It has often been mentioned as one of poker’s “major” tournament events. Much like tennis has the Australian, French and U. S. Opens along with Wimbledon as its majors, poker’s “majors” have often been listed as the World Series of Poker Championship Event, the World Poker Tour World Championship (it was discontinued this year), the Aussie Millions and the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (of course, there is always room for argument with this, especially with the European Poker Tour’s Grand Final and other international events in the mix). The WPT may at some point – depending on the relative success of its Tournament of Champions this spring – bring back the WPT World Championship, but what if another of those events was to disappear from the schedule?
In a Tweet on Saturday that seems to have slipped under the radar, poker player/rabble rouser Todd ‘Dan Druff’ Witteles opined on Twitter on a subject that, if anyone had taken the time to check out, might have stunned some people. Perhaps because it was easy to miss if someone was literally scrolling by, no one seems to have noticed it, it wasn’t retweeted and there weren’t any comments or discussion on the subject with Witteles. The Tweet directed people to Witteles’ long-running website, Poker Fraud Alert, and its forum message board (and which only one other person has taken the time to look up Witteles on the subject), where Witteles, who states he gets his information from a “reliable source,” breaks down in a little more detail his big story…the possibility for the disappearance of the PCA by 2018:
BREAKING: Pokerstars will end PCA Bahamas tournament after 2017: https://t.co/fa7UPhdmFR
— Todd Witteles (@ToddWitteles) February 6, 2016
According to Witteles’ source, the numbers at the PCA since “Black Friday” are one of the reasons for the cancelation of the tournament in 2018. The tournament peaked at 1560 players in 2011, prior to the April “Black Friday” attack by the federal government in the United States that shut down PokerStars to U. S. citizens. Since then, the numbers in the Main Event have been significantly lower: 1072 in 2012, 987 in 2013, 1031 in 2014, 816 in 2015 and 928 in 2016 (in 2016, the buy in was lowered to $5000 instead of $10,000, as it had been previously). While most tournaments would kill for those types of numbers, PokerStars may be feeling that it isn’t cost-effective for them to continue to support running the PCA if they can’t get a better turnout.
Witteles’ source also cites that PokerStars literally seems to have outgrown the PCA. The location – the Atlantis Bahamas Resort, on Paradise Island in the Bahamas – was perfect to draw U. S. players when the tournament started in 2004 (international pros and qualifiers always had a bit of difficulty in getting to the event). Now that U. S. players cannot play on the international site (and PokerStars currently cannot market towards them), it seems to be a waste to have such a large scale event for a market they cannot touch. The source also states that the PCA tournament and its concepts are “stale” at this point also.
When they created the PCA, it was the only game that PokerStars was concerned about, the source states. With the creation of their regional tours and the powerful European Poker Tour, PokerStars now has a wide-ranging set of tours that it didn’t have when it created the PCA back in 2004. Even with adding the PCA into the EPT (which always seemed to be a bit of a stretch), the source says that PokerStars would like to put more of its time and resources into those regional tours and the EPT. Finally, the contract with Atlantis will be expiring following the 2017 PCA and PokerStars has already determined that they are not interested in renewing the deal, the source tells Witteles.
If all of this is true, it would spell the end of what has become one of the venerable traditions of tournament poker, at least in the Internet Age of the game. Many a player, after shedding the hangover of celebrating the New Year, would head from their chilly and snowy climes to the sandy white beaches of the Bahamas and Atlantis on Paradise Island, where PokerStars treated online qualifiers and poker professionals to a grand party to celebrate the game. Such players as Gus Hansen, ‘Gentleman’ John Gale, Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier, Harrison Gimbel, Galen Hall, Dimitar Danchev and 2016 champion Mike Watson have captured the championship of the Main Event, and the PCA High Roller and Super High Roller tournaments have also been extremely competitive. Such players as Grospellier, Vanessa Selbst, Eugene Katchalov, Viktor ‘Isildur1’ Blom, Scott Seiver, Fabian Quoss and Steve O’ Dwyer have won millions in those events.
This all could also be…incorrect. Witteles has a bit of a history of rubbing people the wrong way and has also been on the wrong end of some information on occasion. He has also broken some big news at points, including details on the “Superuser” scandals that plagued online poker during the mid-2000s.
Witteles has not responded to requests from Poker News Daily to elaborate any on the statements he or his source have made. Additionally, PokerStars was asked for a statement regarding Witteles’ accusations and the future of the PCA, but they have yet to return comment. If what Witteles and his source are saying is true, 2017 will be the final run for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure – and the world of poker will have lost another of its “major” tournaments.
Poker News Daily will continue to monitor the situation and update accordingly.
UPDATE: Eric Hollreiser, the vice president of Corporate Communications for Amaya Gaming, responded soon after publication that “the information is inaccurate” but wouldn’t elaborate on the issue as he was responding from his iPhone. Other industry insiders, however, have previously indicated, much as Witteles has, that there is a possibility that the PCA may be canceled following its play in 2017.