In a quick four-hour final table, Portugal’s Michel Dattani emerged from the 889-entry field to capture the championship of the 2023 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. In winning the first PCA since 2019, Dattani also captures his largest-ever payday after making a deal with countryman Pedro Neves, who earned second-place honors. In a rather strange occurrence, however, the PCA Main Event doesn’t spell the end of the festivities in the Bahamas.
There Can Be Only One…
Sixteen men came back on Saturday to work to the final six players for Sunday’s final table. Dattani was the leader at this stage of the tournament, but he would not be very loud throughout the action on Saturday. While he bided his time, such players as Jonathan Little, Taylor Paur, and Alexandros Kolonias took a run at the title; they would come up short of the final six, though, as Neves and Canada’s Alexandre Raymond took the 1-2 slots to start Sunday’s play.
Holding 6.205 million chips, Neves was only slightly ahead of Raymond (5.955 million) and Russia’s Artur Martirosian (5.855 million). For his part, Dattani was within shot of the leader on his four million stack, but he had to worry about the USA’s Christoph Csik right on his tail (3.905 million). Coming into the final table as the short stack, Canada’s Jamil Wakil needed some divine intervention for his 755,000 stack.
That “divine intervention” was not to be. On the very first hand dealt at the final table, Wakil raised the betting only to have Csik move all in over his bet. Wakil called and found he was in good shape with his K-J off suit against Csik’s Q♦ J♦. The monochrome three-diamond flop of 9-5-4 ended any hopes for Wakil, leaving him drawing dead on the turn and river and out of the tournament in sixth place.
Martirosian was the major mover in the early action, cutting a sizeable chunk of Neves’ chips out of his stack to take over the lead in the tournament. Dattani, however, would earn some of those newly won chips from Martirosian when he was able to get several streets of value with pocket Aces. The Portuguese player would then pass Martirosian and the duo would trade the lead back and forth over the next couple of hours.
Raymond would poke his head out to take down Csik in a classic race situation. After Martirosian three-bet a Csik open, Raymond shoved his stack to the center and Csik made the call. That was enough to get Martirosian out of the way and the cards went to their backs:
Csik: pocket Kings
Raymond: A♥ J♥
Csik was in good shape for a double, but the flop had other ideas. Coming down A-Q-2 (Martirosian would have flopped two pair with his A-2), Raymond took over the lead in the hand and extended it with a second heart on the turn. Needing a King to change the outcome, Csik instead saw an innocuous 8♣ on the river and was out of the tournament in fifth place.
After a quick break, Raymond would fall victim to an unfortunate cooler. After Neves opened up from under the gun, Raymond would push out a three-bet that brought a quizzical look from Neves. After using a Time Bank chip, Neves decided to four-bet to 1.9 million and Raymond moved all in, with Neves matching with just a few chips left behind.
It was what you would expect, a clash of monster hands. Raymond’s pocket Queens were fabulous four-handed, but Neves’ pocket Kings were even better. A Jack high board runout delivered no help for Raymond and he was done with over a half-million dollars for his efforts.
Neves now had a monster lead (13.87 million) over Martirosian and Dattani, and there was some teasing of a deal being discussed. Those did not come to fruition, however, and the players continued onward. Dattani was the beneficiary of this, climbing from the third-place stack to the lead after his own cooler of a situation, pocket Aces standing against Neves’ pocket Kings. Once Dattani took down Martirosian in third place, the Russian pro was out and heads up between Dattani (15.825 million) and Neves (10.85 million).
Quick Heads-Up Finale After Deal
Before the heads-up action began, however, there was a deal struck between the two Portuguese pros. Using an ICM chop, Dattani earned $1,266,963, while Neves also picked up seven figures with his $1,183,037 payday. The duo decided to leave $50K and the PCA Main Event trophy as a bonus for the eventual champion.
It was a quick heads-up. Only ten minutes into the action, Neves raised the betting with an A-J off suit and Dattani looked him up with an A♣ 5♣. An A-10♣ 2 flop saw Dattani check-call a bet from Neves, and the Q♣ on the turn ensured that Dattani was going to stay to the river. That river delivered gold in the form of a 3♣, and Dattani would milk it well.
After Neves bet out 2.1 million, Dattani used his final Time Bank chip before putting all his chips on the line. Neves, already guaranteed a million-dollar payday, still went through every last Time Bank chip at his disposal before making the call. Dattani turned up his nut flush to show Neves and the entirety of the streaming audience that he had won the 2023 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event title.
1. Michel Dattani (Portugal), $1,316,963*
2. Pedro Neves (Portugal), $1,183,037*
3. Artur Martirosian (Russia), $677,400
4. Alexandre Raymond (Canada), $519,600
5. Christoph Csik (USA), $399,800
6. Jamil Wakil (Canada), $307,500
7. Alexandros Kolonias (Greece), $236,500**
8. Taylor Paur (USA), $181,900**
9. Jonathan Little (USA), $139,900**
(* – indicates two-player final table deal)
(** – eliminated on Saturday, part of official final table)
Normally at the end of the Main Event, everyone packs up and goes home. In the Bahamas, though, NOBODY wants to leave! There is one more little event left to go for everyone, the second running of the PokerStars Players’ Championship (PSPC). The $25,000 buy-in tournament is expected to bring in a massive field to the Baha Mar Resort, perhaps challenging the inaugural tournament.
In that 2019 event, the field was packed with pros taking their shots and more than 400 $25,000 Platinum Passes that PokerStars handed out over the prior year. The eventual winner of that inaugural event, Ramon Colillas, was one of the lucky recipients of a Platinum Pass and he turned it into a $5.1 million payday.
Can one of the lucky people who received a Platinum Pass in 2022 turn it into millions in 2023? We’ll see once the action begins on Monday in the PokerStars Players’ Championship.