Menikos Panagiotou could feel it all start to slowly come back.
The Cyprus native hadn’t played much poker in the last few years. He retired from being a professional poker player to open his own Mexican restaurant back home. Panagiotou only jumped back into the game in the last 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 went on in Event #48: $1,500 Eight Game Mix at the 2022 WSOP at Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas, the levels came and went, and the days went by, Panagiotou started to remember everything he once knew.
“I was playing every hour by hour, every orbit, it would start coming back to me,” he explained. “It was like when you have 20 years on a bicycle. In the beginning, you’re not sure enough to remember, I can drive without my hands on the wheel.”
Now he’s the first-ever bracelet winner from his island home country, prevailing over a starting field of 695 to win $180,783.
“It means a lot. Although we are a small country with a small population, we have a lot of poker players actually. So it means a lot,” Panagiotou said after defeating Nick Yunis heads-up. “I can’t wait to go back to see all my friends because they’ve already started sending me messages, congrats and everything. It’s amazing.”
2022 WSOP Event #48: $1,500 Eight Game Mix Final Table Results
|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|
Final Day Action
Panagiotou admitted he didn’t have much recent experience playing mixed games, but he came into the tournament on a sort of hot streak. He won a tournament just on Monday, a $250 H.O.R.S.E. Daily Deepstacks event. He entered Day 3 in the middle of the pack of the 16 returning players, but, as bracelet winners like Adam Friedman (10th) and Robert Campbell (9th) came up 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 Stockfish, with five WSOP final tables and four runner-up finishes including in this event back in 2016, came in fifth place after failing to outdraw the nine-eight-six of Eric Buchman in 2-7 Triple Draw.
Panagiotou was at the bottom of the leaderboard as four players remained at the dinner break, but he would make a big leap up when he called a 1,000,000 bet from Yunis on a board in Omaha with a straight to beat Yunis’ two pair.
He and Yunis would exchange the chip lead over the next few levels as former November Niner Buchman would fall in fourth place. Panagiotou busted Joon Park in third with trip queens in a hand of Stud 8 or Better to take a narrow lead into heads-up.
Either Cyprus or Yunis’ native Chile would have their first-ever bracelet winner, and for the first stages of heads-up play, it looked like the WSOP title wouldn’t be making the trip across the Atlantic. Panagiotou fell down to just over 3,000,000 before two big hands of Stud 8 propelled him back up to 10,000,000.
He and Yunis would remain virtually tied until Panagiotou made a six-five to beat Yunis’ seven-six in Razz. The end came in a hand of Omaha, with Yunis down to his last 160,000. Panagiotou called with and flopped a wheel on the board. Yunis was already drawing dead by the turn.
Plans With the Money
With the bracelet in hand, surrounded by supporters waving a large Cypriot flag, Panagiotou explained his plans for the money: invest in his restaurant.
“With the money, I’m going to make it even bigger,” he said. He’s already planning a return trip to the WSOP next year to play more mixed games.
While he’s not a poker pro anymore, Panagiotou does hope some good comes from his win back home. “I’m more glad if someone there wants to learn the games because they don’t play too much mixed games in Cyprus,” he said. “So now maybe it’s time to start.”
They have a perfect role model to follow.
Bookmark this page! All you need to know about the 2022 WSOP is here.
- 1 Can’t Stop Kopp: Katie Kopp Wins First Bracelet of the 2022 WSOP
- 2 David Peters Wins 2022 WSOP Event #2: $100K High Roller Bounty for 4th Gold Bracelet
- 3 Scott Seiver Wins 4th Bracelet in 2022 WSOP Event #3: $2,500 Freezeout NLH ($320,059)
- 4 For a Higher Cause: Brad Ruben Wins 4th Bracelet in 2022 WSOP Event #4: $1,500 Dealer’s Choice
- 5 Dan Smith Captures 1st Bracelet; Wins 2022 WSOP Event #6: $25K Heads-Up Championship
- 6 Norbert Szecsi Captures The Third Bracelet of his Career at the 2022 WSOP
- 7 Manig ”Ohio77” Loeser Wins Second Online Bracelet in as Many Years
- 8 Amnon Filippi Wins First WSOP Bracelet in Event #7: $1,500 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better ($252,718)
- 9 Chad Eveslage Wins 2022 WSOP Event #8: $25,000 High Roller ($1,415,610)
- 10 Alex Livingston Wins 2022 WSOP Event #9: $1,500 Seven Card Stud ($103,282)
- 11 Henry Acain Wins 2022 WSOP Event #5: $500 The Housewarming ($701,215)
- 12 Raj Vohra Wins His First Bracelet at the 2022 WSOP; Takes Down the $600 Deepstack
- 13 Ben Diebold Wins 2022 WSOP $10,000 Dealer’s Choice 6-Handed Championship ($299,488)
- 14 Jake Schindler Wins First Bracelet and $1,328,068 in Event #12: $50,000 High Roller
- 15 First Time’s the Charm: Michael Moncek Wins Event #13: $1,500 Limit Hold’em
- 16 Frenchman Leo Soma Wins First WSOP Bracelet in Event #14: $1,500 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em ($456,889)
- 17 Dominick Sarle Wins 2022 WSOP Event #17: $2,500 Mixed Triple Draw Lowball ($164,243)
- 18 Bryan Schultz Wins 2022 WSOP Event #18: $1,000 Freezeout No-Limit Hold’em ($330,057)
- 19 Stefan Lehner Wins First Bracelet in Event #16: $3,000 No-Limit Hold’em ($558,616)
- 20 Denis Nesterenko Wins Event #20: $1,500 Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw ($108,250)
- 21 Tong Li Wins $1,467,739 and First Bracelet in Event #19: $25,000 Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller
- 22 Adam Friedman Wins Fifth WSOP Gold Bracelet in Event #22: $10,000 Seven Card Stud Championship
- 23 Brian Altman Captures His Maiden WSOP Bracelet in the Online $400 Ultra Deepstack
- 24 Christopher Chatman Flips to Win First WSOP Bracelet in Event #24: $1,000 Flip & Go
- 25 Rob Wazwaz Ships Event #25: $800 No-Limit Hold’em Deepstacks For $358,346
- 26 Mike Jukich Wins the $1,500 Monster Stack at the 2022 WSOP For $966,577
- 27 K9 & Canine Lucky for Jonathan Cohen in Event #26: $10,000 Limit Hold’em Championship ($245,678)
- 28 Michael Simhai Hits the Mark in 2022 WSOP Event #27: Shootout NLH ($240,480)
- 29 Robert Cowen Wins Bracelets in Back-to-Back Years; Binks $50K PLO High Roller for $1.4M
- 30 Maxx Coleman Wins Elusive First Bracelet in the $1,500 No-Limit 2-7 Lowball Draw
- 31 15 Years in the Making: Daniel Weinman Nabs 1st Bracelet in Event #30: $1,000 PLO
- 32 Nino Ullmann Wins His First WSOP Bracelet in the $3K NLHE 6-Max Event
- 33 Brian Hastings Captures Sixth Bracelet in Event #31: $10,000 Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw Championship
- 34 Musician Steve Albini Wins (And Breaks!) Second Bracelet in 2022 WSOP $1,500 H.O.R.S.E.
- 35 Lok Chan Wins 2022 WSOP Event #35: $2,500 Mixed Big Bet on First Trip to WSOP ($144,338)
- 36 Ali Eslami Takes Down Event #36: $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better for $135,260 and Maiden WSOP Bracelet
- 37 Justin Pechie Wins Second WSOP Bracelet in the $1,500 Freezeout
- 38 Pedro Bromfman Is Triumphant in Event #38: $10,000 2-7 Single Draw Championship
- 39 Ramsey Stovall Wins First Bracelet In 2022 WSOP $1,000 Super Turbo Bounty ($191,223)
- 40 “PmpknHead” Wins WSOP Online Bracelet Event #4: $1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Max
- 41 Aleksejs Ponakovs Defeats Phil Ivey to Win Event #42: $100,000 High Roller for $1,897,363
- 42 Zack Wins Second Bracelet of the 2022 WSOP; $10,000 Stud Hi-Lo Championship ($324,174)
- 43 David Perry Defeats Chris Moorman in the 2022 WSOP $500 Freezeout ($241,729)
- 44 Winner Winner Chicken Dinner! KFC Fan Kolev Wins 2022 WSOP Millionaire Maker ($1,125,141)
- 45 Phil Hui Mounts Comeback to Win Third Bracelet In $1,500 PLO at the 2022 WSOP
- 46 Andrew Yeh Rides to Victory in Event #44: $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship ($487,129)
- 47 Frenchman Jonathan Pastore Wins 2022 WSOP Event #46: $5,000 6-Handed NLHE ($771,765)
- 48 First Bracelet for Cyprus; Menikos Panagiotou Wins 2022 WSOP Event #48: $1,500 Eight Game Mix