The 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $10,300 Main Event began with 582 players, but after six days of play, only one remained in Argentina’s Maria Lampropulos, who took down the prestigious title for $1,081,100 and a coveted $30,000 Platinum Pass.
It was the second seven-figure score for the 36-year-old Lampropulos, who became the first woman to win the PCA Main Event in its 13-year history. Back in April 2017, she topped a field of 1,204 entries to win the partypoker Millions Live for $1,255,004.
"I feel very, very happy. I know that it's incredible. It's great," she said after the win.
It was an impressive run for Lampropulos, who finished 55/341 in chips on Day 1, and then cracked the top 18 on Day 2. She then finished sixth, second, and third in chips in the three subsequent days leading up to the finale.
The win brought her lifetime earnings – which only date back to 2014 – up to $2,794,574 and moves her into third on Argentina’s all-time money list behind Nacho Barbero and Ivan Luca, the latter being her longtime boyfriend.
"I am extremely grateful for the people who believed in me, especially my boyfriend," she said. "Ivan always trusted me and helped me to improve and grow. Whenever I had doubts about how I'd played a hand, he helped me regain my confidence by telling me that I can get it."
Fun Fact: In 2016, Lampropulos and Luca played heads-up in a 682-player field in the Eureka Poker Tour Season 6 King’s Casino Event #8: €1,100 NLHE. The two chopped with Luca getting the title for $115,649 and Lampropulos earning $103,907.
2018 PCA Main Event Results
On Day 6, it took just six hands for the first player to fall. That is when Lampropulos opened holding pocket sixes and called when the short-stacked Christian Rudolph jammed with ace-eight. Lampropulos flopped a set, and Rudolph was sent out the door in sixth place for $229,760.
On Hand #16 of the final table, Canada’s Daniel Coupal, a wheat and lentil farmer, defended his big blind against World Poker Tour champ Shawn Buchanan. Coupal, who had eight-four suited, checked the king-high flop and Buchanan bet. Coupal bluffed at it by check-raising all in, but unfortunately for him, Buchanan had a king to make the easy call. Coupal earned $293,560 for his fifth-place finish.
Next to go was 2017 GPI Player of the Year and three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Adrian Mateos, who was the last former PokerStars Main Event winner in the field. The Spaniard began the final day as the chip leader, but he fell back to earth before getting it in with Big Slick on a king-high flop against Buchanan’s diamond flush draw. The turn hit Buchanan, and Mateos had to settle for fourth place and $372,600. Not too shabby considering on Day 5 he sat dead last in chips among the final 18 players.
The three-handed play was an extended affair, which wasn’t surprising considering two of them had played for and won seven figures before. We already talked about Lampropulos’ previous score, while Aldemir took $2,154,265 for finishing third in the 2016 WSOP $111,111 One Drop High Roller (he also won the 2017 Triton High Roller Series Paranaque City for $1,292,509). As for Buchanan, he has won high six-figures several times in the past, including the $768,775 he got for winning the 2007 WPT Mandalay Bay Poker Championship.
Finally, on Hand #96 of the final table, Koray Aldemir shoved the button with king-seven suited and Buchanan called with ace-eight suited. An eight on the flop and another on the turn left Aldemir drawing dead, and he was bounced in third place for $481,560.
Shawn Buchanan, a six-time COOP winner on PokerStars where he plays under the moniker “buck21,” took a 2-1 chip lead into heads-up play, but lady luck would favor Maria Lampropulos. She got it in twice in three hands, both times with overs to Buchanan’s pocket pairs. She won both races to take the lead.
In what would be the last hand of the tournament, which took place on Hand #107 of the final table, Buchanan got it in good with king-five but failed to hold against the ten-seven of Lampropulos after a ten hit the flop. Buchanan lost three flips to bust in second place, though he had a $672,960 consolation prize to help ease the pain.
"I had her down to 2.5 million and then just boom-boom-boom," Buchanan said after his bust out. "Three races and you're out, that's kind of how it goes sometimes."
Congratulations to Maria Lampropulos, the 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure champion!