John Monnette is quickly becoming a household name around the World Series of Poker, and tonight's performance will certainly help that trend. Monnette has just completed the goal he set before himself three days ago, winning Event #23, the $2,500 buy-in eight-game mixed event. With it comes nearly $300,000 and Monnette's first gold bracelet.
The day began with 25 players still in the mix -- see what we did there? --, among them some of the most skilled mixed-game players in the world. Names like Ylon Schwartz, Nikolay Evdakov, and Max Pescatori all dropped out over the course of the opening levels, and the field shrunk quickly. Midway through the day, the final eight were set, and the survivors were relocated to the secondary featured table for the conclusion of the fight.
John Racener was the first of the eight to fall, his pocket kings running into the flush of Eric Buchman in stud 8/b. Racener had a full-house draw with one to come, but a brick on seventh cut his evening short with a small payday for his fifth career WSOP final table. Adam Kornuth fell just a few minutes later in no-limit hold'em, his pocket eights coolered off by the two tens of Michele Limongi.
John Juanda was on life support early in Day 2, but he managed to grow his stack steadily for the last half of the event, right up until his elimination in sixth place today. Juanda got his last couple bets into a limit pot with king-high, and Buchman's flopped an open-ended straight flush draw. He made that straight right on the turn with the , and Juanda was thusly ushered out the door a few spots shy of his second 2011 bracelet.
Desmond Portano fell to John Monnette in a razz hand to bow out in fifth, and Monnette took care of Brent Hanks in fourth place, too. With the knockouts mounting, it was about this time that the momentum was really shifting toward Monnette. He rode the rush all the way to victory. Michele Limongi was his next victim, Monnette waking up with aces to take the last of the Italian's chips.
That left Monnette and Buchman heads up for the hardware, probably two of the betting favorites coming into play. They were playing the "H" of H.O.R.S.E. when Limongi went out, and by the time they got to the "E", the match was decided. The tides turned for good in the stud round where Monnette dominated, making a couple key hands to cripple Buchman down into the knockout zone. One hand of stud 8/b was all it took for Monnette to collect the rest, and Buchman was gracious in defeat.
It took about six hours of final-table play to crown Monnette as the champion, a feat which looked improbable at one point. It was a bit of a buzzer beater, too. With just 18 minutes left on the clock, Monnette and Buchman would have been forced to bag up if they couldn't settle it quickly. The end came, though, and it was John Monnette holding the bracelet with flash bulbs popping in the Amazon Room. He's the toast of the town tonight, and he'll join the growing group of bracelet holders when he's awarded his new jewelry on Friday.
Congratulations one more time to John Monnette, the champ!