$100,000 Super High Roller
Dia 1 Começado
$100,000 Super High Roller
Dia 1 Começado
The inaugural PokerStars Championship Bahamas takes place Jan. 6-14 on Atlantis Paradise Island. While the PokerStars Championship Bahamas is new, its predecessor, the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure or simply the PCA, has been around for some time.
Back in 2004, the PCA was a World Poker Tour event which took place aboard the Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas cruise ship. Gus “The Great Dane” Hansen won the first PCA Main Event ever, topping a field of 221 entrants in the $7,500 Main Event to get his hands on $455,780.
Since 2005, the PCA took place at the Atlantis Paradise Island and it was John Gale who was triumphant on the island first, beating 460 other players in the $8,000 Main Event to win $890,600, which is still his largest live tournament score to date.
The first PCA Main Event to award a six-figure prize came 12 months later when Steve Paul-Ambrose outlasted 723 opponents to scoop $1,388,600 before Ryan Daut won a famous heads-up battle with Isaac Haxton in 2007 to win $1,535,255.
Daut’s victory was the final PCA flying under the World Poker Tour banner because, from 2008 on, the PCA became part of the European Poker Tour. Quite fittingly, the first EPT edition of the PCA was won by a European, Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, who became the first player to secure a payout of at least $2 million from the PCA Main Event.
The largest first place prize was awarded in 2009 when a massive field of 1,347 players were outlasted by Poorya Nazari. Until his win, Nazari had only won $94,832 from live tournaments but his PCA victory added a colossal $3 million to his lifetime winnings. Nazari’s haul is officially the largest PCA Main Event score in the festival’s history, but rumors suggest that it was third-place finisher Benjamin Spindler (official payout $1,100,000) who was the biggest winner after a three-way deal was made.
Harrison Gimbel took down the 2010 PCA Main Event and returned home with $2,200,000 more than he arrived in the Bahamas with, before Galen Hall triumphed in 2011, which was the PCA with the most entrants on record at 1,560. Hall turned his $10,300 into a most welcome $2,300,000.
John Dibella was crowned the 2012 champion. Dibella won $1,775,000 and went on to play more poker in 2013 and 2014, winning approximately $370,000 before trailing off slightly since.
Bulgarian pro Dimitar Danchev enjoyed the biggest cash of his career when he topped a field of 987 in the 2013 PCA Main Event and collected $1,775,000. Since his huge win, Danchev has become a familiar face in the biggest tournaments around the world.
In 2014, a relatively unknown Polish player by the name of Dominik Panka entered the $10,300 PCA Main Event along with 1,030 other players. Several days later, Panka played some breathtaking poker and was the last man standing in the tournament, meaning he was rewarded with $1,423,096. Panka went on to win the €10,300 High Roller at EPT Deauville later that month, almost reach the final table of the EPT Barcelona Main Event later in 2014 and win almost €350,000 by finishing third in the EPT Malta Main Event in 2015.
The penultimate PCA Main Event, and the last Main Event to feature a $10,300 buy-in, was taken down by American Kevin Schulz. Schulz came out on top of a field of 816 players and padded his bankroll with $1,491,580.
Finally, Canadian superstar Mike Watson got his hands on an EPT title when he navigated his way through a talented final table at the 2016 PCA Main Event. He defeated Anthony Gregg heads up to become the last PCA Main Event champion, an accolade that came with a $728,325 prize.
The PokerNews Live Reporting team is heading to the Bahamas to bring you our trademark superb coverage of the PokerStars Championship Bahamas. Our team will be reporting on the $5,300 Main Event and several side events.
The PokerStars European Poker Tour has been retired with the end of EPT Prague, but while the ink dries on that part of poker history, another book begins. PokerStars Championship Bahamas, the first event of PokerStars' new global live Championship tour, gets underway Jan. 6 at the familiar digs of Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas.
The event, formerly known as the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, has a rich history as one of poker's true major events, dating to 2004 and crowning winners such as Gus Hansen, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier and Galen Hall. This year's defending champ will be none other than online and live legend Mike "SirWatts" Watson.
Last year, the PCA switched from a $10,300-buy-in to $5,000 for the first time in the Main Event, lining it up with other events on the EPT. That will carry over to the first PokerStars Championship event. Other highlights of the schedule include a load of fan-favorite high roller events. The $100,000 Super High Roller makes a return, as does the $25,000 High Roller, which is typically one of the biggest $25Ks of the year — last year it drew 225 entries when Nick Maimone won for just shy of $1 million.
As always, PokerNews will be providing live coverage for a number of big events. Here's a look at some of the key events on the schedule:
|$100,000 Super High Roller||Unlimited||Jan. 6-8|
|$2,200 National Championship||Unlimited||Jan. 7-9|
|$5,000 Main Event||None||Jan. 8-14|
|$50,000 High Roller||One||Jan. 9-10|
|$25,750 Pot-Limit Omaha||One||Jan. 10-11|
|$25,750 High Roller||One||Jan. 12-14|
In addition to those, there are dozens of other events with entry fees fitting any level of poker player. Check out the full day-by-day schedule here.
Cash games will also be spread every day in a dedicated section of the massive event room at Atlantis. They start as low as $1/$2 blinds for no-limit and pot-limit games and there will likely be some big action at higher limits as well.
Other notable attractions for players will include virtual reality stations, breakfast Q&A sessions with PokerStars Team Pros, a three-on-three basketball tournament and watching parties for the NFL playoff games. Of course, with an exotic location like the Bahamas hosting the event, there will also be plenty of other activities available, including beaches galore to lounge on and local culture to experience via a short walk or drive from Paradise Island to Nassau.
Head over to the PokerStars Live website for all the information about the PokerStars Championship Bahamas.
PokerNews is on the floor for the inaugural PokerStars Championship Bahamas and we'll be here the entire festival. Today, we'll focus our attention on the big stories in the Bahamas with a series of features on the Super High Roller and the inaugural PokerStars Championship itself.
You won't find any live updates and chip counts on PokerNews.com today, we'll leave that to the PokerStars Blog. Our partners in crime have a battalion of reporters ready to cover each and every step of all the players in today's event. So head over to PokerStarsBlog.com for live updates, chip counts.
From the Main Event on, PokerNews.com is your one-stop shop for all the updates one can wish for. We'll be on top of all the action for all the big events and will feature the live stream on a dedicated page so you don't have to miss a thing.
Guess who's playing in the $100,000 Super High Roller here at the PokerStars Championship Bahamas. If you guessed Kevin Hart, you'd be lucky but you'd be right.
The actor, known for movies such as 'Get Hard', 'Barbershop', 'The 40 Year Old Virgin' and classics as 'Superhero Movie', 'Extreme Movie' and 'Epic Movie', is an avid poker player and makes his debut here in The Bahamas with a $100,000-bullet fired in the festival's biggest event.
Head over to the PokerStars Blog to see how he's doing. Spoiler alert: he's talking about firing a maximum of 22 bullets.
It's a new year and a new poker tournament. While the tournament here in The Bahamas was known as PokerStars Caribbean Adventure up untill last year, now it's the PokerStars Championship Bahamas. We talked about that change and more with PokerStars Department Head of Live Poker Operations Neil Johnson.
PokerNews: There's a different logo on the tables.
Neil Johnson: There's also more gold-colored branding in the room.
Besides the different logo, it does feel like the same event it was last year. What has changed for you?
Ironically, the change that I'm most interested in seeing actually has very little to do with the rebranding of the event. We have so many Spin & Go qualifiers and that really makes a big difference. We started it in Monaco and there really was a different vibe in the venue with all these people who had gotten in for €10 or €20.
This event, the one in The Bahamas, has always been a very reg-heavy event, probably the reg-heaviest event of the year because we get more of the US guys. But now, I'm expecting a little more of a 2007 kind of vibe here. A lot of people are going to come to this event who've never been here before. The weather has been gorgeous since we got here, so it looks like we're really able to show off both Atlantis and the event.
As far as the actual rebrand itself, I think it has a minimal impact on places like Barcelona, Monaco and here in The Bahamas. You'll see a significant impact on places like Panama and Macau which haven't done these massive festivals with big buy-ins and the heavy push of Spin & Go qualifiers.
It's the same, but different. It's everything that players have come to expect from what is a PokerStars live event. All that still exists, all that's still here. If anything, things have been simplified. The registration, structures, payouts and rake models are standardized. Before, we had differences from region to region and from venue partner to venue partner. We hope that that, for the players, everything gets a bit easier.
I'm as nostalgic as the next person. I've been on the tour since Season 1 so Prague was a sad time for me with the EPT saying it's farewell. But it hasn't really faded away. It's the same, but different. You and I can talk about going to Copenhagen, Kiev, Loutraki and what not, but for lots of people who have jumped in from Season 10 onward, when things really started to explode, they have no idea what we're talking about. For them, the majority of the destinations will still be there.
These standardizations you talk about are more beneficial for regular players. They're the only ones that actually are affected by this, as they're the only ones that go to places all over the world to play these events. PokerStars, in all other areas really, is more focusing on the recreational players.
That's actually a spot-on observation. The traveling community, or whatever way you want to refer to them — the O'Dwyers, the Ikes, the Timexes of the world — they benefit of the standardization. They now know that if I inform them on Macau having a $50,000 Super High Roller, they'll know it's the same as in Barcelona.
The vast majority of players that come to our events are local players. Their only concern usually is the buy-ins, and they want decent structures. But we still want to give them the same experience. And while the guy who plays the PokerStars Cup in Macau probably won't be playing the PokerStars Cup in Barcelona, it doesn't mean that what we learn from one event doesn't apply to another one. If a player in Macau is happy with the structure and buy-in, one will be in Barcelona as well probably.
And with expanding the festival, we have room to experiment as well. When it was "just" an LAPT for 5 days, we didn't have room to experiment a lot. But because we now have 10 days and we have a lot more events, it gives an opportunity to try a few things out.
Bahamas, Panama, Macau, Monaco and Barcelona have been announced. Is that Season 1 of PokerStars Championship, or is there more to come?
Not all the contracts have been signed yet, but there will absolutely be more. While two 2017 PokerStars festivals have been announced there are plans for more in all the places where PokerStars Tours previously existed. Asia, Europe, LATAM and we’ve already debuted in North America with Resorts in Atlantic City. So there will definitely be more Festivals and more Championship events to come.
On top of that, there will continue to be the brands players have seen develop within our Live Rooms like Red Dragon, ACOP, and Manila Mega stack as well as our tremendously successful partner, the Brazilian Series of Poker (BSOP).
But the UKIPT, EPT, LAPT and what not were strong brand as well, right?
The brands of the tours were absolutely very strong, but PokerStars, that's the name. As an example, how many people know that the PCA stands for PokerStars Caribbean Adventure?
A couple years back, when we were in a big meeting discussing the possibility to do something like this, I heard an example that kind of swayed me from being against the name change to be for it. Let's say the EPT Grand Final final table has eight Canadians on it, and we're talking big names like Mike McDonald, Daniel Negreanu, and the likes. There would still be nothing we could do to ever get that on Canadian television because the name is "European Poker Tour." There's no amount of money we could pay a television station to get that show on the air and get it watched. At that point in time, I was like, "That makes sense."
I'm very nostalgic for what was lost, and I was bummed at the end of Prague when the EPT came to an end. With the amazing video the TV team made about the 13 years of EPT history rolled, it was very emotional. It almost felt like an "in memoriam" moment while also having a bit of a triumphant feel of, "Look what we all did."
But I consider the opportunities in countries like Panama and Macau so big that it makes up for it. It's much easier now to roll out an event in a place like the States, Canada, Brazil or any other place in the world.
Two weeks ago in Prague, two extra €25,500 Single-Day High Rollers were held at last minute notice, upon request by the players. Players were able to play a high roller every day. What are your thoughts on these impromptu events?
I was surprised actually. When we introduced the Super High Rollers, I was against it, to be honest. At the time, and this was 2011 with Eugene Katchalov winning the first one, it felt to me like something more for Full Tilt and not really a PokerStars thing to do. We actually weren't really sure if it was the right thing to do.
We went with it and we allowed the event to grow gradually. When they started, we didn't want them to be excessive, we didn't want them to be hurting people's bankrolls. Hurting the bankrolls of the players, and the poker economy itself, was a legitimate concern in the early days of PokerStars Super High Rollers. As it has grown, the super high stakes world has moved to a level that didn't exist six years ago. It's a unique subset of the poker world and they have found a way to make it work.
If you've watched over the years, we have gradually grown the schedule of high rollers and super high rollers because we feel the players wanted that. The Single-Day High Roller, and I call them the Bryn Kenney invitational since it was his idea, is an example of that movement to a wider offer of high rollers. Adding a $10,000 event at the start is another example, as is the Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller we've run since Barcelona.
We always felt there had to be a balance. But you see the demand for High Rollers is huge. The Aria runs multiple $25,000 events a month sometimes and the Bellagio had several during their WPT Five Diamond. We've had two open One Drop events and the Super High Roller Bowl in Vegas. So, when the question came during the EPT Prague if an extra €25,000 Single Day High Roller could be organized, we were like, "Why not?"
Will there be multiple of those events here?
I wasn't in Prague so I didn't have the chance to talk to them. I talked to the Super High Roller players and I’m busy adding five-figure events to the Bahamas schedule right now, so there will be more here and more added to future PokerStars Championships.
As requested 6 HR buyins added @PokerStarsLIVE Bahamas @steveodwyer @ikepoker @RealKidPoker @KevinHart4real @bp22… https://t.co/fi1KGbNuoQ— Neil Johnson (@NeilJPoker)
The EPT always had a Grand Final in Monaco. Are there plans for a season finale for the PokerStars Championships?
Not really. It made a lot of sense when the EPT was launched but things are different now.
The Grand Final in Monaco was always the big thing, the €10,000 event. Bigger buy-in, better structure. It was the reason you got people like Ivey and Antonius and all the American players came over. Nowadays, the buy-ins are huge at every event and the structure is the same for each and every event. To call something the Grand Final implicates that it's bigger and better. And that's not the case with all events standardized.
When the major tours started, they built their schedules around the World Series of Poker. You start after, and you finish before. That's why Barcelona is in August and Monaco is in May. But what makes more sense, and you really want to be doing, is run an event over a calendar year. All our tours, except for the EPT, ran over a calendar year. When we had the chance to reset everything, I was a huge advocate for running it from January through December, instead of August till May. Even backend things like budgets and to be able to cut finances off at year's end, that's huge for an organizer. With that in place, the Grand Final would be in Prague. There's nothing wrong with having a final in Prague, but The Bahamas is 14 days later. No parade, no time to celebrate, things would go straight on to the next season and in my personal opinion is that it's a little unnecessary.
There are absolutely people that like the idea of a Grand Final and I don't believe the idea has been buried — the idea could be resurrected — but for 2017 I don't anticipate a Grand Final.
Is there life after death?
Are there creatures on other planets?
Can pigs swim?
Those are some of the great questions of life. Unfortunately, for most of them, getting to the bottom of them is just about impossible.
When I got to The Bahamas for the inaugural PokerStars Championship, I had the unique opportunity to answer the last of those. Instead of Googling it, I set out on an adventure to see proof of swimming pigs. The title of the tour, "Visit the Swimming Pigs of The Bahamas!" already kind of gave it away, but I had to see with my own eyes to make sure.
And so the PokerNews camera crew and I sat in the hotel lobby at 8 a.m. to start our journey through the Caribbean Sea. It was 8:30 when the minivan picked us up — because that's The Bahamas, chill man. When we arrived in the marina, besides rose wine, crisps and energy bars, the boat was loaded with grapes and carrots. While I was all ready for some healthy food after a period of excessive Christmas dinners, the fruit and vegetables turned out to be not for me.
The powerboat we boarded had three 300 horsepower Yamaha V6 Four Stroke outboard motors, and Captain Troy was putting them to good use. Within minutes, the Atlantis resort was nothing but a small dot on the beautiful Bahamian horizon before dissolving entirely.
After about 90 minutes of swishing through the water, we arrived at one of the smaller islands of Exuma, a district of The Bahamas consisting of some 360 small islands. While we were all ready to see some swimming pigs, the first animals we would encounter were a whole lot slimmer and weren't swimming at all (although they can — I saw Planet Earth II). With the excessively hard music still playing, we descended to see hundreds of iguanas running around on a small rock of an island.
Our tour guide supplied us with grapes and pointy sticks and set us on our way. The only request was not to stab the iguanas with the sticks (note: I wasn't really planning to do that anyway). And so we moved to the beach and fed the sometimes hesitant iguanas. One of the sneaky creatures planned a big attack, coming out of nowhere to bite my finger. That little bite was probably his revenge for us giving him diarrhea and high cholesterol, but I didn't know that at the time so I was still pissed off at him. Other than that, everything was peachy.
After running through all our grapes, we set foot for the boars after which the tour is named. Another hour of navigating through the water at 53 miles per hour, we arrived at Pig Beach. Dozens of pigs, and many more tourists, initially wandered the beach. Some of them, only prompted to do so by pesky tourists like me who lured them into the water with vegetables, were actually swimming. After the other tourist boats left, it was just our crew cuddling and feeding the pigs.
According to Wikipedia, the pigs are said to have been dropped off on Big Major Cay by a group of sailors who wanted to come back and cook them. The sailors, though, never returned; the pigs survived on excess food dumped from passing ships. One other legend has it that the pigs were survivors of a shipwreck and managed to swim to shore, while another claims that the pigs had escaped from a nearby islet. Others suggest that the pigs were part of a business scheme to attract tourists to the Bahamas. If I was a betting man, and I am, my money would be on the latter.
Anyhow, the pigs seemed to enjoy themselves just fine and were only annoyed once when one of the ladies tried to ride them. They just flounced in the water a bit, sniffed the beach looking for roots and truffles they never seemed to find, and just minded their own business.
I filled the gigabytes of storage on my GoPro and iPhone with photos and videos of these beautiful animals, just to show my family and friends proof that pigs can actually swim. They're not Michael Phelps by any means — really my 2-year-old nephew is probably a better swimmer — but they manage. When they smell food, they're on it. According to our guide, they fancy hot dogs better than vegetables, but they had stopped feeding them fast food not too long ago. Probably gave them diarrhea and high cholesterol.
With no more carrots to hand out, we once again boarded our boat to have lunch at one of the bigger islands close by. Outside was another animal begging to be fed by humans. Nurse sharks swarmed around a few steps that descended into a little bay and I couldn't wait to jump in. Last time I was in the proximity of sharks was in a big cage in South-Africa over the summer, but this time no steel was necessary to protect me. Nurse sharks were harmless, our guide told me. That was all I needed to hear and I splashed in the water to feel their sandpaper-like skin. They turned out to be not completely harmless, as one of the girls was bitten. But she had it coming since she stuck her hand in one of the shark's mouths.
Less than three hours later, we were back on Paradise Island and my big adventure had come to an end. I had a wonderful day in the sun, but I do feel a bit weird with having visited these animals turned tourist attractions.
I'll be covering all the big events at the PokerStars Championship this festival, and I couldn't be happier. What a privilege it is to be in a place where the sun always seems to smile, animals swim that I didn't know could swim, and poker is played all day long.
I'm pretty busy, but I'll see if I can find a definitive answer to the other big life questions here in The Bahamas as well. Not today, though, as I'm swimming with the sharks again, though now talking about the poker players that signed up for the $100,000 Super High Roller. The only pig that I'll be feeding today is me myself when I go to Anthony's for dinner tonight. I promise.
Bill Perkins may be known as a high-living, big-spending baller, but it wasn't always that way.
Years ago, Perkins worked as a clerk. In need of more income to make ends meet, he took on night work as a limo driver. Chauffeuring people miles above him on the income scale opened Perkins' eyes to a whole different lifestyle.
"It was motivating," he said. "Just seeing people enjoying life and what their excess capital afforded them."
Now that Perkins has made his millions and become a member of the class he once looked to as inspiration, he wants to help those who are in his old proverbial shoes. So, he had an idea. Why not stake a bunch of micro-stakes grinders into some events at the PokerStars Championship Bahamas? He could turn it into a contest and use it to promote his Twitch channel.
The idea turned out to be a bit impractical because "it was too complicated working the money." But, Perkins pivoted to giveaways of PokerStars Championship Bahamas packages that would cover rooms, airfare and $1,500 worth of tournament buy-ins to 20 lucky players who tuned in to his channel.
Twitch giveaways are nothing new, but Perkins decided to take things to a level that's rarely, if ever, seen.
"Why not amp it up?" he said of his thought process. "I think that's a better promotion for my show than, here's a t-shirt and a mug."
Perkins' channel itself can be a window into his lifestyle. He plays cash games and streams from his sleek boat, altering his playing style and making things fun for his audience. Micro-grinders and poker superfans make up much of his audience and he saw a perfect opportunity to give them a taste of the life he loves, just as driving a limo once gave him a taste of extravagance.
"The way I look at poker is it's kind of a lifestyle," he said. "It's not just grinding and a job, it's also traveling to places, meeting people, having fun and playing in a competitive...I'm going to call it a sport.
"Most of them are playing for a lot smaller stakes, so giving them $1,500 in buy-ins allows them to have that experience. A lot of people who were watching the show trying to get in are poker fanatics or grinders. I thought it was just a great thing to do. Bringing them to the Bahamas... there's waterslides and dolphins and stingrays and turtles and beach and sand and poker and pros. I want everybody to share that experience."
Those people include amateur poker player Dan Jones, who hails from London.
As Jones related in a featured listing on the PokerStars Blog, he faithfully tuned in to all of Perkins' broadcasts but failed to win any of the packages given away. Then, Perkins offered a final lifeline for those looking to score the dream poker vacation. Perkins announced he would be giving away a package to whoever could post the funniest comment on his girlfriend's Instagram page.
Jones racked his brain for clever ideas and decided his best bet was a recreation of an Instagram post of the bikini-clad woman. He donned a bathing suit owned by his own girlfriend and posed in his bathtub, sporting a sign reading "send me 2 the PCA" in reference to the now-retired PokerStars Caribbean Adventure that has become the PokerStars Championship Bahamas.
Perkins must have gotten a good chuckle out of the ploy because he tabbed Jones as the winner. The wealthy venture capitalist has enjoyed the overall response he has gotten from the poker community with his giveaways, something that's clear from his animated, earnest description of his goals.
"Just get people excited," Perkins said. "This is what I want to strive for. People might come down to the Bahamas and not bink it but go home and be re-invigorated with either passion for the game or travel."
He confirmed more giveaways will take place for future events, particularly if he finds time in his schedule for destination events in Europe. He squashed rumors of a pile of World Series of Poker packages, though.
"That was a joke," Perkins said with a laugh. "Joe Ingram put out a joke of 500 packages. The number keeps gaining. I'm rich, but I'm not that rich."
He's rich enough to fire away in the $100,000 Super High Roller here at the PokerStars Championship Bahamas, at least. And here, Perkins is doing another thing he's widely known for: stirring up prop action with side bets and challenges. Things aren't going too deep yet, as Perkins and his fellow high rollers engaged in an early game of Lodden Thinks for $1,000 per question.
"I'm crushing them right now," Perkins declared on first break of the event. "Well, I'm only up $4K."
The best question and response so far, he said, came with the following query: “What's the number of people on Friday night and Saturday morning who have sexual intercourse in North America?”
The massage therapist serving as the thinker apparently came up with 200 million.
"I'm doing life wrong if this many people are having sex," Perkins joked. "I gotta stop playing poker."
Perkins has famously been the source of a number of physical challenge props, inciting Dan Bilzerian to undertake what ended up being a controversial bicycle journey last year. He also made an infamous prop bet with Antonio Esfandiari that wound up with "The Magician" disqualified from the Main Event here last year.
Nothing like that has been booked so far, but Perkins did say he's working on some ideas.
"I want to get Kevin Hart; he thinks he's in shape," Perkins said of the popular American actor who is also participating in the Super High Roller. "He's working out, posting pictures of himself doing all kinds of crazy stuff in the morning. He works out a lot, so we should test him for like $50K.
"No lunges... we don't want anyone peeing in bottles any more. Allegedly."
For years, Jason Koon has been a model of fitness. Recently he credited trainer Ben Greenfield for helping him reach even more powerful levels of mind, body and spirit continuity. Together, they are embarking on a new journey to create a seminar which focuses on using biohacking to increase performance in poker. Sarah Herring gets some more details on the course which is planned for the first week of April in Las Vegas.
Although, the interview doesn't stop there. Jason also reveals an Uber horror story from a recent Florida tournament. You won't want to miss this!
By PokerStars Blog photographer Neil Stoddart.