PCA 2014

Our favorite Caribbean tournament mints a few more millionaires

For the 11th straight year, PokerStars rolled out the red carpet for their Caribbean Adventure that has become one of the premier tournament stops in the world. The world-class Atlantis Resort welcomed players from all over the world to its sandy beaches, first-class waterpark and unrivaled poker action.

Dominik PankaThe $10 million guarantee for the Main Event turned a lot of heads and despite a huge winter storm that froze much of the U.S., players turned out in droves.

The 2014 PCA was headlined by the $100,000 Super High Roller, the Main Event with a huge guarantee and the $25,000 High Roller. But there were also 36 other events suitable for all bankrolls.

The juiced up prizepools and 10 days of tournament action saw some amazing performances and record-setting runs by some of the game’s top players. On the flipside, two virtually unknown players made a little history of their own.

The first event on the schedule was the prestigious $100,000 Super High Roller. Almost 50 of the world’s biggest players generated 56 entries for a swollen prizepool of $5.4 million.

The event was unlimited re-entry leading to many players taking two shots and Guy Laliberté entered the event three times.

The three-day event saw 40 players return on Day 2 with the goal of playing down to a final table — which was also the money bubble. The nine-handed bubble dragged for three hours with four players under 10 big blinds each.

But none had the patience of Paul Newey who waited until he had less than one big blind to move all in. Action folded to Mike McDonald — who also had less than one big blind — but slightly more than Newey. Fabian Quoss ultimately isolated the micro stacks holding [Ac] [Qc] and eliminated both players. Newey walked away empty handed while McDonald eeked out an eighth-place finish.

The seven-handed final table featured Vanessa Selbst, Dan Shak, Antonio Esfandiari, Quoss, Matt Glantz, Anthony Gregg and Ole Schemion. The latter three all brought less than 10 big blinds to the final table.

Selbst looked to be in control of the final table until she lost a key hand to Quoss where she doubled him up. Two hands later she was out, with Shak and Quoss to play for the title after a dinner break.

Shak was looking for his first win at the PCA after final tabling the same event in 2013 and 2012. He also cashed in the 2010 Main Event.

The eccentric German returned late from break reportedly due to an extended meditation session. Shak was unable to gain any traction against Quoss’ chip lead and it wasn’t long before their heads-up match ended.

The final hand saw Shak move all in on the turn with second pair and a straight draw and Quoss called holding a maid straight and clinched the title.

Quoss moved into elite company with his German countrymen that have been dominating high roller events over the past few years. Quoss earned his first high roller title and said, “We know each other as friends and we all hate losing to each other. We rub in each other’s faces when somebody made a big mistake.”

$100,000 Super High Roller Results

  1. Fabian Quoss – $1,629,940
  2. Dan Shak – $1,178,980
  3. Vanessa Selbst – $760,640
  4. Antonio Esfandiari – $575,920
  5. Matt Glantz – $445,520
  6. Anthony Gregg – $347,720
  7. Ole Schemion – $277,080
  8. Mike McDonald – $217,320

Then attention focused to the giant $10 million question for the Main Event. The first flight pulled 295 entrants with around 200 of them advancing. Day 1B passed the 700 entrant mark midway through the day to hit 1,000-player mark. By the time registration closed 1,031 players had entered the Main Event, beating the huge guarantee by $300,000.

Day 2 of the Main Event began with more than 600 players and after five 90-minute levels that was down to 234 players. Bracelet winner Pascal LeFrancois ended the day as chip leader — a stack he would manage to ride to the final table.

Day 3 was a march to the money with 151 players making the money. A manageable 72 players remained in the field at day’s end with Max Silver, Selbst and Madis Muur topping the chip counts.

The day ended with a bit of controversy over Roger Teska’s alcohol-soaked actions at the table. He received a two-orbit penalty for repeatedly flipping off the TV cameras and Tournament Director Mike Ward.

Day 4 saw McDonald make a charge to the top of the counts with his eyes set on winning a second EPT title — a feat that still has not been accomplished. He was joined by Silver, Isaac Baron, LeFrancois and former November Niner Antoine Saout.

Day 4 also saw the end of impressive runs by some of the most talented female players today making deep runs. Jennifer Shahade, Selbst, Maria Ho, Liv Boeree and Loni Harwood all ran deep. Harwood finished the highest in 28th place.

A short Day 5 saw the field trimmed from 20 players to a final table of eight in a rather short amount of time. Tournament veterans were a bit wary of the 95 big blind average stack and realized they were in for a long final table.

Muur may have held the chip lead entering the final table but all eyes were on McDonald as he looked to make history. Fellow online legend Baron, Lefrancois, a young Dominik Panka, Fabian Ortiz — 17th in the 2013 WSOP Main Event — Daniel Gamez and Shyam Srinivasan filled out the final table.

The deep stacks and big payouts made for slow action and the first elimination, Ortiz, didn’t occur until more than two hours into play. Then another four hours would pass before LeFrancois was eliminated in seventh place.

Srinivasan, Gamez and Muur bowed out over the next three hours leaving Baron, McDonald and Panka to play for the title. The trio paused the clock to propose a deal and reached a near ICM chop with $100,000 set aside for the winner.

Baron was the first to hit the rail after he shoved preflop holding [Kd] [Qh], Panka called with a suited ace and flopped a flush to end Baron’s tournament.

A brutal 16-hour day on the felt was capped off by a 3.5 hour heads-up match that stretched to six in the morning before things came to an end.

Panka and McDonald exchanged the chip lead a couple times and McDonald nearly had the title within reach. But Panka won a decisive 7 million chip pot with two pair when McDonald flopped and up and down straight draw and kept firing.

The final hand saw Panka put to a big preflop decision holding [Ad] [2c], he called and had McDonald in a bad spot holding [7c] [4c]. The board ran [Jh] [5s] [2s] [7h] [Ac] and the ace on the river shipped the title to Panka for the biggest score in his career.

A stunned Panka was short on words following his win, “I was in the zone, focused — my mind and body were focused the whole tournament,” Panka said.

“I think he (McDonald) had a big edge over me,” Panka continued. “Mike is the much better player by far than me. He is much more experienced than me.”

$10 Million Guaranteed Main Event Results

  1. Dominik Panka – $1,423,496*
  2. Mike McDonald – $1,101,080*
  3. Isaac Baron – $1,207,599*
  4. Madis Muur – $581,0404
  5. Daniel Gamez – $447,040
  6. Shyam Srinvasan – $328,020
  7. Pascal Lefrancois – $242,020
  8. Fabian Ortiz – $135,400

*Denotes three-way deal

The $25,000 High Roller capped off the PCA in a big way with 198 unique entries, 49 re-buys and a $6 million prizepool to pay out the top 31 finishers.

After cashing in the $100,000 Super High Roller and the Main Event, Selbst was originally not going to play the $25,000 event. But she said she felt good enough to try to defend the title she won in 2013.

Her decision paid off when Day 2 ended she was leading the remaining 14 players. Daniel Negreanu, Marvin Rettenmaier, Schemion, Robert Mizrachi and Greg Merson also moved on to the final day with a title in mind.

Unfortunately for Negreanu, he was the first player eliminated in Day 3 after running kings into aces. Rettenmaier was eliminated on the final table bubble clearing the way for Merson, Selbst, Schemion, Mizrachi, Aleksandr Denisov Mustapha Kanit, Jacob Schindler and Joao Vieira to fill out the final table.

Once at the final table Selbst and Schemion set PCA history by becoming the first players to ever final table both high roller events and cash in the Main Event.

Selbst earned $1.4 million for her trip to the Bahamas and Schemion did all right for himself earning $510,720 on the trip.

Vieira was ousted in eighth place by Mizrachi, Schemion was out in seventh after falling to Schindler’s straight and Denisov was out in sixth place.

Mizrachi and Kanit were eliminated in fifth and fourth place respectively and Selbst looked to have a chance to repeat for the title. But she was eliminated in third after holding ace nine and Schindler called with ace ten. His kicker played and he would face Merson heads-up for the title.

The pair took a short break and agreed to a virtual chop, leaving $200,000 to go with the trophy. Schindler held a 2 million chip lead and applied pressure to Merson over a few hands.

Then Merson moved all in four times in a row before Schindler stood his ground and called holding [Kh] [Ts]. Merson was drawing thin, tabled [9s] [4c] and watched the board run Schindler’s way with [Tc] [8s] [3s] [Ac] [4s].

Schindler secured his largest career score with the win by far — his previous largest cash was just under $60,000. Schindler also won his seat through a satellite making the win even more profitable.

Moments after winning he said, “I’m pretty numb now, I don’t know what to think — I’m speechless.” Schindler called the final table the toughest experience, but an awesome one.

$25,000 High Roller Results

  1. Jake Schindler – $1,192,624*
  2. Greg Merson – $948,996*
  3. Vanessa Selbst – $607,580
  4. Mustapha Kanit – $492,600
  5. Robert Mizrachi – $389,720
  6. Aleksandr Denisov – $295,920
  7. Ole Schemion – $157,940

*Denotes heads-up deal

Other players enjoyed their stay in the Bahamas as well. Mike Leah took down a $5,300 No Limit Hold’em Turbo event for almost $120,000. Rep Porter also brought home a silver-star trophy after taking down a slightly larger $5,300 No Limit Hold’em Turbo event.

Joe Kuether will be a part of the 2014 BLUFF Player of the Year conversation again after winning an Eight-Max No Limit Hold’em event for $136,250.

Scott Clements picked up a pair of final tables with a third-place finish in a Turbo event and a runner-up finish in a Pot Limit Omaha event.

Shaun Deeb attended the PCA but spent most of his time in the high-stakes cash game area playing Open Face Chinese. But he did spend enough time in the tournament area to take down the OFC tournament for $32,380. He was joined by Paul Volpe, Ben Yu and Jake Schwartz at the final table.

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February 2014