Sam Panzica Wins WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble ($354,335)

Sam Panzica, WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble

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  • Sam Panzica engineered a massive comeback heads up to win WPT bestbest Jacksonville for $354,335.

Sam Panzica showed off his heads-up chops with a massive comeback to defeat Richard Malone Jr. and take home his first World Poker Tour title at WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble.

Panzica banked $354,335 for topping the field of 379 players, his second biggest score after his victory in a high roller at the European Poker Tour Dublin last year He's now surpassed $1.8 million in live cashes.

Official Final Table Results

PlacePlayerPrize
1Sam Panzica$354,335*
2Richard Malone Jr.$237,616
3Ankush Mandavia$152,766
4Tyler Patterson$100,643
5Noah Schwartz$77,499
6Paul Balzano$64,183

*Includes $15,000 WPT Tournament of Champions entry

When the final table began, all eyes were on a pair of former champions. Tyler Patterson was attempting to be the first player to go back-to-back at an event after winning this one last year, while Noah Schwartz also had a chance to make WPT history by being the first player to win the same event twice — he took it down back in 2012.

Paul Balzano busted in brutal fashion right away on the very first hand of the day, according to the live updates. He three-bet from the small blind over Malone Jr.'s button open and got it in on the turn with kings on a board of {j-Spades}{6-Spades}{4-Hearts}{10-Clubs}. Malone Jr. decided to call with {k-Spades}{q-Clubs} and saw he was in dire need of help without as many outs as he expected, but the {9-Hearts} gave him a winning straight.

Just a few hands later, Schwartz joined Balzano on the rail when he jammed 17 big blinds with king-queen only to have Malone Jr. wake up with ace-king. That gave Malone Jr. about half of the chips in play four-handed.

Forty hands in, two players went bust after a massive hand. It started with Malone Jr. opening the button to 155,000 at 30,000/60,000/10,000. Patterson shoved from the small blind for 860,000 and Ankush Mandavia did likewise in the big for just over two million. Malone Jr. thought awhile and called.

Malone Jr.: {a-Spades}{q-Spades}
Patterson: {k-Hearts}{k-Diamonds}
Mandavia: {10-Spades}{10-Hearts}

The flop brought an ace and that was it for Mandavia and Patterson, ensuring the WPT Champions Club would be inducting a new member in a few hours.

Panzica was staring at about a 2-1 deficit entering heads-up play, but there was plenty of room to maneuver as he had north of 60 big blinds. The early rounds of the battle went to Malone Jr. and he opened up a nearly 10-1 lead about 20 hands in. Left with under 20 big blinds, Panzica was reduced to shoving in preflop to survive.

The comeback began with Panzica and Malone Jr. seeing an {8-Spades}{7-Spades}{6-Spades} flop for the minimum. Panzica check-shoved over a bet with {10-Diamonds}{5-Spades} but Malone Jr. snapped him off with {a-Clubs}{a-Diamonds}. Panzica needed help but had tons of outs, and the {9-Spades} turn was one of them, giving him a straight flush and the double to 26 big blinds.

Panzica found another double at Hand #113, flopping a set of tens and getting lucky when Malone Jr. turned a pair of aces to pay off his river shove on a board of {10-Spades}{8-Diamonds}{5-Spades}{a-Diamonds}{j-Diamonds}.

Panzica continued to chip away at Malone Jr. A bit later the two were even. The tide continued to swell in his favor, though, and Panzica took a decisive lead at Hand #156, with blinds at 125,000/250,000/25,000. Panzica checked his big blind and check-called 300,000 on a {k-Spades}{5-Clubs}{3-Hearts} flop. Both checked the {7-Hearts} and Panzica got 450,000 paid off on the river, showing down {k-Clubs}{6-Diamonds} for two pair to take a nearly 3-1 lead and reduce Malone Jr. to 12 big blinds.

At Hand #185, after more than four hours of heads-up play, Panzica ended it when he shoved the button with {k-Hearts}{9-Clubs} and got a call from Malone Jr.'s {a-Clubs}{3-Diamonds}. The board ran out in Panzica's favor as he hit two pair, completing his massive comeback and earning him the first-place money and a ticket to the WPT Tournament of Champions.

Image courtesy of WPT

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