Five Takeaways from the 2023 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and PSPC
The recent 2023 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure has been one of the biggest in the festival’s glamorous history, with bumper prizepools, huge top prizes and the kind of life-changing moments that the PCA is famed for. After a fortnight of red-hot poker action, what have we learned and how soon is the PCA likely to be before returning to The Bahamas?
Isaac Haxton Is Currently in the Form of His Life
If there is one poker player who has dominated the start of the year, it is the American professional Isaac Haxton. ‘Action’ brought exactly that to the Caribbean when he landed in The Bahamas and made his way to the stunning Baha Mar Resort. For many players, their arrival in the sun-kissed resort was their first poker trip of the year. For Haxton, however, his touching down in The Bahamas came hot on the heels of a $600k score in the PokerGO Studio at ARIA in Las Vegas, where he beat Cary Katz to the title in the final event of the PokerGO Cup series.
Haxton’s results in The Bahamas border on the unbelievable. Winning the opening $100,000-entry Super High Roller event after beating Seth Davies for the trophy, Haxton walked back to his hotel room $1 million richer. Just a few days later, his bank balance looked even better, as he finished third in a $25,000 8-Max High Roller for a further half-million. Just a week later, his victory in the $100,000 7-Max event won him a whopping $1.5 million.
After three massive wins in a short space of time, Haxton – who also cashed in the PCA Main Event – has won an incredible $3,744,740 in the 15-day span between the final table of the PokerGO Cup and conquering The Bahamas by taking down his last high roller at the festival. The total winnings of Haxton in this fortnight equate to 10% of the American’s entire live poker winnings in tournaments and he is 15th on the all-time money list.
Anyone Really Can Win the PSPC
There is always an aspiration to win the biggest events for the lowest buy-ins. The PokerStars Players Championship is possibly the biggest aspirational event outside the World Series of Poker Main Event and this year, players who won a Platinum Pass for free were vying for a $4.1 million top prize.
Although rookies such as Glen Craigen didn’t make the final table, his heroic story inspired anyone who has dreamed of giving up their summer job after winning big at poker.
Two players who freerolled into the event did make the final table and although German player Niclas Thumm finished sixth for just over a million dollars, his fellow countryman Max Menzel came second for a deal-inspired result worth $2,859,990 – easily the biggest cash result of his poker career and life-changing money.
Stapleton and Hartigan are at the Top of Their Games
While the stars of the show in The Bahamas were undoubtedly the players, holding it all together were two of poker’s best-ever broadcasters – James Hartigan and Joe ‘Stapes’ Stapleton. The coverage of the PCA Main Event was as impressive as ever, but the PSPC really kicked the atmosphere someplace else. Bringing the action to life in the booth and in the Baha Mar Resort Poker Room itself, both Hartigan and Stapes exemplified the best poker has to offer, their presenting a constant blend of informative and hilarious as the $10,000-entry PCA Main Event was won by Michel Dattani.
The PokerStars Players Championship was an even bigger party to be a part of, and with the commentary the perfect blend of rooting for the amateur player and breaking down the play of seasoned pros, once again the two mainstays at the top of a great team at ‘Stars took the excitement to new levels. With an unpredictable beginning thanks to the early exit of Nacho Barbero and a surprise winner in Aliaksandr Shylko, the final table was a joy to watch.
There’s Room for All at Major Events
While PokerStars were the main sponsor and covered the tournament in an official capacity, reporting hands, up-to-date chip counts, other player information and tournament entries among other details, there were plenty of other poker news media outlet working the event. One such broadcaster was Poker.Org, whose output impressed many of us throughout the festival.
From voxpops to player interviews, hand captures to dramatic moments on the bubble or away from the felt, the new kid on the poker block had a huge event and with experienced professionals such as former PokerNews anchor Sarah Herring putting out viral content and former PokerStars Blog Head Writer Brad Willis now firmly into his role as Editor-in-Chief, Poker.Org has a fantastic PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and proved that the best poker tournaments are covered by a multitude of different media companies, rather than one or two.
Justin Bonomo Is the Confirmed All-Time Money List Rabbit
After three cashes in a little over a week in The Bahamas, Justin Bonomo became the first player in poker history to go above $60 million in live tournament. Not long after starting his quest for glory in the Caribbean, Bonomo came 44th in the PCA Main Event, cashing for $29,400 in that $10,000 buy-in event.
Just four days later, Bonomo had the 35th ranking title of his incredible career. Winning the 8-Max $25,000-entry High Roller for $574,530, Bonomo once again put his stamp on a major tournament festival, and the Las Vegas based professional was not finished there. Finishing sixth in the $250,000-entry NLHE Super High Roller saw Bonomo win another bumper cash of $664,900, which pushed him past the $60 million mark – a fact he was all too happy to celebrate.
First to 60 😀 pic.twitter.com/XgaVvpWdwH
— Bonologic (@JustinBonomo) February 4, 2023
When one fan asked him how much Bonomo had made as actual profit, the all-time money list leader was candid, saying: “Probably way less than most people think. I’ll say: more than $1 million and less than $10 million. Feel free to speculate from there. I’m pretty conservative with my bankroll [and] selling action and don’t regret that.”
The poker industry, speculate? Whoever heard of that happening?