PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA)

Joseph MacNaughton

The Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure Poker Tournament: What is it and How to Enter

Facts and History of the PCA

The PCA was founded in 2004 and was originally a part of the WPT tournament series. Initially, the main event had only 221 entries and took place on the Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas cruise ship (not in a Casino). Gus Hansen won the first PCA main event. Ever since then, the PCA took place at the luxurious Atlantis Paradise Island Resort & Casino.

The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) takes place in January every year. It's always a fun tournament series where players will get to have a nice holiday in the Bahamas. This year, like the previous years, it will be held at the luxurious Atlantis Resort & Casino. There will be 41 different tournament events, taking just under two weeks to conclude. Most of the tournaments in this series will have a more substantial entry fee than the majority of online or regular live tournaments.

What Poker games are Played?

The Pokerstars Caribbean adventure has a lot of different events and structures. However, the only two types of poker games that will be offered in these tournaments are No Limit Hold'Em and Pot Limit Omaha. The vast majority of the events will be played in a No Limit Hold'Em format. This is because No Limit Hold'Em is the most popular form of poker by a mile and a half and this tournament series reflects that.

There are many different types of tournament structures that are on offer at this tournament series. There are small entry tournaments from just $330, all the way up to the high roller buy-in tournaments at $25,000 and even $100,000! There are turbo structures and regular structured competitions. Turbo structures mean the blinds and ante levels will increase at a faster rate, and the tournament will generally finish up a lot quicker than the regular options.

Like a lot of tournament series, cash game tables are open for players that have either been knocked out of a tournament or are more interested in playing in cash games. The rake is reasonable, and they will offer pretty much any stakes or games of poker that the players would like to play. Once the high stakes poker tables open up, they charge each player at the table per half hour to play instead of paying rake on the pots.

PCA main event.

The main event is the one everyone is looking to win. Entering this event gives you a shot at the trophy and a huge first place prize. The buy-in is similar to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Nevada at $10,300. The prize pool is not as big, but neither is the playing field.

The prize pool has grown over the years but has seen some fluctuation and not shown consistent growth in recent years. In 2004 when the first PCA event started, Gus Hansen took it down for $455k with a prize pool of 1.6 million. In 2018 Maria Lampropulostook from Argentina took it down for just over 1 million with a prize pool of 5.6 million. This is however not the biggest prize pool or first place prize. The PCA has changed the payout structure over the years so that players that don't place in top positions get a fairer slice of the prize pool.

In 2009 the Prize pool was 12.6 million, and Poorya Nazari from Canada took it down for 3 million! 3 million is the biggest payout from the main event at the PCA.

It is interesting to note that the total prize pool is less than half of what it has been in previous years. From 2009-2014 the prize pool was at 10 million or more, but in recent years it has dropped down for the number of entrants and total prize pool.

How much you can win at the PCA

Like all tournaments and tournament events, it all depends on you! What was the buy-in to the competition, how many players entered and most importantly, how long you lasted! These are all going to play factors in how much money you will be able to win.

If you have the bankroll to play in a high roller or super high roller events, you will likely be playing in a tournament with a similar prize pool as the PCA main event but with very few entries in comparison. The most significant chance to win the most amount of money is actually in these high roller events, but some of the most talented tournament poker players in the world happen to play these events and not that many players can afford to splash out 25-100k on a tournament entry fee.

If you win any of the main event tournaments, high roller, or super high roller events, you will be guaranteed a minimum of half a million up to a record 3 million from Poorya Nazari in 2009. However, with most tournaments, you don't have to win to get paid. The PCA has a refined tournament payout structure that they attempt to optimise each year so more players who enter can earn a fair amount of money by placing well in their event.

How to Enter the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure

PokerStars used to offer an alluring PCA package on completion of achieving the VIP Status Supernova Elite. This VIP status was tough to get and was claimed by earning 1 million VPPs in 1 year. This VIP rewards system has been phased out entirely by the company that purchased PokerStars, Amaya Gaming.

As with most tournaments, there are generally two ways. Buying in the full amount or playing a satellite. When you buy-in the total amount you may do so quite easily using the PokerStars software. Alternatively, if you happen to live in the Bahamas or prefer to pay in cash, you can show up and register there.

Be aware that there are no currency exchange services active at the Casino and the banks nearby will only exchange up to $500 a day. No debit or credit cards can be used to buy into the tournaments either. You may wire your funds to the event by following the instructions on the PokerStars website. The safest and easiest way to register would be through the PokerStars software in advance.

The other way of entering the PCA is by entering a satellite. A satellite is a mini-tournament where the top place finishers will win a ticket or sometimes a package to a PCA event. PokerStars offers lots of these satellites on a daily basis when the PCA is close to coming up. All sorts of buy-in options are available. You can also play a satellite into one of the PCA tournaments live events at the Atlantis Resort and Casino. Some players might prefer to head on over the casino first or might feel more confident in their abilities to win a live, rather than an online satellite.

You can also gain entry to the prestigious PokerStars Players NL Hold'Em Championship (PSPC) which is not to be confused with the PCA main event by winning a Platinum Pass package. This is a rake free tournament with a buy-in of $25,000. A Platinum Pass package will include entry to this tournament, six nights accommodation at the Atlantis Resort and Casino and $2,000 in travel expenses. It is a $30,000 value. You can win this Platinum Pass by winning a major or specific tournament. You can also get one by being extremely lucky in some of PokerStars freerolls and give-a-ways. Around 300 of these Platinum Passes are to be given out each year.

Closing Thoughts on the PCA Tournament

The PCA is a fantastic holiday getaway event. It takes place in January every year, and with the majority of players from across the world, it is going to be winter at this time in their home countries. Being able to escape all of that nasty cold weather and play in the tropical Bahamas in an exotic tournament has great appeal.

The tournament series has an optimised payout structure and has been known to be one of the more favourable tournament series amongst seasoned tournament players. The amount of money to be won at these is enticing for all players. 

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