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With 3-time WPT champ Chino Rheem coming into the Bay 101 final table last night with half the chips in play, the safe bet was on a repeat WPT winner.
And that’s what happened. It just wasn’t the one everyone expected.
The winner of last year’s WPT best bet Bounty Scramble in October, 24-year-old Sam Panzica, instead climbed past Rheem and Anthony Spinella heads-up to claim the title.
This time around Panzica earned 4x that big Jacksonville score and earned himself a shot at the WPT Player of the Year crown, too.
Rheem Shorts Out in 3rd, Kempe Out 6th
With two tables left Panzica was on the shorter end of things with just 450k but by the time the final table rolled around was a solid third with 3.2m in chips.
Rheem was the run-away leader with 10.6m, though, and looked primed to grab his record 4th World Poker Tour title.
It didn’t turn out that way as Rheem lost his chip lead midway in and was out in third after losing big pots to Panzica and Spinella in quick succession.
Rheem still pocketed $521,660 for his finish to push his career live tournament earnings to an impressive $8.7m.
After a deal that secured him $1.2m, Panzica and Spinella played it out heads-up and in five hands he claimed his second WPT title in five months.
As he already had a $15,000 seat in the WPT Championship this Spring, he earned the extra $15k in cash along with the Hublot watch and Champions Cup.
He even put himself a min-cash away from taking over the WPT POY lead with a few events still to come.
The win might also have made Panzica feel a bit better about his decision to play the event after all, as it didn’t start out to his liking:
Hey @WPT next time your going to make us play for 13.5 hours and 10 handed on day 1 let me know before the tourney so I can skip it. Thanks
— Sam Panzica (@bestindabiz51) March 8, 2017
This year’s Bay 101 drew a record 806 entries and built a $5.7 million prize pool.
Despite coming into the final table second in chips the lone remaining Shooting Star, Rainer Kempe, was first to bust in sixth. Complete results and payouts from the WPT Bay 101 final table:
1. Sam Panzica – $1,373,000
2. Anthony Spinella – $786,610
3. Chino Rheem – $521,660
4. Paul Volpe – $349,610
5. Dennis Stevermer – $243,090
6. Rainer Kempe – $188,460
Read the full rundown of the final-table action over in the WPT Live Updates.