Every January since 2005, the poker world has made a pilgrimage to the Bahamas to attend the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure at the Atlantis Casino and Resort on Paradise Island. The series, which traditionally runs for more than a week and features a full schedule of tournaments, has proven to be popular among the poker masses. This year, the PCA is scheduled to run from Jan. 5 to 14, 2012, and is expected to draw the biggest names in poker.
So what makes the PCA one of the year’s most anticipated stops? The reasons are aplenty and include a reputation for being a Grade-A tournament, juicy cash games, and what many consider to be the best poker venue in the world.
“In my opinion it is one of the best times of the year for poker,” Team PokerStars Pro (Spain) Ana Marquez said. “Atlantis is a really fun place to go and when you are not playing you can enjoy your time at the beach or the different pools. Also it is an amazing time for poker. There are a great variety of tournaments to play every day for two weeks. So it is a great chance to have fun and make money!”
Similarly, Team PokerStars Pro (Canada) Jonathan Duhamel is a fan of the PCA. “First, it’s Paradise Island! There is the sun, the beach and a million of activities to do. Pretty good way to get away from the winter,” the former World Champion explained.
“Besides that, PokerStars is doing so much tourneys out there, it’s the biggest tournament series in the year outside of Las Vegas! There is a wide range of games as well as different buy-ins, good for every budget. So huge hotel, in Bahamas, with the perfect mix of beach and poker, why would want to be anywhere else??
Both Marquez and Duhamel hit the nail on the head when they indicated that there is plenty to do away from the tables. The Atlantis Resort and Waterpark, which opened in 1998, is comprised of numerous towers with thousands of rooms. The waterpark, known as “Aquaventure,” was added to the property in 2007 and spans 141 acres. The park features numerous slides, rapids, and lazy rivers, including such attractions as Power Tower, The Abyss, The Drop, The Falls, and The Surge, comprised of a combined 200 million gallons of water.
In addition to the waterpark, Atlantis houses “The Dig,” a series of intricate aquariums in the lobby of the Royal Towers, which just so happens to be the largest open-air marine habitat in the world. Inside you can find thousands of aquatic species including fish, sharks, jellyfish, and two giant manta rays. Visitors are able to travel through tunnels beneath the aquarium free of charge to observe the aquatic life, but for the right price (one that’s actually quite affordable) you can also snorkel in the aquarium.
Of course we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the white sand beaches that line the property. The sun, crystal clear water, and waves prove a popular, and therapeutic, distraction from the grind. “I love to go to the beach and just get tan,” Marquez said. “I feel like when you play everyday your body gets so tired of being inside all the time, and in most places when you have a little bit of free time you are also inside a hotel room most of the times. So it is amazing to bust a tournament or have a day free and let the sun give you all that energy that you need to keep your A-game going.”
Cleary there are a ton of options to keep you occupied, but choosing one can be tough, as Chris Moneymaker knows full well. “There is so much to do it is hard to pick one thing as the favorite,” he said. “All the water activities are amazing. Swimming with dolphins or sharks is always surreal. If you’re not up for water, the casino and variety of restaurants are insane.”
While the venue and attractions are appealing, most people head to the PCA for top-notch poker action, and those people never leave disappointed. When asked about his favorite activity at the PCA, Duhamel didn’t hesitate, “Obviously play poker, as there are so many nice tournaments organized!”
Moneymaker echoed the Canadian’s sentiments, “The PCA is the best tournament series of the year. They have every tournament variety you can think of jammed into a two-week period. And if you get tired of playing the alternative is the best of any poker location in the world.”
Some of this year’s scheduled events are the $100,000 Super High Roller, $25,000 High Roller, PokerStars $5,000 PLO Championship, $5,000 8-Game Championship, $1,000 Women’s Event, the World Cup of Poker Invitational, and of course the $10,000 Main Event, which instantly makes a star out of the winner.
For a look at the full 2012 PCA schedule, visit the 2012 PCA page.
Past PCA Results
2004 | Gus Hansen | $455,780
2005 | John Gale | $890,600
2006 | Steve Paul-Ambrose | $1,388,600
2007 | Ryan Daut | $1,388,600
2008 | Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier | $1,535,255
2009 | Poorya Nazari | $3,000,000
2010 | Harrison Gimbel | $2,200,000
2011 | Galen Hall | $2,300,000
With plenty of tournament action to be had, you can expect a slew of Team Pros in attendance this year, including Moneymaker, Marquez, and Duhamel. Some other players you can expect see in the Bahamas include Mike “Timex” McDonald and Mickey Petersen, both of whom won a PCA package online; Randy “nanonoko” Lew, who will be attempting to set a world record; and of course the defending champion, Galen Hall.
There’s still time to qualify for the 2012 PCA, so get busy, and we might be seeing you on Paradise Island!