Headlining the final table were Darren Elias and Sam Panzica. Elias came to the final table as chip leader looking to become the first player in WPT history to win four titles, breaking a tie held with Gus Hansen, Chino Rheem, Carlos Mortensen, and Anthony Zinno.
Panzica had the chance to become the only player to win the same event twice. Additionally, Panzica could become the fifth in poker history to win three WPT titles.
There were are also three World Series of Poker bracelet winners among the final six in John Esposito, Shankar Pillai, and Gaurav Raina. The lone recreational player was pilot Paul Petraglia who emerged on top in an exciting battle that lasted over 200 hands.
The win is the first ever for Petraglia in a recorded event, with his career earnings coming into the tournament at just over $20,000. The pilot calls Jacksonville home and represented his city well with the win.
First Few Eliminations
Pillai started the final table as the short stack and hit the rail on Hand #24 according to the WPT live updates. Pillai shoved for 150,000 and picked up calls from Elias and Petraglia. The two players checked to the river on a queen-high board and Petraglia bet Elias out of the pot. Petraglia showed pocket queens, beating the ace-queen of Pillai. Pillai earned $55,191 for his final table run.
Raina climbed one spot on the pay ladder but then was eliminated in unlucky fashion against Panzica. All-in for 12 big blinds from the cutoff with pocket aces, Raina picked up a caller in Panzica, who held two tens. Panzica flopped a ten and Raina exited to collect $66,674.
Over 50 hands later, it was Esposito’s turn to be eliminated. With the blinds up to 25,000/50,000, Esposito moved all-in from the small blind for 1,150,000 with wired threes. Elias woke up with pocket tens in the big blind and called. The board ran out with no sweat for Esposito and Elias took the pot and the elimination. For fourth place, Esposito came away with $86,440.
Down Goes Elias
Elias held a large chip lead entering three-handed play but lost a few major all-ins while being ahead to reduce his chances.
Panzica doubled up with ace-seven against the ace-jack of Elias when he hit a fourth diamond on the river.
A few hands later, Panzica was all-in again, this time with pocket tens. Elias held queens but a ten on the flop and river sent another double Panzica’s way.
It was then Petraglia’s turn to double when his ace-ten found a straight on the turn to beat the ace-queen of Elias. This hand reduced Elias to being the short stack at the table.
Shortly after that, Elias was out in third. The blinds were 30,000/60,000 and Panzica raised the button to 125,000 and Elias shoved the big blind for 1,435,000. Panzica called with ace-nine offsuit and was in a flip versus the pocket sevens of Elias.
Elias had the better hand once again but couldn’t outrun his string of bad luck as an ace flopped to give Panzica the lead. Third place earned Elias $135,548.
Heads Up Play
Petraglia opened heads-up play with a slight edge on Panzica and gradually increased during the latter half of their match.
The pair played 96 hands and Panzica gained the edge about halfway in but Petraglia managed to reclaim it and finish off his dramatic win.
In Hand #209, Petraglia opened to 350,000 and Panzica called. The flop came out eight-six-five with two hearts and Panzica checked to Petraglia, who bet 400,000. Panzica checked raised all-in for 2,350,000. Petraglia snap-called with nine-seven for a flopped straight. Panzica was drawing with jack-three of hearts and bricked on the ensuing two streets.
Panzica took home $210,783 for his second-place finish and Petraglia shipped $315,732 for the win along with a $15,000 seat into the season-ending Tournament of Champions.
Where is the WPT next?
The next stop on the World Poker Tour is in Montreal, Canada, and the Playground Poker Club. The WPT Montreal event starts on November 10 and features a CAD $3,850 buy-in and CAD $2 million guaranteed prize pool.