The PokerStars Championship Panama $10,300 High Roller attracted 110 entrants to Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino, which created a robust $1,067,000 prize pool. The tournament marked the third five-figure buy-in event held during the Championship's 11-day run in Panama City, and in the end, it was Steve O’Dwyer who walked away with a $240,451 first-place prize.
The win was just the latest on O’Dwyer’s impressive résumé of high roller events. In 2015, he took down the PCA $100,000 Super High Roller for a career-high $1,872,580, which came just two months after he won the APPT ACOP Super High Roller in Macau for $1,811,638. He also has high roller wins in Prague, Australia, and Malta, not to mention winning the EPT9 Grand Final in Monte Carlo for more than $1.6 million.
O’Dwyer joins the likes of Ben Tollerene and Stephen Chidwick as High Roller winners in Panama. Last week, the former topped a field of 33 entries to win the $50,000 Super High Roller for over a half million dollars, while the latter took down the $25,000 single-day event, outlasting a field of 44 to move his total career earnings across the $7 million mark.
*Denotes heads-up chop
Back on Day 2, several players finished in the money by making the top 15 before the conclusion of play. They included Jean Ferreira (15th - $18,140), Paul Newey (13th - $19,740), Sergio Aido (12th - $19,740), Andrew Chen (10th - $22,400), and Anthony Zinno (sixth - $62,690).
That left five players returning for the third and final day, but that number was cut by one almost immediately when the short-stacked Felipe Ramos, the last Team PokerStars Pro in the field, ran pocket kings smack dab into Francois Billard’s pocket aces. No king would come and Ramos hit the rail in sixth place.
It took more than four hours for the next elimination to occur, during which time the chip lead exchanged hands several times. Eventually, Chris “Big Huni” Hunichen and Billard flipped in a big pot with the latter’s ace-queen getting there on the river against the former’s pocket eights. Hunichen was left with a single big blind and busted two hands later.
Not long after, Billard found himself in another race situation with ace-queen, but this time he failed to overcome the pocket tens of O’Dwyer. That saw O’Dwyer take 3.4 million into heads-up play against Sam Greenwood, who had 1.1 million.
A quick double by Greenwood with pocket fours against ace-king nearly evened the stacks and the duo opted to strike a deal that saw O’Dwyer lock up $231,862, Greenwood $223,149, and $8,589 and the trophy left on the table.
O'Dwyer confirmed he wasn't even thinking about a deal until that double.
"He only had 20 big blinds, and I'm pretty confident in knowing when to gamble with 20 big blinds," he said.
The atmosphere in the room also contributed to O'Dwyer's desire to end the tournament as quickly as possible. A cadre of fans surrounded the main stage in the center of the tournament area, where the Main Event final table was being played. Their loud cheers often pierced the stoic calm of the final few runners in the high roller, none of whom was prone to more than a few words at a time aside from some Hunichen banter.
"Once I doubled him up... it's so loud in here and I had a really bad headache," O'Dwyer said. "Once I didn't bust him on that pot, I'm happy to just chop it up and get out of the room."
In the first hand post-deal, O’Dwyer picked off a Greenwood bluff and a few hands later finished off his opponent after committing with a double gutter that turned into a pair.
O'Dwyer said he plans to continue grinding in the coming months and may even up his volume.
"In the last few months, I haven't played that much poker," he said. "I'm ready to start playing more again. I'll be at most [stops] for the next few months."
Given O'Dwyer's massive success in the high roller scene to date, that's not a prospect that will likely be welcomed by the other regulars.
Congratulations to Steve O’Dwyer, winner of the 2017 PokerStars Championship Panama $10,300 High Roller!
The next PokerStars Championship festival will take place March 30 through April 9 in Macau, and the PokerNews Live Reporting Team will have boots on the ground to bring you live updates throughout.