After a marathon 16-hour final table spanning two days and 244 hands, Dominik Panka has been crowned the 2014 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) main event champion, beating out live tournament superstar Mike McDonald in a thrilling heads-up match.
Canadian McDonald was attempting to become the first ever two-time EPT champion (yes, the PCA is a part of the European Poker Tour despite being held in the Bahamas – don’t ask) after his first victory in Dortmund in 2008. After a pitch perfect performance throughout the final table, he was looking the odds-on favourite to do just that. In a critical hand early on McDonald collided with fellow big stack Madis Muur in a preflop raising war. McDonald 6-bet shoved his A-K and somehow managed to get a fold from Muur, who held pocket Queens!
It came down to arguably the three strongest players at the final – McDonald, Panka and online tournament legend Isaac ‘westmenloAA’ Baron. American Baron, who has millions in online winnings, was sporting a new svelte physique since his online glory days and it was good to see him back in the spotlight after a disappointing past few years in live events. The three of them agreed to a deal which saw chip leader Panka take the most cash – $1.3m – followed by Baron and McDonald.
Quickly after, Baron was all-in with K-Q versus Panka’s A-9 of spades, which promptly flopped the nut flush to send Baron to the rail. Despite only leaving $100k – the ‘despite’ being relative to the $2.3m already dealt out! – both McDonald and Panka took the heads-up match very seriously, with neither wanting to give up the chance of an EPT title or making EPT history, in McDonald’s case.
In the final hand before a break, a surprisingly big pot emerged. McDonald 3-bet K-J and was faced with a shove from Panka’s 9-9 for around 40 big blinds. Just as Team PokerStars Pro Isaac Haxton was explaining why McDonald couldn’t call this in the EPT Live commentary booth, he did just that, sliding his chips over the line and committing to a huge race for the title. Panka’s Nines held up and suddenly he was now in the ascension, a spot he never strayed from until the thrilling final hand.
Now suddenly short, McDonald 3-bet shoved 7-4 suited and was called by Panka’s A-2. The 2-5-J flop was good for Panka but a 7 on the turn looked to extend this never-ending tournament even further with a McDonald double-up evening the stacks. However, a killer Ace on the river gave Panka the winning hand, $1.42m in cash and a shiny new EPT trophy on arguably the most prestigious stop of the tour.
For now, McDonald and the EPT will have to wait another day for a double champion but the glory rightfully belongs to Poland’s Dominik Panka who is the 2014 PCA main event champion.
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*denotes a deal was made three-handed
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Photo courtesy of www.pokerstarsblog.com.