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Amateur John Dibella Takes PCA Crown

By Daniel Smyth, Rakeback.com Poker News Staff Writer

There’s nothing like a jaunt in paradise to blow off the post-Christmas cobwebs, and this year’s PokerStars Caribbean Adventure certainly provided the perfect setting for that. A field of 1,072 seasoned pros and plucky amateurs anted up $10,000 each to enter the Main Event. After 7 days of play, just 8 of them found themselves at the final table. 

Poker pro Faraz Jaka held the chip lead – as he had done for much of the tournament - going into the finale, but he was unable to carry his momentum to the title. The former WPT Champion could only make it to 3rd place, though he stayed alive for long enough to watch Ruben Visser, David Bernstein, Anthony Gregg, Mark Drover and Xuan Liu hit the rail.

While Jaka entered the final table with the spotlight, many had quietly picked the only female at the table, Xuan Liu, to record her first major tournament victory. Unfortunately, her dream came to an end when Jaka’s Ah-6d caught a lucky break against her Ad-7d

Despite not capturing the title, Liu now holds the record for the deepest run by a female at the PCA. She added another $600,000 to her bankroll, and we imagine that will help her get over the loss.

While the pros were fighting to expand their bankrolls, it was John Dibella who was quietly accumulating all of the chips. With Jaka eliminated it was only Kyle Julius who stood in Dibella’s way.

Heads-Up Play

Before heads-up play commenced, a chip count took place and with virtually even stacks a deal was struck which gifted each player $1.5 million. The pair battled back-and-forth for the remaining $275,000 and the championship trophy.

It didn’t take long for Dibella to open up a commanding lead, and when Julius mistimed a bluff on the river all that was left for Dibella to do was call with a flush and scoop the final pot. 

A mixture of elation and shock struck the amateur, and Dibella couldn’t believe the feat he’d just accomplished. He stated "I'm overwhelmed. It feels so surreal, and I can't believe it's happening. I'm sure it will hit me tomorrow." 

Indeed, after qualifying for via a $1,000 buy-in satellite, Dibella eclipsed his previous biggest win of $16,000 by a huge margin, telling the awaiting media: "I made more doing this [playing poker rather than working as a day trader], but I'm not going to call myself a professional.” 

As a final word, Dibella turned to the cameras and announced: “Baby, I did it," he said into the lens. "I love you and the kids!"

Final Table Payouts

  1. John Dibella - $1,775,000
  2. Kyle Julius - $1,500,000
  3. Faraz Jaka - $755,000
  4. Xuan Liu - $600,000
  5. Mark Drover - $468,000
  6. Anthony Gregg - $364,000
  7. David Bernstein - $260,000
  8. Ruben Visser - $156,600

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