PCA Payouts Flattened

Daniel Negreanu
'It’s terrible, I hate it.'

There are more players at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure this year than last, but thanks to a new flat payout structure, the first-place prize is significantly smaller.

When Canadian Poorya Nazari beat a field of 1,347 to take first at the 2009 PCA, he walked away $3 million. This year, the player who manages to best a field of 1,529 will take just $2.2 million.

The difference is that while 199 made the money in 2009, a total of 224 will this year.

And while the first payout level was just $2,500 above the $10,000 buy-in last year, it is $5k above it now.

“More players are getting paid and the players are getting paid better,” said PokerStars live poker specialist, player liaison and event host Neil Johnson. “It’s a much more significant return on your investment and it’s better for the poker economy as a whole. We get more players paid better.”

According to Johnson, the $3 million Nazari is credited with winning can be a bit misleading.

Last year PokerStars guaranteed the $3 million first-place prize and had to adjust the rest of the prize pool to compensate.

That meant a $1.9 million gap between first and third place money and inevitably, a chop was agreed upon when play went three-handed.

“I don’t care how much money you have, you are not flipping for that,” Johnson said. “We all know they are going to chop it at the top anyway, so all of PokerStars payouts are a little flatter at the top now.”

The bottom line is that 15% of the field is now getting paid rather than the one-time standard of 10%.

And while those at the bottom of the payout structure will do better than they have in the past, the money is coming straight from the top.

A fact not all the players are happy about.

“It’s terrible, I hate it,” said Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu. “We all are going to work harder and outlast more players and get less money. It’s a terrible idea.”

WPT title holder and recent PokerStars Sunday Million winner Mark Newhouse thought he would be playing paying for a much bigger first-place prize when he flew over the Bahamas this year.

Like Negreanu, he’s disappointed.

“I think it’s stupid. We were all expecting almost $4 million and they come out with this,” he said. “It’s a bad idea. You would think that they would want it to get bigger not smaller. It’s better for poker for first prize to get bigger.”

However, Team PokerStars Pro Barry Greenstein said while the payout structure may hurt the eventual winner, it’s better for the field as a whole.

“I think the flatter payouts are a better thing,” he said. “The winner, sure he’s going to want more money, but if you think about it, what’s better for PokerStars? They’re an online gaming site and they would benefit more from putting the money back into the community.

“Also, in a tournament like this where there are so many online qualifiers for which a minimum cash would be a big deal; it’s a good thing. It creates better stories and it’s different here than say at Bellagio where everyone puts up their own $10k. In that instance steeper payouts might make more sense, but for this tournament, I think they did the right thing.”

In the end, the final four players will all make over $1 million and Johnson said he’s heard more positive opinions from the players than negative.

As a result, he believes even the players who run really deep in the event will walk away happy.

“The final two tables are all making six figures,” he said. “I can’t imagine anybody being unhappy with that.”

To find out who will get a piece of the $14,831,300 prize pool and follow all the 2010 PCA action, tune in to PokerListings’ Live Updates.

- With Files From Ed Sevillano

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