Kenny Smaron Wins PSC Panama Main Event for $293,860; High Rollers Disgruntled with PokerStars

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The PokerStars Championship Panama, which took place at the Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino in Panama City, spanned 11 days and hosted dozens of events.

That included several five-figure buy-in tournaments, the $5,000 Main Event, and many lower buy-in side events. There were plenty of notable winners, which we’ve recapped for you below.

Kenny Smaron was cheered on to victory by top pros like 2013 WSOP champ Ryan Riess and Chris “Big Huni” Hunichen (Image: PokerStars)

Smaron, Tollerene & Chidwick Among Big PSC Panama Winners

The highlight event of the series was the $5,000 Main Event, which drew 366 players and created a $1,775,100 prize pool. It took six days of play, but eventually Kenny “kenny05” Smaron emerged victorious to capture a $293,860 first-place prize.

Originally from Philadelphia but now residing in Costa Rica, the 32-year-old is no stranger to PokerStars events having won the 2015 EPT Prague High Roller for $654,302. The latest mark both his second six-figure score and the second-largest cash of his career.

Final Table Results

1 Kenny Smaron (USA) $293,860
2 Harpreet Gill (Canada) $217,860
3 Denis Timofeev (Russia) $161,340
4 Jonathan Abdellatif (Belgium) $119,480
5 Robin Luca Wozniczek (Germany) $88,480
6 Anthony Diotte (Canada) $65,520
7 James Salmon (USA) $48,520
8 Bryon Kaverman (USA) $35,920

*Denotes heads-up chop

Other highlights from the PSC Panama stop included 2015 WCOOP Super High Roller champ Ben Tollerene topping a field of 33 entries to win the $50,000 Super High Roller for $538,715, Stephen Chidwick besting a field of 44 to win the $25,000 High Roller for $366,500, and Steve O’Dwyer coming out on top of a 110-entry field to win the $10,300 High Roller for a $240,451 after a heads-up deal with Sam Greenwood.

As for notable PSC Panama side event winners, former World Poker Tour champ Jonathan Roy took down Event #1 $1,100 NLH for $22,530 and Dzmitry Urbanovich, the EPT Season 11 Player of the Year and 2015 GPI Player of the Year, came out on top in Event #25: $2,200 NLH for $61,460.

Players Disgruntled with PokerStars

On its face, the PSC Panama may seem like a success, but several high-profile players have spoken out against it.

“Nobody is happy with anything PokerStars is doing,” poker pro Bryn Kenney said on Facebook on the last day of the festival. “Not only do they cut all costs now and give nothing to the players, but they don’t even honor their agreements.”

Kenney’s disdain seemed to surround Event #42, a $10,000 buy-in Single Re-Entry Turbo that drew 28 entrants but still paid five spots.

“They have said that in the $10k+ tournaments it will pay only 15% of the field and in a small $10k today they show a payout sheet that pays on average 20% of the field. I think they think everyone is stupid but what they don’t understand with their high rake and terrible service soon they won’t have an event at all.”

Fellow high roller Paul Newey was also displeased with PokerStars, albeit for different reasons.

“I am certainly planning on less PokerStars trips and more on other tours,” he said in reply to Kenney’s Facebook post. “Panama has been absolutely awful in every way except the local staff have been friendly and tried their best.”

It will be interesting to see if player dissatisfaction affects future PSC events, including the upcoming March 30-April 9 stop in Macau.

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