If there was a list of the most accomplished poker players without a World Series of Poker bracelet, Tuan Le and Justin Bonomo would both rank near the very top. After battling heads-up for almost three hours in the $10,000 Deuce to Seven Triple Draw Championship, Le can no longer be considered as part of that group.
Le’s first career WSOP final table led to his first career WSOP bracelet and a $355,324 payday Saturday night, but Bonomo didn’t make it easy. He was on the brink of elimination several different times in their heads-up match, but every time it looked as if Bonomo could be counted out he clawed his way back into contention.
As the limits climbed higher and higher, the tide turned once more against Bonomo – only this time he wouldn’t be able to right the ship. He lost a big pot after making an eight-high straight on the final draw, and there’d be no recovery from that particular pot. On the final hand of the tournament, Le raised to 100,000 and Bonomo called, with both players drawing two cards.
Bonomo led out for 50,000, Le called and each player drew one card. Bonomo bet 100,000, Le raised to 200,000, and Bonomo pushed in his stack of 210,000 total, which Le called. Both players stood pat and Bonomo called out ‘Nine-eight’, tabling 9-8-7-5-4. Le quickly turned over his 9-6-4-3-2 and his friends erupted into cheers on the rail.
“It felt really elusive,” said Le of a WSOP bracelet in the aftermath of his win. “It just felt that I probably could have won [one] a few times. I played as well as I could, and it all just went my way – I could have been on the other side of all the hands that could have knocked me out.”
There were 12 players when Day 3 of the $10,000 Deuce to Seven Triple Draw got underway almost nine hours earlier, and they had to cut that number in half to reach the official final table. It took more than an hour to lose David Benyamine in 12th, but the chips shifted dramatically while the quest to eliminate players stalled. Bonomo rocketed to the top of the chip counts while former top dogs Phil Galfond and Jason Mercier each started to tumble.
Jon Turner fell to Eli Elezra and went out 11th, followed by Michael Chow in 10th. While Galfond clawed his way back into the hunt, Mercier was crippled in a hand against George Danzer when the German made a wheel on the final draw. Bonomo took out both Mercier and Alexandre Luneau in one fell swoop, drawing two to make a wheel on the second draw and reduce the field to the unofficial final table of seven.
Sergey Rybachenko was the shortest stack seven-handed, but earned himself a double through Danzer to stay alive. His stack was soon crippled when Elezra made an eight-six low, and the rest of it went in on the following hand as Galfond, Elezra and Le each got involved in his all in hand. So many cards were taken by the final draw that Rybachenko’s final card had to come from a reshuffled stub. Elezra bet on the end, Galfond folded and Le called, with Elezra tabling 8 7 5 3 2 to beat Rybachenko’s T 7 5 4 3 and set the final table of six.
Galfond’s run at a second WSOP bracelet ended in sixth, when he ran into the Bonomo buzzsaw. It folded around to him in the small blind and he raised, prompting a three-bet from Bonomo, a four-bet from Galfond and a five-bet from Bonomo that put Galfond all in. Galfond drew two cards and Bonomo took one on the first draw, but after Galfond took one on the second draw Bonomo stayed pat for the second and third draws. Before Galfond even took a card to try to make his eight-seven low on the final draw, Bonomo showed a made eight-six low making the final card irrelevant.
Bonomo continued to build his stack and crossed the 1.5 million chip mark by crippling Danzer’s stack, pipping Danzer with an eight-seven-five low to Danzer’s eight-seven-six. Danzer took the last of his chips into battle with Elezra with four bets going in pre-draw and the last 18,000 going in after Danzer drew two. Elezra stayed pat throughout, but Danzer drew two on the second and final pulls as well, needing to improve on his eight-three-two to beat Elezra’s nine-six low. Danzer flipped up a seven, but he paired the eight on the final card and an exit in fifth was the result.
Le and Nick Schulman were well behind Elezra and Bonomo when four-handed play began, but both of the short stacks chipped up nicely in the early going. While Le’s chips continued to swell, his push for 1 million chips came largely at the expense of Schulman and Elezra.
Bonomo would claim yet another victim shortly thereafter, opening in the small blind, which Schulman called. Bonomo bet in the dark, Schulman drew three, Bonomo drew one and Schulman called. They both took one on the second draw, Schulman bet 50,000 and Bonomo called. Bonomo took one card and Schulman stood pat on the final draw and Bonomo put Schulman all in for his last 25,000. Schulman eventually called and showed a jack-low, but Bonomo’s ten-seven low gave him the pot and reduced the field to three.
It didn’t take long for Elezra to follow Schulman to the rail. After losing a big pot where he allegedly folded the best hand with a nine-seven low, Elezra got into his final confontation with Tuan Le by opening for a raise on the button. Le three-bet, Elezra called, Le drew one card and Elezra took two. Le bet, Elezra raised all in for 34,000 and Le called. Le stood pat on the final two streets, while Elezra took two cards and then one.
Elezra tabled 2 3 5 7 as he sweated his final card. “Eight no good,” said Le, showing his 2 3 4 5 and holding onto the 8 in his hand. Elezra flipped over the 2, and his pursuit of back-to-back Deuce to Seven Triple Draw bracelets fell just short in third place.
With that pot, Le pulled virtually even with Bonomo as the stack stood at 1.84 million to 1.76 million. Once he grabbed the lead he’d never relinquish it, and while Bonomo put up a hell of a fight, he was left to settle for his third career runner-up finish at the WSOP.
$10,000 Deuce to Seven Triple Draw Championship – Final Table Payouts
- Tuan Le – $355,324
- Justin Bonomo – $219,565
- Eli Elezra – $144,056
- Nick Schulman – $99,015
- George Danzer – $70,308
- Phil Galfond – $51,538
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