The red spade's big move for a major event in Central America resulted in some solid fields, with PokerNews on hand for live coverage of the $5,300 Main Event, the $10,300 High Roller and the $25,000 Single-Day High Roller at PokerStars Championship Panama.
Today, we'll look back on five of the marquee hands that shaped the event, starting with one that propelled Steve O'Dwyer to yet another high roller trophy.
Steve O'Dwyer Outruns Anthony Zinno
O'Dwyer had spent much of Day 2 as one of the chip leaders before sliding back into the middle of the pack shortly after the money bubble burst.
Anthony Zinno, meanwhile, had been nursing a short stack for much of the day, but both were on the upswing when the unofficial final table draw sat them a couple of seats away from each other.
Zinno managed to cooler Sam Chartier when both had trips tens, and O'Dwyer scored an elimination of his own. Zinno sat with around 600,000 and O'Dwyer had around 1.2 million when they played a pot at 8,000/16,000/2,000.
It began with Zinno opening for 40,000 in the cutoff and O'Dwyer making it 128,000 from his big blind. Zinno responded with an all-in shove.
"You got a big one?" O'Dwyer asked with a smile, taking off his headphones. "I've got a little one."
O'Dwyer and Zinno are very familiar with each other's games from their numerous clashes on the high roller circuit. Whatever clues O'Dwyer had from the past and present told him to call, so call he did for about half of his stack.
O'Dwyer had the right read, as Zinno wasn't exactly shoving for value but had to be happy to be flipping when O'Dwyer called for such a big jam. The board ran out clean for O'Dwyer and the relocated American player suddenly had all of the chips again.
He rode that lead to another big score, finishing things out on Day 2 for $240,451 after taking the good half of a heads-up chop with Sam Greenwood.
Tito Ortiz Rolls Up a Stack on Day 1
PokerStars has been making an effort to diversify the player pool, inviting a number of celebrity guests to recent events. For PokerStars Championship Panama, mixed martial arts legend Tito Ortiz was in the house and he made a surprise run in the Main Event reminiscent of what Ronado did at the old PokerStars Caribbean Adventure a few years back.
What really fueled Ortiz was the huge stack he bagged on Day 1 of the event, when he found himself among the leaders at day's end. In particular, he won a massive pot that sent PokerStars Team Pro Liv Boeree packing and allowed him to take much of the stack of Lokesh Garg, one of the leaders at the time.
Picking up the action on the turn, the board read , and Boeree was already all in. Ortiz bet 15,000 out of the big blind into a side pot of 20,000, and Garg called. The river paired the board with the . Ortiz fired again for 30,000, and Garg called without delay.
Ortiz tabled his for a boat, and Garg mucked his face-up. The short-stacked Boeree had gotten in there with pocket threes and took her leave. Ortiz dragged a pot of around 200 big blinds.
Igor Yaroshevskyy Sets Up His Deep Run
A Ukrainian pro with more than $2 million in cashes, Igor Yaroshevskyy is always a player to watch at any event. That's especially true when he has north of 300 big blinds, which is exactly what happened on Day 2 of the Main Event.
With blinds at 500/1,000/100, play had just gotten underway with the two Day 1 fields combining. Yaroshevskyy had brought in one of the biggest stacks and found himself sharing a table with fellow big stack Vicente Delgado.
Delgado showed he wasn't going to back down from Yaroshevskyy, four-betting to 21,200 after Yaroshevskyy three-bet his middle-position open to 7,500. Yaroshevskyy was going nowhere, and he put in another raise to 47,500. Delgado wasted little time before shoving all in for about 138,000, but Yaroshevskyy had the goods:
It was the rare six-bet bluff. Delgado needed an ace or some hearts. None appeared as the board ran out jack-high, and Yaroshevskyy suddenly had 359 big blinds, which he rode to a 10th-place finish for $27,260.
Yaroshevskyy Bluffs Off His Own Pile
With such a pedigree and such a stack, Yaroshevskyy had to be among the favorites to win the event, and he looked like he'd make good on that as he held the chip lead until late in Day 4. That's when he ran into American player James Salmon.
Yaroshevskyy was using his massive stack to put constant pressure on his opponents, and he continued that trend by opening to 14,000 in middle position at 3,000/6,000/1,000. Salmon called from the cutoff, and the two went heads up to a flop.
Yaroshevskyy bet again, this time for 12,000, and Salmon kicked it up to 28,000. Yaroshevskyy made it 100,000, and Salmon called. The Ukrainian blasted out again with 127,000 on the turn, and Salmon called. On the river, Yaroshevskyy put Salmon all in. It was about 240,000 more into a pot that now contained over 700,000, and Salmon decided he couldn't let his go.
Yaroshevskyy was forced to turn over his bluff: . Salmon dragged the huge pot and took over the chip lead, though he'd eventually finish seventh, bubbling the tournament's final day.
Unknown German Wozniczek Shows His Own Bluffing Chops
With the players in the Main Event gathered around the unofficial final table of nine, Robin Luca Wozniczek looked like one of the wild cards in the field. The German player with nary a live cash to his name showed he wasn't afraid of the moment when he pulled off a huge bluff.
With blinds at 10,000/20,000/3,000, chip leader and eventual winner Kenny Smaron made it 45,000 to go in middle position. Wozniczek called in the cutoff, and skilled Russian Denis Timofeev bumped it to 160,000 on the button. Action folded back to Wozniczek, and he came out raising with 320,000. Timofeev called.
The flop came , and Wozniczek put in a tiny bet of 183,000. Timofeev called. With over 1 million in the pot, Wozniczek bet 285,000 on the turn, and this time, Timofeev gave up his hand.
Wozniczek tabled and raked in a pot that made him essentially tied for the chip lead with Smaron. He'd go on to finish fifth for $88,480.
Have you ever wanted to write your own articles about poker? Maybe you've got some experiences or opinions about poker that you'd like to share. PokerNews is proud to launch The PN Blog where you can have a platform to make your voice heard. Learn more here.