CPT 2013 – A Poker Work Trip into Paradise
Usually people pick destinations such as the Caribbean for their yearly winter holidays to escape the cold gripe that is slowly taking over in Europe. Now imagine you get asked to actually do what you enjoy and work at a poker event in Punta Cana and St Maarten? An average temperature of 30 degrees, spending the morning at the beach and pool before taking advantage of the all inclusive buffet and then rolling to the Princess Tower Casino in the afternoon was the first stage of the Caribbean Poker Tour from November 8th to 14th 2013. Behind the project of poker fun in the sun is ICU Events, founded by industry veterans Thomas Kremser, Leon Groenewoud and Alex Teufel.
Each of the tournaments didn't start until 4pm and thus everyone had plenty of time to take advantage of the weather as well as other outdoor activities before hitting the tables and make some money. Highlight of the 14 events at Punta Cana was the William Hill Poker Open with a Buy-In of $1,350 + $150 and two starting days. A total of 111 Entries participated and the top 13 spots got paid. For the third and final day, 9 players remained and a fascinating comeback story took place as Arturs Barkevics from Latvia started with only 6 Big Blinds at 5,000-10,000 / Ante 1,000 only to roll up the field from behind and score a payday of $41,000.
The Side Events of the first stage were dominated by Austrians as Michael Huber took down two tournaments and his countryman Niki Kovacs clinched the win in the Betfair Caribbean Deepstack after a four-way deal. Thierry De Quick from Belgium won a $220 NLHE Event and Michael Schöning the final Bounty Hunter whereas globe trotter and circuit veteran Casey Kastle from Slovenia added his 34th unique Hendon Mob flag with a victory in the $ 200 + 20 Pot Limit Omaha.
Straight from the beach party onto the one hour flight to Sint Maarten the following day via private charter flight, the Caribbean Poker Tour headed to the famous Casino Royale for the next ten days. Within the poker room you can see an airplane above your heads and the nearby Princess Juliana airport will not only blow your mind away when the jets dive down for landing on Maho beach. As first highlight on the schedule, the CPT St Maarten attracted a field of 175 Entries and Florens Feenstra, who had just won a €1,500 Side Event at the Master Classics of Poker in Amsterdam, missed out on the Final Table by finishing 11th. WPT Borgata Champion Anthony Zinno was unable to turn a lead for the Final Nine into a win and fell short in 6th place while the Online Qualifier Zsolt Vizsnyiczai from Hungary defeated Jean-Philippe Matte in Heads-Up for smooth $70,000.
Next on the list was the $ 3,200 + 300 No Limit Hold'em – WPT Main Event and for the two starting days, a total of 191 Entries gathered at the tables. The top 24 spots got paid and four members of the WPT Champions Club made it into the money with Sean Jazayeri finishing in 18th place. Bahbak Oboodi bowed out in 8th place and Marvin Rettenmaier as well as Giacomo Fundaro reached the Final Table of six that was played outside, overlooking the Maho beach and the incoming planes. The German back to back Champion eventually had to surrender in 4th place whereas the Italian took on Tony Dunst in Heads-Up and was unable to overcome the Chip disadvantage. Ebony Kenney as best woman in the field finished in a very respectable 10th place and it could have been even better if her Pocket Queens didn't get cracked by Ace-Jack.
Last but not least there was also the Lucky Number 7 Highroller and it was pretty much an all German affair with 20 Entries in total. $200 from the initial Buy-In fee as well as $100 from each Re-Entry were donated to charity and Igor Kurganov defeated Fedor Holz to add yet another title to his already impressive resume. The other Side Events at the Casino Royale were not as one sided, notable performances include the 3rd place of Kirill Sidorovitch in a $220 NLHE Turbo and his win in exactly the same event one day later as well as the 35th unique country flag for Casey Kastle after his min cash in the $ 800 + 80 No Limit Hold'em – Pokerfest Caribbean Special.
Of course it wasn't quite easy to pack the bag and fly back to cold Europe afterwards but those are the events and memories that people cherish for quite some time. Who knows what 2014 will bring as the WPT Caribbean signed a contract over three years to become yet another "hot spot" on the international tournament calendar.