Friday, June 10, 2016 4:43 AM Local Time
Ian Johns Wins $1,500 HORSE Event
Ian Johns is the newest
member of poker’s gold bracelet club. This marked his second career
victory following his debut victory ten years ago. That came in a Limit
Hold’em event at the 2006 WSOP.
Ten years later, the
poker pro originally from Newcastle, WA won the $1,500 buy-in H.O.R.S.E.
tournament, which was played over three days and nights at the Rio in
Las Vegas. Johns collected $212,604 in prize money, making this one of
the biggest wins of his career. Amazingly, he was dead last in chips at
the end of Day One – ranked 201st out of 201 survivors.
“I bagged up barely
enough to post a blind, 2000 in chips,” Johns recalled later. “Then I
came back on the second day and tripled up in Stud because the antes
were enough to amount to a full double up, and in the next hour I built
my stack up to 50,000.”
That was just but one of three comebacks Johns would make in this tourney.
“It just goes to show you
should never give up. When we were at 12 players, I was the
second-shortest stack in the tournament. I had 118,000 and then right
after dinner, I was up to 950,000. There’s no reason to give up in
these things because even when you’re down, all you have to do is win
three hands in a row and you’re right back in it.”
The third lightning
strike occurred late in the tournament and at the perfect time. Just
when it looked like Justin Bonomo was about to pull away and win what
would have been his second gold bracelet, Johns dug in and managed to
win a key hand, reversing the table momentum.
Johns won his victory by
conquering a final table which included six past gold bracelet winners –
including himself, Justin Bonomo, Georgios Sotiropoulos, Andre Akkari,
Svetlana Gromenkova, and Scotty Nguyen.
After a fierce heads-up
battle during which both players had sizable chip leads at various
points, the limits became so high (36 big bets total in chips on the
table between both players) that a couple of hands played to the
conclusion could swing the final decision in one players favor. The
ultimate moment of triumph came when Johns scooped the final pot of the
tournament, against Justin Bonomo, who finished as the runner up.
Interestingly, Johns and
Bonomo had a long history of playing together, dating back more than ten
years. They often faced each other online.
“This final table was
ridiculous,” Johns said of the level of competition he faced. “I knew
just about everyone here, and I was thinking, we could even talk poker
strategy. I’m pretty sure all eight players were pros. You don’t see
that very often, especially in a $1,500 event. You expect some non-pros
to make it through….obviously, it felt really good to beat Justin
(Bonomo). He’s a great player and it’s gratifying to win against him.”
As for his poker career,
Johns splits his time between living in Las Vegas, where he plays poker
full time, and Seattle, WA which he still calls his hometown. In fact,
Johns was cheered to victory by a large rail which included several
other poker players who were natives of the Seattle area, most notably
Jeff Shulman and Rep Porter.
Johns is a Limit Hold’em
specialist. He mostly plays $80-160 limit cash games. However, he also
tries to play as many Limit Hold’em tournaments as he can, and ventures
into Mixed Game formats such as H.O.R.S.E. on occasion. He finished
tenth in last year’s $10K buy-in Limit Hold’em Championship. He
finished 17th twice in that same event, as well, even more proof of his
This tourney attracted 778 players which created a prize pool totaling $1,050,300. The top 117 finishers collected a payout.
H.O.R.S.E. has been a
staple of the WSOP over the past 15 years. It’s a mix of five standard
poker games, including Hold’em, Ohama High-Low Split, Razz, Seven-Card
Stud, and Stud Eight-or-Better. Mixed game tournaments have expanded
substantially in recent years. However, H.O.R.S.E. was the original
multi-game format intended to test competitors in a broader spectrum of
poker variants. H.O.R.S.E. remains the format used to determine the
Poker Players Champion, now in its 11th year.
Here’s a brief report of the other top finishers who made the final table:
Justin Bonomo, the well-known poker pro who earned his gold bracelet
two years ago in a Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em event, finished as the
runner up. He pocketed $131,412. Amazingly, this was his seventh time
to make the top three in a WSOP gold bracelet event. Bonomo now has 35
career cashes and more than $2.7 million in WSOP-related earnings.
Third Place: Christopher
Vitch, from La Jolla, CA added to his tournament resume with a fourth
WSOP final table appearance, including what amounts to three top-3
finishes, by finishing third. Vitch collected $92,374 in prize money.
He’s cashed at least once every year since 2010.
Fourth Place: Noah Bronstein, from Kirkland, WA came in fourth. This was his 31st time to cash at the WSOP, which paid out $65,866.
Georgios Sotiropoulos, from Farrell, Greece won a gold bracelet last
year at WSOP-Europe. All of his 11 cashes have occurred since 2014.
The player who was born on the island of Rhodes (Greece) rode off with
$47,651 for a nice effort.
Sixth Place: Andre
Akkari, from Sao Paulo, Brazil became the second Brazilian gold
bracelet winner in 2011. One of South America’s most popular players,
Akkari now has 20 series cashes. The $34,984 in prize money he
collected puts him closer to $1 million in career WSOP earnings.
Svetlana Gromenkova, from New York, NY took seventh place, which paid
$26,070. She won the 2008 Ladies World Championship and now has three
cashes this year, and 17 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP. She was the
third female to make it to a final table at this year’s series.
Scotty Nguyen, a four-time gold bracelet winner and the 1998 world
poker champion, rounded out the final table as the eighth-place
finisher. This marked his 52nd time to cash. The $19,724 paid out to
Nguyen for this finish adds to his $5.2 million in lifetime earnings at
This was the 8th event on this year’s schedule. That leaves 61 tournaments still to go at the 2016 WSOP.