Menikos Panagiotou has written his name in the poker history books at the 2022 World Series of Poker.
The Limassol, Cyprus native outlasted a field of 695 entries in the WSOP $1,500 eight-game mix event to become the first-ever gold bracelet winner from his home country. The former poker pro turned restaurateur also secured a career-best payday of $180,783 for the win.
“It means a lot. Although we are a small country with a small population, we have a lot of poker players actually. So it means a lot,” Panagiotou told WSOP reporters when asked about his historic win for Cyprus. “I can’t wait to go back to see all my friends because they’ve already started sending me messages, congrats and everything. It’s amazing.”
The 840 Card Player Player of the Year points that Panagiotou earned as the champion of this event have moved him within reach of the top 300 in the 2022 POY race, sponsored by Global Poker.
There were plenty of recognizable faces among the 103 in-the-money finishers in this event, including four-time bracelet winner Brian Yoon (101st – $2,403), two-time bracelet winner David ‘ODB’ Baker (96th – $2,403), two-time bracelet winner Marco Johnson (86th – $2,629), three-time bracelet winner Ian Johns (82nd – $2,629), four-time bracelet winners Max Pescatori (79th – $2,629) and Josh Arieh (65th – $3,004), five-time bracelet winners Shaun Deeb (50th – $3,397) and Scotty Nguyen (43rd – $3,755), 2009 WSOP main event fifth-place finisher Jeff Shulman (42nd – $3,755), four-time bracelet winner Jeremy Ausmus (40th – $4,257), three-time bracelet winner David ‘Bakes’ Baker (35th – $4,946), five-time bracelet winner Adam Friedman (10th – $11,387), and two-time bracelet winner Robert Cambell (9th – $14,831).
Panagiotou had entered the final day of play in eighth chip position among 16 remaining contenders. By the time the final table was set, he had moved into the lead. Jake Liebeskind was the next to fall. He was unable to beat an 8-5 low for Nick Yunis playing razz and was eliminated in sixth place ($26,814).
Jason Stockfish, who began the final day with the chip lead, was ultimately knocked out in fifth place. He got the last of his chips in after the first draw in deuce-to-seven triple draw lowball. He was up against a 9-8-6-3-2 made by two-time bracelet winner Eric Buchman, who had drawn two before put patted the rest of the way. Stockfish was live with a one-card draw of 8-4-3-2 going into the last pull. He drew up another deuce, though, to end with a pair. He earned $37,188 for his fifth-place showing in this event.
Despite earning that knockout, Buchman was the next player to hit the rail. He got the last of his short stack in on a 1042 flop playing pot-limit Omaha. His AK107 was up against two opponents, who checked through the 6 turn and J river. Joon Park showed K[[suit:heart]KQ8 to take down the pot, eliminating Buchman in fourth place ($52,621). The 2009 main event fourth-palce finisher now has more than $4.3 million in earnings.
Joon Park soon called off his last bet on seventh street in a hand of stud eight-or-better. He had made two pair, but was up against trip queens for Panagiotou. Park took home $75,938 for his deep run. This was the largest score yet on his tournament resume.
With that, Panagiotou took a slight lead into heads-up play with Yunis. The lead soon changed hands, and Yunis was able to pull away for more than a 3:1 advantage before Panagiotou began to claw his way back into the match. He eventually regained the lead, and then won a big pot with a flush in Omaha eight-or-better to create some distance between himself and Yunis.
A few big razz pots when Panagiotou’s way to further extend his advantage. Yunis’ final chips then were committed when he posted the big blind playing pot-limit Omaha. He picked up A1094 and was facing the 9554 of Panagiotou. The board ran out A32QK to give Panagiotou a winning wheel. Yunis was sent home in second place, eanring $111,724 as the runner-up finisher.
Here is a look at the payouts and rankings points awarded at the final table:
Winner photo credit: WSOP / Katerina Lukina.
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