The penultimate day of the 2018 World Series of Poker Event #16: $10,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Championship saw 16 hopefuls out of a 114 entries return to the tables and the goal was rather simple: Win one match and secure a payday of $31,086, win the second heads-up duel also and secure a spot in the semi-finals for a shot at the elusive gold bracelet and first-place payout of $185,965 that comes along with it.
After his incredible results in the current year so far, all eyes were set on Justin Bonomo and he won both matches, defeating Niall Farrell and Mark McGovern, to advance to the final day. While Bonomo has mainly been earning his big paydays in higher stakes, there was one particular moment right at the start of this event that sparked the motivation to do well.
When asked about going from an event like the Super High Roller Bowl ($300K) to a $10K, Bonomo had the following to say in the interview right after his second victory:
"Sometimes it can be hard for me to focus. The one thing that really helped was that in the first round I was paired against David Peters, so it felt like I was playing a High Roller because he's an incredibly tough opponent that I play against all the time in High Rollers. The $10,000 Heads Up is still a big tournament. There's something about heads-up that gets the adrenaline flowing and it feels like there's a lot more pressure on the line so that helps me maintain focus."
Bonomo will face Dutchman Martijn Gerrits in the first semi-final while Spanish online grinder Juan “Malakastyle” Pardo Dominguez takes on British heads-up specialist Jason McConnon in the second semi-final. Pardo has already had quite a year himself with three High Roller scores for a combined total of nearly $1 million in Barcelona and Monte-Carlo.
The final four players will return to the PokerGo feature table as follows:
Martijn Gerrits vs Justin Bonomo @ noon local time
Jason McConnon vs Juan Pardo Dominguez @ 1.30 p.m. local time
If the first match is not finished yet, the second semi-final will be pushed back accordingly, and the starting time of the final duel for the gold bracelet will depend on the duration of the previous two matches.
Bonomo was the first player to book his seat for the round of 8 after defeating Niall Farrell in a very aggressive match. Farrell four-bet jammed pocket treys into the pocket kings and there was no upset on an ace-high board. Mark McGovern awaited next, and while the first half of the duel saw Bonomo pull away and McGovern get back to even in chips, the late stages were dominated by Bonomo. Down to fewer than nine big blinds, McGovern called a jam with ace-six suited and failed to hold up versus ten-seven despite flopping the nut flush draw.
Frenchman Julien Martini, who won his first gold bracelet in Event #4 Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better, endured a roller coaster heads-up against Jan-Eric Schwippert in which both players were down to just a few big blinds before doubling up several times. Martini's aces were eventually cracked by Schwippert's jack-ten suited, but the run good of the German ended right there. After defeating Kane Kalas in the first match, Martijn Gerrits took on Schwippert and grinded his opponent down before getting there with an open-ended straight draw against the top two pair of Schwippert to advance to Day 3.
James McConnon ended up victorious against Galen Hall with top pair against the busted straight and flush draw and he was the first player to advance to the semi-finals after defeating Aussie Kahle Burns. It was a flip for the short-stacked Burns, who failed to hold up with pocket eights versus jack-ten and had to settle for the min- cash of $31,086.
Daniel McAulay and Jason Mo were the other two players that ended up losing their first match and bust before the money. McAulay ended up short against Nicolai Morris, who was then defeated by Pardo Dominguez, while Mo stood no chance against the Spaniard in his first match of the day.
That wraps up the penultimate day of the event and the PokerNews live reporting team will be back tomorrow to provide hand-for-hand coverage until a champion is crowned.