10 reasons why PCA is the best

I was lucky enough to visit the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure last year, and I realised why so many people see this as their poker paradise.

I was working there for four days, which meant no poker and not much time for tourist things, but even on a short busy visit, I noted many reasons to love this special poker festival.

These are my personal favourite PCA things, in completely random order, and with very random illustrations.

1.) Drinks with friends

cocktail - Jo.jpg My first taste of a Bahama Mama cocktail was after a long flight and a reckless attempt to avoid jetlag. I'd been up 23 hours, and found myself in a bar with a bunch of friendly PokerStars bloggers. I wasn't up to much conversation-wise, but if you find yourself with good people and plenty of drinks, it tends to be a happy occasion. The good-bar-with-good-people experience is easy to find on most PCA trips; there are 21 restaurants and 19 bars in the Atlantis Resort, and lots of like-minded poker folks to be your drinking buddies.

2.) Strange fish

fishdinner - Jo.jpg I'm not talking about that Scandi player who didn't see the flush. I had snapper and grouper, and mighty tasty meals they were, too. In England, it's all cod chips and mushy peas, so this was quite a fishy adventure to me. The food at the PCA is American-style for big portions and comforting carbs. You'll find pizza in the PCA kitchen and noodles in the Chinese restaurant, and if you like Caribbean fish, you'll love dining PCA-style.

3.) Underwater aquariums

aquarium - Jo.jpg The aquarium is worth a visit; it's free and open late. You'll find themed rooms and tanks full of colourful aquatic life. I actually stood by one particular fish tank for more than three hours. This wasn't because I was admiring the sea life; it was due to the PokerStars Women's Club treasure hunt, which required me to hand out clues beside the spotted eagle rays tank.

You probably need no more than an hour for an aquarium visit. The spotted eagle rays were fine, but I've seen enough spotty fish for one lifetime.

4.) Unexpected entertainment

stressstar - Jo.jpg There was the Zoom Challenge, an Instagram competition, a treasure hunt, the chance to guess how many stress stars in a massive tank, Team Pro Q&A sessions... I can guarantee PCA 2014 will also be full of extra-curricular fun. Check out the player lounge and information desk for details of what's going on.

5.) Sun!

sun - Jo.jpg In England, January means wrapping up in coats, cardigans, scarves, gloves, thermal underwear, two pairs of socks ... and you're still cold! Winter in England is only fun if you like red noses and flu remedies. I can assure you that January sun in the Caribbean is not to be sneezed at, and no coats or gloves are necessary. Pack your summer clothes for PCA and enjoy the warmth!

6.) Sea!

sea - Jo.jpg The punctuation police should excuse my second-in-a-row exclamation mark; quite frankly, sun and sea are worth exclaiming about. The Caribbean sea is as blue as all of the pictures portray, and the sand is fine and sandy. There's a beach five minutes (or less) from your poker tourney! Life is good.

7.) Turtles and palm trees

turtle - Jo.jpg Outside my room, there was a turtle pond. Yes, great big, lumbering, lovely turtles. These turtles were sunning themselves in a pool landscaped by someone who knew a thing or two about trees.

The turtles were such a nice surprise. I'd almost certainly have given them names if I'd stayed any longer. What can I say? I just like turtles.

8.) Splashing around

swimming - Jo.jpg My biggest PCA regret is that I didn't set foot in the water. This was mainly due to a busy nighttime schedule of after-work activity (see point 1 above) and mornings that involved the phrase "Is there time for breakfast?" Sadly, my swimming costume didn't leave my suitcase.

I did hear happy stories from many who'd tried any of the 11 water slides, 2 lazy rivers and 11 swimming areas. PCA isn't the average poker festival.

9.) Party

PokerStars has a reputation for throwing a jolly good party, and I was lucky enough to go to last year's event.

It was an open-air affair with fine buffet food, great music, flash mob dancers, and a blur of other fun stuff. A nightclub afterwards, perhaps? The blurriness suggests this was a party that delivered on all a good party should deliver.

10.) Poker

chips - Jo.jpg You are lucky people, because if you win a package to the PCA you get all of the above, plus exciting poker thrown in. I don't think I've room here to do justice to the 39 events, $10 million guaranteed Main Event, life-changing prize pools, trophies, fame ... all this and turtles, too!

So, if I were you, I'd go play a satellite. The buy-ins start from just 10 FPP, and you can read how to win a package here.

PokerStars Women is also offering $3,300 Women's Event packages (nicely timed to coincide with the player party), and the satellites run daily starting from $1.10. Visit the PokerStars Women Live page to learn more.

No matter your preference, check out all of the PCA satellites and freerolls (yes, freerolls!) here.

All of the above are my personal reasons for loving the PCA. I'm sure anyone who visits will find reason to enjoy a Caribbean Adventure. Good luck and hope to see you in the January sun!

Joanne Bartley
@PokerStars in PS Women