Poker's all-time money leader Justin Bonomo extended his lead early this morning when he took down $25,000 8-Handed at the 2023 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) for $574,529 after a three-handed ICM chop with chip leader Rui Ferreira (2nd -$664,820) and Isaac Haxton (3rd - $491,550), who was a few runouts away from winning his second trophy of the series after a victory in $100,000 PCA Super High Roller for $1,082,230.
Bonomo had $58.9 million in Hendon Mob-reported earnings before the six-figure haul that puts him at a historic $59.5 million. It will take a multi-million dollar score for anyone to pass the American as he sits comfortably ahead of Bryn Kenney ($57.2 million) and Erik Seidel ($42.4 million).
The victory marks Bonomo's first tournament win outside of Las Vegas since 2019 and just his second cash out of Vegas since that time. The first came earlier this week when he finished 44th in the $10,000 PCA Main Event for $29,400.
“Just like any other tournament, you have to play your best, you have to get lucky, catch the right cards at the right time," Bonomo said when asked what propelled him to his latest victory. "Just a combination of things coming together, really.”
While many of the high rollers so far at PCA have attracted intimate fields with just a few dozen runners, the $25,000 8-Handed ballooned into a massive field of 140 players, an astonishing number for an event at this buy-in, to generate $3,361,400 in prize money.
“It was a great field," Bonomo told PokerNews in a winner's interview. “I’m used to playing these high-roller tournaments against a lot of the best players in the world, a lot of the same people over and over. So it’s definitely exciting when I get to play with new people, people I don’t recognize."
Other players who made deep runs in the event include Alex Kulev (9th - $108,450), Seth Davies (7th - $130,600) and Jean-Noel Thorel (5th - $220,700), who received a round of applause from Steve O'Dwyer and several others as he exited the final table.
2023 PCA $25,000 8-Handed Final Table Results
|PLACE||PLAYER||COUNTRY||PRIZE (IN USD)|
|1||Justin Bonomo||United States||$574,529*|
|3||Isaac Haxton||United States||$491,550*|
|7||Seth Davies||United States||$130,600|
A Massive Field Dwindles
The tournament was already shaping to be a big one when 78 players registered on Day 1, but another 62 joined during the late-reg period on Day 2 to turn the high roller into the biggest of the series so far.
The field included all the normal high-stakes pros, including Stephen Chidwick, Michael Addamo, Mike Watson and Ben Heath, as well as some players who aren't seen in any many PCA high rollers like Ethan "RampagePoker" Yau.
Only 20 places paid in the event and Tauan Naves bowed out on the money bubble in a three-way pot between himself, Bonomo and Dan Shak, who himself went out in 18th place when he moved in with ace-nine only to find himself dominated by the ace-queen of Haxton.
Several familiar faces fell after that, including Timothy Adams (17th - $43,050), Dan Smith (15th - $56,950) and Chad Eveslage (14th - $56,950) before Daniel Dvoress went out in tenth on the final table bubble.
Battle of Poker's Greatest Minds
Kulev went out in 8th place when he open-jammed with pocket threes in the small blind and Bonomo woke up with pocket queens in the big blind. Mario Mosboeck managed to double up through the eventual champion before Ferreira picked up jacks and the Austrian couldn't get ahead with his king-ten.
Bonomo and Ferreira, who took down €10,300 EPT High Roller at EPT Barcelona for €767,750 in August 2022, exchanged chip leads at the final table and both did their part to apply pressure on their shorter-stacked opponents.
“What you want to look for are spots where you can pressure them using only a small amount of chips and make them afraid that they’re going to lose their whole stack," Bonomo explained. "Because you don’t just want to go all-in for heaps every hand, because then you can actually lose a bunch. But just by putting in small bets (or) small raises, every hand they’re afraid that they might go bust. They might end up in sixth instead of third place, or whatever.”
After Carlos Chadha went out in fourth as his pocket eights were pipped by the pocket nines of Haxton, the three high-stakes crushers agreed to chop and flip for the trophy.
Bonomo, who celebrated the victory with his girlfriend, told PokerNews he agreed to chop in part because he was “playing against two great players."
"Isaac and I go way back," he said. "I think he’s one of the best players in the world, possibly the greatest poker mind in the world. And Rui is a tough player as well.”
That wraps up the PokerNews live reporting team's coverage of the larger-than-anticipated $25,000 8-Handed. Be sure to check out the team's coverage of other events here in The Bahamas.