The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) reached its dramatic finale last night as American Kevin Schultz won the title with a $1.4 million hero call.
When the dust cleared after six days of play on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, and just two remained from 816 starters, Schulz found himself facing the formidable force of Diego Ventura, an online phenomenon from Peru who, under the name “Die Ventura,” has $1.5 million in tournament winnings.
Of course, Schulz is no slouch either, a point he proved emphatically last night.
It helped that he had almost a 4:1 chiplead going into heads up, but he finished things off in style. At Level 32, with blinds of 80,000-160,000 and 20,000 ante, Schulz made a small value-bet with his top pair on a board of 4h 6d Qs Kc 6c, only to face a check-raise all-in for 3.1 million more from the wily Peruvian, who held Td4d, a bet just under the size of the pot.
Scary stuff, but Schulz asked for a count, and, after a few minutes of deliberation and a sip or two of water, he calmly picked off the bluff, hero-calling his way into the record books.
Schulz joins a list of illustrious champions that includes Dominik Planka, Galen Hall, Bertrand Grospellier, Ryan Daut, Steve Paul Ambrose, and (going way, way back), John Gale and Gus Hansen.
“I’m pretty happy,” Schulz said, nonchalantly. “I felt good at the table. I had some pretty good reads on everybody, but you never know what’s going to happen.”
Six players had taken their seats at the final table, down from the traditional eight of previous times, and it took just six hours to crown a winner. Schulz began the table second in chips behind the impressive Chance Kornuth, but he got an unfortunate table draw, with Kornuth seated directly to his left.
As such, he was forced to play a quiet, patient game and had to pick his spots. The hand that swung the momentum in his favor, however, played itself. Schulz picked up aces against the A-K of Argentinian Juan Martin Pastor, eliminating him in fifth in the process, and from there he never looked back.
He took out Niklas Hambitzer in fourth and began steamrolling the table, eventually eliminating erstwhile chip-leader Kornuth in third when he made a fortunate wheel with A-4 versus A-8 after calling Kornuth, who was all-in pre-flop. It seemed he could do no wrong, and, ultimately, he couldn’t.
Once again the PCA proved to be a stellar festival of poker, and truly international, with an enthusiastic field from all four corners earth of the earth. It was notable this year for its Latin flair, as South American players were given the chance to shine and show what a force they are becoming on the world stage.
Although, with a nod to Schulz’s views on that matter, so what?
“I think poker is an individual game,” he said. “It’s not about countries or nationalities. If you’ve got money and you want to put it in play, it shouldn’t matter where you are from.”