Chino Rheem Wins PCA; Canadian Scott Wellenbach Third
When a new year dawns, the thoughts of poker players turn to the Bahamas, and PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA). After it's beginnings on a cruise ship in 2004, the PCA found it's home at the Atlantis Resort & Casino in 2005. The 2019 edition was the 15th running of the venerable festival, and American grinder David "Chino" Rheem stormed through the field of 842 entries to take down the top prize in the Main Event. Canada managed to find a third place spot in the Main as well with the storied run of Haligonian translator Scott Wellenbach.
The 2019 PCA began on January 6th with the most anticipated tournament of the year ... the PokerStars NL Hold'em Players Championship (PSPC). As the first event of its kind, the PSPC drew a record field for a $25,000 event with over 1,000 entries combining for more than $26 million in prizes. Canada's Marc Perrault managed to hold on for a sixth place finish worth more than $1 million, while Platinum Pass winner Ramon Colillas won the top prize of $5,100,000.
Canada managed to score six trophies across the 11-day event, with the first coming from a familiar source. Sam Greenwood has been crushing high roller events around the world for years now, and after cashing in the PSPC, he jumped into the $100,000 Super High Roller. Two days later, Greenwood was holding the trophy over his head and the score of $1,775,460 was his second biggest cash, bringing his lifetime earnings to just over $14.7 million.
Greenwood wasn't the only Canadian to find success in the high buy-in events. Burlington's Timothy Adams made his way through a field of 26 entries in the $50,000 High Roller to grab $372,508 and the trophy after a heads-up deal with the United Kingdom's Stephen Chidwick. The win brought Adams' lifetime earnings to just under $1,000,000.
Kevin Macdonald, from Miramichi Bay, NB, picked up the biggest score of his life in the Bahamas, after winning the $3,300 No Limit Hold'em event. He cut a deal heads-up with American James Romero but still took the trophy and top prize of $129,070.
Three other Canadians found top spot in $550 events in the Bahamas this year. Timmy Richard ($23,610) and Joshua Zucchet ($23,900) both got their first career wins in Event #22 and #29 respectively. Laval's Jean-Philippe Piquette inched a little closer to $600,000 in lifetime earnings with a win in Event #37 worth $14,890 as well as two other cashes in the series.
Of course, the real attention was on the Main Event. With 842 entries, it did significantly better than 2018 and the total prize pool swelled to $8,390,500. American David "Chino" Rheem was a force to be reckoned with throughout the tournament, but he dispatched every player on the final day of play as well on his way to the trophy and first place prize of $1,567,100.
The Canadian story of the Main Event came from Halifax's Scott Wellenbach. The 66 year old translator of Buddhist texts might seem like an unlikely poker hero, but his skills on the felt were in evidence even before this year's PCA when he won €61,400 at PokerStars Championship Barcelona in 2017. What's more remarkable - he donated those winnings to Buddhist nunnery in Nepal.
Wellenbach came into the final day of the tournament second in chips and announced his plans to once again donate his winnings. In an interview with PokerNews' Jeff Platt he talked about his charity plans and said the final table was a "lesson" in how really good players play. In the end, he fell in third place as for more than $600,000 after becoming yet another casualty of the Chino train.
There were a few other Canadian stories in the Bahamas this year. Marc-Andre Ladouceur was the other Canadian to make the final table in the Main Event, but he was forced to settle for eighth place and $146,840. Canadian Global Poker Index Player of the Year for 2018 and partypoker ambassador Kristen Bicknell fell just short of her dream of her first $1 million score after falling in 11th place in the PSPC for $328,500.
The Greenwood family continued to show they are Canada's premier poker family. In addition to Sam's super high roller win, he cashed in three other events in the series, including the PSPC where he, along with brothers Max (47th, $69,100) and Lucas (98th, $39,500), cashed for more than $150,000 in total winnings.
With the largest $25K tournament in history kicking things off, the 2019 PCA was always going to be huge. It turned out to be even bigger than expected, with nine players leaving the Bahamas with a win of $1 million or more. The only real question left to ask is how PCA 2020 can possibly top this year.