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Just like every other year going back to 2004, a fresh start to poker's yearly tournament calendar kicks off with the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas. This year brings a heightened level of excitement with the PokerStars Players NL Hold’em Championship headlining the event in what is lining up to be a record-setting PCA. Speaking of records, in anticipation of the 2019 PCA festival, PocketFives went looking through the poker history books at HendonMob to find the biggest winners in history from PCA. Here’s what was found. Thanks to a gigantic $3 million payday in 2009, Poorya Nazari holds the record for the largest first-place prize at PCA. He won the 2009 PCA Main Event from a field of 1,347 entries to claim that prize. Three other times in history has the PCA Main Event winner taken home at least $2 million. In 2008, Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier took home $2 million, Harrison Gimbel won $2.2 million in 2010, and in 2011 it was Galen Hall scoring $2.3 million. But, none of those players is the top all-time money earner from PCA. That title currently belongs to Bryn Kenney, and it doesn’t appear that Kenney is going to be caught anytime soon. Top 25 PCA All-Time Money List PLAYER EARNINGS 1 Bryn Kenney $6,245,111 2 Steve O'Dwyer $3,800,542 3 Tony Gregg $3,096,596 4 Poorya Nazari $3,000,000 5 Scott Seiver $2,970,620 6 Galen Hall $2,877,080 7 Vanessa Selbst $2,824,640 8 Isaac Haxton $2,583,616 9 Jason Koon $2,555,555 10 Daniel Negreanu $2,521,490 11 Bertrand 'ElkY' Grospellier $2,484,120 12 Harrison Gimbel $2,329,220 13 Dan Shak $2,278,140 14 Cary Katz $2,257,420 15 Byron Kaverman $2,213,355 16 Mustapha Kanit $2,020,200 17 Justin Bonomo $1,991,372 18 Dimitar Danchev $1,985,000 19 John Dibella $1,955,300 20 Ty Reiman $1,937,770 21 Chris Oliver $1,834,160 22 Eugene Katchalov $1,763,220 23 Will Molson $1,750,735 24 Daniel Dvoress $1,607,302 25 Nick Petrangelo $1,581,665 As you can see, Kenney is worlds ahead of the competition, winning more than $2.4 million more than anyone else on the list. That $2.4 million gap alone is good enough for 12th place on this leaderboard. Kenney's largest score from PCA came in the 2016 Super High Roller, an event with a buy-in of $100,000 that saw him win $1.687 million. The following year, Kenney won a $50,000 and $25,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em events for $969,075 and $392,876, respectively. He also has a trio of third-place finishes over the years worth $873,880, $686,960, and $643,000. Steve O'Dwyer is the second highest money earner from PCA entering 2019, taking home more than $3.8 million in prize money throughout the years. O'Dwyer's a pretty good chunk of change away from Kenney, and he's also more than $700,000 ahead of Tony Gregg in third place. Knowing some of the performances O'Dwyer has put together over the years combined with what's on the schedule for 2019 doesn't make it out of the realm of possibilities that he can catch Kenney in 2019. O'Dwyer has one win in a $100,000 buy-in event and two wins from $50,000 buy-in events at PCA for $1.872 million, $945,495, and $760,500, respectively. The 2019 schedule features the $25,000 buy-in PSPC, three additional $25,000 buy-in tournaments, one $50,000 buy-in event, and two $100,000 tournaments, there certainly won’t be a lack of opportunities for O'Dwyer to win a ton of money in the Bahamas this January. That's not to mention the PCA $10,300 Main Event as well. Looking at the rest of the list for players we could see make big moves on the leaderboard after 2019, Isaac Haxton, Jason Koon, and Daniel Negreanu are a few of the ones to watch, given their appetite for and success in high buy-in tournaments coupled with the robust schedule to suit their palate. Negreanu's largest score out of PCA came in 2011 when he finished second to Eugene Katchalov in the event’s inaugural $100,000 Super High Roller. Negreanu earned a cool $1 million for that result. He followed that finish up by returning to the final table of the event in 2012, when he took fifth for $250,900. In 2018, he took fourth in the same event for $521,140. Another big score Negreanu had from PCA came in the 2017 PCA $25,000 High Roller. In that one, he took fifth for $268,780. Byron Kaverman and Justin Bonomo are also ones from this top 25 list to keep an eye on. For players not currently in the top 25, don't be surprised if you see Mikita Badziakouski, Alex Foxen, Stephen Chidwick, or David Peters take home a ship full of money from the Bahamas and find themselves listed on the updated list of top 25 winners from PCA when the 2019 version is all said and done. Action from the Bahamas kicks off Sunday, January 6, 2019, with the $25,000 buy-in PokerStars Players NL Hold'em Championship from Atlantis Resort & Casino. PovketFives will be on site all the way through until the event's final day on January 16, so stay tuned for more coverage from the 2019 PCA poker series.
The PokerStars Players NL Hold’em Championship kicked off Sunday at the Atlantis Resort & Casino in the Bahamas. Anticipation for the event was through the roof in the days leading up to its start, and the energy only heightened as the hundreds of poker players shuffled into the tournament room before the start of play. All day long, there has been an electric buzz in the Bahamian air and PocketFives spoke to a few players about the atmosphere surrounding the PSPC. "It’s crazy,” Christian Harder said of the event’s atmosphere. “I was actually talking to someone earlier and I was like, ‘Is this the biggest tournament outside of the WSOP Main Event in the history of poker?’ It's up there." Harder is no stranger to playing events of this level, but this event seems to have a different feel to it than others with a similar $25,000 price tag. “It definitely has much more of a main event feel than a high roller,” Harder, winner of the 2017 PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event, said. “Usually, the 25K price point is more pros or [recreational players] that are used to playing bigger buy-ins. It definitely has much more of a feel as a 5K or a 5K main event, which is great.” Another player with plenty of experience in big buy-in poker tournaments is Jason Somerville, and he’s also in the Bahamas to compete in the PSPC. Like Harder, Somerville compared the PSPC to having an atmosphere like the WSOP Main Event. “This has been amazing,” Somerville told PocketFives. “It’s very interesting. It’s kind of like the World Series of Poker Main Event. You’ve got a lot of qualifiers, people you haven’t seen before. So many people I would never see play a tournament like this have ‘reemerged.’ Most people stopped coming to the Bahamas when Black Friday happened, so it’s great to see. Awesome energy, huge prize pool - it’s awesome.” Somerville was posted up at the main feature table for the first two levels of the opening day and commented on how his table was playing after he wasn’t sure what type of playing environment the PSPC would bring. “I was just at the feature table for two hours and I think only Sam Greenwood and I talked, and Sam doesn’t talk that much,” Somerville said. “Everybody feels a little nervous. Even me when I first sat down, I’m like, ‘Wow, this is a serious poker tournament.’ I wasn’t sure if we were going to get that giddy chattiness or if you were going to get the scared silence, but my table at least was the scared silent type. It’s OK with me. I’ll just hang out, watch the Chargers win, and we’ll go from there.” Matt Stout also made the trip down to the Bahamas, as he has many times before, and in similar fashion to Harder and Somerville, he likened the PSPC to having the feel of the WSOP. “It’s obviously a lot softer,” Stout said. “It’s going to have a lot of people that have never played a 25K before and are never going to play a 25K again, but it’s also kind of cool because it has that Colossus or World Series of Poker Main Event vibe, where there’s a lot of people that this is their one and only shot. It’s a lot of fun. “I saw one guy, who was a qualifier, walking in and as he was walking past the trophy setup in the lobby I heard him say to his mother, ‘Hey, mom! Take a picture of me in front of this real quick.’ That just warmed my heart. This is just great for poker. It’s a really, really fun event. It has a special vibe to it. It’s really exciting.” Stout wasn’t always planning on coming to the PSPC, though. His first child was recently born in December, but ultimately he decided to make the trip because of the can’t-miss nature he felt regarding the PSPC. “I wasn’t planning on traveling much after the birth of my son, Asher, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play a tournament like this that’s one-of-a-kind and may literally never happen again,” Stout said.
Everyone in poker knows what January brings. It brings a fresh start to the poker year, it brings the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, and it brings a big result for Tony Gregg. This year, the PokerStars Players NL Hold’em Championship may have added an exciting new element to the poker world, but much was the same in regards to Gregg making a big splash in the Bahamas. Entering the 2019 edition of the PCA, Gregg had earned $3.096 million from the stop and sat third on the festival’s all-time money list. He added another $86,400 to his total haul from PCA after placing 36th from a field of 1,039 entries in the record-setting PSPC. “I guess it’s just one of those things that when you have continued success you’re going to have that much better of a feeling playing here,” Gregg said of his string of big results from the Bahamas. Gregg’s first result from PCA was also his largest. In 2009, he placed second in the PCA Main Event from a field of 1,347 entries to win $1.7 million. A few years later, in 2012, Gregg was back at the PCA Main Event final table from a field of 1,072 entries. This time around, he took sixth place and brought home $364,000. “I don’t think it specifically has anything to do with the Bahamas, I just think Tony is a fantastic poker player and some places you run good and some places you run bad,” Christian Harder, 2017 PokerStars Championship Bahamas winner and good friend of Gregg, commented. Another six-figure score from a sixth-place finish came in 2014 with Gregg earning $347,720 in the PCA $100,000 Super High Roller. Then in 2015, he took third in a $5,300 side event for $72,800. As if those results weren’t impressive enough, in 2016 Gregg reached the final table of the PCA Main Event for the third time. Again, he found himself heads-up. Again, he finished in second place. Although he didn’t land in the winner’s circle, Gregg added another $612,175 to his bankroll. “For me, living in the mid-Atlantic most of the time, getting out of that area in January and getting to come here, it just feels so good to be here that I guess it just motivates me to play better, be more patient, or have more faith in myself that things are going to work out,” Gregg said. “Any number of those things.” “It’s awesome,” Harder said of seeing Gregg’s continued success. “Tony deserves all the success he has. He’s a student of the game and always keeps himself sharp even when he’s not playing live much. He’s always watching live feeds, or videos, or playing online. I’m not surprised one bit he went deep in PSPC.” Prior to his PSPC result this year, Gregg’s last cash was in December 2017. He took a bit of a break from the poker grind, but it doesn’t appear to have caused any sort of drop-off in his play. Gregg was right back, true to form in the Bahamas, and making a deep run. “Seeing Tony go deep in something big again hopefully inspires him to play some more poker,” Greg Merson, 2012 WSOP Main Event champion and another good friend of Gregg, said. “Not for the financial gains, but to imprint his legacy on the game as one of the all-time legends that he is.” If it wasn’t for Louis Boutin hitting an ace on the flop with ace-king against Gregg’s pocket sevens, another final table run at this stop could have been in the cards. Ultimately, he’ll settle for the $86,400 score and look for the next tournament at Atlantis to crush. “It’s nice,” Gregg said of Merson’s comments. “He’s one of my best friends, so of course he’s going to say that (laughs). I’ve been around for a while and it’s always good to have respect from your peers.”