Mark Bonsack Finally Breaks the Jinx

Following Three Previous 3rd-Place Finishes at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe, Bonsack Gets the Win

WSOP Circuit at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe Runs through November 21st

Stateline, NV (November 12, 2011) – There’s an old saying that goes something like this – if first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

For Mark Bonsack, he tried again, and again, and again.

Following three third-place finishes in WSOP Circuit events played at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe in 2007, 2008, and 2009, in addition to numerous other close calls and disappointments, Bonsack finally broke through late on Saturday night and earned his first WSOP-related victory and first major tournament win.  Bonsack’s triumph came in the third gold ring event played at this year’s World Series of Poker Circuit stop.  He collected $7,484 in prize money. 

But what was far more meaningful to Bonsack was breaking of the so-called “jinx” that has largely marked his career as a semi-pro player.  The 51-year-old contractor from Maple Valley, CA had five previous final table appearances, but came up short of victory each time.  This marked his eighth time to cash on the WSOP Circuit.  Bonsack also has three cashes at the WSOP, in Las Vegas.

For his victory, Bonsack was presented with the coveted gold ring, which is the ultimate token of achievement for winning a WSOP Circuit tournament.

“I am thrilled to win,” Bonsack said afterward.  “It feels great.  It’s really good to break that jinx, because I came close so many times.”

This was the third of 12 gold ring tournaments to be played at Lake Tahoe.  The two-day $300 (+45) H.O.R.S.E. event attracted a modest field size of 85 entries.  Attendance was up slightly from last year (82 players), bust still lagged due in large part to a No-Limit Hold’em tournament taking place on the same day (with 521 total entries).  The total prize pool came to $24,735.  The top nine players were paid.  All players who cashed received WSOP Circuit National Championship ranking points.

A full list of all players that cashed in Event #3 can be seen here.


The World Series of Poker is the only major poker tournament series which promotes a wide variety of different poker games.  While there’s little doubt that No-Limit Hold’em remains king just about everywhere, other poker games deserve a chance to be played and enjoyed by as many players as possible.

Accordingly, the WSOP offers dozens of major events every year – including games which are rarely played anywhere else.  The WSOP Circuit is also determined to promote other forms of poker – particularly games such as Omaha High-Low Split, Razz, Seven-Card Stud, and Eight-or-Better.  To accomplish this, all WSOP Circuit schedule stops this season include at least two varieties of poker games other than No-Limit Hold’em.

Not that there’s anything wrong with No-Limit Hold’em.  It’s a great poker game.  It can be fun and exciting.  No-Limit ignited the fuse of the poker boom, which continues to this day. 

Nevertheless, the WSOP and WSOP Circuit understand that it’s in the greater interest of the game and poker’s future to offer as many options as possible to poker players.  For this reason, playing in WSOP-related events remains as the ultimate test of all-around poker skill.


The first of two playing sessions began on Veterans Day, November 11th.  Just prior to the start of the tournament, all veterans and active military were asked to stand and be recognized.  Players gave the veterans a warm ovation, in remembrance of their service and sacrifices.

Day One included the elimination of 61 players.  There were 24 survivors who resumed the tournament on Day Two and played down to the final table.  After another four hours of play, the eight finalists were determined as follows:

SEAT 1:  Mark Bonsack (Seattle, WA) – 44,500 in chips
SEAT 2:  Jon Wallace (South Lake Tahoe, CA) – 187,000 in chips
SEAT 3:  Jeff Cox (Reno, NV) – 18,000 in chips
SEAT 4:  Rob Furia (Granada Hills, CA) – 174,000 in chips
SEAT 5:  Clay Richardson (San Francisco, CA) – 92,000 in chips
SEAT 6:  Isaac Crow (Los Angeles, CA) – 60,000 in chips
SEAT 7:  Joe  Mongkoluaaree (Gardnerville, NV) – 146,000 in chips
SEAT 8:  Ho Le (Sacramento, CA) – 129,000 in chips

Final table play began at 7:15 pm.  Play ended at 11 pm local time.

8th Place – Isaac Crow, from Los Angeles, busted out quickly.  He was eliminated just five minutes into the finale.  This marked Crow’s first time to cash in a WSOP Circuit event.  Cow does have a number of high finishes in LA-area tournaments and has accumulated nearly $100,000 in career earnings.  He won the California State Championship HORSE event, held last Spring.

7th Place – Clay Richardson, a 30-year-old poker pro from San Francisco, ended up in seventh place.  This was Richardson’s first WSOP-related in-the-money finish.

6th Place – Rob Furia, from Granada Hills, CA took sixth place.  At age 59, he was the senior player in this finale.  Furia has now cashed six times this year in tournaments played in this area.

5th Place – Ho Le, from Sacramento, CA finished in fifth place.  This was his first time to cash in a major poker tournament in three years.  His last cash was in 2008.

4th Place – Local player John Wallace went out in fourth place.  He was eliminated during the Razz round.  Wallace, from South Lake Tahoe, CA cashed in an event here at Harvey’s two years ago.  He has a few other cashes, as well – mostly at various tournaments in Reno.

3rd Place – Jeffrey Cox, from Reno, NV exited in third place.  Entering the third hour of play, it looked like Cox could make things interesting when play was at three handed.  He managed to double up once, but then gradually lost those chips and ended up hitting the rail.  Nevertheless, this was his sixth time to cash in a major tournament this year.  Cox has two victories in 2011, both of which took place at the World Poker Challenge, in Reno.

2nd Place – Joe Mongkoluaaree (a.k.a, a 39-year-old poker pro from Gardnerville, NV finished as the runner up.  He made it to the final table of last year’s WSOP Circuit Main Event Championship.  Mongkoluaaree also won a HORSE event played earlier this year at the Pot of Gold tournament in Reno.  But his bid for a second win in HORSE came up just short.

When heads-up play began, Bonsack enjoyed about a 4 to 1 chip advantage.  The duel lasted about half an hour.  Bonsack increased his advantage and then won the final hand of the tournament which was dealt on the Razz round, as follows:


Bonsack had a huge draw and made a top-notch hand in Razz – a six low.  Mongkoluaaree had a good draw on the first four cards, and made an eight-low.  But he was drawing dead on sixth street.  Bonsack was declared the winner, with Mongkoluaaree finishing second.

1st Place – Mark Bonsack, a 51-year-old contractor from Maple Valley, CA won his first career WSOP Circuit gold ring.  He collected $7,484.  His victory was cheered on by several well-wishers.  This was the second consecutive day that a popular “name” player won an event at Harvey’s.  The previous winner was David Clark, who also plays a large number of WSOP Circuit events. 

Bonsack’s victory was even more impressive given that he was all-in and down to the felt twice when play was at two tables.  When play was at eight players, he was dead last in chips.  But Bonsack made a huge comeback and won the victory at a final table that lasted about five hours.

With his victory, Bonsack joins David Clark (Event #1 winner) as the two early leaders in this WSOP Circuit’s “Best All-Around Player” standings.  The player who accumulates the most overall points in Lake Tahoe’s twelve combined gold ring tournaments receives a pre-paid entry into the $1 million 2011-2012 WSOP Circuit National Championship, to be held in Las Vegas, next May.  At least two players from this tournament series will qualify for the WSOP Circuit National Championship, which is classified as a WSOP gold bracelet event.  The other automatic qualifier will be the winner of Lake Tahoe’s Main Event championship.

With the first two tournaments now wrapped up and another pending, there are still nine more gold ring events remaining in what is being billed as a “12 rings in 12 days” poker series.  The WSOP Circuit at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe continues through November 21st.  This year’s schedule includes not only all the gold ring events, but multiple second-chance tournaments (at 5 pm and 7 pm most days), single table and mega satellites, plus cash games going around the clock inside the Harvey’s Poker Room.