The PokerStars PCA 2018 (also known as the “PokerStars Caribbean Adventure”) is quickly approaching, with preliminary events beginning Saturday, January 6th and the $10,300 buy-in Main Event starting this Sunday at Paradise Island’s Atlantis Hotel in the Bahamas.

The week-long poker showcase will award millions of dollars in prize money, and marks the return of PokerStars’ popular PCA/EPT brands along with a renewed commitment by the world’s largest poker site to live tournaments.

Following is a primer for first-time participants of the PCA, which includes information on how to get the most out of your poker experience.

The Atlantis Hotel: Expensive Resort Living

The Atlantis Hotel Bahamas is a sprawling resort area which contains more than ample space for lodging, poker, gaming and entertainment. However, it is expensive even by modern tourism standards… something you should be acutely aware of if you’re travelling to the event on a budget.

If you’re an official PCA qualifier, then PokerStars has included money to cover on-site expenses in the full package. However, you may quickly discover that you’ll need to be frugal with that amount to make it last an entire week. A full room service meal with gratuity is very likely to exceed $50 USD (even if it’s just a simple breakfast).

The image below is of me (on the right) along with Captain J.C. Alvarado and other Team Mexico members during the 2009 World Cup of Poker — shortly after I had purchased a $6 apple from one of the convenience areas located on the property. And that was nearly ten years ago. In case you’re wondering, the World Cup of Poker ran alongside the 2009 PCA. This provided me with an unforgettable experience thanks to volume-based play that placed me on Team Mexico as the country’s top Tournament Leader Board (TLB) point earner for the 2007 calendar year (the prelims to the WCOP were held in late 2008, with this event taking place in January 2009).

PokerStars PCA 2018 Memories

J.C. Alvarado leads Team Mexico at 2009 World Cup of Poker (IMAGE: PokerStars)

So your best bet to getting the most out of your travel budget is to ask around during your first day to find out which food & beverage options are the most practical for your wallet. The on-property pool areas have concessions that sell hamburgers and other fast food where you should be able to get a full meal for around $20… but these are only open during daytime hours.

Interacting With Big Name Players at PokerStars PCA 2018

Spending some time with big name players has become one of the main attractions of major poker events, and PokerStars Team Pros have been more than accommodating in reaching out to new players, even in smaller regional events such as the PokerStars Festival New Jersey. Some personalities hold scheduled “Meet & Greets” where fans of all skill levels can interact in an informal setting such as a bar or cafe.

Take advantage of these opportunities to learn more about the game, the poker scene, your favorite pros, live play etiquette, and certain ground rules that will help you get the most out of your “working vacation” in the Bahamas.

As far as autographs and pictures go… this really depends on the individual player. Success rates for these requests generally depend on timing more than anything else, but I’d recommend being as considerate as possible while attempting to take care of such interactions at times that are convenient to the poker celebs. I understand that an off-the-cuff request for a picture may not seem like a major inconvenience, but take into consideration that high profile players often have a slew of commitments (including the business of real money competition) during major events.

Ongoing Drama Between PokerStars and High Volume Players

For all intents and purposes, 2017 was a much better year for PokerStars PR-wise than the year before that — which is the equivalent of saying -50° is much warmer than -100°. The publicly-traded company bailed out players of failed site PKR, made changes to online satellite qualifiers that are favorable to casual players, and invited pros to GTFI one week out of the year (while going mainstream to tell them to GTFO otherwise).

To make a long story short, the relationship between profitable and/or high volume players and the world’s largest poker site remains frigid, at best. The late-2015 decision by The Stars Group‘s top executives to rip off its Supernova and Supernova Elite players has created a rift in the gambling industry that is not going to heal itself.

Yet that fateful decision and the strife that has come along with it shouldn’t interfere with your PokerStars PCA 2018 experience aside from you — the recreational player — being aware of why the world’s largest poker site has declined in the eyes of so many since it was taken over by Amaya (now The Stars Group).

Take what you can from the experience, learn more about the game, enjoy yourself and perhaps return home with more money that you arrived with.

Best of luck to casual players and veteran pros alike at the PokerStars PCA 2018.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @PartTimePoker, @benefactumgames, @abarber1, @dhubermex

Read More From Our Contributors

Daniel Negreanu Releases 2017 Live Tournament Results (Craig Klinski – Jan 2, 2018)
Poker Players Share New Year’s Resolutions for 2018 (Craig Klinski – Jan 3, 2018)
Positive Reactions to PokerStars Power Up Poker (Alex Weldon – Jul 11, 2017)