Looking Back at the Biggest PokerStars Winners in the Bahamas
The inaugural PokerStars Championship Bahamas takes place Jan. 6-14 on Atlantis Paradise Island. While the PokerStars Championship Bahamas is new, its predecessor, the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure or simply the PCA, has been around for some time.
PCA Main Event Winners
Back in 2004, the PCA was a World Poker Tour event which took place aboard the Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas cruise ship. Gus “The Great Dane” Hansen won the first PCA Main Event ever, topping a field of 221 entrants in the $7,500 Main Event to get his hands on $455,780.
Since 2005, the PCA took place at the Atlantis Paradise Island and it was John Gale who was triumphant on the island first, beating 460 other players in the $8,000 Main Event to win $890,600, which is still his largest live tournament score to date.
The first PCA Main Event to award a six-figure prize came 12 months later when Steve Paul-Ambrose outlasted 723 opponents to scoop $1,388,600 before Ryan Daut won a famous heads-up battle with Isaac Haxton in 2007 to win $1,535,255.
Daut’s victory was the final PCA flying under the World Poker Tour banner because, from 2008 on, the PCA became part of the European Poker Tour. Quite fittingly, the first EPT edition of the PCA was won by a European, Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, who became the first player to secure a payout of at least $2 million from the PCA Main Event.
The largest first place prize was awarded in 2009 when a massive field of 1,347 players were outlasted by Poorya Nazari. Until his win, Nazari had only won $94,832 from live tournaments but his PCA victory added a colossal $3 million to his lifetime winnings. Nazari’s haul is officially the largest PCA Main Event score in the festival’s history, but rumors suggest that it was third-place finisher Benjamin Spindler (official payout $1,100,000) who was the biggest winner after a three-way deal was made.
Harrison Gimbel took down the 2010 PCA Main Event and returned home with $2,200,000 more than he arrived in the Bahamas with, before Galen Hall triumphed in 2011, which was the PCA with the most entrants on record at 1,560. Hall turned his $10,300 into a most welcome $2,300,000.
John Dibella was crowned the 2012 champion. Dibella won $1,775,000 and went on to play more poker in 2013 and 2014, winning approximately $370,000 before trailing off slightly since.
Bulgarian pro Dimitar Danchev enjoyed the biggest cash of his career when he topped a field of 987 in the 2013 PCA Main Event and collected $1,775,000. Since his huge win, Danchev has become a familiar face in the biggest tournaments around the world.
In 2014, a relatively unknown Polish player by the name of Dominik Panka entered the $10,300 PCA Main Event along with 1,030 other players. Several days later, Panka played some breathtaking poker and was the last man standing in the tournament, meaning he was rewarded with $1,423,096. Panka went on to win the €10,300 High Roller at EPT Deauville later that month, almost reach the final table of the EPT Barcelona Main Event later in 2014 and win almost €350,000 by finishing third in the EPT Malta Main Event in 2015.
The penultimate PCA Main Event, and the last Main Event to feature a $10,300 buy-in, was taken down by American Kevin Schulz. Schulz came out on top of a field of 816 players and padded his bankroll with $1,491,580.
Finally, Canadian superstar Mike Watson got his hands on an EPT title when he navigated his way through a talented final table at the 2016 PCA Main Event. He defeated Anthony Gregg heads up to become the last PCA Main Event champion, an accolade that came with a $728,325 prize.
2017 PokerStars Championship Bahamas
The PokerNews Live Reporting team is heading to the Bahamas to bring you our trademark superb coverage of the PokerStars Championship Bahamas. Our team will be reporting on the $5,300 Main Event and several side events.