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Gianluca Pace Wins MSPT Main Event at Sycuan Casino Resort ($74,562)

Gianluca Pace

Gianluca Pace of Encinitas, California is the winner of the Mid-Stakes Poker Tour (MSPT) $1,110 Main Event at Sycuan Casino Resort in San Diego. The tournament drew 460 runners over three opening flights as part of the Showdown Series in the MSPT’s kick-off to Season 13. After a final four deal, first place was good for $74,562 from a prize pool of $444,700.

Pace took home an extra $23,500 after the final four agreed to a deal that split up the prize pool based on the size of their chip stacks. Along with Pace, Anthony Pitesa, Huy Nguyen, and DJ Buckley left the trophy and 10% of the prize pool behind to play for, with the Encinitas-native coming out on top. In addition to their share of the prize pool, all four players earned 1,200 Player of the Year points to kick off the 2022 campaign.

MSPT Sycuan Main Event Final Table Results

PlaceNameHometownPrize
1Gianluca PaceEncinitas, CA$74,562*
2Anthony PitesaLong Beach, CA$61,194*
3DJ BuckleyShakopee, MN$58,631*
4Huy NguyenWestminster, CA$41,487*
5Lena EvansBeverly Hills, CA$21,346
6Richard AlsupHopkins, MN$16,454
7Jason HickeyMarina del Rey, CA$12,896
8Scott SubakSan Diego, CA$10,673

*Denotes four-way deal

Wild Weekend for the Winner

“I’m going to enjoy this moment,” said Pace in a post-win interview with PokerNews.

The win caps off a whirlwind weekend for Pace, who fired three bullets in a satellite on Day 1c before finally qualifying. He parlayed that entry into a big chip stack and qualified for Day 2 among the leaders.

It was Pace’s first win in a large tournament after years of grinding the poker scenes in Oceanside and San Mateo.

“I am going to take this one moment at a time. I’m very happy.”

Final Table Action

Christopher Skinner fell in ninth place when he shoved with ace-king and ran into Pitesa’s pocket kings. Skinner’s bustout kicked off an eight-handed final table, where Scott Subak was first to the rail when his kings were cracked by Pace’s set of eights.

Jason Hickey wasn’t far behind in seventh place after shoving his ace-king into another pocket pair of cowboys from Pitesa. A few minutes later, MSPT Hall of Famer Rich Aslup shoved with ace-nine, but Pitesa was waiting once again, this time with pocket queens.

The run propelled Pitesa to a commanding chip lead, but DJ Buckley fought into the mix with a few big pots and the elimination of Lena Evans, who shoved with nines but lost to Buckley’s tens. Poker fans might recall Evans as the founder of the women's group Poker League of Nations. She is also currently involved in a high-profile lawsuit against PayPal with 2003 WSOP Main Event champ Chris Moneymaker advising.

DJ Buckley
DJ Buckley came up short in his bid for the MSPT Hall of Fame.

The final four cut an ICM chop deal of which Pitesa claimed the lion’s share, but he was out in fourth when his ace-deuce came up short against Nguyen’s ace-king. Buckley, who would make the MSPT Hall of Fame with a victory, followed in third place when his ace-queen couldn’t improve against Pace’s jacks.

With Buckley out of the way, Pace eliminated Nguyen in short order to take down his first MSPT Main Event title.

Congratulations to Gianluca Pace on his victory at the MSPT Main Event at Sycuan Casino Resort in San Diego!

The next stop for the MSPT is at Bally’s Black Hawk Casino in Black Hawk, Colorado. The series runs from Jan. 19-30 with the Main Event taking place Jan. 27-30.

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  • Gianluca Pace won the @mpstpoker $1,110 Main Event at @SycuanCasino in San Diego for $74,562.

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Executive Editor U.S.

Executive Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.

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