The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure was last held in 2019 at the Atlantis Resort on nearby Paradise Island, which is located just off the coast from Nassau on New Providence Island in The Bahamas. The series was held there for a decade and a half, but was scrapped in 2020. The PCA officially returned in 2023 with a new home: the Baha Mar Resort & Casino in Nassau. This year’s PCA $10,300 buy-in no-limit hold’em main event saw 889 entries made, creating a prize pool of $8,623,300. After two starting flights and five more days of action, Portugal’s Michel Dattani emerged victorious with the title and the top payout of $1,316,963.
This was by far the largest live tournament score of Dattani’s career, blowing away the $126,770 he earned as the seventh-place finisher in a 2018 European Poker Tour Barcelona €25,000 buy-in side event. He now has more than $2.6 million in recorded tournament earnings and is also a regular online grinder under the screen name ‘FreelancerZZ’.
Dattani was awarded a massive haul of 2280 Card Player Player of the Year points as the champion of this high buy-in, large field event. As a result, he has surged into the outright lead in the 2023 POY race standings, which are presented by Global Poker. This was his first POY-qualified score of the year.
The big turnout for this event resulted in the top 127 players cashing. Plenty of notables ran deep, including bracelet winner Jesse Lonis (36th), two-time World Poker Tour champion and bracelet winner Chad Eveslage (31st), author and player Maria Konnikoca (30th), high-stakes regular Chris Brewer (28th), two-time bracelet winner Nich Petrangelo (27th), 2019 PSPC winner Ramon Colillas (23rd), EPT champion Noah Boeken (21st), vlogger and 2021 WSOP Europe runner-up Johan ‘YoH Viral’ Gilbert (19th), and Spanish high roller Sergi Reixach (12th).
Card Player contributor and two-time WPT champion Jonathan Little finished ninth ($139,900), running A-9 into the A-Q of Alexandre Raymond. This was his second deep run of the series, having placed fourth in the $1,100 kickoff event for $29,950.
Two-time bracelet winner bracelet Paur lost a preflop race to finish eighth ($181,900) while 2019 WSOP Europe champion Alexandros Kolonias bowed out in seventh ($236,500) after his A-J suited was unable to hold against the A-7 suited of Pedro Neves.
The final day began with six remaining and Neves in the lead. Canada’s Jamil Wakil was the first to fall, with his K-J being outflopped but the Q-J suited of Christopher Csik. Three diamonds on the flop left Wakil’s unimproved king high drawing dead, and he was awarded $307,500 after the formalities of the turn and river.
Despite scoring that knockout, Csik was the next to be sent packing. He got all-in with pocket kings leading the A-J suited of Alexandre Raymond, but an ace-high flop left Csik in tough shape. The latter streets were of no help and the American was sent home with a career-high payday of $399,800.
Raymond’s run in this event came to a brutal end when his pocket queens clashed with the pocket kings of Neves. All of the chips went in preflop and the larger pocket pair held up to narrow the field to three. Raymond earned $519,600 as the fourth-place finisher.
Another cooler saw Dattani overtake the lead during three-handed action, with his pocket aces holding against the pocket kings of Neves. 2021 Super High Roller Bowl Europe champion Artur Martirosian slid to the bottom of the counts as short-handed play continued. In his final hand, he open-shoved from the small blind with Q9 for just over 17 big blinds and Dattani called with AJ from the big blind. Martirosian received no help from the board and was knockout out in third place, earning $677,400 for his efforts. This was the second-largest score of the Russian player’s career, bringing his lifetime earnings to nearly $6.2 million.
Heads-up play began with Dattani holding roughly a 3:2 chip lead over Neves. The two Portuguese players agreed to an ICM deal that redistributed the remaining prize money, setting aside $50,000 and the trophy for the eventual winner while Dattani locked up $1,266,963 and Neves secured $1,183,037.
The final hand saw Neves raise to 400,000 from the button with AJ. Dattani defended his big blind with A5 and the flop came down A102. Dattani check-called a bet of 225,000 and the turn brought the Q to give Dattani the nut flush draw to go with his top pair. He checked again and Neves, who also added a gutshot draw to broadway to accompany his top pair, fired 850,000. Dattani called and the 3 completed the board, giving Dattani the nuts. He checked a third time and Neves bet 2,100,000. Dattani check-raised all-in and after plenty of thought Neves made the call. Dattani’s flush earned him the pot and the title, while Neves left with the nearly $1.2 million he negotiated for in the heads-up deal.
Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at the final table:
Photo credits: Rational Intellectual Holdings Ltd. / Joe Giron, Eloy Cabacas.