What happened last year?
The $5,000 event is one of only a few bounty events ever to hit the WPT and is the setting for some historic moments. Last year, Sam Panzica emerged victorious at a final table that included WPT Champions Club members Tyler Patterson and Noah Schwartz. That victory built a wave of momentum for Panzica who went on from there to claim his second win of Season XV at Bay 101 a few months later. Coincidentally, both Bay 101 and bestbet are bounty events. Maybe Panzica performs best with a target on his back?
Bounties in the field
All bounties in the field carry a $2,500 award for the lucky opponent who eliminates them from the tournament. Among the notable bounties include former WPT commentator Mike Sexton and three-time WPT Champions Darren Elias and Anthony Zinno.
Others scheduled to appear are Matt Glantz, Loni Harwood and WSOP Main Event fourth-place finisher, John Hesp.
Here’s the full list of bounties:
|Tyler Patterson||James Calderaro||Richard Seymour|
|Nabil Hirezi||Allison Hollander||Michael Mizrachi|
|Byron Kaverman||Chance Kornuth||Sam Soverel|
|Shannon Shorr||Darren Elias||Anthony Zinno|
|Matt Stout||Matt Savage||Matt Affleck|
|Marvin Rettenmaier||Loni Harwood||Jessica Dawley|
|Ebony Kenney||Mike Sexton||Sean Winter|
|John Hesp||Esther Taylor||Noah Schwartz|
|Eric Nathan||Ari Engel||Jake Schindler|
|Tom Marchese||Ryan Riess|
WPT Player of the Year race
Similar to a year ago, there is a wide gap in the WPT Player of the Year standings between the leader and the field. Ben Zamani came into Jacksonville in Season XV with three final tables to his name and a berth so wide, it took Panzica two victories to come close to catching him. That is the position Art Papazyan is in this year as he already has multiple wins under his belt.
Papazyan stormed from relatively nowhere to win Legends of Poker and after not playing the Borgata Poker Open, went to WPT Maryland and claimed his second WPT title in as many attempts. It is unclear whether or not Papazyan will play at bestbet but if he does, he has a chance to close out the Player of the Year race with another deep run before the calendar hits 2018.
History of the bestbet Bounty Scramble
The World Poker Tour has traveled to Jacksonville and bestbet since Season XI. Previous champions at bestbet include Patterson and Schwartz, both of whom were attempting to become the first players in WPT history to win the same title for the second time.
Up until Season XIII, the event was the bestbet Open and in Season XIV became the bestbet Bounty Scramble.
Other past winners of the event include Jared Jaffee, Ryan Van Sanford, and Tony Ruberto.
What’s next for the WPT after this stop?
For the last few months, the WPT has effectively stayed on the East Coast and moved south from Atlantic City in September to Jacksonville this week.
Following the bestbet Bounty Scramble, the next stop is up north to Montreal and the Playground Poker Club. WPT Montreal starts on November 10 and is the same event where Sexton won his first World Poker Tour title a year ago. The WPT wraps up its primary schedule for 2017 in December with the always anticipated WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic.
International stops for the WPT before the end of the year include Uruguay, India, and Japan.
Why should you watch?
The bestbet Bounty Scramble produced a field of 379 in Season XV and similar numbers are expected this year. The final table will be live streamed on PokerGO and should be filled with top-notch professionals much like last season. Papazyan may have a hold on the Player of the Year race for now but there are many events left to go before Season XVI wraps up. This year’s Sam Panzica could very well be in the field and new storylines are only a few days away from being brought into the spotlight.
Photo credit: WPT Flickr Page