CASINO CHAMPION PROFILE:  SAMUEL PANZICA

Sam Panzica is on what's called a "heater.”

Consider that Panzica is only 20-years-old.  Yet he's already won a gold ring, plus a Casino Champion title.  Indeed, Panzica just finished up the most recent WSOP Circuit stop at the Palm Beach Kennel Club with the most ranking points in the 12 gold ring events spread at the track.  

Panzica posted a second place finish in Event 5, a fourth place finish in Event 3, and a 21st place finish in the Main Event.  His point total came to 85, which eclipsed a large field of players who hoped to end up where Panzica was sitting.  The reward?  A trip to Harrah's New Orleans and the WSOP National Championship presented by Southern Comfort 100 Proof.

Panzica almost didn't qualify.  That was due to his age.  At 20, he would be ineligible to play if the championship were held today, but he reaches his 21st birthday in early May and therefore will be of age (21) in Louisiana, and, indeed, in Las Vegas when the 2013 WSOP begins this summer.

“I am really excited to play in the National Championship,” Panzica said afterward.  “Of course, you always want to win each event you play, but short of getting another gold ring, I am really happy to win the Casino Champion race.”

Panzica's name is not unfamiliar to those who know and follow the online poker world.  He played poker successfully online, at least until the events of Black Friday.  Now, Panzica is considering moving to Mexico full-time to play, at least until legal action returns to the U.S.  He has already taken two extended trips to Mexico, which has him convinced he can make it as a professional.

“Sure, there are some distractions in Mexico when you go down there to play, especially at Cabo [San Lucas],” Panzica said.  “But I try to stay focused.  I am down there to play and get better, not to party.  I like to have a good time, but the experience down there for me is business.”

Panzica calls Saline, Michigan his home.  He's eligible to play in only a limited number of tournaments around the country, at least until early May.  Panzica has not only enjoyed success on the WSOP Circuit.  He also made his mark at various casinos which have an 18-year-old age limit – both as a live action and tournament player.

Panzica won his first WSOP Circuit gold ring in Janaury at the Choctaw (Durant, OK) stop.  Although that was his first win, marking what he hopes is the beginning of a long career in poker, we expect that won't be his last.