Gianluca Pace of Encinitas, California is the winner of the MSPT $1,110 Main Event at Sycuan Casino Resort in San Diego. The tournament attracted 460 runners as part of the Showdown Series in the MSPT’s kick-off to Season 13.
Pace took home an extra $23,500 after the final four agreed to a deal that split up the prize pool based on the size of their chip stacks. Along with Pace, Anthony Pitesa, Huy Nguyen, and DJ Buckley left the trophy and 10% of the prize pool behind to play for, with the Encinitas-native coming out on top. In addition to their share of the prize pool, all four players earned 1,200 Player of the Year points to kick off the 2022 campaign.
It was Pace’s first win in a large tournament after years of grinding the poker scenes in Oceanside and San Mateo. “I’m going to enjoy this moment,” said Pace in a post-win interview with PokerNews. “I am going to take this one moment at a time. I’m very happy.”
Final Table Action
Christopher Skinner fell in ninth place when he shoved with ace-king and ran into Pitesa’s pocket kings. Skinner’s bustout kicked off an eight-handed final table, where Scott Subak was first to the rail when his kings were cracked by Pace’s set of eights.
Jason Hickey wasn’t far behind in seventh place after shoving his ace-king into another pocket pair of cowboys from Pitesa. A few minutes later, MSPT Hall of Famer Rich Alsup shoved with ace-nine, but Pitesa was waiting once again, this time with pocket queens.
The run propelled Pitesa to a commanding chip lead, but DJ Buckley fought into the mix with a few big pots and the elimination of Lena Evans, who shoved with nines but lost to Buckley’s tens. Poker fans might recall Evans as the founder of the women's group Poker League of Nations.
The final four cut an ICM chop deal of which Pitesa claimed the lion’s share before the 10% left to play for, but he was out when his ace-deuce came up short against Nguyen’s ace-king. Buckley, who would make the MSPT Hall of Fame with a victory, followed when his ace-queen couldn’t improve against Pace’s jacks.
With Buckley out of the way, Pace eliminated Nguyen in short order to take down his first MSPT Main Event title. Congratulations to Gianluca Pace on his victory at the MSPT Main Event at Sycuan Casino Resort in San Diego!