The talk before the High Roller final was of the record Vanessa Selbst looked certain to break. Selbst, 28, would become the highest-earning woman in poker if she finished fifth or better, overtaking Kathy Leibert with more than $6 million to her name. In the end Selbst cleared that mark, by some way and in some style, winning the $25,000 High Roller title and a first prize of $1,424,420.
To consider Selbst's career in mere numbers misses the enormity of her achievements. Since 2006 Selbst has won numerous major titles, including two World Series of Poker bracelets, two NAPT main events, and the Partouche main event. The PCA becomes the latest, and it won't be the last. Selbst says she she plays for the money and joy of the game, not statistics, but the significance of her achievement isn't lost on her.
"There's plenty of room for women to get involved in this game, to get really good at it, and to beat all the guys," she said.
Selbst in control
Heads-up, Selbst faced off against Russian Vladimir Troyanovskiy. The Russian, whose grin had been the last thing various departing players has seen over three days of competition, put up some resistance, doubling up on a number of occasions to pump life into his meagre stack. But to look at Selbst was to see a major force in the game intent on victory. She had watched the tournament turn in her favour and was too good a player to let it slip. Troyanovskiy never stood a chance, his final stand with kings beaten by an ace on the river.
"It feels really, really good to win a High Roller," said Selbst. "This is probably the toughest final table I've ever played at. So, to be able to come out on top is really special."
That served as a fitting denouement, but in many ways the major battle had been won hours earlier against perhaps her biggest rival on the day, Shaun Deeb.
Deeb, too, was poised for a career day. Of almost legendary esteem online and certainly respected as a live tournament player, his first title remains elusive. Deeb will not dwell too long on such matters, but as he packs his bag to leave the PCA behind him for another year, he might well wonder how things could have been different--perhaps should have been different.
Deeb later admitted on EPT Live that he believed the winner of the battle between he and Selbst would win the tournament. He was right. After flopping a ten with his ace-ten against Selbst's ace-king, Deeb was set to double up, but Selbst was saved on the river by a king. It sounded like a parable but marked the end of Deeb in fifth place. Ironically Selbst looked more devastated at the end result than he did.
It cleared the way for Selbst to secure yet another major title. It almost looked easy, with Selbst admitting off-stage that she couldn't lose the tournament: "I'm running too good."
Heads-up play begins
Despite the High Roller event causing some tournament staff concern that there would be insufficient time to play it before relevant licenses expired, the day passed in quick time. From the first exit of Micah Raskin in eighth - never able to recover from his dance with Deeb late last night - to the confetti machine making Selbst victory grin sparkle, took little more than seven hours, leaving the $10K Turbo players (of which Raskin was one) the keys to lock up.
The final table
In between it was seventh place for Tobias Reinkemeier and sixth for Bryn Kenney. After Deeb went in fifth and Ole Schemion in fourth, Mike Watson's exit set up the heads-up match when he departed in third.
Hugs on the rail
But this was Selbst's day, watched by a rail of friends who in recent years have got used to waiting for their friend Vanessa to finish work so they can go celebrate. That time starts now. Actually, it just continues, given that Selbst got engaged just a few days ago.
Selbst's record-breaking win ends our coverage from the tenth anniversary PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, the end of ten days of competition and some 41 events. The highlights started with victory for Scott Seiver in the $100,000 Super High Roller event, while yesterday Dimitar Danchev took first place in the $10,000 main event. All the other results can be found on the side events page, while the hand-for-hand action from today, as well as all the pay-outs, can be found on our live coverage section.
But for now we bid you farewell from the PCA for another year. That's enough cocktails and 80 degree sunshine. Next stop Deauville.
Sarah Grant wraps it up...
Goodnight from Atlantis.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter