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Kenneth Smaron Wins 2017 PokerStars Championship Panama Main Event

32-Year-Old Poker Pro Defeats 336-Player Field To Win $293,860


The first ever PokerStars Championship Panama $5,300 no-limit hold’em main event attracted a field of 336 entries to the Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino to build a prize pool of $1,775,100. In the end the lion’s share of that money was a awarded to 32-year-old American poker pro Kenneth Smaron, who emerged victorious with the title and the $293,860 first-place prize.

“I’m going to take a few days off, celebrate this one tonight, and I’m going to fly back to Costa Rica tomorrow,” said the former Philadelphia resident who currently resides outside of the United States in order to play on international online poker sites.

Smaron is known as “kenny05” online, where he plays primarily high stakes sit’n’gos. He is no stranger to live tournaments, though, having won the European Poker Tour Prague €10,300 high roller in 2015 for $649,095. He now has more than $1.2 million in lifetime live tournament earnings.

In addition to the money Smaron also earned 1,200 Card Player Player of the Year points for his latest win. This was his first score of the year, but it alone was enough to see him climb into 31st place in the overall POY standings, which are presented in 2017 by Commerce Hotel & Casino.

Smaron came into the final day of this event in the middle of the pack, with his 62 big blinds good enough for third chip position among the final six players. He sent Jonathan Abdellatif to the rail in fourth place ($119,480) and also eliminated Denis Timofeev in third place ($161,340). As a result he took a slight lead into the final heads-up showdown with Harpreet Gill.

After only a few hands Smaron had stretched his lead to almost a 2-to-1 advantage. He continued to lean on his opponent from there. In the final hand Gill limped in with the blinds at 50,000 – 100,000 with a 10,000 ante. Smaron made it 350,000 to go and Gill decided to move all in for 2,615,000. Smaron opted to make the call with the KClub SuitJClub Suit and was the favorite against Gill’s 10Diamond Suit8Club Suit. The flop brought the AClub SuitQClub Suit9Heart Suit to give Smaron a royal flush draw. The 9Diamond Suit on the turn kept Smaron in the lead and the 5Spade Suit sealed the deal, earning him the pot and the title. Gill scored $217,860 as the runner up.

Here is a look at the payouts and POY points awarded at this final table:

Place Player Earnings (USD) POY Points
1 Kenneth Smaron $293,860 1200
2 Harpreet Gill $217,860 1000
3 Denis Timofeev $161,340 800
4 Jonathan Abdellatif $119,480 600
5 Robin Luca Wozniczek $88,480 500
6 Anthony Diotte $65,520 400
7 James Salmon $48,520 300
8 Byron Kaverman $35,920 200
9 Michael Lech $35,920 100

Winner photo courtesy of Poker Stars / Neil Stoddart.