Every week, PokerNews will bring you the top performance from the previous week.
There were many great performances last week: Mikita Badziakouski defeating the reclusive Tom Dwan in heads-up play to win the 2017 Macau Billionaire Poker Spring Challenge HK$500,000 Super High Roller event, Cate Hall overwhelming defeating Mike Dentale in the #MikeAndCatePlusHate best of three heads-up grudge matches and Steve O'Dwyer adding yet another high roller championship to his long list by winning the PokerStars Championship Panama $10,300 High Roller.
However, Kenneth Smaron outshone them all. He won the PokerStars Championship Panama $5,300 Main Event for $293,860 on a final table where all players except one had the lead at one point.
Smaron, the sole American on the six-max final table, entered the final day in play in third place in chips. He remained in this position as Canada's Anthony Diotte (sixth place - $65,520) and Germany's Robin Luca Wozniczek (fifth place - $88,480) were eliminated in the tournament within the first 35 hands of the final table to shrink the remaining field down to four players.
Smaron then took the lead and never looked back. He eliminated Belgium's Jonathan Abdellatif in fourth place for $119,480 before Canada's Harpreet Gill eliminated Russia's Denis Timofeev in third place for $161,340.
Smaron entered heads-up play against Gill with a small chip advantage before chipping up a bit against his opponent. Just nine hands into heads-up play and the 170th of the final table came the defining moment for Smaron.
With blinds at 50,000/100,000 and an ante of 10,000, Gill limped with ten-eight offsuit from the button. Smaron raised from the big blind to 525,000 with king-jack suited before Gill shoved for 2,615,000.
Smaron tanked for a few moments before he called. He shipped the first PokerStars Championship Panama Main Event in history, while Gill collected the runner-up prize of $217,860, after the board blanked for both players.
Social Media Reaction
While Smaron did not tweet about his performance, there were a number of people tweeting about the win and congratulating him on the accomplishment.
Congrats to @KennethSmaron on winning #PSCPanama Main Event for $293,860. Impressive performance throughout.… https://t.co/o25D3TsPWX— Chad Allan Holloway (@ChadAHolloway)
Congratulations to @KennethSmaron for winning the very first @PokerStarsLIVE Panama Main Event https://t.co/dMH5Iyd3R8— Neil Stoddart (@BigSlickNeil)
Congrats to 32-year-old Kevin Smaron who became the inaugural Champion at #PSCPanama, taking home the title and $29… https://t.co/8zaV84bBwy— PokerStars (@PokerStars)
Old School Grinder
Under the screenname "kenny05", Smaron has been a well-known high-stakes sit & go tournament and multi-table tournament grinder for over a decade. Originally from Philadelphia, the poker pro still grinds online after Black Friday from his second home in Costa Rica.
According to PokerProLabs, Smaron has notched three six-digit hauls in online poker tournaments at PokerStars in his career, all of which came after Black Friday. His first came in May 2012 when he took third place in the SCOOP-20-H: $2,100 NL Hold'em [$750K Gtd] for $156,400.
His next two six-digit cashes came three years later. In May 2015 he won $180,794 after finishing in first place as part of a heads-up deal in the SCOOP-40-H: $2,100 NL Hold'em [Turbo, Zoom], $500K Gtd. A few months later, in October 2015, he won the runner-up prize of $128,702 in the $215 Sunday Million, $1M Gtd.
Smaron also has been playing live poker tournaments for over a decade with over $1.2 million in career cashes according to The Hendon Mob.
He made a name for himself on the live poker scene after he won the 2015 PokerStars European Poker Tour Season 12 Prague €10,300 High Roller for €595,000 ($654,302). This was his only biggest poker cash outside of the PokerStars Championship Panama Main Event.
Be sure to complete your PokerNews experience by checking out an overview of our mobile and tablet apps here. Stay on top of the poker world from your phone with our mobile iOS and Android app, or fire up our iPad app on your tablet. You can also update your own chip counts from poker tournaments around the world with MyStack on both Android and iOS.