The PokerStars Championship Bahamas is officially underway and as the first major event of every year, the world’s biggest names will be making their way to the Atlantis Resort & Casino over the next few days. While some world renowned players have hoisted trophies in the Caribbean, a handful have come brutally close to the winner’s circle.
While Tony Gregg might be known as the ‘End Boss’ among the poker community, he’s yet to have that status translate to the Caribbean. Gregg has two runner-up finishes in the PCA Main Event, with the first coming in 2009. The Maryland native fell to Canada’s Poorya Nazari, winner of the biggest PCA Main Event in history and front-runner for a potential ‘One Hit Wonder’ list down the road. Gregg has proved he’s anything but, as he’s had hit after hit since, including another silver medal in 2016, with those two runs bookending a sixth place finish in 2012.
Since winning an EPT Main Event title at the age of 18, Mike McDonald has been one of the most feared tournament players on the planet. He’s won around the globe but trips to the Bahamas have not yielded the same success. A runner-up finish was the closest he’s come to Caribbean glory but Dominik Panka kept ‘Timex’ from becoming the first two-time EPT Main Event champion at the 2014 PCA.
With six WSOP bracelets, two WSOP Player of the Year awards and two World Poker Tour titles this is the only ‘Close Call’ article Daniel Negreanu will ever find himself on. ‘Kid Poker’ has amassed over $32,000,000 in career earnings but that number would be even higher if either three of his EPT High Roller runner-up finishes ended in victory. His first close call came at the 2011 PCA, as Negreanu had to settle for silver to Eugene Katchalov’s gold, in the $100,000 Super High Roller.
After putting together a dominant performance to win the WSOP Main Event in 2015, Joe McKeehen, pictured above, picked up right where he left off a few weeks later. Playing in his first career $100,000 Super High Roller at the 2016 PCA, McKeehen nearly won another major title. Instead, New York’s Bryn Kenney was victorious, ending a stretch of his own close PCA calls, but McKeehen still recorded his second seven-figure cash in almost as many months.
In the High Roller world, there are only a few non-professional players that regularly contend and Dan Shak is certainly one of them. Shak announced himself as a threat to the status quo of those events with a seven-figure win in Australia in 2010 and since, he’s recorded two runner-up finishes in $100,000 buy-in events. The first came at the 2012 PCA, when Victor Blum confirmed his legend status with a victory, and the second came two years later. Germany’s Fabian Quoss raised that Super High Roller title, meaning Shak is still looking for his second career major victory.