Council Bluffs, Iowa (April 24, 2013) — Mark "Bonsai" Bonsack won the Casino Championship at Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs in convincing fashion last Monday night. The 52-year-old contractor and semi-professional poker player from Cle Elum, Wash. put an exclamation point on 1st and 2nd-place finishes with a 4th-place finish in the Main Event. His results totaled 127.5 points, 20 points ahead of Mark Fink in 2nd.

Bonsack, who earned an at-large bid in the 2012 event, is a two-time National Championship qualifier heading to New Orleans May 22 with hopes to best his 12th-place finish from last year.

"The key is don't get three-outted with 12 people to go," Bonsack joked about his 2012 performance. "Other than that, I don't think I really made any mistakes in that tournament. I actually played that tournament really well and just got unlucky at the end."

Bonsack has now recorded back-to-back Council Bluffs Main Event final table appearances. He improved slightly on his previous 5th-place finish, but described the accomplishment as "bitter sweet".

"I didn't play very well at the end," he said. "You never want to lose, but I can't really complain. I had a pretty good run."

Bonsack and Fink dueled for Casino Champion honors head-to-head in Event 10 when the pair found themselves heads-up in a scenario where the victor would take the Casino Championship lead and the runner-up would be second. Fink got the best of Bonsack in that battle, but Bonsack landed the last punch a few days later.

When Bonsack began the Main Event, he trailed Fink by 10 points. Fink cashed in 29th, earning an additional 10, and Bonsack suddenly trailed by 20 but was still drawing live.

Fink had quite the sweat on his hands as Bonsack found himself at the Main Event unofficial final table of 10 needing to outlast one more player to overtake the lead. He did a few better, outlasting six more in all and handily snatching the honor from Fink.

Fink amassed six cashes -- the most of anyone in the field -- including two final table appearances and his first gold ring victory during the 12-day series in Council Bluffs.

"It's definitely one of the [most] difficult fields at the [World Series of Poker]," Bonsack said of the National Championship. "It's all of the best players from the Circuit; all the up-and-coming people, plus whoever from the top 100 [WSOP Player of the Year qualifiers] plays. It's fun, I like it. It's fun to go up against the best players in the world."

The 2013 WSOP National Championship Presented by Southern Comfort 100 Proof takes place at Harrah's New Orleans May 22-24. The top 100 qualifiers from the WSOP Circuit as well as many as 100 of the top WSOP Player of the Year Qualifiers will compete for as much as $2 million in prizes and a WSOP gold bracelet. The one-of-a-kind event will be filmed for ESPN.

Top 10 point earners from Council Bluffs:

1. Mark Bonsack - 127.5 pts
2. Mark Fink - 107.5 pts
3. Sterling Savill - 85 pts
4. Jason Mayfield - 80 pts
5. Pavlin Karakikov - 67.5 pts
6. Jeff Heiberg - 65 pts
7. Nick Jivkov - 60 pts
8. Matthew Weber - 60 pts
9. Robert Chow - 60 pts
10. Brendan Waite, David Sutton tied at 55 points

Full standings available on

All National Championship qualifiers receive complimentary hotels stays May 21 and 22 if they RSVP in advance to Daniel Vogel ( All players who qualify by April 22 must RSVP by April 30 to take advantage of this opportunity. Those who qualify after April 22 will be contacted by WSOP staff to coordinate hotel stays. Any player who remains in the National Championship field May 23 or 24 will have their stays extended by the WSOP. Those who fail to RSVP at all or by the deadline will be responsible for their own accommodations. Players are encouraged to stay in contact with Vogel.

More information available on