It’s about time that poker returned to the beautiful island of Aruba. Ever since Ultimate Bet cancelled the Aruba Poker Classic after the 2009 edition, poker has yet to make a big splash back on the incredible Southern Caribbean island. That’s all going to change in May 2012, though, as poker is returning to Aruba with the Players Poker Championship.
Held at the Westin Resort and Casino Aruba from May 3 through 7, 2012, and boasting the slogan, “Aruba Poker is Back,” the series consists of six events ranging in buy-ins from $330 to $3,300. The biggest of all is the $3,000+300 No-Limit Hold’em Championship Event that kicks off on Friday, May 4 and is scheduled to run to Monday, May 7. For the Championship Event, players will receive 25,000 in starting chips with levels lasting 60 minutes and starting at 25/50.
PPC Commissioners Sandy Swartzbaugh and Bryan Oulton have been working diligently on hosting a tournament in Aruba since a marquee event was last held on the island in 2009. PokerNews reached out to Swartzbaugh for some comments regarding the event and here’s what he had to say.
“As poker players, we realized that players not only want to play in a top-of-the-line event, they want a destination location. Both [Oulton and I] are South Florida locals and thought the marriage of an island like Aruba and poker was perfect. Not to mention the feedback at the UB Aruba Classic did great numbers and players loved the beach, festivities and nightlife. The great thing about the Westin Resort and Casino in Palm Beach (couple hotels down from the Radisson where UB was) is all fun is accessible by foot. As you stated, [Aruba is an] incredible island. I personally could stay for a month and might after the tournament.”
2012 Players Poker Championship Schedule
Thursday, May 3 7:00 PM Mega Satellite $330+20
Friday, May 4 5:00 PM Championship Event $3,000+300
Saturday, May 5 12:00 PM No-Limit Hold’em $500+50
Saturday, May 5 9:00 PM No-Limit Hold’em Second Chance Turbo $300+30
Sunday, May 6 12:00 PM No-Limit Hold’em Mix-Max 10-8-6-4-2 $1,000+100
Sunday, May 6 9:00 PM No-Limit Hold’em Second Chance Turbo $300+30
Monday, May 7 12:00 PM No-Limit Hold’em Turbo Deepstack $500+50
n case you’re already salivating at the thought of poker right next to beaches with some of the whitest sand and bluest water in the world under the hot sun, grab a couple of napkins because it gets a bit better as Swartzbaugh tells us.
“After launching in May 2012, we are looking to expand our PPC Caribbean poker series. Ideally, we are looking at six events a year in locations such as the Bahamas, St. Croix and Turks, with a second event in Aruba hopefully this year if it fits the poker schedule.
“We have teamed up with the Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park to run satellites all through the month of April. We will also be utilizing some of their world-class staff that includes Mike Smith, Director of Poker at the Isle. Mike will act as our Tournament Director for the PPC.”
“We are excited to be associated with the PPC Aruba. It’s going to be a great event,” Smith said.
From 2006 through 2009, Ultimate Bet’s Aruba Poker Classic attracted great field sizes. In 2006, the event had 512 entrants and grew to 548 in 2007. In 2008, the number of entrants increased again to 551 before falling off a little bit with 475 runners in 2009. Each of those events held a $5,000 buy-in to the Main Event and proved that Aruba was one of the top destinations on the circuit for poker players.
According to Oulton, the PPC expects between 100 and 300 players for the Championship Event. He knows that’s a wide number, but has high hopes and explained, “We’re expecting 100-300 players. It is a broad range, but we feel that we’ll be somewhere in the middle of that number. Any first-year event has its concerns with draw, but the combination of our marketing, satellites in South Florida, player advisory board and our friendships and associations in the poker community will lead us to a tremendous launch in year one. We have the facilities to host over 400 players, so we are ready for the masses.”
To help draw players to the event, Swartzbaugh mentioned, “In year one, we have focused our efforts on heavy grassroots marketing throughout South Florida, local pros, TwoPlusTwo and satellites at the Isle Casino. We are also very active in social media via Facebook and Twitter.”
When it the poker experience in Aruba, here’s what Oulton says players should look forward to.