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2016 47th Annual World Series of Poker

Tuesday, June 07, 2016 to Thursday, June 09, 2016

Event #8: $1,500 H.O.R.S.E.

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  • Buy-in: $1,500
  • Prizepool: $1,050,300
  • Entries: 778
  • Remaining: 0


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Friday, June 10, 2016 1:43 AM Local Time


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 Limit prowess.

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:

Second Place:  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.

Fifth Place:  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.

Seventh Place:  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.

Eighth Place:  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 the WSOP.

This was the 8th event on this year’s schedule.  That leaves 61 tournaments still to go at the 2016 WSOP.

Friday, June 10, 2016 12:11 AM Local Time


Seven Card Stud 

Ian Johns -     /      /  
Justin Bonomo -     /      /  

Ian Johns brings in with  . Justin Bonomo completes with the   and Johns calls. On fourth street Johns checks, Bonomo bets, and Johns calls. The pair get it in on fifth street. Bonomo holds    for a pair of nines and Johns holds    for a pair of threes. By seventh street Ian Johns makes aces up to take the pot and the tournament.

Johns is the winner of Event #8 $1,500 H.O.R.S.E. an event in which he has now cashed in for the past three years. He wins $212,604 and his second career WSOP gold bracelet, having previously won ten years ago when he took down the $3,000 Limit Hold'em event in 2006.

Justin Bonomo finishes in second place for $131,412. This is the bracelet winner's fourth career second place finish in a WSOP bracelet event.


Friday, June 10, 2016 12:05 AM Local Time


Seven Card Stud

Justin Bonomo -     /      /  
Ian Johns -     /      /  

Justin Bonomo raises and Johns calls. On third street Bonomo bets and Johns raises, and Bonomo is all-in. Johns shows    for a pair of nines, and Bonomo shows   . The board runs out and Bonomo survives by making kings and tens to Johns's pair of eights

Justin Bonomo - 1,000,000 (5 BB)
Ian Johns - 4,800,000 (24 BB)
Friday, June 10, 2016 12:02 AM Local Time

Seven Card Stud

Ian Johns -     /      /  
Justin Bonomo -     /      /  

On fourth street, Bonomo bets and Johns calls. Bonomo bets again on fifth street and Johns calls. Bonomo switches to check-calling on sixth street and both players check seventh street. Johns shows     and wins with a pair of sixes.

Ian Johns - 5,300,000 (26 BB)
Justin Bonomo - 500,000 (2 BB)

Thursday, June 9, 2016 11:52 PM Local Time

Omaha Hi-Lo

The pair put in three bets preflop. On a     flop, Justin Bonomo's bet is raised by Johns, and Bonomo calls. The turn is the   and Bonomo check-calls Johns's bet. The river is the   and Bonomo checks again, then folds when Johns bets.

Ian Johns - 4,100,000 (20 BB)
Justin Bonomo - 1,700,000 (8 BB)

Playtika - Jason Alexander
Thursday, June 9, 2016 11:44 PM Local Time

Over a series of Omaha Hi-Lo hands, Ian Johns moves into the chip lead and now holds almost a clear chip advantage over Justin Bonomo.

Ian Johns - 3,400,000 (17 BB)
Justin Bonomo - 2,400,000 (12 BB)

Thursday, June 9, 2016 11:32 PM Local Time



Ian Johns -     /      /  
Justin Bonomo-     /      /  

The limits have just gone up and the game is razz.

The players have both received high cards on third street, but Justin Bonomo's is the higher and he puts up the bring in.

Ian Johns completes and Bonomo calls.

Johns bets fourth, Bonomo calls, then Johns pairs on fifth street, Bonomo leads with a bet and Johns calls.

Bonomo bets again on sixth, and again Johns calls.

Bonomo checks seventh street, Johns bets, and Bonomo calls, only to see Johns showsee    , making the 8-7-6-5-3 the winning hand.

Ian Johns - 2,500,000 (12 BB)
Justin Bonomo - 3,300,000 (16 BB)

Thursday, June 9, 2016 11:22 PM Local Time
Game Ante
Bring-in or Small Blind Completion 
or Big Blind
Flop Games - 50,000 100,000 100,000/200,000
Stud Games 20,000 30,000 100,000 100,000/200,000

Thursday, June 9, 2016 11:16 PM Local Time
Thursday, June 9, 2016 11:09 PM Local Time

Limit Hold'em

In a three-bet pot pre-flop, Justin Bonomo bets on a     flop and Ian Johns calls. On the   turn Bonomo bets again and Johns calls. The river is the   and Bonomo bets a third time. Johns calls but mucks when Bonomo shows    for a turned set of sixes.

Justin Bonomo - 3,900,000 (24 BB)
Ian Johns - 1,900,000 (12 BB)

Playtika - Jason Alexander
Thursday, June 9, 2016 11:07 PM Local Time

Justin Bonomo and Ian Johns


Ian Johns -     /      /  
Justin Bonomo-     /      /  

With massive swings between the chip leads,each player has been at a million chip disadvantage at one point or another during heads-up play already. Justin Bonomo has been in the lead lately, but a hand of stud gains Ian Johns some ground on Bonomo's lead.

Johns has the bring in on third street. Bonomo raises and Johns calls.

Bonomo gets an ace on fourth and bets. Johns calls.

Fifth street gives Johns a pair of fives. He checks, Bonomo bets, and Johns calls.

That action repeats on sixth and seventh streets, then Johns shows     for trip fives and wins the pot, drawing essentially even with Bonomo.

Ian Johns - 2,800,000 (17 BB)
Justin Bonomo-3,000,000 (18 BB)

Thursday, June 9, 2016 10:49 PM Local Time

Right now Ian Johns is heads-up against Justin Bonomo for his second bracelet and $212,604, but just look how many chips he had at the conclusion of play on Day 1! 

Thursday, June 9, 2016 10:48 PM Local Time

Seven Card Stud

Justin Bonomo -     /      /  
Ian Johns -     /      /  

On fourth street Johns check-calls a bet from Bonomo. Johns still leads with an   on fifth street and check-calls another bet. On sixth street both players check and on seventh street Johns check-calls again. "Flush" announces Bonomo, spreading     on the board. Johns nods, then mucks his cards. The chip gap in heads-up is out to the widest its been so far, after a fairly close opening

Justin Bonomo - 3,800,000 (23 BB)
Ian Johns - 1,900,000 (12 BB)

Thursday, June 9, 2016 10:29 PM Local Time

Omaha Hi-Lo 

Ian Johns raises and Justin Bonomo calls. The flop is     and Johns check-calls a bet from Bonomo. He repeats that on the   turn and the   river and Bonomo shows      to win the pot with aces up.

Justin Bonomo - 3,600,000
Ian Johns - 2,200,000

In the next hand, it's Bonomo's turn to check-call down on a board of       only for Johns to show      for a wheel to scoop the high and the low.

Ian Johns - 3,400,000 (21 BB)
Justin Bonomo - 2,800,000 (16 BB)

Thursday, June 9, 2016 10:26 PM Local Time

Ian Johns and Justin Bonomo are playing their first hands heads up, with the championship bracelet sitting between them.

In the first two hands, continuing with hold'em, Johns has the lead, though the players are swapping enormous number of chips on each hand.

Ian Johns - 3,350,000 (20 BB)
Justin Bonomo - 2,450,000 (15 BB)

Playtika - Jason Alexander
Thursday, June 9, 2016 10:17 PM Local Time

Christopher Vitch was talkative at the table, and talked his way to third place ($92,374)

Limit Hold'em

Ian Johns raises and Christopher Vitch calls. On a     board, Johns bets and Vitch says "I would like to bet as much as I am able to." Johns concurs and the rest of Vitch's chips find their way into the middle of the pot. Vitch shows    for top pair, but Johns is ahead by virtue of his kicker with   . The   is dealt on the turn; "That's a good card for me," says Vitch, but the   isn't so good, and Vitch is eliminated in third Place

Ian Johns - 3,600,000
Christopher Vitch - Elimianted in third place ($92,374)

Thursday, June 9, 2016 10:11 PM Local Time
Game Ante
Bring-in or Small Blind Completion 
or Big Blind
Flop Games - 40,000 80,000 80,000/160,000
Stud Games 20,000 20,000 80,000 80,000/160,000

Thursday, June 9, 2016 10:08 PM Local Time
Thursday, June 9, 2016 9:58 PM Local Time
The three remaining players have agreed to shorten the scheduled break to 10 minutes.
Thursday, June 9, 2016 9:53 PM Local Time


Justin Bonomo-     /      /  
Ian Johns -     /      /  

Large stacks of chips have been moving across the table between the three players, but the primary battle right now is between the two players who already have a bracelet, Ian Johns and Justin Bonomo.

Johns has pulled well ahead, but Bonomo isn't starved for chips. They're contending over a pot on seventh street with a bet from Bonomo and call from Johns all the way to the end, and at the showdown, Bonomo has     for two pair that Johns can't match.

Justin Bonomo - 2,000,000 (16 BB)
Ian Johns - 3,000,000 (25 BB)

Playtika - Jason Alexander