Most of us spent the 2nd week in January getting back into the groove after Christmas, or finally getting a chance to put our feet up after the kids went back to school. Things were a little different for the 1,031 players that stumped up $10,300 and set off to the Bahamas to play the Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) Main Event.
Numbers for the Caribbean stop have been pretty consistent over the last few years, with this year’s 1,031 runners being the exact average number of players that have taken to the Caribbean shores over the last 3 years.
he PCA has a history of discovering new talents, with all of the previous winners of the event being relatively unknown and making their breakthrough in this event. This year was to prove to no different, when 22 year old Dominik Panka from Poland defeated Mike McDonald heads-up to claim the title and the $1.4m first place prize money. It’s not a bad 3rd entry to have on his Hendon Mob after a $5k and $3k score. Panka honed his game playing online, but with not too many big buy-in live events under his belt, he was delighted to get his breakthrough here. Speaking after becoming the first Polish player to lift an EPT, Panka said:
“There are a lot of very good poker players from Poland and I was expecting somebody else to be the first. But I was able to bring the glory to Poland and I am very, very proud to do it.”
Mike ‘Timex’ McDonald began the final table in 2nd place, but he catapulted himself into the chip lead by eliminating Fabian Ortiz in 8th place when his QQ held versus Ortiz’s AK.
Isaac Baron busted Pascal LeFrancois in 7th with AK v 66 before Panka took his first scalp when he eliminated Shyam Srinivasan in 6th when his 1010 outflopped the JJ of the the Canadian. Srinivasan, who has over $7m in online earnings and had being touted as one of the favourites, but had to console himself with $328,000 which is his biggest cash to date by far.
Guatemlan Daniel Gamaz was next to go in 5th place when his Q10 couldn’t overcome the 1010 of Timex. Our 4th place finisher was Madis Muur when, like Gamaz, he made a stand with Q10 but ran into the AK of Panka. That left us with a final 3 of Baron, McDonald and Panka with the latter holding the chip lead, and deal negotiations soon began.
The players decided on Panka $1.323m, Baron $1.208m and McDonald $1.065m with $100k and the trophy left to play for. Baron was first to fall when he 3bet shoved KQo and was called by Panka’s As9s. The flop brought 3 spades and that was that for Baron.
McDonald took the early lead in the heads up battle, but lost a massive coinflip when Panka raised to 400k from the button, Timex 3bet to 1.2m, Panka shoved for 13.1m and Timex asked for a count and called. Their hands?… Panka’s 99 held v Timex’s KJo.
There was no way back for the Canadian and in the final hand, his 74s couldn’t get there against the A2o of Panka. In 95 EPT stops, no player has even won 2 EPT titles. McDonald, who won the EPT title as an 18 year old in Germany in 2008, came so close, but it wasn’t to be this time.
In the PCA High Roller event, Jake Schindler bested Greg Merson and Vanessa Selbst into 2nd and 3rd to take home $1.2m. This High Roller was the biggest ever on record with 247 entries and re-entries creating a prizepool of over $6m.
Selbst was looking for back to back victories in PCA High Rollers events, but had to settle for 3rd to cap an incredible week for the 29 year old American. She opened the week with another 3rd place in the $100k entry Super High Roller event and followed it with a cash in the Main Event for her 42nd place finish to pocket a total of $1.4m. Not bad for a week in the Bahamas!