This year the event has moved from the island paradise of St. Kitts to the largest cruise ship in the world and we can tell you right now, we'll be back in 2009.
So many tournaments play out in exotic locales, whether it be tropical islands or chic European destinations. The biggest pitfall for most, however, is that if you're inside a casino for your entire trip it doesn't matter a whole lot whether the event is in Monte Carlo or the Motor City.
The Caribbean Poker Classic is the antithesis of this conundrum, and while there's serious poker action to be had, and money to be made, players who earn their way here on any of the major sites offering qualifiers will see a hell of a lot more than just the inside of a cardroom.
Five days of preliminary events, deck-lounging and island-hopping prepared us for today's main event. Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Martin were all conquered, the local fare enjoyed and sites taken in, before we embarked on the road to this year's champion.
The qualifying packages set up for the CPC come in two sizes. The full meal deal is worth a whopping $10,000 and includes not only expenses and accommodations aboard this Royal Caribbean cruise ship but a ticket to the main event as well.
The diet version, aptly named the "Lite Package," sees you and a guest whisked away on a Caribbean holiday but does not include entry to the big dance. This is further evidence of this event's emphasis on R&R over just playing poker. It's also the biggest reason the turnout for the main event was just 114.
Despite the arguably small field, the tournament room was packed with energy, fueled in no small part by the strategically placed alcohol station at the entrance.
A full rundown of the day's action in this blog would be impossible, and it wouldn't come close to doing it justice. As exclusive media providers we took our duties seriously and we have more than a few tales spun in detail over in the live updates section.
The highlight, at least from a spectator's perspective, had to have been Mark Phillips and his ridiculous run of great timing and better cards. For the purpose of this piece I'll restrict myself to just one instance. For the rest you'll have to do a little live update digging of your own.
When we reached the money bubble, at 19 players, no one expected a drawn-out period of hand-for-hand play. For one thing, the stacks just weren't that deep. For another, very few players in this crowd were playing a restrained game.
Phillips had a stack and was putting it to good use, opening more than his share of pots. On this fateful hand Robin Bergren repopped him from the big blind. Phillips made the call and the flop came down king-high. Bergren checked and Phillips fired $20k.
Bergren moved in for just $11,000 more and Phillips was forced to call with what even he referred to as air. Bergren turned over pocket kings for top set.
The specific cards aren't important but Phillips hit both pins in an impossible runner-runner straight to send Bergren to the exit and secure the remaining 18 a place in the money, a 4.6% shot.
To say Phillips sucking out was an uncommon occurrence today would just be plain inaccurate.
Nine more eliminations, a slew of brazen railbirds and an hour and a half without Internet later we had our final table.
All of these things: $0. Seeing Mark Phillips go into the final table as undisputed chip leader: Priceless.
For a rundown of the end-of-day counts click through to the chip counts. For the breakdown of those who cashed check out the results and, as I said before, for a full reckoning of the day hit the live updates.
Tomorrow at 2 p.m. we get back down to business when nine people will get paid but only one will walk away with the title of champion. It's just that simple.