When the dust cleared at the end of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) Main Event, Michel Dattani was left with all the chips. The $1.3 million he won was by far the largest victory of the Portuguese pro’s career, marking a watershed moment in his career.
Dattani has been a professional poker player for 15 years and an EPT mainstay for almost as long. Before yesterday, however, his biggest one-time financial infusion was roughly $123,000. The Portuguese player had some success, but not at major events like the PCA.
The total prize pool for the 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure was $8.6 million, with 889 entrants at a cost of $10,300 apiece. A total of 59 different nations were represented on the green felt in the Bahamas. But in the end, it came down to two Portuguese players.
Incredibly Successful Streak
The PCA is one of the largest live poker events, thus some of the finest players in the world come to compete against each other and mingle with “lesser” pros and casual players, many of whom earn their places by playing poker online.
While Dattani isn’t a huge celebrity, he’s no rookie to the scene either. In the winner’s interview, he revealed that despite participating in more than 40 Main Events throughout the course of his career, he never made it beyond Day 3.
All the pieces fell into place for Michel this time. He was up against formidable competition, including Jason Mercier, Joe McKeehen, Maria Ho, Fedor Holz, and Lex Veldhuis, among others, but he played effectively and caught the perfect cards when he needed them.
The 33-year-old Dattani was unfazed by the fierce competition since he knew exactly what he wanted. Later in the tournament, a large cooler helped him significantly, allowing him to win a huge chip lead. After that stroke of luck, he made good use of his newfound chips, eventually making it to the final table of six players and entering the fourth day with the most chips.
Excellent Prospects for the Portuguese Team
Portugal has never won the PCA in its 16-year existence. Up until yesterday, the best the Portuguese players had ever done was finish seventh, and that was a decade ago. This time, though, Brazil was well-represented at the final table; Pedro Neves, a compatriot of Dattani’s, was the chip leader at the beginning of the day.
The first elimination did not keep players waiting for long. Jamil Wakil, a Canadian, began the day with a small stack and bet all of his chips on the opening hand. Chris Csik (USA) eliminated the Canadian in sixth place with a flip to the head after being overpowered.
Csik’s chip lead grew after the KO, but he was eliminated after a terrible beat. After going all-in preflop, he lost to Alexandre Raymond’s ace-jack when an ace appeared on the flop. Even though Csik walked away with $399,800 for his efforts, he was clearly disheartened by his untimely leave.
Curiously, the guy who dashed Csik’s hopes was the next to go over the edge. That was the last straw; he was holding pocket queens against pocket kings of Neves and was on the losing side of a cooler. As a result of his performance, Raymond earned $519,600, while Neves won a huge sum.
Neves, Dattani, and the Russian Artur Martirosian are the last three standing. The Portuguese pair didn’t hold back, and Dattani eventually overtook Neves for the chip lead as Martirosian watched helplessly from the sidelines.
While this initially helped the Russian, he finally found himself in a hopeless position against Dattani and was unable to obtain the support he needed to stay in the game. After finishing in third place, he cashed out $667,400.
Beware of Losing All Your Marbles
With just two players remaining, Portugal was certain of winning the PCA for the first time. Neves and Dattani reached an arrangement to divide the remaining prize money before moving on to the final round. Neves received $1,183,037 and Dattani $1,266,963, leaving $50,000 on the table.
The stakes had been significantly lowered, but the winner still took home $50,000, bragging rights, and the PCA trophy.
After Neves was lured into Dattani’s trap, Dattani was able to fool him by having him inspect the nuts on the river. As the errors piled up, Neves folded and Michel Dattani won the pot with a check-raise of his whole stack.
If you’re a US player and you didn’t make the cut this time, download the PokerStars US app and sign up for an account. To that end, be on the lookout for PSPC Platinum Pass satellites in the next year. In 2024, you may be the lucky winner of a trip to the Bahamas!