For over a decade now poker players have been making an annual pilgrimage to the Bahamas to take part in what’s arguably become the premier vacation destination on the poker circuit.
The 2014 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure is in full swing this week and it’s officially been 11 years since Gus Hansen outlasted 211 players on a boat to win the inaugural event in 2004.
“The PCA remains incredibly relevant,” said PCA Director David Carrion.
“This is the event that we qualify the most people for. This is the best $10,000 event in the world outside of the Main Event. It’s life-changing money.”
The tournament quickly shifted to Atlantis Paradise Island in 2005 where it became a fixture on the international poker circuit for the next decade.
“It was an opportunity to provide quality live poker to the players,” said Carrion. “It was good for all these people who played online to finally put a face to other players.”
PCA Becomes Full-Blown Festival with 50+ Events
PCA Director David Carrion
Then poker and the PCA exploded. The festival went from nine events to over 50 in a single year.
“I think that was our biggest highlight over the years -- expanding to over 50 events,” Carrion said.
“No one was really doing it at the time and it instantly made us a legitimate big festival.”
There have been many highlights, however, with poker stars like Gus Hansen and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier winning the tournament over the years. Not to mention the countless qualifiers taking home potentially life-changing money.
The PCA remains a solid value for poker players from around the world with at least 900 players almost every year. Over 50% of the players in the tournament qualify on PokerStars.
“We also have 60% new players every year,” said Carrion.
There’s more to the PCA than just poker, however.
“At the end of the day this is not just another hotel with a poker tournament,” Carrion said. “Atlantis is an experience. It really is.”
One of the largest hotels in the world, Atlantis Paradise Island offers unparalleled access to beaches and a world-class water park.
Atlantis Paradise Island a Unique Experience on Poker Circuit
Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier winning the 2009 PCA.
Carrion said they’ve thought about moving the festival before but always arrive at the same conclusion.
“You can bet we think about it very often but the truth is that it’s very difficult to move an event this size,” he said.
“The main reason is that we move between 10-12,000 room nights here between qualifiers, staff and TV crews. We are using about 70,000 SQ FT of room space in the conference room. You just can’t find that anywhere else in the Caribbean.”
As the 11th PCA begins in Atlantis it seems clear the massive series won’t be going anywhere any time soon.
“I think the PCA is here to stay,” said Carrion.
“That means we will continue to work towards running a lot more live satellites to this event and we’re going to explore more early bird specials and refer a friend programs.
“We’re always going to try to be on top of what’s happening in the poker world.”
The 2014 PokerStars Adventure runs until Jan. 13 and PokerListings will be on location providing daily reports, photos and blogs.
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