The Aussie Millions vs. The PokerStars PCA

Without question the World Series of Poker Main Event is the most prestigious poker tournament in the world, and has been since it was introduced in 1970, but when it comes to choosing the SECOND most prestigious poker tournament in poker the case can be made by a number of events.

For starters you have the Championship tournaments of the World Poker Tour and the European Poker Tour, the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event, and the $50k Players Championship at the WSOP. But there are two other tournaments, stand-alone events, that I feel are the leading contenders for the title of the second most prestigious poker tournament in the world, The Aussie Millions and the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (or PCA for short).

In this article I’ll take a look at the two tournaments, judging them on their historical significance, as well as their current reputation amongst poker players, to see which of these two tournaments can lay claim to the spot just behind the World Series of Poker Main Event.

Overview of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure

The PCA began as a part of the World Poker Tour in 2004, and has since switched to the European Poker Tour (a move that occurred in 2008), as well as having a brief stint on the PokerStars North American Poker Tour, which was disbanded after Black Friday and the PCA moved back to the EPT. The original tournament was played on a cruise ship, similar to the old Party Poker Million tournament, but was moved to the Atlantis Resort in 2005 where it has stayed a land-locked tournament ever since.

The PCA has awarded the winner a six-figure payday since 2006, with a high-water mark of $3,000,000 won by Poorya Nazari back in 2009. It’s only been in the past few years that the PCA has gone from being just another stop on the WPT or EPT tour to a major event in its own right.

Overview of the Aussie Millions

The Aussie Millions, also known as the Crown Australia Poker Championship (and originally as the Australian Poker Championship before moving to the Crown Casino), is one of the longest running poker tournaments in the world, having begun as a Limit Holdem tournament way back in 1998. The event changed to a Pot Limit format in 1999 before finally settling on No Limit Holdem as its structure in 2000.

By 2005 the Aussie Millions Main Event was attracting poker players from around the world and the winner received the first $1,000,000 prize in Australian poker history. From 2009 through 2011 the Aussie Millions awarded the winner a first-place prize of $2 million.

The Aussie Millions was originally akin to the Irish Poker Open, but over the years it has turned into an international tournament, and over the past decade is one of the best branded events in poker.

Remarkably, no American poker player has ever won the Aussie Millions.

Historical Advantage = Aussie Millions

Winners Through the Years at the PCA

The PCA has seen its share of big name winners and has also seen some relatively obscure poker players hoist the trophy. With past winners like superstars Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier and Gus Hansen, as well as solid poker pros like John Gale, Ryan Daut, Galen Hall, and Harrison Gimbel, the PCA has definitely been a tournament dominated by the pros since its inception.

Here is a look at the winners of the PCA over the years:

  • 2004 PCA Winner: Gus Hansen — $455,780
  • 2005 PCA Winner: John Gale — $890,600
  • 2006 PCA Winner: Steve Paul-Ambrose — $1,388,600
  • 2007 PCA Winner: Ryan Daut — $1,535,255
  • 2008 PCA Winner: Bertrand Grospellier — $2,000,000
  • 2009 PCA Winner: Poorya Nazari — $3,000,000
  • 2010 PCA Winner: Harrison Gimbel — $2,200,000
  • 2011 PCA Winner: Galen Hall — $2,300,000
  • 2012 PCA Winner: John Dibella — $1,775,000

Winners Through the Years at the Aussie Millions

Like the PCA, the Aussie Millions has been won by an eclectic mix of poker players, but overall the tournament has been dominated by the Aussies –perhaps due to some home-field advantage. With a much longer list of winners the Aussie Millions is still unable to match the star-power of the PCA Champions, despite Gus Hansen, Lee Nelson, Alexander Kostritsyn, Tony Bloom, and Peter Costa amongst the former Aussie Millions winners.

Here is a look at the winners of the Aussie Millions Main Event over the years:

  • 1998 Aussie Millions Winner: Alex Horowitz — $25,900
  • 1999 Aussie Millions Winner:  Milo Nadalin — $38,150
  • 2000 Aussie Millions Winner:  Leo Boxell — $65,225
  • 2001 Aussie Millions Winner:  Sam Korman — $53,025
  • 2002 Aussie Millions Winner:  John Maver — $150,000
  • 2003 Aussie Millions Winner:  Peter Costa — $394,000
  • 2004 Aussie Millions Winner:  Tony Bloom – $426,500
  • 2005 Aussie Millions Winner: Jamil Dia — $1,000,000
  • 2006 Aussie Millions Winner:  – Lee Nelson  – $1,295,800
  • 2007 Aussie Millions Winner:  Gus Hansen — $1,500,000
  • 2008 Aussie Millions Winner:  Alexander Kostritsyn — $1,650,000
  • 2009 Aussie Millions Winner:  Stewart Scott — $2,000,000
  • 2010 Aussie Millions Winner: Tyron Krost — $2,000,000
  • 2011 Aussie Millions Winner: David Gorr — $2,000,000
  • 2012 Aussie Millions Winner: Oliver Speidel — $1,650,000

Past Champion Advantage = PokerStars Caribbean Adventure

Overall, the two tournaments are pretty evenly matched in terms of former champions and historical significance, which brings us to the last metric: The current reputation and prestige of the tournament in the poker world.

Unfortunately, this last metric is a dead heat in my opinion, with both tournaments creating a lot of buzz from both players and the poker media, as well as being a desirable vacation locale in the gloomy month of January. If you were to ask 1,000 poker professionals the following question: Given the choice of only playing in one, would you choose the PCA or the Aussie Millions? I think you’d receive 500 votes for the PCA and 500 votes for the Aussie Millions –fortunately the two tournaments don’t overlap and take place one right after the other in January.

If I had a gun placed to my head I would take the Aussie Millions, but only because I’m a bit of softie for history, and the Aussie Millions is like the US Poker Championship and Amarillo Slim’s Super Bowl of Poker in my eyes, a part of poker history and poker lore.

So here are my choices for the most prestigious poker tournaments in the world:

  • The World Series of Poker Main Event
  • The Aussie Millions Main Event
  • The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) Main Event
  • World Series of Poker Europe Main Event
  • World Poker Tour (WPT) Championship
  • World Series of Poker Players Championship
  • European Poker Tour Championship

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