PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Scrapped After 15 Years

Atlantis Resort has been the home of the PCA since 2005

PokerStars has scrapped its popular PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) festival after running it for 15 consecutive years.

The PCA has been a mainstay on the live poker tournament calendar since 2004. Players from all over the world jetted off to The Bahamas each January to compete in the PCA. It was the first major poker festival of the year, set in paradise, it was perfect.

Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars’ Marketing Director explained the decision to scrap the long-running festival.

“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. As such, we will not be returning to Paradise Island in 2020. PokerStars and our players have had some great success at the Atlantis Resort & Casino in the Bahamas over a strong 13-year run, and we have very many fond memories of ringing in the New Year with our PCA. Our research, alongside player feedback, has shown, however, that it is time for a change to keep things fresh and give our players what they are asking for.”

PCA: A Brief History

The PCA started life back in 2004 when it was part of the World Poker Tour. It commanded a $7,500 buy-in and attracted 221 entrants aboard a cruise ship in The Bahamas. Danish superstar Gus Hansen emerged victoriously, defeating Hoyt Corkins heads-up, to bank $455,780.

PokerStars found the PCA a proper home for the 2005 edition where it stated for the next 14 years. Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island was a fitting location. Vast, sprawling and highly luxurious, it was a match made in heaven for PCA and its players.

Attendances continued to rise with 461 players competing in the now $8,000 buy-on PCA in 2015. John Gale triumphed over then and won $890,600. Steve Paul-Ambrose won the first seven-figure first-place prize at the PCA the following year. Paul-Ambrose outlasted 723-opponents to bank a cool $1,388,600.

PCA saw its first 1,000-plus field in 2008 when 1,136 entries created an $8,562,976 prize pool. Frenchman Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier got his hands on the biggest PCA prize to date, $2 million.

With the might of PokerStars’ online satellites behind it, the PCA continued to grow and evolve. It became part of the European Poker Tour (EPT) and dozens of side events appeared on the schedule. It the latter years, High Roller and Super High Roller often stole the show.

Black Friday: The Beginning of the End for the PCA

The 2011 PCA Main Event is the biggest-ever with 1,560 entrants. Galen Hall won that tournament and its $2,300,000 top prize. Only two of the remaining eight PCA Main Events would go on to break through the 1,000 player barrier.

Black Friday happened on April 15th, 2011 when the United States Department of Justice issued an indictment against three online poker sites: PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker. PokerStars and Full Tilt immediately stopped offering real money online poker to residents of the United States. It had a dramatic effect on the PCA’s attendance.

Only 1,072 players turned out for the 2012 PCA Main Event, a reduction of almost a third. The decline continued in 2013 with 987 entries, but rose slightly to 1,031 in 2014. It was a brief revival as only 816 players bought in during 2015.

PokerStars reduced the PCA Main Event buy-in to $5,300 in a bid to attract more players. It worked slightly in 2016 when Mike Watson had to battle through 927-opponents on his way to victory. 2017 slumped to 738 with 2018 only attracting 582 players, and the writing was on the wall.

The PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC), a $25,000 buy-in Super High Roller that PokerStars gave freerolls to more than 320 players, helped boost the 2019 PCA Main Event attendance to 865. Chino Rheem became its champion and won $1,567,100.

All Former PCA Main Event Champions

Year Entrants Buy-in Prize pool Champion Prize
2004 221 $7,500 $1,657,500 Gus Hansen $455,780
2005 461 $8,000 $3,487,200 John Gale $890,600
2006 724 $8,000 $5,647,200 Steve Paul-Ambrose $1,388,600
2007 937 $8,000 $7,063,842 Ryan Daut $1,535,255
2008 1,136 $8,000 $8,562,976 Bertrand Grospellier $2,000,000
2009 1,347 $10,000 $12,674,000 Poorya Nazari $3,000,000
2010 1,529 $10,300 $14,831,000 Harrison Gimbel $2,200,000
2011 1,560 $10,300 $15,132,000 Galen Hall $2,300,000
2012 1,072 $10,300 $10,398,400 John Dibella $1,775,000
2013 987 $10,300 $9,573,900 Dimitar Danchev $1,859,000
2014 1,031 $10,300 $10,070,000 Dominik Panka $1,423,096
2015 816 $10,300 $7,915,200 Kevin Schulz $1,491,580
2016 928 $5,300 $4,500,800 Mike Watson $728,325
2017 738 $5,300 $3,376,712 Christian Harder $429,664
2018 582 $10,300 $5,645,400 Maria Lampropulos $1,081,100
2019 865 $10,300 $8,390,500 Chino Rheem $1,567,100

Moving to Barcelona?

PokerStars recently announced the PSPC is running again in 2020, but in Barcelona and not The Bahamas. Without the PSPC to attract more players to the PCA Main Event, it looks like PokerStars has decided to pull the plug instead of risking further decline.

Players have long complained about the astronomical costs of staying at Atlantis Resort. Rooms start at around $300 per night. Food and beverage prices border on obscene. A casual dining plan costs more than $105 per day with taxes included with the gourmet option increasing to more than $170 per day.

Barcelona is not one of the cheapest cities in Europe, but travel and accommodation costs are a slither of those associated with The Bahamas. It is also the most popular stop on the EPT with the latest edition breaking attendance records in several events. Perhaps PokerStars will launch the Barcelona Adventure?

Matthew Pitt

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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