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This was the seventh annual running for the WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble Jacksonville hostedat the bestbet Jacksonville in north-eastern Florida. The headline $5,000 Main Event with $1,000,000 GTD attracted 323 entries with the top 41 players taking home a share of the prize pool.
There were two big stories coming into the final table starting with three-time WPT title winner Darren Elias who was making his ninth WPT final table and now ties the record for most WPT Main Tour final table finishes along with Poker Hall of Famer Phil Ivey. Unfortunately, he couldn’t beat the record for most WPT titles and finished in third place.
The second featured two-time WPT title champion Sam Panzica, who not only got the rare chance of claiming multiple titles at the same property but he could have done it in back-to-back years by defending his title. Panzica missed the mark by a whisker by eventually finishing runner-up.
Outlasting the tough final table was local corporate pilot Paul Petraglia (cover image) who pocketed the $300,732 top prize for his first WPT title and cash! In addition to first place purse, Petraglia also won a $15,000 entry into the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions.
Post his win, the latest WPT Champions Club member joked that his coworkers probably won’t believe him and said, “Flying is my passion; it’s always been my passion. Poker’s always been more of a … I’m a huge fan. I love playing the game. Could I do it for a living? I don’t know if I could deal with the pressure to do that. I’d rather fly airplanes for a living, but this is just a great outlet, and it’s a lot of fun to do.”
As expected the field drew the crème de la crème of the poker world and few who managed to cash included Alex Rocha (9th place), Jessica Dawley (11th place), Sam Soverel (12th place), Daniel Weinman (13th place), Tyler Patterson (14th place), Zachary Smiley (16th place), Barry Hutter (18th place), Sean Winter (24th place), Matt Affleck (25th place), Anthony Zinno (31st place), Dean Baranowski (33rd place) and Ian O’Hara (35th place).
Elias entered the six-handed final-table with a sizeable chip lead followed by John Esposito and Paul Petraglia. Shankar Pillai started as the shortest stack.
It took 24 hands before the first casualty and it was the shortest stack who was sent off first. Pillai moved all-in holding Ax Qx and got two callers in Elias and Petraglia. The two were involved in a side pot that was checked till the river with the complete board reading . Petraglia bet 200,000 and Elias got out of the way. Pillai’s two pairs were no good against Petraglia’s for queens full and he took down the pot eliminating Pillai in the process.
Gaurav Raina was the next one out after getting his aces cracked by eventual runner up Sam Panzica. Raina shoved with and was up against Panzica’s who luckily got some love on the board . Raina settled for the fourth spot.
John Esposito then managed to take the chip lead from Elias for some time but the latter maneuvered his stack to grab the lead and continued putting the pressure until he had amassed almost half the chips in play.
Panzica next locked horns with Esposito who managed to get a double up but unfortunately the latter couldn`t extend his run and was the next one sent packing, courtesy Elias. Esposito’s ran into Elias’ and the former got no help on the board .
Down to three-handed action, Elias had amassed an overwhelming chip lead over his other two opponents with more than 60% of the chips in play, but incidentally he fell next proving further that tides can change anytime in poker.
It all started when Panzica managed to score a double up at the expense of Elias and soon the latter took another hit, doubling Panzica again. Panzica hit quads with his to beat Elias’ to take down the huge hand.
Elias still had the chip lead and then the shift happened. This time eventual champion Petraglia managed to get the best out of Elias and doubled up. Petraglia opened and Elias three-bet only to see his rival shoving with . Elias called with a better but got unlucky again as the board gave Petraglia a Broadway straight to leave Elias as the short stack for the first time on the final table. And it all ended for Elias in just a couple hands. Panzica opened, Elias moved all in with and after taking an exact count, Panzica called tabling . Panzica clipped a pair on the board to eliminate the three-time WPT champion who still remains tied with four others for most WPT titles ever.
The final showdown came down to Petraglia and Panzica. Petraglia started with a decent lead and got off to a good start further extending his lead. Panzica, however, gave a tough fight and managed to take the lead but the tables turned again with the momentum swinging back to Petraglia. The eventual champion then went on to gain an almost 3-1 chip advantage and soon took it down.
On the final hand, Petraglia opened and Panzica called. On the flop, Petraglia bet and Panzica check-shoved with for a flush draw. Petraglia snap-called with for the nut straight. Petraglia asked for his “one time,” and got it as the and completed the board to seal the deal for Petraglia!
1. Paul Petraglia – $315,732*
2. Sam Panzica – $210,783
3. Darren Elias – $135,548
4. John Esposito – $86,440
5. Gaurav Raina – $66,674
6. Shankar Pillai – $55,191
*includes $15,000 seat into the WPT Tournament of Champions.