Sam Panzica Wins WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star, Second Season XV Title


Sam Panzica is now a two-time WPT winner after taking down the Bay 101 Shooting Star event Friday (WPT photo/Joe Giron)

When the World Poker Tour Bay 101 Shooting Star final table kicked off Friday afternoon in San Jose, California, the focus was clearly on Chino Rheem. With three WPT titles already to his credit, and over 44% of the chips in play, Rheem seemed to be on the verge of becoming the first player in WPT history to win four titles.

Sam Panzica wanted no part of that storyline though and went on to win his second WPT title of Season XV and $1,373,000 while Rheem had to settle for a third place finish.

With all eyes on him at the start of the day, Rheem didn’t disappoint, picking up the first three eliminations.

Just 37 hands in Rheem went to work at whittling the field. Rheem raised to 225,000 from the cutoff before Rainer Kempe moved all in for 2,190,000 from the small blind. Rheem snap-called and tabled KhKd while Kempe showed As9c. The 7h6h3h flop was a great one for Rheem and when the 3d turn and 8s river failed to connect with Kempe, the German was eliminated in sixth place. Kempe was also the last remaining bounty, meaning Rheem picked up an additional $2,500 cash.

Just over 90 minutes later, Rheem did it again. From the button Rheem made it 320,000 to go and Dennis Stevermer moved all in from the big blind for 1,425,000. Rheem called and tabled Ks9h but found himself behind Stevermer’s Ad8d. The 9c7s6c flop flipped the odds in Rheem’s favor and he stayed in front through the 4h turn and Qh river to eliminate Stevermer in fifth.

Things went slightly off track 20 minutes later when he clashed with Anthony Spinella in a pot that cost him the chip lead. With 2,775,000 already in the pot and a completed board of Kd5h2c7dAc, Spinella check-called Rheem’s 1,500,000 bet and tabled Ad2d for a river pair of aces while Rheem showed and mucked Kc9s for second pair. Following that hand, Spinella had more than half of the chips in play.

Five hands after that Rheem was hard at work rebuilding his stack. Rheem raised to 325,000 from UTG and Paul Volpe called from the big blind. The flop was 8d7s4s and Volpe checked, Rheem bet 375,000 and Volpe responded by moving all in fro 2,975,000. Rheem didn’t hesitate to call and tabled KhKd while Volpe turned over QsJs for a flush draw. The 2c turn and 8c river were no help for the former #1-ranked online poker player in the world and Volpe was out in fourth place. Five hands later, Rheem re-took the chip lead from Spinella.

The first 54 hands of three-handed play were all about Rheem and Spinella taking turns as chip leader but once Panzica took his turn with the top spot, he never relinquished it again.

Rheem’s run at history took a major hit on the 98th hand of three-handed play. Panzica raised to 500,00 from the button and Rheem defended his big blind. Rheem check-called a 500,000 bet after the As3c2c flop and then check-called again after the Ks river. The Qs river got Rheem to check a third time, Panzica bet 2,100,000 and after taking some time to think over his decision, Rheem called and mucked after Panzica showed AdKd for top two pair.

A few hands later Spinella doubled up through Rheem, leaving him with just two big blinds. On the very next hand Rheem moved all in for his last 475,000 and Spinella called from the big blind. Rheem was ahead with QcTh to Spinella’s 5h3h but the KdKs8s5c2h runout spelled an end to Rheem’s run in third place.

Three-handed action took over 3.5 hours but heads-up play took almost no time at all. Five hands after Rheem was shown the door, Panzica picked up his first elimination of the final table.

Spinella raised to 650,000, Panzica moved all in Spinella called. Spinella tabled Ac8c but found himself behind the AhTs of Panzica. The Jh5h3d4d5c board kept Panzica ahead for good and eliminated Spinella.

Panzica, who already has a $15,000 seat in the upcoming WPT Tournament of Champions, was given the $15,000 seat from this event as cash.

Final Table Payouts

  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