The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure is one of the most anticipated tournaments of the year. Not only is it the first major live event of each new year, held in the first few days of January, but it has grown into one of the most lucrative events anywhere in the world. And with the announcement that the 2010 festivities would include 50 events, parties, a charity tournament, numerous celebrity appearances, and the potential of a record-setting turnout for the $10K buy-in Main Event, players flocked to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas during the first days of 2010 to take part in the action.
There were two starting days to the PCA Main Event, the first of which got underway on Tuesday, January 5, with eight one-hour levels scheduled for the players. When registration closed on Day 1A, there were 683 registrants in the event, though only about 430 of them survived to see another day. Some of the biggest names in the game were there including Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein, Dennis Phillips, Greg Raymer, and Chris Moneymaker, and they were seated next to players like Huck Seed and Erik Seidel sponsored by rival online poker sites like Full Tilt Poker. But when play ended, it was Wayne Bentley as the far-and-away chip leader with a stack of 329,500 chips. Kevin Saul was in second place on the leaderboard with 170,000, followed by Eric Froehlich, Vivek Rajkumar, and Ben Lamb to round out the top five.
It was Day 1B that allowed records to be broken. The tally of players on the second and final starting day was 846, which put the total registration number at 1,529 (hailing from 57 countries with 739 players from the United States alone) and the prize pool at $14,831,300. The 2010 PCA officially became the largest in the event’s history. The structure for the tournament was changed from the prior year so as to pay more finishers and refrain from being top-heavy, so it was announced that 224 places would be paid and the first place winner would receive $2.2 million.
Among the second starting day players were names like Phil Ivey and Annette Obrestad, as well as Peter Eastgate and Joe Cada, model Jayde Nicole, tennis legend Boris Becker, and rap star Nelly. But at the end of the day, only about 454 players remained, and Anibal Tacla held the chip lead with 166,000. The rest of the top five on the leaderboard were not reported.
Day 2 started with 884 and saw the field dwindle to only 280 by the end of the action. Players like Annette Obrestad, Humberto Brenes, Bertrand Grospellier, and Marcel Luske were eliminated along the way, but the player with the most chips when play ended was Praz Bansi, who bagged up 960,800 chips. Behind him was Marc McLaughlin, followed by Wayne Bentley, Nasr El Nasr, and Daniel Ades.
Day 3 started with those 280 players and the money bubble in sight. It didn’t take long to get to there, but players like Dennis Phillips, Daniel Negreanu, and Nick Binger failed to make it to the money. Soon after, with only 225 players remaining, the bubble play found the hand that would burst it. Justin Bonomo and John Leathart went to see a flop of . More betting led to the on the turn, and still more money went into the pot to see the on the river. Bonomo pushed all-in, and Leathart called all-in for his tournament life. But that life was over when Bonomo showed the for the flopped full house. Leathart left in 225th place to enjoy the Bahamas, while the last 224 players went on to make a profit for their tournament play.
Brian Barboza became the first player to cash in the tournament, taking home $15,000 for the 224th place finish. Other significant in-the-money finishes included baseball legend Orel Hershiser in 219th place, Ted Lawson in 210th, Victor Ramdin in 199th, Dario Minieri in 188th, Vicky Coren in 174th, Kathy Liebert in 134th, Ivan Demidov in 126th, Carlos Mortensen in 106th, Phil Ivey in 91st, Justin Bonomo in 75th, Amnon Filippi in 67th, and Marc McLaughlin in 63rd place. The day ended at that point, and Harrison Gimbel sat atop the leaderboard with 2,625,000 chips. Second place on that list was held by Matthew Haugen and his 2,149,000 chips, and the rest of the top five included Ryan D’Angelo, Praz Bansi, and Barry Shulman.
Day 4 was off and running with Henning Gunby eliminated rather quickly in 62nd place for a payday of $38,000, and he was followed by others like Johnny Lodden in 57th, Liz Lieu in 53rd, Huck Seed in 49th, Bill Gazes in 48th, Eric Froelich in 41st, Amanda Baker in 38th, and Alex Brenes in 32nd place. And with the goal of stopping at 24 players, the bustout of Damien Rony in 25th place ended the action. The player remaining with the most chips was Ryan D’Angelo with a stack of 7,483,000, and he was trailed by John Duthie and his 5,304,000-chip stack. The rest of the top five, in order, were Wayne Bentley, Tom Koral, and Barry Shulman. Other notables still remaining included Robert Mizrachi, Jeff Madsen, and Praz Bansi.
Day 5 was the day that the final table would be set, and it started off with the eliminations of those who would not make it. Kenny Nguyen was the first bustout of the day, taking home $75,000 for his 24th place finish. Other notables that exited throughout the day included Robert Mizrachi in 22nd place, Jeff Madsen in 19th, Praz Bansi in 18th, Wayne Bentley in 16th, John Duthie in 12th, and Darren Keyes in tenth place. With all of the remaining players reseated at one table, there was one elimination to go before action stopped for the evening.
It didn’t take long. Matthew Haugen was ready to move and pushed his last 870K all-in preflop. Barry Shulman reraised all-in to isolate, which worked, and he showed pocket kings. Haugen turned over his , and the two players watched the board come , which brought no help for Haugen, meaning he finished the tournament in ninth place with $150,000. And the final table was set, with chip counts as follows:
|Ryan D’Angelo ||10,090,000 |
|Tyler Reiman ||9,350,000 |
|Barry Shulman ||6,805,000 |
|Harrison Gimbel ||6,000,000 |
|Thomas Koral ||5,370,000 |
|Benjamin Zamani ||3,700,000|
|Zachary Goldberg ||2,340,000 |
|Aage Ravn ||1,690,000 |
On the afternoon of Monday, January 11, the eight finalists gathered, all representing the United States with the exception of Ravn from Norway. Seven were qualified for their seats on PokerStars, with only Shulman and Gimbel apparently paying full fare to play in the PCA Main Event.
The very first hand saw Ravn move all-in but get no callers. It was going to be an exciting final table. And on the sixth hand, the all-in move of Gimbel received a call from D’Angelo, and Gimbel’s A-K beat the pocket jacks of his opponent by making a full house for the double-up.
Soon it was time for another move, this time coming from Koral. The preflop action saw Reiman and Koral battling until Koral moved all-in with pocket queens, but Reiman quickly called holding pocket aces. The board came , and Tom Koral was the first player to leave the table, taking with him $201,300 for the eighth place finish.
Over the course of the next several rounds, D’Angelo was able to double through Gimbel when his A-10 found a 10 on the flop to beat the pocket nines of Gimbel.
More action soon ensued. It was short-stacked Goldberg who pushed preflop for his last 1.53 million, and Ravn moved all-in to isolate with . Goldberg showed the pocket tens, which were good through the flop. But the A[[h] landed on the turn, and the on the river ended the tournament for Zachary Goldberg, who was awarded $300,000 for the seventh place finish.
Then it was Ravn’s turn to feel the pressure. Shulman started the hand with a raise, and Zamani reraised all-in. Ravn pushed all-in from the small blind, and Gimbel moved all-in, prompting Shulman to fold out of the way. Zamani showed pocket eights, Ravn , and Gimbel pocket jacks. The flop gave Zamani the set, and the on the turn changed nothing. The on the river also did nothing to change the outcome of the hand, which saw Zamani tripling up, Gimbel taking the side pot, and Aage Ravn leaving the tournament area in sixth place with $450,000.
During five-handed play, Reiman dominated with a solid chip lead, but Gimbel was climbing. But Zamani was feeling momentum and looked to chip up, doing so with a double-up through Shulman when his A-J of diamonds hit a flush on the river to beat the A-K of Shulman. Two hands later, though, Shulman got some back by doubling through Gimbel when his A-Q held up to the 7-5 of Gimbel.
Meanwhile, D’Angelo found another spot. With his last 6.75 million chips on the line, he waited until Shulman raised, Reiman reraised, and then pushed all-in. Reiman was the one who chose to call with , and D’Angelo flipped over pocket jacks for the race. He looked like he was going to win it when the flop came and the turn brought the . But the dropped on the river, and Ryan D’Angelo was rivered out of the tournament in fifth place, which was worth $700,000.
Reiman continued to dominate the table, starting four-handed action with nearly 24 million chips, and his closest competitor was Gimbel, who held nearly 14 million. Shulman and Zamani teetered in the 4 million range.
It was soon after that Zamani made his move, starting with a raise preflop. But when Gimbel challenged with an all-in move from the small blind, Zamani considered his options and finally called for his tournament life with . Gimbel showed pocket eights, and the flop gave him more of an advantage when it came . The gave Zamani hope, but the on the river ended those hopes, leaving Benjamin Zamani out in fourth place with a cool $1 million.
Then Barry Shulman went on a tear. He doubled through Reiman with A-4 over K-J, and he did it again a few rounds later with K-Q over the A-10 of Reiman when a king hit on the flop. But the two doubles only kept Shulman afloat with 6 million chips. it was a bit later that he moved again. He pushed from first position with , and Gimbel decided to call with from the big blind. The board was an uneventful showing of , and Barry Shulman was eliminated from the event in third place, which paid $1,350,000.
Though the two finalists exited the area to break for a scheduled dinner hour, their chip counts stayed behind as follows:
|Ty Reiman ||28,265,000 |
|Harrison Gimbel ||17,255,000 |
Upon the players’ return from dinner, action started with the 135th hand of the final table, and it only took four hands to find an all-in move. It didn’t happen until the board showed , and an already large pot got bigger when Gimbel pushed all-in and Reiman called. Gimbel showed and Reiman , which meant that both players had trips and they split the pot.
Gimbel played aggressively to take the chip lead early in the match, and his confidence eventually brought him what could be called a significant lead. Finally, with Reiman down to approximately 10 million chips by the 180th hand of the night, it was time to move.
Preflop raising prompted Reiman to reraise all-in with pocket eights, but Gimbel just happened to have pocket tens and called. The flop of only made Gimbel’s hand better with the set, though the on the turn brought some unexpected drama by giving Reiman a set as well. But the river card was the , which ended the tournament. Ty Reiman was eliminated in second place with $1.75 million.
Harrison Gimbel became the 2010 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event champion, as well as the youngest one ever at the tender age of 19 and the first ever North American Poker Tour champion. His first major tournament victory came with a trophy and a whopping $2.2 million.