You knew it was coming. If you ever spent any time in the Bahamas, especially at the PCA in Atlantis, then you know it's always been a love/hate relationship between PokerStars and the Atlantis. Stars could not pull off a big-time event in the tropics without them, but it wasn't exactly the type of cushy accommodations, overbearing service, and attention to detail that many poker players were used to having the rest of the year on the global circuit. The crew at the Atlantis did the best job possible year after year, despite the island time mentality and annual headaches, bumps, and bruises.
If you've ever seen the Fyre Festival video, then you know how much of a logistical headache it can be to host any sort of event in the Bahamas. Of course, the folks running PokerStars had their shit together compared to that shyster Billy McFarland. However, you get the gist... it's an overwhelming task for any entity to overtake an overseas adventure and have it go off without a hitch, especially with millions of dollars of cash lying around.
Check out the eulogy for the PCA written by Brad Willis. He spent every January for the last 15 years (or 1.2% of his life) covering the PCA for PokerStars.
The PCA started out as a cruise before PokerStars moved the event to Paradise Island in the Bahamas in 2005. The Atlantis Resort, once hailed as the premier resort and casino in the world two decades ago, had become the home away from home for PokerStars. Players had the opportunity to win a seat to the PCA online via satellites. For just a few bucks you could parlay your poker skills into a vacation in paradise complete with tropical drinks with pink umbrellas and shady jet ski salesmen who also moonlight as cannabis entrepreneurs.
The PCA made many unknown players overnight sensations, while unheralded pros finally made a name for themselves with a deep run in the Main Event or in High Rollers.
The PCA began as an event to host the Main Event, but over the years the PCA morphed into a poker festival that could have spanned the entire month if they wanted it.
Once the UIGEA hit, the PCA sort of lost its luster. The Americans sent numerous pros and amateurs to the Bahamas every January. PokerStars became a pipeline of dead money and cash for players lost in a winter of discontent and seeking a week in paradise to escape their dreary 9 to 5 lives. Plus, winning a free trip to the Bahamas is always something that gets the girlfriend/wife/spouse excited about online poker. For the first time loved ones got to share in the spoils of poker excellence and they got a close-up view of the ins and out of a poker tournament.
The suits at PokerStars tried to tether the PCA to the LAPT and EPT, but it never truly returned to its old glory. The PSPC was a huge success but that was the beginning of the end for the PCA. The 2020 PSPC is the primary focus now, so the PCA like a limp race horse, has been put down.
Too bad PokerStars didn't announce the end sooner. Or the big wigs could have extended it one more time to have everyone give the PCA a proper send off and goodbye. Atlantis and the PCA was such a special place in the poker world that it was worthy of a final event.
RIP PCA. Thanks for the memories, hangovers, and overpriced ditch weed.