PCA Main Event Numbers Down Dramatically Since 2011

Published on 2016-01-17 20:15:00

The King is discussing the state of affairs at the Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure tournamentAt the 2011 Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure, Galen Hall managed to play his way past 1,559 other people to take down the main event for $2.3 million.

In 2011, the PCA main event ended up with a total prize pool of over $15 million. Combine that with the warm temperatures of Atlantis Paradise Island and the general shenanigans that come about from thousands of poker players descending on a tropical resort, and you had one of the most popular stops on the poker tour.

Later that year, Pokerstars would be forced to pull out of the United States thanks to "Black Friday". Sure, the Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure took a hit as a result, but the numbers were still very respectable, with prize pools of $10.4 million, $9.57 million and $10.07 million in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

In 2015, the main event numbers dropped off quite a bit, as 816 players turned out to play, generating a total prize pool of $7.915 million. This would be the smallest PCA main event prize pool since Ryan Daut won the event in 2007.

In order to help boost the numbers, Pokerstars elected to cut the buy-in for the main event down to $5,300 in 2016. It didn't work, as the main event drew just 928 players, creating a prize pool of $4.5 million. This was the third smallest prize pool in the history of the event, beating out only the 2004 ($1,657,500 prize pool) and 2005 ($3,487,200) events.

The Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure, which used to be a must-play event for many poker professionals, has now just turned into another stop on the tour. A number of complaints and issues have arisen over the past year or two, including:

1) Pokerstars' increasing unpopularity amongst players. Many of the players that Pokerstars hopes to draw to the PCA are the players who are being negatively impacted by the recent changes to the site's VIP rewards program.

2) Close proximity to the Aussie Millions. In the past, quite a few players would travel to the PCA and then head straight to the Aussie Millions. Now, players are electing to either stay home altogether or head straight to the Aussie Millions.

3) Issues over food, costs, etc. Many players view the PCA as a blatant rip-off, with sky-high prices for food and other amenities. In addition, there were reports of numerous players suffering from food poisoning at the resort.

4) Other events. The most recent WSOPC event had one of the biggest turnouts in the history of the WSOPC. Many US players are simply finding that travelling to events outside of the United States is too expensive right now.


With the size of the PCA main event dramatically declining, more and more players will likely find it not worth the bother to travel to the resort for the event, especially given some of the recent events involving Pokerstars.

I'm not sure what Pokerstars can do to build positive momentum for the event, short of completely reversing course on their recent VIP program changes. It will be interesting to see what changes are made to the event for next year.


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