2014 PCA champ Dominik Panka, who turned 24 yesterday, had his birthday wish come true — he's made the EPT Malta final table and is still in contention for the €810,400 first-place prize.
Panka hails from the tiny town of Brześć Kujawski in Poland and before the PCA only had $8,092 in live tournament cashes to his name, the majority of that from a 42nd place finish in the EPT 10 Barcelona Estrellas €2K High Roller.
The Pole shot to fame in January last year when he took down the flagship tourney in the Bahamas for $1,423,096. At the very next EPT stop in Deauville, he won the €10K High Roller for a further €272,000. His fantastic performance in 2014 earned him a nomination for the European Poker Awards Breakout Player of the Year Award, Tournament Performance of the Year and the trophy for Polish Player of the Year. Panka is the only former EPT champion left in the field, meaning he has the chance to become the second player — and the first man — to win two EPT title.
"I’m surer of myself," Panka told PokerNews earlier this week about how his life has changed over the last year. "Before, I was just playing online and was a winning player but I couldn’t be that financially stable. I was playing a decent amount online and was a winning player although I would suffer losing streaks, but now I have financial stability I feel more mature. I would feel good most of the time, but after PCA, with all the traveling to the EPTs and being sponsored by PokerStars for a year, it’s just a great experience."