Young poker pro Sam Panzica has just added another title to his portfolio and a hefty payday of $1,373,000 to his bankroll. The player bested the massive record-breaking field of the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star $7,500 Main Event for his career’s best accomplishment to date.
Last October, Panzica emerged victorious in the WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble $5,000 Main Event, so winning a WPT title was a feeling well familiar to him. The player said in his post-Bay 101 victory last night that that second title was more dear to him due to the event’s larger scale and the fact that he had to face a really tough competition, including three-time WPT Main Event winner Chino Rheem, who was going for his fourth title and was actually very close to capturing it.
The Shooting Star Main Event kicked off on March 6 to gather together 806 entries, both poker professionals and recreational players. A prize pool of $5,722,600 was generated as a result and the top 81 finishers left with a payday for their efforts.
The event’s final day was played on Friday, March 10, with six finalists eyeing the $1,373,000 first-place prize. Final-table play began with Rheems holding an overwhelming chip lead which he managed to maintain for quite some time. Fierce to win his record fourth title, Rheems was responsible for most of the eliminations at the table. Eventually, he ended up in 3rd place for $521,660.
Panzica kept quiet at first but it was halfway through the final day when he started building a solid stack until he had 75% of all chips in play by his side. The player entered into the final two-handed match against Anthony Spinella with a 4:1 advantage. Spinella meant to be a tough nut to crack as he managed to reduce the margin. Yet, despite his efforts, it took only five hands of play before the name of the winner became clear.
Hand #173 was the final one to be dealt. On it, Panzica’s [Ah][10s] clashed against his opponent’s [Ac][8c]. A blank [Jh][5h][3d][4d][5c] board secured Panzica with that last pot and the title. Spinella earned $786,610 for his runner-up finish.
Emerging victorious in the Shooting Star event, Panzica also secured a $15,000-worth seat into the season-ending Tournament of Champions, set to take place on April 7-9 at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino – Hollywood.