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Lars Bonding Pursues First WSOP Bracelet
Lars Bonding is due.
The 31-year-old Danish poker pro has been playing since the early days of online poker and, despite over $1.4 million in live tournament winnings, has yet to win his first WSOP bracelet.
Bonding has already experienced his share of success at the 2011 WSOP with three cashes, including a 10th-place finish in the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout event for $20,586.
“It’s been going pretty good,” he said. “So far I’ve had a little trouble finishing but I’m very hopeful for the future because I’ve taken some rather serious bad beats in every event I cashed in.”
It seems to be the story of Bonding’s life as he has 13 cashes at the WSOP but has never been able to close the deal. Perhaps it was fitting that his very first cash at the WSOP was finishing runner-up to Farzad Bonyadi in the 2005 $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em event.
“It would be wrong if I said I wasn’t frustrated by not winning a bracelet yet,” he said. “As long as I’m putting in the hours and trying my best I’m pretty sure it’s just a matter of time.”
Bonding’s story is one of the more interesting ones in the poker world.
From Denmark to Las Vegas
Bonding was born and raised in a small town in Denmark but moved to Aarhus to go to college in 2000. It was at this time Bonding became interested in backgammon and quickly developed into one of the best backgammon players in Europe.
In 2003, Bonding began to hear how much better the money was in poker and decided to try his hand at the game.
“I actually bought my first laptop, started an online account and won $8,500 in my first tournament,” he said. “I had been partying the previous night so I don’t think I played all that well either. I kept falling asleep, only to wake up to the PartyPoker software prompted me to play a hand.”
The win was substantially more than what Bonding had been making playing backgammon and he was hooked. Bonding continued to progress through the online ranks but in 2005 he decided to try his hand at live poker.
“I’m a little older than some of the young guns you see out there today,” he said. “I was kind of one of the first online players to start playing live poker in like 2005.”
Initially it was a rough transition for Bonding as there were no online tournaments that offered the same kind of structure as the big live tournaments.
“As soon as you got 100 big blinds, you were screwed, because you’d never played with 100 big blinds,” he said. “As an online player you were like, ‘What the $#%# is this? This is too many big blinds.’”
Bonding was taught a brutal lesson in deep-stack poker when he played the $25,000 2005 WPT World Championship.
When he took his seat at his table he was star-struck with the amount of big name players seated next to him including T.J. Cloutier, Steve Zolotow, John Hennigan and Michael Mizrachi.
Phil Ivey was the last player to join the table and Bonding admitted he was pretty much dead money in the event.
“I just had no chance in that tournament,” he laughed. “I was sitting there with like 400 big blinds and all these great players.”
It wasn’t enough to turn Bonding off the live experience, however, and he continued to play tournaments around the globe.
Bonding says his own style has progressed a great deal since the wild days of 2005-06.
“Back then it worked to be reckless,” he said. “I was completely crazy at the time. You just never held back. I’ve gotten and better as live player though and my reads are also better.”
In 2005 Bonding also met his future wife in L.A. when he was travelling. They would later marry and move to Virginia. They eventually had children and Bonding decided to move the whole family to Las Vegas so he didn’t have to travel for poker quite so often.
Recently Bonding shocked the poker world when he managed to win the PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up twice in three weeks for nearly $300k. It was a feat that has yet to be duplicated.
Black Friday Hits Home
Unfortunately for Bonding, the events of Black Friday have severely impacted his ability to make a living playing online poker.
“I’m moving out,” he said. “As a European, Black Friday is a stunning surprise. I can’t believe the United States - the land of the free - would crack down on something like online poker.”
Bonding shared his concern that the people it hurts the most are the midstakes players who are supporting their families by grinding out $3-$6k a month. He does not have a particularly positive outlook on the future of online poker in the U.S.
“I don’t think it’s going to happen within a couple years,” he said. “I don’t feel like the U.S. is known for acting fast on anything.”
In the meantime Bonding will continue to play as many events as he possibly can at the 2011 WSOP.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played this much,” he said. “Every day for so many days, 13 hours. I’m starting to feel a little exhausted but I’m confident good things will come.”
At the time this article was published, Bonding was stacked in Event 36 $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em with 71 players remaining. PokerListings also featured Lars Bonding in our 2011 WSOP Best Bets International: Denmark.