Weekly Poker Update: February 15, 2021

Weekly Poker Update With Justin Bonomo

One of the most interesting dynamics in a poker tournament comes when an established star is taking on an up-and-comer with nothing to lose. That dynamic did indeed play out in the most recent edition of GGPoker’s Super Millions tourney.

The real money online poker event featured a $10,300 buy-in and ended up in a battle between superstar Justin Bonomo and a player going by the name of RRomashka who made the tournament by winning a small-entry satellite.

Veteran Upstart Battle in GG Poker

Throughout the final table, RRomashka kept the pressure on his opponents with some borderline wild play, helped out by some lucky draws along the way. Bonono, on the other hand, knocked out a player or two and also took a few big hits but stayed afloat.

When the final table was down to just three, RRomashka enjoyed a pretty convincing lead.

Nick Petrangelo, who had laid low throughout much of final table, busted out in third to Bonomo, giving him a springboard to jump into the lead. And that’s when the aggression finally caught up to the upstart.

He had a hole-card edge in the decisive hand, but after the turn and the flop, Bonomo could boast of three sixes.

Poker Player Nick Petrangelo

Yet RRomashka, not knowing that and figuring that Bonomo was bluffing, kept on firing. On the river, a card appeared that gave the appearance of a possible flush. RRomashka used that as a lever for a bluff of his own, but Bonomo was having none of it.

The cards were flipped (digitally anyway), and Bonomo could officially claim the winner’s first prize of over $430,000. RRomashka certainly made it interesting with his memorable play. We’ll see if it serves him as well in future tournaments.

Heads-Up Poker Fever

For the past few months in this column, we’ve been detailing the heads-up “Grudge Match of the Century” between Doug Poll and Daniel Negreanu. In the wake of Polk’s victory, which was only completed the week before last, a whole slew of heads-up matches began popping up.

Perhaps everybody senses there is a vacuum in the poker world for some good old-fashioned head-to-head animosity.

In the last few days, we heard about a handicap match between Bill Perkins, an enthusiastic amateur, and rising star Landon Tice, with Tice giving up nine big blinds as the favorite.

Controversial poker pro Charlie Carrel is going for a sort of alteration of the format by taking on 500Zoom. 500Zoom is not some kind of robot player, by the way. It’s a situation where a player is thrown into a different poker game every single hand with different players.

Poker Player Charlie Carrel

Carrel is offering prop bets on the action to other players. In other words, you wouldn’t actually be playing Carrel. You’d be betting that he comes out on the losing end in this odd scenario, which sounds more like some bizarre science fiction experiment than a poker match.

There was also some news at the very end of the week that Daniel Negreanu perhaps didn’t get enough head-to-head action with Doug Polk. It appears that he’ll be going at it with Phil Hellmuth, who knows a thing or two about these rivalries. He has had his owns series of matches in the last few years with Antonio Esfandiari.

Online Poker Play Continues

So, where does it end (if it does indeed end)? Well, for players, it is certainly a way to stay in the spotlight at a time when tournament play is somewhat anonymous. Even though these events will also be online, when you have just two people involved, the world can watch and know just who’s doing what, and that’s always good for the brand.

Getting involved in these head-to-head battles also means players can kind of skip the line and immediately jump into a situation where they’re playing for big stakes and are getting the attention of the poker world.

In other words, they don’t have to battle their way through hundreds of players, any one of which could burn them with one lucky card, in order to reach the final table. It’s like receiving a giant bye.

For the fans, they get to see players that they know in interesting situations. And they can usually lay their own bets down on the participants at top betting sites that are offering odds. That gives them a rooting interest that isn’t available to them with tournaments.

It remains to be seen if these head-to-head online Hold’em battles will hold sway once things return to some semblance of normalcy and live tournaments once again return to vogue. For now, the success and popularity of these contests will be tough to ignore.

Look for them to continue to pop up in the near future.

Farewell to Larry Flynt

Larry Flynt, founder of Hustler Magazine and unlikely champion of First Amendment rights, was many things in his life, a life that ended at age 78 when he passed away on Wednesday.

The wider world might not realize that one of those things was an unmitigated love of poker. Yet poker enthusiasts know that he was indeed a friend of the game.

Flynt was banned from the World Series of Poker at one point for some shenanigans involving a bet against Doyle Brunson. But he also made some dents in pro tournaments, so he wasn’t just a pushover at the table with a lot of money to throw around. His game of choice was Seven-Card Stud, which isn’t quite as popular these days but found an enthusiast in Flynt.

Flynt timed the opening of his casino in California well, right about the time that poker took off on television. Meanwhile, his home game was where he really built his poker reputation.

Millions of dollars flew back and forth in those games. And if one were to ever write a book about what went on in those games, they’d probably do quite well.

It’s doubtful that his poker career will make it into too many retrospectives about Flynt. Come to think of it, there are probably plenty of avenues that will go unexplored due to the jam-packed life, full of triumph and controversy, that he led. But the poker world knew what he meant to the game and vice versa.