Who would have thought that hosting a poker event in paradise would be a good idea? It’s a novel concept, I know, but the bright sparks at PokerStars HQ figured it out a long time ago.
Ever since the inaugural PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) in 2004, poker players have had a reason to leave their bedrooms and enjoy some fun in the sun at least once a year. Fast-forward to 2023, and the PCA is back after a COVID-induced hiatus. To say it’s back with a bang would be cliched, but it’s also an understatement.
— Daniel Smyth (@DanSmythThePoet) January 29, 2023
Being from the UK, I’d only ever observed the Caribbean Adventure from afar. Yesterday, I got to see firsthand why it’s one of the hottest tournaments in poker. Everything was smooth from the off. Along with a group of Platinum Pass winners, I was whisked from the airport to Baha Mar. The cliches were, like my own, ubiquitous. Bright sunshine, palm trees, golden beaches. Not a single stereotypical image was missing. It was idyllic.
Absolute scenes at Baha Mar
OK, I’ve set the scene. You’re not here for an international travel guide and I’m certainly not Michael Palin (Ed: to any non-Brits, Palin starred in a travel series after Monty Python). What’s important in all of this is PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and its flagship tournament, the $25,000 PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC).
With 400+ Platinum Pass qualifiers descending on Baha Mar, there was just enough time to party before the serious business of playing for millions started. That party was a heady cocktail of drinks, mixers, Caribbean beats, and fireworks.
Just as the concept of playing poker in paradise was obviously a good idea, we weren’t shocked when the party grooved in perfect harmony with PokerStars’ vibe. Yes, hosting world-class tournaments and creating champions are important, but no one said it can’t be fun. The party was certainly that.
Qualifiers rubbed shoulders with pros. One plucky player gyrated with local dancers, and everyone partied like it was 2023 or, more specifically, like it was the first PSPC since 2019. The stage was set. Everyone was in the mood to play, which is good because it looks as though the 2023 PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship will set records.
Everyone wins at PokerStars Caribbean Adventure
For everyone at PokerStars, moreover poker, this event is a win. It proves that COVID hasn’t killed the game. It’s a win that PokerStars executives had the foresight to host an event in paradise back in 2004. It’s a win that someone in the Bahamas will bank millions of dollars like Ramon Colillas did in 2019.
Few things in life are perfect. I’m sure hosting an event on this scale won’t be flawless. However, everything I’ve seen so far has been exceptional. The concept, the setting, and the execution are timely reminders as to why PokerStars has been one of the biggest names in live poker for two decades.
PokerStars Caribbean Adventure is back, but it never really went away. It remains the best way to start a year of live events and, for one player, it will be a seminal week in poker. Beyond that, it will be an experience that hundreds of people, myself included, will never forget.