EPT12 Dublin: Samuel Panzica flops quads to win High Roller and €375,770
The RDS is a huge venue. So big in fact that even while hosting one of the biggest poker festivals in the country, it can also host an even bigger convention in the hall next door called Divine Mercy** which, shall we say, has a different agenda to, say, a high roller event.
But at the conclusion of that "holy" roller event tonight you couldn't help wondering what sort of influence divine mercy played in the outcome. At least new champion Sam Panzica will be thinking that tonight as he leaves the RDS tonight, passing several hundred evangelicals while carrying a shiny trophy and a first prize of €375,770.
He got there thanks to a remarkable performance, but also a last hand that will be talked about for some time yet, one that depended upon (are you listening Divine Mercy?) three Kings.
After a cagey heads up that had swung between Panzica and his opponent Akin Tuna, Panzica finally got a good hold on the edge he'd worked hard on. Then the last hand came. For Tuna jack-ten, for Panzica, well we'll get to that.
After much time spend swapping chips; the three Kings arrived, together on the same flop. By the river it had given Tuna a full house, which for Panzica, holding the fourth king, must have felt like a miracle, even more so when Tuna called his all-in.
Watching from the rail it was hard to understand how Panzica had contained himself - one of many things perhaps that separate the pros from the giddy amateurs. While the rest of us looked on in wonder, Panzica and Tuna shook hands, both not quite believing how things had ended, but laughing nonetheless.
The other clues came in the rest of Panzica's performance, a personal best on the EPT, and one fully deserving of the title and silverware. And to think he'd thought about skipping it.
Looked at the 10k field and think I am going to skip. Anyone in Dublin want to get food and go do something fun hit me up #daysoff— Sam Panzica (@bestindabiz51) February 18, 2016
Whatever it was that changed his mind (still with me Divine Mercy?) it was a career defining one. While high rollers often play the part of poor relative on what is the last day of the festival - permanently in the shadow of the TV lights and main event stage, it still appeals to players, many of whom stopped by to watch, drink in hand.
Play resumed today with 13 players (full payouts can be found here), the first to go being Diego Ventura. He was followed by Sam Chartier and Christoph Vogelsang, then Jerry Odeen and Rocco Palumbo, who busted in ninth to leave an official final eight.
There was no urgency to the eliminations. The Gods decided there would be double ups first to raise the blood pressure, seven to be exact, with Riess, Arruda, Kitai, Riess again, Adams, Patel and Arruda again, all doubling up before the first of them was sent to the rail.
That would be Arruda, who ran jacks into Patel's ace-queen, which became a straight on the river. Adams followed a short while later when his ace-ten fell to the ace-queen of Panzica.
Former World Champion Ryan Riess went later, having fought well with the short stack. He found pocket sevens just as Kitai found pocket eights. Not that it did Kitai much good. He busted next in fifth place when his ace-seven was undone by Tuna's ace-six, which with some good fortune was turned into a straight by the river.
Patel got similar treatment, seemingly ahead with ace-ten only to watch Panzica's ace-eight overtake him on the turn.
Then it was Lebedev's turn.
Chip leader at the start of the day, the Russian will nurse bruises tonight having taken knocks in the run up to the final table. He lasted until third though, busting with threes against Panzica's nines, a hand that gave Panzica an edge going into heads up.
The two finalists quickly agreed to a deal, splitting the money marginally in Panzica's favour, with €65,770 (and the trophy) left to play for. It meant a first prize of €375,770 to the American, watched to the finish line by the likes of Mike McDonald and Chance Kornuth. Tuna, who let's not forget had played the game of his career, having been the first person to bust (and re-enter on Day 1) and the last, took away €290,000 as runner-up.
And that was that - another champion, and arguably the most memorable final hand. Three kings bestowing riches on one man. What an incredible story.
It's not the last story to play out at EPT Dublin. The Main Event continues with play now at the heads-up stage. Follow live updates on the PokerStars Blog.
In the meantime congratulations to Samuel Panzica on a great victory.
Event #54, €10,000 NL Hold'em (single re-entry)
Entries: 185 (45 re-entries)
Prize pool: €1,794,500
Places paid: 27
1. Samuel Panzica (United States) €375,770*
2. Akin Tuna (Germany) €290,000*
3. Sergey Lebedev (Russia) €184,650
4. Emil Patel (Finland) €150,550
5. Davidi Kitai (Belgium) €120,050
6. Ryan Riess (United States) €92,240
7. Timothy Adams (Canada) €67,120
8. William Arruda (Brazil) €48,630
* Denotes a two-way deal.
Ready to sign up for PokerStars? Click here to get an account.
** No divine intervention was implied. It was just coincidence.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.