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Home / Poker / Dattani takes PCA spoils after all Portuguese heads-up battle

Through 16 years of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA), Portuguese players have been, at best, bit parts. There had been only one Portuguese player at the final table, and he finished eighth, a decade ago.

Perhaps they were saving up all the run-good.

Today at the $10,000 buy-in PCA Main Event, at the Baha Mar Resort, in the Bahamas, a pair of Portuguese players were the last two remaining from an 889-entry field.

The original payout schedule suggested that one of them would take $1.5 million, with the other picking up $1 million. But they ended up rounding off some of those sharp edges and doing a deal heads-up.

So it was that Michel Dattani, a 33-year-old regular on the European poker circuit, finally made the breakthrough that has seemed inevitable since he turned pro 15 years ago. He became the champion, winning $1,316,963, after outdoing his countryman Pedro Neves, who took $1,183,037 for second.

Victory sinks in for Dattani

Whichever way it had happened, there would have been two guaranteed Portuguese millionaires after six days of competition. And either would have been a worthy winner.

“I remember when I first started playing EPTs, we could never go very far,” Dattani said, referencing his country’s sudden emergence as a force. “And now we’re doing heads-up.”

There were only nine Portuguese players in the entire field, so it was a sensational showing.


Dattani, a former computer engineering student from Porto, was calm and composed, and ruthless in turning his moments of good fortune into an enormous payday. He was also brilliantly able to wriggle out of any tight spots in which he found himself, and ended up winning one last cooler to best Neves.

The final decisive hand, after the pair had already locked up their winnings and were playing for just $50,000 and the trophy, gave Dattani a flush with A5 on a board of A102Q3. Neves had AJ and couldn’t get away.

It was not yet 6pm local time, the end of a whirlwind final day. However, Dattani and Neves had been tireless and focused for six days and earned every penny of their magnificent payday.

“I’ve played 30 or 40 main events and I’ve never passed day 3, so it’s hard to believe I’m here right now,” Dattani told Joe Stapleton in his winner’s presentation. “It feels pretty good. I like it.”

He added: “The competition was tough. My opponents were very good. But I think I played well and the cards helped as well.”

Let’s take a review of how it all went down today.


Six players returned, with the following stacks:

1 Pedro Neves, Portugal, 6,205,000
2 Alexandre Raymond, Canada, 5,955,000
3 Artur Martirosian, Russia, 5,855,000
4 Michel Dattani, Portugal, 4,000,000
5 Chris Csik, USA, 3,905,000
6 Jamil Wakil, Canada, 755,000

The final six at Baha Mar

Jamil Wakil returned to the final table today with the shortest stack, having survived in the danger zone for a long period last night. Wakil had had the same size stack as Alexandros Kolonias, who was knocked out in seventh, and so will have been delighted to find a bag, even if he only put seven big blinds in it.

His best hope to get something going today would have depended on an early double-up, and the first hand of the day offered the first opportunity. However, it didn’t quite work out like that.

Wakil raised half his stack with KJ and then called it off when Chris Csik raised, comfortably covering Wakil. Csik had QJ, which meant Wakil was a favourite at the pre-flop stage. He was, however, stone dead after the 954 flop.

A brief final day for Wakil

Wakil, who only turned pro in August after a successful run as a recreational player, continues his transformation into a real force. He picked up a career-best score of $307,500 and has left his mark on the PCA at his first attempt.


Csik had made a last-minute decision to pop to the PCA. Originally from New Jersey, he is now an itinerant live poker pro and, finding himself in Florida, realised he was only a short hop from what was certain to be a booming festival.

His progression to this final table proved immediately that he had made a wise decision — but the very last leg of his journey quickly became a little uncomfortable.

Despite adding Wakil’s chips to his stack, Csik could not get anything else going, and was bluffed out of a couple of pots by bigger-stacked opponents. And then when he found a legitimate hand to get everything in, the deck did him no favours.

Csik had 28 big blinds when he found KK and opened his button. Martirosian had A2 in the small blind and three-bet, only for Alexandre Raymond to look down at AJ in the big blind and four-bet squeeze all-in.

It was a rough end for Csik

Csik must have been delighted by the turn of events. Two opponents didn’t believe his button open represented strength, when he was actually sitting with hold’em’s second best hand. Csik called, of course, and Martirosian let his hand go.

There were only two aces left in the deck, but one of them appeared immediately on the AQ2 flop. The 9 turn didn’t help Csik, and the 8 river sealed his fate.

This was a tough one to take, and Csik looked absolutely sick. It was a tournament break and his opponents departed the stage, leaving him apparently barely able to process what had just happened.

“You’ve gotta feel for the guy,” said Sam Grafton in the commentary booth. “That’s real and understandable emotion. We’ve all felt like this, but this is a huge, huge spot for any poker player.”

Grafton added: “He can be insanely proud of the run, but he just wanted it so, so much.”

He took $399,800, but it felt like a kick in the teeth.


Csik had knocked out Wakil. Then Raymond had knocked out Csik. And now the poker gods came hunting for Raymond, ready to take revenge on him after his fortunate outdraw against Csik.

That is, of course, an unfair portrayal of the proceedings to date, particularly after the brilliant showing from Raymond to this point. We got to know him earlier this week, a man previously best known under his screen-name aminolast, and he was merely applying his incredible online form to the live tables.

Raymond became the last PokerStars qualifier

The fact remains, however, that Raymond became the next to depart, and this time it was another cooler. Raymond picked up pocket queens. Neves had pocket kings. And although they did a little dance — raise, three-bet, four-bet, jam — the whole 11 million chips got in the middle.

Raymond had marginally fewer chips, it was 5.5 million to 5.8 million, and after a blank board, Neves won an absolute heap. Raymond, who was the last PokerStars qualifier in the event, having won a satellite for $550, turned it into $519,600.

It was a chilly way to depart, but the half million should keep him warm. Neves had a huge chip lead.


They were now three-handed: two Portuguese versus the Russian slayer Martirosian. There was a brief pause as the early possibility of a three-way chop was discussed, but they played on without agreement.

Any fears Martirosian might have had that the countrymen would go easy on one another quickly vanished as the two Portuguese played out a number of huge pots between one another. It helped that premium hands continued to clash.

Dattani scored an enormous double up with aces versus Neves’s kings. Martirosian, looking on, was likely delighted to see the two of them go at it in a pre-flop all-in skirmish, but the resultant double for Dattani switched him into the chip lead. Dattani had 13.2 million to Neves’ 7.5 million and Martirosian’s 5.8 million.

The end of Artur Martirosian

Not long after, however, Neves made a straight from the big blind with his 83 and Dattani ended up with two pair, with 96. But Dattani managed to wriggle away when Neves made a chunky river bet.

None of it really mattered to Martirosian, however, who had dwindled to 2.575 million, with a 150K big blind. He moved all in with Q9 and Dattani looked him up with AJ.

An ace on the river ended Martirosian’s run, and he took $677,400.


With the fearsome Martirosian on the rail, the two Portuguese quickly agreed a deal. Dattani would take at least $1,266,963 to Neves’s $1,183,037, with the $50K on the side. That represented Dattani’s slight chip lead, and he never relinquished it.

The Portuguese players arrange a deal

The final hand was a doozy, with both men finding aces heads up, both flopping top pair, but Neves fancying his chances of winning a massive pot thanks to his superior kicker. But after a fifth club landed on the river, completing Dattani’s flush, the only question was whether he could get all the chips.

Dattani checked the nuts and Neves fell into the trap with a bet. Dattani then moved all-in.

Neves pushed forward all his remaining time-bank cards, indicating it would take a while for him to try to figure it out. He decided eventually that he needed to get his chips in, and that sent everything to Dattani.


$10,300 PCA Main Event
Dates: January 23-29, 2023
Entries: 889 (inc. 377 re-entries)
Prize pool: $8,623,300


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