2009 PCA: Five years on Paradise Island

The Atlantis Resort and Casino is the largest destination in the Caribbean. It spans most of Paradise Island's beach and enjoys such an enormity that first-time visitors are bound to be lost for most of their first day here. The fortunate element of one losing his way here is that Atlantis is a fine place to be navigationally challenged. It's not a stretch to suggest someone might be happily lost and never seek to be found.

After hosting the first Caribbean Adventure on a cruise ship in 2004, PokerStars knew it had a hit on its hands. The people behind the Caribbean's biggest poker tournament knew there was no way one boat could hold all the action. And so to Atlantis PokerStars came. It rented out a modest ballroom in 2005 and set about convincing the Bahamian gaming officials that poker was a good idea. That first year at this resort hosted so many first-time events, it's impossible to list them all. Most notably, that year was the first a hand of live cash-game poker had been dealt. The $10/$20 limit hold'em game captured the attention of everyone in the room. An ace-ten of hearts cracked pocket kings on the river. From there, history started making its way toward this week.

The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure has produced such notable winners as Gus Hansen, John Gale, Steve Paul-Ambrose, Ryan Daut, and Betrand "ElkY" Grospellier. ElkY's win in 2009 came in an event that drew more than 1,000 players, most of whom qualified on PokerStars. Playing in one of the largest fields ever outside the United States, ElkY won $2 million.

This year promises to be even bigger. Atlantis has opened up its biggest ballroom after the PCA long ago outgrew its original home.

PokerStars has built the PCA into more than just a tournament. It is a literal festival of poker. Over the course of the next week, we will witness not only the giant main event, but also several other big tournaments including $1,000, $2,000 and $5,000 No Limit Hold'Em events.

Once again, we will get to see the ever popular World Championship of Battleship Poker (an event created at the 2006 PCA) and the live finals of the World Cup of Poker.

As if that wasn't enough, we'll also see a brand new event here at the PCA. PokerStars is hosting a $25,000 high roller event on January 8 and 9 that will see some of the world's top players playing one of the biggest buy-in events in the world.

Earlier this season, PokerStars ran its brand new PokerStars Poker Camp at the Barcelona EPT. Now we'll see it again as PCA qualifiers and the public get a chance to improve their game with hands-on training from the sharpest minds in the game.

Finally (as if that wasn't enough), we will get to watch tennis great Boris Becker face off against several qualifiers in the Battle Boris event.

This entire festival will be bookended by two of PokerStars' signature parties--home to good food, good drink good music, and a veritable reunion for poker's elite, including nearly every member of Team PokerStars Pro. Over the next 24 hours, we'll watch those players stream into the Atlantis, get lost, and then find themselves just in time to play in the big event.

The PokerStars Blog will have non-stop coverage beginning with tomorrow night's welcome party and lasting until the last river falls. Join us here for one of the world's top poker festivals.