The PokerStars Championship Bahamas has a different ring to it, mostly because it is the new name for the long-standing PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. For nearly two weeks each January, poker players head to Atlantis in the Bahamas for one of the largest poker festivals of the year. And this time, it had a new name and kicked off the new format for PokerStars-sponsored tours.
With the elimination of tours like the European Poker Tour and former PCA partner Latin American Poker Tour, the new PokerStars Championship series was set for January 6-14, the exact same days as the previous year of the PCA. Not much changed overall, except there were 92 tournaments on the official schedule for this year versus 104 last year. Even that difference is probably moot because tournaments are regularly added to the schedule upon player demand.
So what is different besides the name? Let’s take a look at some key events.
The Main Events
Attendance was down quite significantly for this year’s Main Event in the Bahamas. There were some weather delays and possibly cancellations for some flights to and from the Bahamas, as some parts of Europe and North America were hit with serious weather obstacles. Even so, the drop was significant enough that other factors must be weighed, such as the lack of satellite winners and other players who followed the former Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT).
The 2016 PCA Main Event was a $5,300 buy-in affair with a total of 928 entries and $4,500,800 prize pool, out of which the top 135 players were paid.
The 2017 PSC Bahamas Main Event required less of a buy-in – only $5,000 total to play – but only attracted 738 players for a $3,376,712 prize pool. But a different payout structure did allow the top 143 finishers to collect cash upon busting out.
Starter and Other Popular Tournaments
In 2016, there were a set number of High Roller events, but players were able to increase the number this year, though it happened at the very start of the series, and most of the events are scheduled toward the end of the series.
But the first event both years was a massive buy-in tournament for the high-stakes players. The 2016 $100K Super High Roller attracted 58 players, creating a prize pool of $5,626,000 and paying out the top eight players. Only 41 entries were recorded this year, with an overall prize pool of $5,239,080 and seven payouts.
The next High Roller was a $50K buy-in, which showed much lower numbers this year. Last year’s $50K High Roller showed 80 entries and a $3,860,000 prize pool, while only 49 entries were recorded this year for a $3,313,035 pool.
Both years featured a $1K NLHE Turbo event as the third one on the schedule, and participation was down significantly this year. The 2016 event brought in 119 entries and a $120,280 prize pool, while only 50 players ponied up this year for a $53,350 prize pool.
Each year featured a $120 NLHE Flipout tournament as the ninth on the overall lineup, and that one increased a tad this year. Only 20 players signed up last year, and there were 23 this year.
The $10K Hyper-Turbo Survivor event brought in 21 entries last year and paid out $203,700 in total, but it looks as if the tournament did not get off the ground this year, as the Global Poker Index shows no results.
In looking at some other games, each year offered a $300 HOSE mix, and last year’s had 42 entries with only 30 this year. A $300 PLO Hi/Lo early in the series last year drew 42 players but only 19 bought in this year. A $1K PLO last year delivered 32 players to the tables, while only 24 showed up this year.
Entries in #PSCBahamas events over $1k Saturday, excluding the $2,200 National Championship: 0, 8, 9, 5, 42, 27— Kevin Mathers (@Kevmath) January 8, 2017
@Kevmath Those numbers likely affected by people not being able to get to the Bahamas because of weather/airport issues, but…— Kevin Mathers (@Kevmath) January 8, 2017
Down But Not Out
As mentioned before, some players had difficulties making their flights to the Bahamas due to weather-related delays. LAPT players may have skipped it this year due to fewer qualifying opportunities. The economy could have factored in, as could the branding or a difference in promotional efforts. The experts at PokerStars will figure that out.
Meanwhile, the PokerStars Championship events will roll on. And lessons learned may lead to a larger turnout at the next stop, which is set for Panama from March 10-20. After that, the tour heads to Macau for the beginning of April, Monte Carlo for the end of April into May, and Barcelona in August. But next on the list is the first PokerStars Festival, set to take place in London from January 22-29, which will be followed by a stop in Rozvadov in March.
Players did love their regional tours. The challenge now for PokerStars is to reel those players back in and entice them with offers to join a larger tour.