When 22-year-old, Ryan Daut arrived on the shores of Paradise Island, he had no idea that he would return to New Jersey as a millionaire.
Last week, Daut, a Ph.D. candidate in Mathematics at Penn State, won $1.5 million at the Fourth Annual PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) that began January 4 at the Atlantis Resort and Casino.
Daut battled 937 professional and amateur players, including four World Series of Poker champions for the lion’s share of a seven million dollar prize pool.
The 2007 PCA was the largest single event in World Poker Tour(r) (WPT) history, growing by more than 22% over the 2006 field.
Most of the players attending won their tournament entries and paid vacations by qualifying online at PokerStars.com, the world’s largest poker site, some for as little as $6.
In a come-from-behind victory, Daut was short stacked with just two million dollars in chips heading into the final showdown against Isaac Haxton.
Haxton, a native New Yorker finishing his undergraduate degree in computer science at Brown University, had roughly $9 million in chips when the final table began. After surviving two hours of intense play, Daut overcame incredible odds as hundreds of onlookers cheered when he won the match and took home the PCA championship.
"I’m still in shock, I can’t believe it," Daut said. "This was a young and aggressive field that took the excitement of playing online at PokerStars and made it tangible.’’
All of the final six players at the televised WPT final table honed their poker skills online and half of them won their entries to PCA on PokerStars.com.
The 2007 PCA also attracted the world’s top pros including former World Series of Poker champions Joe Hachem, Greg Raymer, Chris Moneymaker and Tom McEvoy, in addition to the WPT champions and final table finishers scattered throughout the record breaking field.
However, the tournament culminated in a battle of online poker experts, with New Jersey’s Daut outplaying Haxton for an underdog victory.
The PCA also featured the first ever Moneymaker Millionaire Tournament. Inspired by the dramatic victory of Chris Moneymaker that transformed a $39 buy-in on PokerStars.com into a $2.5 million win at the 2003 WSOP, the tournament turned Canadian native Quillan Nagel into an over night millionaire.
Following the success of the 2006 inaugural World Championship of Battleship Poker, PokerStars also named Sorel Mizzi of Toronto, Canada as the new champion, taking home $45,000.
Sixty-four poker players paid the $2,000 entry fee and played a series of live, heads-up matches on PokerStars.com, reminiscent of the traditional table game "Battleship.’’
Coverage of the 2007 PCA final table will air June 6, 2007, on The Travel Channel as part of the network’s coverage of the World Poker Tour.