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Lonis beat the overnight chip leader Tyler Smith heads-up to claim victory at the Horseshoe Las Vegas as the WSOP continued to award millions of dollars in prize money in Sin City. A talented final table was conquered by U.S. poker professional Jesse Lonis as he won his biggest-ever prize in live tournaments as he took home $2.3 million. Lonis also won his second World Series of Poker bracelet and in the very first $50,000-entry event he has played.
Ian Matakis was the unlucky player to bust just before the final table of eight was formed. Currently leading the race to become the WSOP Player of the Year, Matakis was unfortunate to depart with a worse two pair when up against the eventual winer Lonis. That pot sent Matakis home for just under $200,000 and some vital POY points, but for Lonis’ hopes, the pot was transformative, catapulting him into a great chip lead.
Lonis was wielding the axe as the final eight gathered and didn’t stop there. All-in with A-A-7-6, Lonis took out Elias Harala in eighth place for $254,538 when the eventual winner hit a nut flush and soon after, busted Isaac Haxton in seventh place for $329,142. Haxton, who had already won a WSOP bracelet this summer, couldn’t prevent Lonis leading the way to the final six.
Lonis wasn’t just proving a powerful enemy to the others at the felt, he was bullying them. Famed for his aggressive poker in the post-COVID World Series of Poker, Lonis was in his element in what was – incredibly – his first-ever $50,000 buy-in event.
He soon took out his next opponent, British player James Park, whose two pair on the flop saw all the money go in. Lonis only had one pair at that time, but a jack on the turn gave him a better two pair and no help for Park on the river sent him to the rail with $430,806.
Five players remained, but not for long. Lonis had busted every one of his opponents so far and showed no signs of slowing down as he did the same to Adam Hendrix. The experienced American, so often seen in PokerGO events such as the U.S. Poker Open or Poker Masters, bowed out for $570,671 when his A-K-J-J lost to Lonis’ Q-Q-J-T, with blockers galore helping a nine-high board oust another opponent.
A few hands later, Lonis had struck again, this time reducing the field to three. Danny Hannawa shoved with A-A-K-Q on an all-diamond flop of Q-8-7. Lonis had flopped the flush, however, and Hannawa knew the writing was on the wall, shouting to his rail: “I’m dead.”
Things improved on the queen turn, but Hannawa still needed help and got none as the four of diamonds fell, only confirming Lonis as the winner of the hand.
The three remaining players were still in their seats when the next break rolled around and after they returned, a few hands had elapsed before the chip stacks outlined very clearly each player’s power at the table. Lonis had a huge lead with 37.2 million chips, with Tyler Smith second in chips with 13.9 million and Jonas Kronwitter bringing up the rear with 8.55 million.
Jonas Kronwitter was the shortest and the Austrian needed to make a move in order to stay alive. Sadly for him and his supporters, it cost him his tournament life, as he lost with two pair against Lonis’ flush draw from the flop, the heart flush completing on the turn to send Lonis into the heads-up battle with a 3:1 chip lead. Kronwitter, meanwhile was taken out in third, cashing for an impressive score of $1.03 million.
Two small pots followed by another flush set Lonis 5:1 up in chips and after he picked off a gutsy bluff by Smith, the writing was on the wall. Moments later, it was all over, as Lonis hit two pair on the turn to overtake Smith’s flopped pair of aces. Smith cashed for $1.42 million in second place, but in taking the top prize of $2,303,017, Lonis had won the first $50,000 event he’d ever played and was beside himself with delight.
“I can’t start better in the high rollers,” he said. “It feels great because it’s a tough tournament. Every player in it, 99% of them are great players. It was a mental battle and nice to come out on top.”
Lonis is dedicated to a fault at the felt but plans on giving those closest to him plenty of time over the coming week after this latest stunning success in a poker career on a steep upward trajectory. For him, playing live and getting match practice in beats study every time.
“Besides family, poker is pretty much what I do.” He said. “I don’t do studying. I’ve actually never studied in my life. I just play. Volume, over and over. The more and more hands you see obviously you’re going to get better.” Jesse Lonis, double bracelet winner.
There are many better than Jesse Lonis, double bracelet winner, as this World Series of Poker nears its final clutch of bracelet events. No-one would bet against the impressive American pro bagging more gold before the WSOP is over.
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