For much of the past couple of days in the $50,000 Players Championship, it looked - rightly - like Justin Bonomo's event to win.
A perennial casher at the World Series of Poker, with 40 to his credit and 3 top-three finishes already this summer, Bonomo controlled play in an elite field and maintained the chip lead for most of the tournament.
Four-handed he'd accumulated over half the chips in play and look prepared to thwart Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi from winning his 3rd career PPC title.
Then the Brian Rast show began. After Bonomo crippled Mizrachi and Rast knocked him out in fourth, Rast was all in with A8 for his tournament life and survived Bonomo's J5.
Still outchipped about 16m-2.5m, Rast had a long way to climb. But climb he did - all the way to his 2nd career $50k PPC title.
Long Battle Ends in $1.3m, Further Validation
Three-handed with Bonomo and Eric Wasserson, Rast began his climb after that big double up and eventually had about 7m when he knocked out Wasserson in third.
Tough finish for Bonomo.
Down 14m-8m when heads-up started it was still an uphill battle and the two fought back and forth until the early hours.
Rast had pulled into a slight lead at 12m-10m when the cruel bustout hand for Bonomo came up in No-Limit Hold'em.
A river K♠ completed a Broadway straight for Bonomo and he shoved, only to find Rast insta-call with Aces full of tens.
The disappointment was evident, but Bonomo still collected $801,048 for second - his second of the summer.
Clearly an all-time great.
Rast continued to earn validation as one of the game's best of all time, as he said after his win:
“For me I play so much poker, I play for really high-stakes all the time. So, I’m not always playing tournaments -- I’m mostly a cash game player. But since I play the biggest cash game limits in almost every game, I think that does say something professionally.
"Tournament results have a lot of luck involved. I was blessed to run really good in events that were so big. There are plenty of other great players who weren’t as fortunate. While I feel I played well, that’s not all of that and I realize it.”
“This is what I have chosen to do with my life. I would be dishonest if I were to say that I haven’t thought about my place in the game. I could have done a lot of things with my life when I was in my early 20s.
"I chose poker. And I do care. I don’t care what other people in the world think. But I care what other poker professionals think.
"I take poker seriously and where my legacy is and how my peers think of me is a measure of professional respect. What I was able to do today was really special.”
Complete results and payouts for the $50,000 Players Championship final table:
- 1. Brian Rast $1,296,097
- 2. Justin Bonomo $801,048
- 3. Eric Wasserson $545,772
- 4. Michael Mizrachi $380,942
- 5. Wil Wilkinson $272,558
- 6. Ray Dehkharghani $200,027
Check WSOP.com for a full rundown of all the action.