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
|2||Richard Malone Jr.||$237,616|
*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 . Malone Jr. decided to call with and saw he was in dire need of help without as many outs as he expected, but the 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.
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 flop for the minimum. Panzica check-shoved over a bet with but Malone Jr. snapped him off with . Panzica needed help but had tons of outs, and the 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 .
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 flop. Both checked the and Panzica got 450,000 paid off on the river, showing down 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 and got a call from Malone Jr.'s . 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