Sam Panzica Goes From Short Stack to H.O.R.S.E. Champion

2021 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Hollywood, Florida
Event 31
$1,100 H.O.R.S.E. Championship (Freeze-Out)
Entries:  78
Prize Pool:  $75,660
August 5-6, 2021

Sam Panzica
Sam Panzica

The two-day $1,100 H.O.R.S.E. Championship attracted a field of 78 players, and after a three-hour heads-up battle, it was Sam Panzica who won the title of SHRPO H.O.R.S.E. Champion.

The previous night, Panzica was all in on the Money Bubble facing elimination, but he rivered an 8-6 low in Razz to narrowly win a huge pot and triple up in chips.

Even with that Razz hand, Panzica began the final table as the short stack with less than four big bets. But as other players busted, Panzica slowly built up his stack, taking a big leap forward when he scooped a three-way pot in Stud Hi/Lo to eliminate Barak Zaken in sixth place.

Panzica eventually got heads-up with Jean “Prince” Gaspard, who began the final table as the chipleader, and they battled for about three hours, with Panzica holding a sizable lead for most of that time.

“It was a lot of back-and-forth,” said Panzica, “and then we got short, and it was whoever ran better.”

It ultimately came down to two hands of Hold’em, with Sam taking the first on the turn to knock Gaspard down to two big bets. The final hand saw Gaspard get it all in preflop with Ac6s, but he was dominated by Panzica’s AsJc. Panzica flopped a jack, and Gaspard never caught up.

Even with this victory coming during a round of Hold’em, Panzica prefers other games in the H.O.R.S.E. rotation.

“I’d say Razz or Stud-8 are probably my favorites,” said Panzica. “My least favorite is limit hold’em. It’s so boring.”

After his victory, Panzica immediately entered Day 1A of the $5,250 SHRPO Championship.

“The tournaments are great here,” said Panzica. “Great dealers, and the fields are huge.”


Final Results:

1st:  Sam Panzica  –  $23,185 + SHRPO Trophy
2nd:  Jean “Prince” Gaspard  –  $15,455
3rd:  Chris Tryba  –  $10,305
4th:  Aaron Kupin  –  $7,160
5th:  Mark Gallo  –  $5,200
6th:  Barak Zaken  –  $3,945
7th:  John Fahmy  –  $3,140
8th:  Esther Taylor  –  $2,630
9th:  “Miami” John Cernuto  –  $2,320
10th:  Renato Labadan  –  $2,320

Event 31: Sam Panzica Wins! ($23,185); Jean “Prince” Gaspard Finishes as Runner-Up ($15,455)

$1,100 H.O.R.S.E. Championship (Freeze-Out)
Structure | Payouts
Level 25:  40,000/80,000 Limits
Players Remaining:  1 of 78

Sam Panzica
SHRPO H.O.R.S.E. Champion Sam Panzica

Jean Gaspard kept his chip stack relatively steady during the Stud Hi/Lo round, but then Hold’em began, and it wasn’t kind to Gaspard. These were the chip counts at the start of the Hold’em round:

Sam Panzica  –  1,165,000  (15 BB)
Jean Gaspard  –  395,000  (5 BB)

In the first hand of Hold’em, Sam Panzica raised from the button to 80,000, Gaspard reraised to 120,000, and Panzica called.

The flop came 9s6h2d, Gaspard bet 40,000, Panzica raised to 80,000, and Gaspard called.

The turn card was the Qd, Gaspard checked, Panzica bet 80,000, and Gaspard thought for a while before he folded. Panzica showed AcJc for ace high as he took the pot.

Sam Panzica  –  1,365,000  (17 BB)
Jean Gaspard  –  195,000  (2 BB)

The next hand, Gaspard raised to 80,000, Panzica reraised to 120,000, and Gaspard said, “I’ll just get it all in.” Panzica agreed.

Gaspard was all in for 195,000 with Ac6s, but he was dominated by Panzica’s AsJc.

The board came QcJs7h8c9c, and Panzica won the pot — and the SHRPO H.O.R.S.E. Championship — with a pair of jacks.

Congratulations to Sam Panzica!

1st:  Sam Panzica  –  $23,185 + SHRPO Trophy
2nd:  Jean “Prince” Gaspard  –  $15,455
3rd:  Chris Tryba  –  $10,305
4th:  Aaron Kupin  –  $7,160
5th:  Mark Gallo  –  $5,200
6th:  Barak Zaken  –  $3,945
7th:  John Fahmy  –  $3,140
8th:  Esther Taylor  –  $2,630
9th:  “Miami” John Cernuto  –  $2,320

Jean Gaspard
Runner-Up Jean “Prince” Gaspard

Event 31: Sam Panzica Leads Jean Gaspard 3-to-1 at the Break

$1,100 H.O.R.S.E. Championship (Freeze-Out)
Structure | Payouts
Level 25:  40,000/80,000 Limits
Players Remaining:  2 of 78

Sam Panzica
Sam Panzica

Sam Panzica has finally been building enough momentum to increase his lead over Jean Gaspard, picking up a nice win during Razz to knock Gaspard down to just 250,000 (4 big bets).

Gaspard has bounced back a bit since then during the Stud round, and they took their break before Level 25 with one hand of Stud remaining.

Here are the official chip counts from the break, followed by the remaining payouts at stake:

Sam Panzica  –  1,185,000  (15 BB)
Jean Gaspard  –  375,000  (5 BB)

1st:  $23,185 + SHRPO Trophy
2nd:  $15,455

Event 31: Jean Gaspard Scoops a Nice Stud Hi/Lo Pot With a Wheel

$1,100 H.O.R.S.E. Championship (Freeze-Out)
Structure | Payouts
Level 23:  25,000/50,000 Limits
Players Remaining:  2 of 78

Jean Gaspard
Jean “Prince” Gaspard

Panzica has had a sizable lead for most of heads-up play, but neither player has been able to build up enough momentum to dramatically change things.

During a round of Stud Hi/Lo, Jean Gaspard and Sam Panzica put in bets on every street, and then Gaspard raised the river. Panzica called.

Gaspard rivered a wheel, with three of the cards hidden, to scoop the pot and narrow Panzica’s lead. (Gaspard would have been in trouble if he had lost this pot.)

Jean Gaspard  –  705,000  (24 BB)
Sam Panzica  –  855,000  (29 BB)

And here are the remaining payouts at stake:

1st:  $23,185 + SHRPO Trophy
2nd:  $15,455

Event 31: Chris Tryba – 3rd Place ($10,305)

$1,100 H.O.R.S.E. Championship (Freeze-Out)
Structure | Payouts
Level 21:  15,000/30,000 Limits
Players Remaining:  2 of 78

Chris Tryba
Chris Tryba

During a round of Omaha Hi/Lo, with the board showing 9d7c4s8s, Chris Tryba was all in from the big blind against Sam Panzica in the small blind.

Sam Panzica:  AcJc10h3c  (jack-high straight, 8-7 low)
Chris Tryba:  7d4d3s3h  (two pair, 8-7 low draw)

Tryba needed to improve to stay alive, but the river card was the 5c. Panzica scooped the pot, winning the high side with his straight and the low side with an 8-5-4-3-A. Tryba was eliminated in third place.

Chris Tryba  –  Eliminated in 3rd Place  ($10,305)

These were the approximate chip counts for the start of heads-up play:

Sam Panzica  –  1,075,000  (36 BB)
Jean “Prince” Gaspard  –  500,000  (17 BB)

And here is the final table prizepool:

1st:  $23,185 + SHRPO Trophy
2nd:  $15,455

3rd:  Chris Tryba  –  $10,305
4th:  Aaron Kupin  –  $7,160
5th:  Mark Gallo  –  $5,200
6th:  Barak Zaken  –  $3,945
7th:  John Fahmy  –  $3,140
8th:  Esther Taylor  –  $2,630
9th:  “Miami” John Cernuto  –  $2,320