Thursday, January 07, 2016

Travel Report: 2016 PCA, Day 1: Super High Rolling

Completed a first full day of reporting from the 2016 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure yesterday, where the focus was just about entirely on the $100,000 Super High Roller event that took up just a few tables in the front right-hand corner of the huge poker room (a.k.a. Convention Center) at the Atlantis Resort.

We were stationed in the exact opposite corner of the room -- actually, to be more accurate, just outside of the room in a back area usually reserved for the EPT Live (or, here, PCA Live) folks and the television crew shooting for the edited shows that come later. We were repositioned for this first day mainly because the set for the live streaming and TV shows was still being constructed.

I share the detail of where we were sitting just to point out that we were traversing the entire room each time we walked from our laptops to the SHR event and back, and thus necessarily saw how all of the other side events were getting impressive turnouts as the entire room managed to fill up with activity. In past years the PCA would start a little more slowly, but it looks like more players have arrived early this time around.

That may be due in part to the dozen events on the schedule for Day 1. But I’m also thinking the LAPT Bahamas event that begins today might have gotten a few extras out early this time. This will be the second year the LAPT has put on such an event at the PCA, one that serves as a “Main Event” for the tour as well as a $2,200 buy-in “preliminary” event as far as the entire PCA schedule goes. Will be curious to see if the turnout on Thursday matches or exceeds the 736 entries they had at LAPT Bahamas a year ago.

Like I say, though, the Super High Roller had everyone’s attention, and most of the usual suspects were out to participate in that one. That is Fedor Holz up above (courtesy Neil Stoddart and the PokerStars blog), just a few days removed from winning $3.4 million-plus in that $200K SHR in Manila, and a couple of weeks on from winning a $100K WPT Alpha8 and almost $1.6 million in Las Vegas.

Bill Perkins bought in three times, busting all three, and he intends to come back to try a fourth entry at the start of Day 2 before late reg closes. 2015 WSOP Main Event champion Joe McKeehen took part and did well all day, ending with a top five stack. Businessman Talal Shakerchi finished with the chip lead, with Kathy Lehne (also of the business world) in third position. Lehne took runner-up in that WPT Alpha8 in St. Kitts I covered in December 2014. (She also final-tabled the WPT Alpha8 at the Bellagio in December, taking sixth.)

While the focus was often on the hands, the table talk was equally interesting -- even more so, in some cases. Daniel Negreanu got into an extended monologue about Phil Hellmuth at one point that was obviously entertaining the table quite a bit, including a reference to Donald Trump and some of the parallels between the Poker Brat and the Donald. (You can probably imagine what they are.)

The SHRs are always interesting tournaments to be around. You get a mix of elite pros and the amateurs who are nonetheless serious and usually competitive. There’s always a relaxed feel, suggesting in a strange way a negative correlation between the size of the buy-in and the amount of stress felt by the players.

Gonna move off the SHR today as my beat now becomes that LAPT Bahamas event over the next three days. Might have to wander over there to the SHR once in a while, though, just to see who makes it through to Friday’s final table.

Meanwhile you can wander over to the PokerStars blog today for coverage of the Super High Roller, LAPT Bahamas, other side events, and more.

Photo: courtesy Neil Stoddart/PokerStars blog.

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