The PCA Continues To Grow, Year After YearPublished on 2011-01-05 11:43:00
The first PCA (Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure) took place in 2004, just as the online poker "boom" was really kicking into high gear.
At the time, Pokerstars wasn't the largest online poker room in the world - that title belonged to the then-800 pound gorilla of the industry, Party Poker. Pokerstars had gained some momentum thanks to Chris Moneymaker's win at the 2003 World Series of Poker, and they decided to try to build on that momentum by launching their very own poker festival, the Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure.
Back in 2004, the PCA was held inside the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines' Voyager of the Seas cruise ship. The cruise ship held a total of 600 people, and that included players, dealers and members of the Pokerstars staff.
Many of poker's top names, including Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu and Chris Ferguson, turned out for the event, which was eventually won by Gus Hansen. Hansen managed to out-maneuver a stacked final table that included the likes of Hoyt Corkins and Daniel Negreanu to take down the $455,780 first place prize.
The success of the 2004 PCA (as well as the continued growth of Pokerstars as a company) resulted in the re-location of the festival from a cruise ship to the Atlantis Resort and Casino in the Bahamas, which is where the event is still held today.
461 players turned out for the $7,800 PCA main event in 2005, which ended up creating a total prize pool of $3,484,500. John Gale ended up taking down the tournament and the first place prize of $890,000.
The event continued to grow in 2006, as a total of 724 players turned out for the main event, which ended up creating a total prize pool of nearly $5.5 million. Steve Paul Ambrose walked away with the title in 2006 and nearly $1.4 million in total prize money.
In late 2006, Party Poker pulled out of the US market due to the UIGEA, while Pokerstars elected to keep its doors open to US players. The result? A significantly larger customer base at Pokerstars, which translated into even bigger numbers for the 2007 PCA. A total of 937 players turned out for the main event, which ended up breaking the WPT attendance record at the time. The 2007 PCA main event was won by Ryan Daut, who ended up walking away with $1,535,255. Isaac Haxton finished in second place for $861,789, and would famously have his winnings frozen in Neteller for many months after trying to cash out.
2007 would be the last time that the PCA would be played as a World Poker Tour event. In 2008, the PCA officially became an EPT (European Poker Tour) event. Pokerstars was continuing to grow, and the PCA continued to grow as well. A total of 1,136 players turned out for the main event in 2008, which ended up creating a total prize pool of $8,594,876. Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier ended up winning the tournament and the $2 million first place prize, kicking off what would be a ridiculously hot 12 month run for the French-born player.
One more point about the 2008 event - Pokerstars took the unusual step of announcing beforehand that their lifetime ban against Josh "JJProdigy" Field would extend to the PCA as well.
In 2009, Pokerstars made a couple of big changes to the PCA. First, they made the event a true "Festival of Poker", offering an expanded slate of tournaments and side games.
Second, they increased the buy-in for the main event to $10k. 1,347 players ended up turning out for the main event, which created a total prize pool of $12,674,000. Poorya Nazari ended up walking away with the $3 million first place prize, which was the largest (and still is) single winner's prize in the history of the PCA. Of the 1,347 players who ended up turning out for the 2009 PCA main event, a staggering 1,061 qualified on Pokerstars.
The growth tend continued in 2010, when 1,529 players turned out for the main event, creating a total prize pool of $14,831,300. The main event was won by Harrison Gimbel, who ended up walking away with $2,200,000. Pokerstars also expanded on the "Festival of Poker" concept in 2010, which helped to draw even more players to the tournament.
In 2011, there is another change for the PCA, as it is now a part of the North American Poker Tour (NAPT).
The 2011 PCA is going to be the biggest one yet, as the main event is expected to have a total prize pool of approximately $20 million. A total of 48 tournaments will comprise the 2011 PCA, with everything from fishing/poker tournaments to $100k Super High Roller events to standard High Roller events. Pokerstars has made sure that there is something for everybody in this schedule.
After the World Series of Poker, this is "the" annual event that poker players look forward to the most. Congratulations to Pokerstars for building up the PCA into such a monster.
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