The 2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure wrapped up later Wednesday night with the conclusion of the $25,000 High Roller event. After a gruelling three days of competition among poker's elite, amateur poker player Ilkin Garibli rose to the top and earn the trophy, the SLYDE watch, and $1,105,040 in first-place prize money.
Garibli found himself heads up with Joe Kuether and the two made a heads up deal that earned the latter $1,050,000 in winnings. From there, the two played heads up in a marathon 2.5 hour heads up match for the watch and the trophy.
*Reflects heads-up deal
This was a unique experience for Garibli, not only because he won over one million dollars in just three days, but also because it was his first live tournament cash ever. Garibli, who hails from Azerbaijan, is not a tournament circuit regular, but rather a cash game player. He was convinced to participate in the PCA festival by his friends and it turned out to be arguably one of the best decisions that he ever made.
The day began with 11 players returning to the felt, each vying to claim the highest possible portion of this record-setting prize pool. It was apparent that the pressure levels were high, as no player would relent their stack for the first two hours of play. In the end, it was Bryn Kenney who was the first person to hit the rail. Kenney could not win a preflop race against Kuether and he was eliminated from play in 11th place. Following Kenney out the door and missing the official final table were Dominik Nitsche in tenth and Lee Markholt in ninth.
Dan Heimiller had a rocky start to his day, losing a significant chunk of his one sizable stack before the final table was reached. Shortly thereafter, Heimiller became the first victim of the final table, falling at the hands of Faraz Jaka. Despite scoring this elimination, Jaka was the next player to make his way to the rail. Jaka was crippled during a preflop all in confrontation with Jean-Pascal Savard, leaving the former with just three big blinds. Despite an immediate triple up, Jaka was eliminated the following hand with Savard finishing off the job.
Six-handed play lasted quite some time with the next elimination failing to occur until after the dinner break. On his final hand, Nick Petrangelo open-shipped from the hijack with only to run into Kuether's in the small blind. Petrangelo failed to improve and he was forced to settle for a $301,500 payday. From this point on, Garibli remained at the top of the chip counts while the rest of the players exchanged chips in some interesting confrontations where the player holding the worse hand seemed to consistently come from behind and win. Unfortunately for 2013 PCA Super High Roller champion and Day 1 chip leader Scott Seiver, one of those occurrences led to his demise. On a flop of , Seiver flopped middle set with against Garibli. Seiver check-raised all in on the flop and Garibli called, tabling in the process. Seiver looked primed to score a key double up here, but a turn and river of and the gave Garibli a higher diamond flush to eliminate Seiver in fifth place for $398,340.
Savard was the next player to go when he was unable to improve during a preflop all in against Oleksii Khoroshenin. Savard's fourth place finish was worth $508,080, netting him more than eight times his previous lifetime live tournament winnings. From there it was Khoroshenin who was the next to go, losing his final hand after a preflop all in with Kuether. Despite having Kuether dominated before the flop with a bigger ace, Kuether made a straight on the community cards to thrust the tournament into heads up play.
Despite the duo making a deal around 10:30 p.m. local time, they each took the heads up match very seriously. Double up after double up occurred as the chip lead changed hands and the two competed for the trophy and the watch. On the final hand, Kuether limped the button and Garibli shoved from the big blind. Kuether called for his own tournament life and the hands were revealed.
The board came down , pairing Garibli's king and allowing him to win one of the most prestigious events of the year.
That does it for our coverage of the 2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure! Thanks for following along and goodnight from Atlantis Paradise Island!