First bracelet for Cyprus; Menikos Panagiotou wins 2022 WSOP Event #48: $1,500 for eight matches

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Menikos Panagiotou could feel everything starting to slowly come back.

The Cyprus native hadn’t played much poker in recent years. He retired from playing professional poker to open his own Mexican restaurant at home. Panagiotou has only returned to the game for the past six months, with small No-Limit Hold’em tournaments in Cyprus.

He hadn’t played mixed games at all For four years.

But, as the hands continued Event #48: $1,500 Eight-game shuffle to WSOP 2022 at Bally’s and Paris Las Vegaslevels came and went, and as days passed, Panagiotou began to remember everything he once knew.

“I was playing every hour, every orbit, it was starting to come back to me,” he explained. “It was like being 20 years old on a bike. At first, you’re not sure enough to remember, I can drive without my hands on the wheel.

Now he is his island home country’s first-ever bracelet winner, prevailing on a starting field of 695 to win $180,783.

“It means a lot. Although we are a small country with a small population, we actually have a lot of poker players. So it means a lot,” Panagiotou said after beating Nick Yunis heads up. “I can’t wait to get back to all my friends because they’ve already started messaging me, congratulations and everything. It’s amazing.”

WSOP 2022 Event #48: $1,500 Eight Game Mix Final Table Results

Square Player Country Earnings
1 Menikos Panagiotou Cyprus $180,783
2 Nick Yunis Chile $111,724
3 Joon Park United States $75,938
4 Eric Buchman United States $52,621
5 Jason Stockfish United States $37,188
6 Jake Liebeskind United States $26,814

Last day action

Panagiotou admitted he doesn’t have much recent experience playing mixed games, but he entered the tournament on something of a hot streak. He won a tournament just Monday, a $250 HORSE Daily Deepstacks event. He entered Day 3 in the middle of the field of 16 returning players, but, as bracelet winners like Adam Friedman (10th) and Robert Campbell (9th) fell short, Panagiotou took the chip lead into the final table.

Jake Liebeskind would be the first to fall at the official six-handed final table, eliminated by Yunis in a hand of Razz. Jason Stockfishwith five WSOP final tables and four second-place finishes, including in this event in 2016, came in fifth after failing to beat the nine-eight-six of Eric Buchman in 2-7 Triple Draw.

Jason Stockfish
Jason Stockfish

Panagiotou was bottom of the standings as four players remained at the dinner break, but would take a big leap forward when he called a 1,000,000 bet from Yunis on a {k-Hearts}{a-Clubs}{j-Clubs}{10-Hearts}{6-Diamonds} board in Omaha with a straight to beat both pair Yunis.

He and Yunis would trade the chip lead over the next few levels as former November Niner Buchman would drop to fourth. Panagiotou arrested Joon Park in third with traveling queens in a hand of Stud 8 or better to take a narrow head-to-head lead.

Either Cyprus or Yunis’ native Chile would have their first-ever bracelet winner, and for the early stages of head-to-head play, it looked like the WSOP title wouldn’t make the trip across the Atlantic. Panagiotou fell to just over 3,000,000 before two big hands from Stud 8 propelled him to 10,000,000.

He and Yunis would remain virtually even until Panagiotou rolled a six-five to beat Yunis’ seven-six in Razz. The end came in an Omaha hand, with Yunis at his last 160,000 chips. Panagiotou paid with {9-Spades}{5-Diamonds}{5-Clubs}{4-Diamonds} and flopped a wheel on the {a-Hearts}{3-Spades}{2-Spades} plank. Yunis was already drawing dead by the {q-Spike} round.

Plans with the money

Bracelet in hand, surrounded by supporters waving a large Cypriot flag, Panagiotou explained his plans for the money: investing in his restaurant.

“With the money I will make it even bigger,” he said. He is already planning a return trip to the WSOP next year to play more mixed games.

Although he is no longer a poker pro, Panagiotou hopes his victory at home will bring something positive. “I’m happier if someone there wants to learn the games because they don’t play too many mixed games in Cyprus,” he said. “So now maybe it’s time to start.”

They have a perfect model to follow.

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Menikos Panagiotou
Menikos Panagiotou
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