. That year the event was held on a luxury cruise ship over the course of a week, and was a World Poker Tour championship. Being tied to the WPT meant, of course, that plenty of high-profile stars were playing which helped to make the event something special, which would ultimately last until the present day.

Gus Hansen was the first player to etch his name onto the PCA main event trophy, collecting a $450,000 prize as well as the glory of besting names such as Daniel Negreanu, who finished in third place.

A year later, the Atlantis Paradise Resort was the venue, where it has remained ever since. In 2008 Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier was the first victor in the European Poker Tour (EPT) era. This label added a ton more prestige to the event which ensured that the field size was more than 1,000 players for the first time ever, with a record $2 million prize for the winner. For the next visit the first ever high roller was added to the schedule, which was also won by ElkY for $433,000.

As the years have passed, this traditional first stop on the calendar has become a must-do for the Europeans and North Americans suffering with the winter weather. Let’s take a look at what went on at the PCA 2018.

 

Main Event

Argentina’s Maria Lampropulos, was the winner in the $10,300 main event. She defeated 581 other players to capture what was her second ever seven-figure score. There was also an exclusive $30,000 Platinum Pass as part of the winner’s prize, for the upcoming Pokerstars Player’s Championship.

The 36-year-old is actually the first woman ever to win the main event at the PCA in any of its 13 years so far. It’s no surprise that it was Lampropulos who broke the trend here though, as she crushed the partypoker MILIONS Live at Dusk til Dawn in the UK back in April 2017. That time she scooped more than $1.25 million for her efforts in topping a field of 1,204 entries.

The tournament started in normal fashion with Lampropulos ending Day One in 55th place out of 341 remaining rivals. She then steadily improved her end of day position until hitting second place on Day Four, before slipping to third a day later.

Day Six marked the final table stage, and it was also six hands until the first player was heading to the exit. Lampropulos opens pocket sixes and faces a jam from the short-stacked Christian Rudolph holding A8. Lampropulos makes a trivial call and the pair holds when she flops a set.

Next to go was Canada’s Daniel Coupal who defended 84s in the big blind and got a little too fruity with his air on a king-high flop against Shawn Buchanan. Down to four.

Spanish hotshot Adrian Mateos was soon on his way home. The GPI Player of the Year had started the day in the chip lead but lost out when getting in his AK with top pair, top kicker against a flush draw. Still, $372,600 was a nice new year present, and it’s also noteworthy that the 23-year-old, three times WSOP bracelet winner was plum last when 18 players remained.

There was a long period of three-handed play, and it took until hand 96 before we were ready for the heads-up stage. The bust out was a totally standard affair with Koray Aldemir jamming K7o from the button, and facing a call from Buchanan with A8s. A flopped eight and turned trips meant Aldemir was out in third place.

Sealing the deal was always going to be a tough ask for Lampropulos who now had to deal with Shawn Buchanan, winner of six WCOOP/SCOOP titles and more than $6 million in live tournament winnings. The Canadian also had a 2-1 chip lead. Lady Luck was smiling down though, and the young Argentine found favour with the poker gods after getting her overcards in three times against pocket pairs, and winning twice to take the lead.

It all ended when Buchanan shoved K5 into T7 and we saw a 10 come on the flop.

Maria Lampropulos told the Pokerstars reporters after her win

“I feel very, very happy. I know that it’s incredible. It’s great.”

“I am extremely grateful for the people who believed in me, especially my boyfriend. Ivan always trusted me and helped me to improve and grow. Whenever I had doubts about how I’d played a hand, he helped me regain my confidence by telling me that I can get it.”

 

High Rollers

There were also a few high roller events for those with the bankroll or backing.

Steve O’Dwyer won the $50,000 event for a $769,500 score which takes him into the all-time top 10 money winner’s list, less than a million dollars behind Phil Hellmuth. Erik Seidel was also taking part, and finished a respectable fourth.

This is the second time O’Dwyer has won this exact tournament, as well as capturing the $100,000 event in 2015.

 

Christopher Kruk won the $25,000 event, besting his 143 rivals. At one point he was even down to seven big blinds with 180 of them still in play. People were soon commenting on the old cliché “A chip and a chair is all you need.”

Daniel Negreanu bubbled the final table in ninth place, as, unusually, only eight would be considered the final table.

Jason Koon was the winner of the $25,000 Single-Day High Roller, collecting $421,080 for a stellar performance. Only 41 players signed up for this event, but it still included big names such as Christopher Kruk and Ike Haxton. Another quality win from the American here, who recently passed $10 million in live tournament winnings.