PokerStars makes its first visit to the Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino in Panama as the second PokerStars Championship stop.
PokerStars Championship Panama will follow the debut championship event in the Bahamas in January with a set of tournaments designed to appeal to players of all levels.
PokerNews will be on the floor providing live coverage.
The country famous for the Panama Canal has over 500 rivers, and players and observers can rest assured that there may be just as much drama in the river cards that hit the table.
Almost totally sea-locked, Panama forms a bridge between Costa Rica and Colombia, between North and South America.
Panama is a busy, thriving city and is home to just under a million residents.
The festival is just a few weeks before the rainy season, so there should be a good opportunity for players to sunbath the bad beats away. Although PokerStars is taking their rebranded Championship events there for the first time, it is no stranger to successful poker players.
Million Dollar Panamanian
Only one Panamanian player has broken through the million-dollar tournament winnings mark, and that is Bolivar Palacios. Palacios’ best results didn’t come in his home country, however, with his two biggest scores coming within a few months of each other on foreign soil.
First, Palacios finished runner-up at the LAPT Main Event in September 2010 in Argentina for $188,200. He followed up that result by finishing sixth at the 2011 PCA Main Event final table, an event won by Galen Hall for $2.3 million. Palacios earned a career-high $450,000 for his efforts, but it has been over five years since he took down that kind of six-figure score and over a year since his most recent live cash.
Of the highest Panamanian players on the Hendon Mob, only Victor Lemos in third position has a result in the last six months, having made it all the way to the final three tables in the WPT Main Event in Punta Cana last November for $14,500.
Here are the top five Panamanian players as they currently stand:
|Position||Player||Total Live Earnings|
|4||Raul Pino||$ 249,385|
|5||Jose Miguel de la Guardia||$195,812|
The venue for the PokerStars Championship Panama is just 30 minutes from the airport.
Once there, the Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino is ready to provide players with the ultimate R&R experience with its pool and spa (available for $65). When players are ready to jump back into the action, it will be waiting there for them, ready to produce some winners like it's done in the past.
Here's Sortis Casino's current top five winners in their card room:
|Position||Player||Country||Earnings at Sortis Casino|
|2||Aaron Mermelstein||United States||$159,980|
The biggest winner from that list earned all of his winnings in one visit. Canada’s Shakeeb Kazemipur took down the LAPT Main Event in Panama City for $180,112 in May 2015 when he toppled the Ukrainian Olga Iermolcheva heads up for by far his biggest result to date.
PokerStars Championship Panama Schedule
The tournament action kicks off with the PokerStars Open between March 10-14, which provides a $50,000 guaranteed prize pool for a low buy-in of just $220.
The PokerStars National Championship runs almost parallel, with play beginning the day after, on March 11, but still ends on March 14. Costing $1,100 to enter, there is $400,000 in the prize pool before cards go in the air.
The PokerStars Championship Main Event begins on March 14, running for one week and culminating in the cards-up coverage fans have grown to love on March 20. The buy-in is $5,300 with a $50,000 entry Super High Roller running March 11-14. A $10,300 High Roller runs alongside the final few days of the Main Event March 18-20.
It’s worth remembering that you can’t take more than $10,000 in cash on your way in or out of Panama. Cash games run 24 hours a day and night in the casino March 10-20, so even if the tournaments don’t go as planned, there should be plenty of opportunities to have a profitable trip, with games running from $1/$2 right up to $200/$400. Be aware of the rake, though; it's steep in Panama.
Here are the highlights of the schedule:
|March 10-14||PokerStars Open||$220||$50,000|
|March 11-14||PokerStars National Championship||$1,100||$400,000|
|March 11-14||PokerStars Championship Super High Roller||$50,000|
|March 14-20||PokerStars Championship Main Event||$5,300|
|March 15-19||PokerStars Cup||$440||$150,000|
|March 18-20||PokerStars Championship High Roller||$10,300|
PokerNews will be in Panama providing live coverage on the Main Event, High Roller and Single-Day High Roller. The Super High Roller will be covered exclusively by the PokerStars Blog, but we're there to provide you with feature stories from the floor of the first PokerStars Championship Bahamas.