Posts Tagged ‘Title’

Eric Afriat Earns Second WPT Title in Coming from Short Stack to Win WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open

 Eric Afriat Earns Second WPT Title in Coming from Short Stack to Win WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open

Defying the odds by coming off the short stack, Eric Afriat earned his second World Poker Tour championship on Friday by winning the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open in Atlantic City.

To say (and don’t groan) the deck was stacked against Afriat would be an understatement. He scraped into the final table with a 2.28 million chip stack and needed a telescope to see chip leader Zach Gruneberg and his 17.6 mountain of chips. There were also other obstacles for Afriat, including former World Champion Joseph McKeehen (5.955 million), Justin Zaki (5.565 million), Stephen Song (2.74 million) and local favorite Michael Marder (3.08 million), that he would have to overcome.

Things would get worse for Afriat from the start. After picking up some chips, he turned around and doubled up Marder to make his task more difficult. Afriat would rectify that by taking down Song in sixth place after flopping a boat against Song’s flush draw that didn’t come home. Afriat continued to be active on the felt as his chip stack fluctuated wildly as he tried to work his magic.

It would take more than 40 hands before the next elimination would occur and, when it did happen, the rich would only get richer in a stunner of a hand. After Gruneberg raised from the cutoff, Marder would call from the big blind to see an 8♣ 8♠ 6♣ flop. Marder would check-call another 300K out of the chip leader and, after a 5♠ on the turn, both players checked the straight possibilities. When the 9♣ came on the river, the fireworks would go off.

After checking the action on the previous two streets, Marder would suddenly wake up with a big 425K bet of his own. Gruneberg, however, was undaunted and moved all in over the top of Marder’s bet. Marder took a moment to ponder the situation, chucking a Time Bank chip into the hand, before making the call and showing his K♣ 3♣ for a King-high flush. That wasn’t good enough, however; Gruneberg turned up a 10♣ 7♣ for the stone nuts, the ten-high straight flush, to take down the hand and send Marder to the rail in fifth place.

At this point in the tournament, Gruneberg had nearly a 2:1 lead over McKeehen, more than a 2:1 lead over Afriat and a 2.5:1 lead over Zaki. It was going to be interesting to see who would come from the three pursuers to challenge Gruneberg, with any of the trio with enough experience to pull off a massive comeback. It almost turned out otherwise, however, as Gruneberg’ s “run good” continued.

On Hand 72, Gruneberg raised under the gun to 450K and McKeehen dropped his stack in the center from the button. Once again, Gruneberg wasted no time in making the call, tabling Big Slick to go up against McKeehen’s A-J (approximately a 70/30 edge). The Queen-high board never came close to giving McKeehen any options on winning the hand and, as he departed in fourth place, Gruneberg stacked up an even 20 million chips, more than his other two competitors had together.

That, however, would be the apex of Gruneberg’s final table. Over the next 20 hands, that 20 million in chips became 16 million as Afriat began to climb the standings. Just as quickly, however, Afriat would get knocked back as Zaki began to move up the ladder. On Hand 121, the tournament’s tide changed as Gruneberg’s mojo began to run out.

After raising the pot off the small blind, Afriat saw Gruneberg call his 525K bet and the resulting ragged rainbow 9-5-3 flop. As he had done the entire tournament, Afriat continued his aggressive play in firing another half-million pot bet, which Gruneberg called. On a turn four, another 750K came out of Afriat and, once again, Gruneberg called. The river seven put many straight options on the table, but Afriat continued to fire with a two million chip bet. Gruneberg, after a moment of pause, didn’t believe Afriat and called. He would then muck his cards as Afriat showed pocket sixes for a runner-runner straight as Afriat scooped the 7.6 million chip pot.

A few hands later, it was over for Gruneberg. Whether a slight bit tilted from the Afriat hand or what, Gruneberg pushed all in over a Zaki raised that Zaki wanted to see. Zaki’s pocket tens were ahead of Gruneberg’s A-9 off suit and the Jack-high flop didn’t do anything to improve Gruneberg. After riding high for most of the tournament, in the span of four hands Gruneberg was out in third place as heads up play was set.

After eliminating Gruneberg, Zaki was nearly a 2:1 leader (24.4 million) over Afriat (12.925 million). For almost 100 hands, Zaki maintained his lead but couldn’t lengthen it out. When the penultimate hand – the hand that truly determined the champion – came down, it brought the drama.

 On Hand 224, Afriat made it two million to go and Zaki moved all in. Afriat immediately called and tabled his Big Slick, which dominated Zaki’s K-8 off suit. That domination held through the 7-3-2-9-K board as the 34.8 million chip pot was pushed to Afriat. With only scraps left from that clash – 2.5 million – Zaki would succumb to Afriat on the very next hand, his 10-5 off suit falling to Afriat’s K-2 after Afriat miraculously went runner-runner in rivering trip deuces to beat Zaki’s flopped pair of fives.

1. Eric Afriat, $ 651,928
2. Justin Zaki, $ 434,614
3. Zach Gruneberg, $ 321,533
4. Joe McKeehen, $ 240,251
5. Michael Marder, $ 181,329
6. Stephen Song, $ 138,254

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Darryll Fish Captures First Major Title, Wins WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open

 Darryll Fish Captures First Major Title, Wins WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open

Battling through one of the larger fields during the Season XVI schedule, poker professional Darryll Fish broke through with his first ever major tour victory in winning the World Poker Tour Lucky Hearts Poker Open at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL, last night.

The hometown favorite at the final table, Fish was one of six players who had come through the 911 entry field to vie for the crown. He didn’t lead as the final table began, however. That honor went to Russia’s Aleksandr Shevelev and his 6.96 million stack, with Ness Reilly tucked into the second slot with her 6.295 million chips. Fish, for his part, hovered in the third-place slot (5.92 million chips) while the rest of the field – Brett Bader (3.16 million), Alan Krockey (2.81 million) and former WPT champion Andy Frankenberger (2.17 million) – needed quite a bit of help if they were going to contend for the championship.

The players throughout the final table were playing as if said table was on fire. On Hand 19, Reilly opened the betting under the gun and Krockey didn’t believe her as he moved all in. Reilly wasted little time in making the call, tabling pocket Kings to go to the races against Krockey’s Big Chick (A-Q). Looking for another lady to join him on the board, Krockey instead saw the board run out nine high, ending his tournament in sixth place and moving Reilly into contention with 6.4 million chips.

Reilly didn’t slow down after that knockout either. Fish and Shevelev put her to the test in her big bling and, after calling a 175K bet, everyone checked to the river on an A-9-2-5-9 board. Reilly would check that board and, after Fish fired a good sized 450K bet, Shevelev dropped from the proceedings. Reilly, though, didn’t believe Fish’s story and made the call. It turned out to be the right one as Fish showed a K-J for complete air; Reilly, on the other hand, showed a 4-3 for the turned Wheel and scooped the 1.5 million chip pot.

Shevelev didn’t get concerned with Reilly storming up on him, he just took down a player to reestablish control at the final table. On Hand 32, Shevelev innocently raised the pot and saw Reilly three bet the action up to 500K. Demonstrating the usage of the WPT “Time Bank” chips (the WPT uses their 30-second “Action Clock” just before the field makes the money; players receive six “Time Bank” chips worth 60 seconds each for use each day until the end of the tournament), Bader tossed one in the pot and, as the clock was at 10, five-bet to 1.35 million.

Now it was Shevelev’s turn to use one of his “Time Bank” chips and, after the deliberation, his reply was to move all in. After Reilly decided that discretion was the better part of valor, Bader took another Time Bank worth of extra time before making the decision to call for his tournament life. When the cards came up, the hand played itself.

Bader’s pocket Queens were only down against two hands (pocket Aces and Kings) and racing against one other (Big Slick) and the race was at hand with Shevelev holding Slick. With his tournament life on the line, Bader was dismayed to see a King in the window on a K-4-4 flop to push Shevelev into the lead. Needing a Queen to remain at the table, Bader instead hit the rail in fifth place as a deuce and a nine finished off the board, sending Shevelev over the 12 million chip mark.  

With that big stack, it wasn’t like Shevelev needed any help, but the players couldn’t resist giving it to him. After doubling up Frankenberger, Reilly would ship a sizeable chunk of her chips to the Russian after he sneakily turned a nine-high straight while holding an 8-5 off suit in the big blind. The resulting 8.1 million pot pushed Shevelev’s stack even higher and many on the rail thought the tournament was over.

Reilly couldn’t overcome the hand against Shevelev. Roughly 10 hands after battling the chip leader, Reilly would lock horns with Fish in a race. Reilly had the best of it pre-flop with her pocket Jacks against Fish’s A 10, but an Ace on the flop changed the fortunes of each player. There was paint on the turn, but it wasn’t the Jack that Reilly was looking for (Queen). Down to the river, Reilly instead saw a second nine as the hand went to Fish and she went to the cash out cage in fourth place.

Shevelev now had a challenger in Fish, but Frankenberger wasn’t going to go away easily. Looking to become a two-time champion on the WPT, Frankenberger would battle it out against the two big stacks for 30 hands before finally succumbing to Fish. With Frankenberger holding pocket sevens and Fish showing A♣ J♣, the flop kept Frankenberger safe. The Jack on the turn, however, wasn’t what Frankenberger wanted to see. Once a trey came on the river, Frankenberger’s dream of a second WPT title was dashed as he exited in third place.

With the knockout of Frankenberger, Fish narrowed the gap with Shevelev, but it was still a 4.4 million advantage for the Russian heading to the endgame. Forty hands into heads up play, however, Fish had been able to bring the stacks to almost even (Shevelev’s 13.9 million to Fish’s 13.4 million). That’s where the tournament would remain, with each player jumping out to a substantive lead before being reeled back in, for much of the four-plus hour battle.

Once the blinds reached the astronomical level of 300K/600K with a 100K ante, however, the deep stacks were gone and the all-in moves began. Beginning with Hand 199, eight of the next 10 hands would see a player all-in, with Hand 209 being the penultimate hand for the players. With Fish holding the lead, Shevelev challenged him with an all in and Fish made the call.

Shevelev had roughly a 60/40 edge with his A-10 over Fish’s K-J and continued to hold that edge when the flop came Q-9-8. A King on the turn, however, gave the lead over to Fish and left Shevelev looking for an Ace or a Jack (straight) to take the hand back. There was a straight on the river with the 10, but that straight was an unnecessary one for Fish to the King as he captured the hand and the championship.

1. Darryll Fish, $ 511,604
2. Aleksandr Shevelev, $ 331,116
3. Andy Frankenberger, $ 244,342
4. Ness Reilly, $ 182,249
5. Brett Bader, $ 137,440
6. Alan Krockey, $ 104,784

With this title, Fish goes over $ 3.75 million in career tournament earnings, a career that had previously been bereft of a major tournament championship. Although Fish has won on the WSOP Circuit and at the Aussie Millions, this is the first title for Fish on a major tournament schedule. It also adds on to an amazing 150 cashes for a career (and add in another 325 online finishes) that is showing no signs of slowing down.

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Marti Roca De Torres Comes from Behind to Earn WSOP-E Championship Event Title

 Marti Roca De Torres Comes from Behind to Earn WSOP E Championship Event Title

After an epic 14-hour battle in which he fought from an extremely disadvantageous position, Marti Roca De Torres was able to come back and defeat Gianluca Speranza to win the 2017 World Series of Poker Europe Championship Event bracelet.

The six players coming back on Friday to determine the championship ran the gamut of poker experience. Chip leader Maria Ho (7.83 million) was riding a hot streak as the leader for the last two days and arguably was one of the most experienced players on the felt. Roca De Torres was right behind her, however, with his 7.26 million stack but not the same wealth of experience. After them, the contenders were few as Gianluca Speranza (4.4 million), WSOP bracelet winner Niall Farrell (3.025 million), Mathijs Jonkers (2.785 million) and Robert Bickley (1.085 million) rounded out the table.

Roca De Torres came out of the stall firing and it nearly got him in trouble. He would double up Bickley on the first hand of action, but that would be a momentary setback. Roca De Torres won four consecutive hands, with the last one battling against Ho’s first action of the day, to slip into the lead by a mere 5000 chips. Roca De Torres extended that lead on Hand 76 when, with pocket Queens, he got Ho to bet on the flop and turn (he called) after he had hit a set on the flop and Ho hit top pair with her K-Q off suit.

It was the beginning of the end for Ho. After a Farrell raise to 275K, Ho asked for a chip count (3.255 million) and then moved all in with her leading stack. Farrell immediately called, tabling pocket Jacks, while Ho could only roll over pocket deuces for the fight. An Ace high board didn’t change anything and, for the first time in two days, Ho was the short stack on the table and Farrell was challenging Roca De Torres for the lead.

Down to her last 1.26 million ten hands after clashing with Farrell, Ho moved her stack into the center and Roca De Torres, in the small blind, only called her all in. Farrell asked for a count of Roca De Torres’ chips (and learning that Roca De Torres’ had more) before moving all in over the top of Ho’s all in. Roca De Torres didn’t hesitate at all in making the call, slapping his cards on the felt triumphantly:

Ho: A-J off suit
Farrell:  pocket Kings
Roca De Torres:  pocket Aces

With Farrell drawing thin and Ho drawing virtually to air, the nine-high board didn’t come close to giving anyone other than Roca De Torres anything. Because she started the hand with the least chips, Ho was dismissed in sixth place while Farrell was bounced in fifth place as Roca De Torres took a massive lead.

Holding more than twice the number of chips than his other three competitors combined, Roca De Torres (17.48 million) looked to be in total command over Speranza (3.45 million), Bickley (3.035 million), and Jonkers (2.47 million). As it turned out, the tournament was barely getting started as the four men battled for almost six hours before the next departure occurred.

The chip stacks were quite fluent during this time, with Roca De Torres trying to eliminate his opposition but doubling them up more than he would like. He would lose the lead to first Speranza and then Bickley, who would double on SEVEN different occasions to take over the lead. Jonkers was about the only player who didn’t hold the lead, but he was able to stay vibrant in the tournament through a judicious use of the all-in move himself. In fact, it was Jonkers who would deliver the knockout that found the fourth-place finisher.

With the blinds and antes whipping around four handed, Bickley made a move all in out of the small blind, but Jonkers wasn’t going anywhere in making the call. Bickley had been caught, sheepishly showing his 3-2, while Jonkers was dominant with his A 7. The Q-10-9-2-9 not only didn’t help Bickley any, the three spades that were there improved Jonkers to the nut flush and sent Bickley out of the King’s Casino in fourth place.

Even after the knockout, Jonkers and Roca De Torres were still way behind Speranza. That chip discrepancy got even greater after Speranza, on Hand 194, bumped off Jonkers in third place after turning am unnecessary spade nut flush against a pair for Jonkers. As Speranza and Roca De Torres settled in for the heads-up match, Speranza held a more than 3:1 lead (19.95 million to 6.5 million).

Roca De Torres tried to come out aggressively from the start of heads up, but it almost worked against him. 15 hands into the battle, Speranza’s lead was almost 4:1 (22.05 million to 4.4 million) and it seemed that the tournament was firmly in Speranza’s hand. But just as they were sounding the last rites for Roca De Torres, he rose from the grave.

Building his stack with small victories, Roca De Torres would take over the lead on Hand 226 when he called a Speranza all-in bluff on the river. Although Speranza took the lead back only nine hands later, it seemed that bluff catch by Roca De Torres served to inspire him. He would continuously shove on the Italian and gradually grinded his way back into a competitive situation.

When the end came, it was stunningly fast. First, on Hand 269, Roca De Torres moved all in against and Speranza made the call. It was a race situation, Roca De Torres’ pocket fives up against Speranza’s A-J off suit, and the race got closer when Speranza spiked on the A-9-3 rainbow flop. That race ended, however, when a five hit on the turn to give Roca De Torres an unbeatable set and the hand. Left with only 775K after the chips were counted, Speranza sent them to the center on Hand 270 with a 10-8 off suit against Roca De Torres’ Q-5. No eight was found on the K-5-4-A-3 board, earning the title for Roca De Torres in an inspired run.

1. Marti Roca De Torres, €1,115,207
2. Gianluca Speranza, €689,246
3. Mathijs Jonkers, €476,585
4. Robert Bickley, €335,089
5. Niall Farrell, €239,639
6. Maria Ho, €174,365
7. Jack Salter, €129,121*
8. Luis Rodriguez, €97,344*

(* – eliminated on Thursday, part of official final table)

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WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale Day 2 – Alan Sternberg Aims for Second WPT Title

 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale Day 2 – Alan Sternberg Aims for Second WPT Title

With the World Poker Tour (WPT) Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown paused before the final table, the $ 10,000 buy-in WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale was into its second day on Monday. When registration closed at the start of Day 2, there were 349 total entries, up seven from last year, and 193 players ready to go. When the smoke cleared at the end of the night, just 27 players remained with Alan Sternberg emerging as the chip leader.

Though Sternberg is out in front, it is really nearly a dead heat, as he has 1.6 million chips on the nose while Terry Schumacher is less than a big blind behind with 1.591 million. 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event champ Ryan Reiss has also eclipsed the million chip mark, starting Day 3 with 1.056 million.

Speaking with WPT.com after he had bagged his chips, Sternberg said that his road to the chip lead was “a pretty steady build.”

“There was about an hour in the middle of the day where I lost a third of my stack, but outside of that it was a pretty steady crawl up,” he added. “My biggest hand was I five-bet all in against Jonathan Little with A-K suited, and he had kings. The flop card was an ace, and that gave me the chip lead, and I just went from there.”

Hey, nobody said poker tournaments didn’t require a little luck.

Sternberg also employed what looked to be a wise strategy when the tournament was on the money bubble and action slowed way, way down. Noting that his table was stuffed with strong players like Jake Cody and Marvin Rettenmaier, Sternberg said he just sat back and tried not to engage if he didn’t have to.

“I just kind of took it easy, played my hands,” he said. His stack was still more than double the average when he finally got away from the table.

Sternberg is familiar with this territory, deep in a major live tournament. Though this will only be his tenth recorded live cash, he has one gigantic one on his resume: a million dollar win at the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Championship in 2011. All told, he has about $ 1.2 million in live earnings.

With the 349 entries for the tournament, the prize pool ended up at $ 3,315,500. Payouts go down to 44 places, so everyone playing today has already made the money. The winner will walk away with $ 716,088.

Day 3 is just getting started at the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale and will play down to the six-handed final table.

WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Finale – Day 2 Chip Leaders

1.    Alan Sternberg – 1,600,000
2.    Terry Schumacher – 1,591,000
3.    Ryan Riess – 1,056,000
4.    Josh Kay – 842,000
5.    Tim West – 828,000
6.    Cliff Josephy – 746,000
7.    Pat Lyons – 656,000
8.    Marvin Rettenmaier – 611,000
9.    Alex Keating – 608,000
10.    Noah Vaillancourt – 500,000

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Sam Panzica Earns Second WPT Title in Winning 2017 Bay 101 Shooting Star

 Sam Panzica Earns Second WPT Title in Winning 2017 Bay 101 Shooting Star

Although it appeared at the beginning that start of day chip leader chip leader David ‘Chino’ Rheem would be the one making history, it was Sam Panzica who would etch his name in the World Poker Tour record books after winning the 2017 Bay 101 Shooting Star championship early Saturday morning.

Rheem came into the action on Friday with a massive chip lead over the field. His 10.65 million chips dominated the second-place stack of Rainer Kempe (3.705 million), who could have been more concerned with fending off Panzica (3.215 million) and Paul Volpe (3.005 million) than mounting an attack. Anthony Spinella (2.635 million) also bore watching as, with a singular double up, he would push his name into the second-place slot. Only Dennis Stevermer, the short stack on the table with less than a million chips (980,000), was the only player who those in the Bay 101 tournament arena thought would have no shot at the title.

Surprisingly (considering he only held 12 big blinds entering the action), Stevermer wasn’t the first departure from the final table. He got a key double through Kempe to crack the 1.5 million chip mark, then started using the “all in” move to further increase his stack. In a span of ten hands, Stevermer would move all in four times – and not be called – and win one pot outright with a pre-flop raise to get over the two million chip mark. This aggression allowed him to be able to witness the first elimination of the day – and it wasn’t him.

After Rheem popped the pot out of the cutoff on Hand 37, Kempe (the final Shooting Star left in the tournament) moved all in out of the small blind in an attempt to push the chip leader off his hand. Instead, given the opportunity to knock out a dangerous opponent, Rheem quickly made the call. It didn’t hurt that Rheem also had pocket Kings, a definitive favorite against Kempe’s A-9 off suit. Kempe would get no help from the eight-high board and not only left the tournament in sixth place but also had to hand his Shooting Star medallion and a signed t-shirt to Rheem, who was more interested perhaps in the $ 2500 that came along with the bounty knockout.

Rheem’s dominance was only enhanced with the Kempe elimination as he now held more chips (13.485 million) than the other four men did combined (10.705 million). Volpe put a dent in it by doubling through Rheem on the next hand after Kempe’s departure, but this status quo would stay in place for some time. In fact, it would be almost 30 hands before a significant change would occur in the standings.

On Hand 65, Spinella put in a raise to 250K and Rheem defended his big blind to see a monochrome K 9 2 flop. Rheem checked his option and, after Spinella put in another 250K bet, Rheem fired all in over Spinella’s bet. Stunningly Spinella immediately called, showing a J 3 for a flopped flush, while Rheem held the A (along with an off suit eight) for the redraw to the nut flush. Unfortunately for Rheem, a black nine and a black Jack finished off the board, doubling up Spinella to 7.74 million chips (and second place) and knocking Rheem under an eight-figure stack for the first time at the final table.

Rheem would rectify that situation in eliminating Stevermer only seven hands later. The chips went all in pre-flop and Stevermer had the edge with his A-8 over Rheem’s K-9. The flop was a tantalizing one, coming 9-7-6 to give Rheem the tentative lead with his pair of nines but giving Stevermer an open ended straight draw. That draw wouldn’t come home, however, as Stevermer, who many thought was dead meat on arrival at the final table, lasted 72 hands before departing in fifth place.

Back over 11 million in chips, Rheem tried to put the foot back on the gas pedal and win what would be his record fourth WPT title, but Spinella would once again be a thorn in his side. On Hand 84, Rheem lost the chip lead for the first time when, after a J-5-2 flop, Rheem let Spinella have a 4.1 million pot to fall back to second place by only 25,000 chips. Spinella and Rheem would clash again on the next hand and the endgame would be the same, except this time Spinella rivered a deuce after turning an Ace for two pair against Rheem’s flopped pair of Kings to win the hand. With that win, Spinella was now the dominant chip leader, moving past 12 million in chips as Rheem slipped back to 6.675 million.

This only served to light a fire under Rheem, who would take down Volpe a few hands later. On Hand 90, Rheem pushed the action to 375K and Volpe, in the big blind, defended to see an 8 7♠ 4♠ flop. This seemingly innocuous flop instead seemed to light the fireworks as, after Rheem sent another 375K to the pot, Volpe check-raised his remaining three million chips. Rheem immediately called, showing pocket Kings, while Volpe was quite live with his Q♠ J♠ for the flush draw. The turn and river were black, but they were clubs, sending Volpe home in fourth place while pushing Rheem into a solid second behind Spinella.

At this point, Panzica was in no position to even posit winning the tournament. With slightly more than three million in chips, Panzica’s stack was three time smaller than Rheem’s and almost four times smaller than Spinella’s. The longest journeys take a singular step, as the saying goes, and Panzica’s journey was an audacious one.

The threesome played 18 hands before Panzica took over second place, but Rheem still was exercising his dominance. Another 30 hands would see Rheem reestablish his edge with 13.25 million chips, while Panzica and Spinella fought over the scraps. On Hand 151, however, Panzica and Rheem would enter a hand that would change the course of the tournament.

Panzica raised the button and Spinella made the call from the small blind, but Rheem was having none of it. He moved all in out of the big blind and Panzica was more than happy to dance, pushing his stack to the center. A cautious Spinella got out of the way and it proved to be the right move; Panzica’s pocket Aces dominated Rheem’s Q-J and, after the ten-high flop came down, the double for Panzica put him neck and neck with Rheem for the chip lead.

Panzica would take over at this point and never look back. The very next hand after doubling through Rheem, Panzica seized the chip lead after butting heads with Rheem again and stretched it out over the next five hands. In taking another big pot against Rheem – this one worth 8.3 million chips – Panzica would put Rheem on the short stack. The end was on the horizon, but the final chapter remained to be written.

On Hand 167, Spinella doubled through Rheem to drop the former chip leader to only two big blinds and would eliminate him on the very next hand. Spinella now was sitting with a nice 5.75 million stack, but it dwindled in the face of the monstrous 18.475 million chip mountain sitting in front of Panzica. Although he earned one double to pull closer, Spinella never saw the chip lead in heads up play.

On the final hand, Spinella pushed out a raise only to see Panzica power over the top of him all in. Spinella called and tabled an A-8, normally good in a heads up setting, but Panzica had a couple of pips on him in tabling A-10. The Jack high flop (J-5-3-4-5) didn’t change anything, sending Panzica to his second WPT championship in winning the Shooting Star.

1. Sam Panzica, $ 1,373,000
2. Anthony Spinella, $ 786,610
3. David ‘Chino’ Rheem, $ 521,660
4. Paul Volpe, $ 349,610
5. Dennis Stevermer, $ 243,090
6. Rainer Kempe, $ 188,460

There’s no rest for these men as, for Rheem, Kempe and Volpe at the minimum, the final leg of the WPT California Swing starts today. The WPT Rolling Thunder at the Thunder Valley Casino near Sacramento begins on Saturday and it is the final chance for players to earn points toward that title (Mike Sexton currently leads those standings). Panzica will also probably head to Thunder Valley also, but not until he’s finished celebrating his second WPT title.

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