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Justin Bonomo Wins His First WSOP Bracelet in Event #11

Day 3 of Event #11, a Six-Max NLHE tournament, started with ten players, and as the stacks were quite deep overall, it could be expected that this one would take a while to reach the winner. The poker gods would, however, once again show us that there are really no rules or expectations, as anything can happen once those cards are in the air.

The very first hand of today’s play announced the way it was going to be. The first hand brought the first casualty of the tournament, as Frank Debus decided to 3-bet jam his #jc#7c and got called by Mike Sowers‘ pocket Eights. Sowers’ hand held up to send Debus to the rail and then in quick succession, three more players were eliminated and the final table was formed. It took probably under half an hour for this to happen.

Sowers came in to the final table as the chip leader, but he quickly relinquished that honor to Daniel Strelitz, whose #ah#ks eliminated Taylor Paur and his #qd#qc. Paur was looking good until the river brought #kc to send him to the rail, with $55,703 for his efforts.

The next elimination came quickly and once again it was Sowers who took over the lead. He got in a confrontation against Niel Mittelman and check-raised him all in on the board reading #4s#7h#5h. Mittelman made the quick call with #qs#qh and Sowers’ #9d#9c was in serious trouble. The situation only got worse after #ah hit the turn, as there was only one out Sowers could hit to win. Despite long odds, the dealer somehow found #9s on the river to send Mittelman to the rail in a very ugly spot, with $80,341 to comfort him.

Next to go was Lance Harris, who was getting short stacked, and once again Sowers played the role of executioner, sending him out in 4th place with $119,977 for his efforts. His good run continued as he soon eliminated Daniel Strelitz in a cooler hand where Strelitz’s pocket Queens were no match for Sowers’ pocket Aces. To make things even worse, he flopped Aces full of Kings to have Strelitz drawing virtually dead and the reward of $180,587 for a third place finish would have to suffice.

There was just one player who stood between Sowers and the bracelet. It was Justin Bonomo, who was really quiet during the whole two and a half hours of crazy action. He found himself playing heads up for the title after his opponent did most of the dirty work.

Due to this fact, Bonomo started with quite a big chip deficit. This did not deter him, however, as he started to slowly close the gap until he finally managed to overcome it completely and seize the lead. After this, he started dominating and managed to get Sowers down to just 25,000 in chips, which was around one big blind. It was a cooler/suckout type of situation where he managed to river a wheel against Sowers’ two pair, but it is all poker as we know and love.

Sowers was not ready to give up just yet and he pulled off a few double ups that enabled him to gain some momentum and almost get back into the match. Only Bonomo wouldn’t have it and the final hand came in short order. Bonomo flopped the flush with #10h#3h and was up against the #qh#10c of Sowers. Sowers would need another heart if he was going to win this hand and double up again, but it wasn’t meant to be as the turn and river were blanks and Sowers finished in second position, claiming $278,518.

Bonomo could now start celebrating, as it was all over. He captured his very first gold bracelet together with $449,980 in prize money and his reaction on Twitter was interesting, but a little too intense to share here. Another day in the office for Bonomo for sure, but the first one in his career that finished with a gold bracelet on his wrist!

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Ivan Potocki

Ivan is an aspiring journalist writer from Bosnia and Herzegovina. With a degree in English Literature and a fiery work ethic, Ivan adds a dynamic and flexible element to the PokerUpdate writing staff.