Hand of the Week: A River Set-Up with No Escape in $50k PPC


For many poker players, the $50,000 Players Championship at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the true World Championship of poker.

The $50k PPC is an 8-game event that tests a player's ability in every aspect of every game.

Only the best all-round players have a chance to win it.

Brian Rast has won it twice - the second time coming just this past summer in stunning come-from-behind fashion.

The final hand against his last remaining opponent this year, Justin Bonomo, was particularly dramatic.

Flop to River

We’ve arrived at the heads-up of the 2016 Players Championship. Brian Rast and Justin Bonomo are battling it out on the highest level of poker.

Both players have had the chip lead numerous times. At the moment Rast is slightly ahead with 12 million to Bonomo's 10.6 million.

Both players have $800,000 secured, but of course these two are playing for the win more than anything else now. There is one of the most coveted bracelets on the line as well as $1.3 million.

The game is No Limit Hold’em and the blinds are 60k/120k/40k. Rast sits with 100 bb while Bonomo holds about 88bb. On the button/in the small blind, Bonomo finds    

He raises to 400,000. Rast calls to make it 880,000 in the pot. The effective stacks are at 10.2 million and the flop falls      

Rast checks and Bonomo bets 350,000. Call. There's now 1.58 million chips in the pot and effective stacks are 9.9 million.

The turn is the   Rast checks again, Bonomo thinks about it quickly and then bets 2.2 million. Rast needs about 90 s to decide and announce call. The pot has now grown to 5.98 million chips with effective stacks now at 7.7 million.

The river is the   Rast checks again. Bonomo doesn’t take too long to announce all-in for 7.7 million chips. Rast calls with    

It’s a full house against Bonomo’s straight and Brian Rast wins the tournament. Watch the hand play out below:


What a bad spot for Justin Bonomo! He semi-bluffed twice, then hit a monster on the river and ran it into a bigger one. But let’s take a look at how he got there.

Setting the trap.

Pre-flop, Bonomo raises with Q J. He’s in position and often has the better hand here, so why would he not build up the pot?

Brian Rast makes an interesting decision. Just a call with A T instead of a reraise. Three factors make this a valuable move.

  • 1. He’s disguising his hand.
  • 2. He keeps all the weaker hands in the pot.
  • 3. He varies his game, thus strengthening his calling range. If there is a showdown Bonomo will see that Rast might just call even with strong holdings.

In heads-up play A-To is such a strong hand that you’d almost always want to get to showdown – even without hitting anything.

Bonomo Barrels Again

Rast hits two pair on the flop and now wants to maximize his profit. But in first position on the flop, he would check with any possible hand so there’s no reason for him to act any differently now.

When Rast checks, Bonomo pretty much has to c-bet. The flop hits his range much better than his opponent’s, plus he has a gutshot draw.

Turning point.

Pot equity and fold equity definitely justify a bet in this spot. But Rast calls and now Bonomo has to ask himself what Rast is calling with.

There are many reasonable hands he would do this with. For example a five, a ten, and of course an ace. There are also draws, but not many, as it's a rainbow flop.

Turn Aggression

With another ace appearing on the turn, Rast checks again. He's already filled up his full house and wonders what hand his opponent could call a bet with.

Not many hands would defend here, like a weaker ace or a ten, but these hands would usually also bet.

Then there are some possible bluffs in Bonomo’s hand, like two clubs, K-Q or Q-J, so a check seems to be the best move.

Bonomo considers his options and decides not to slow down. The gutshot straight is still there, which he has to think would be the nuts, and he might still be able to make a ten or a five fold.


In addition, Bonomo makes a big bet to prepare the all-in blow on the river. There are many river cards he was going to use for a push.

Suicide King on the River

A fascinating battle in one of the most prestigious tournaments of the WSOP comes to a crashing halt when the river creates a set-up with no escape for Justin Bonomo.

From the start, Brian Rast managed to under-represent his hand very well so Bonomo never saw what was coming.

Rast’s well-hidden monster hand gets a full payout. Goes to show that sometimes slow play actually is the best play.

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