Bonkowski bonks Brongo in heads up match, claims WSOP limit title

11 June 2011

Canadian poker pro Tyler Bonkowski overcame a 12-1 chip disadvantage to win the $3,000 buy-in Limit Hold'em Championship at the World Series of Poker, claiming his first WSOP bracelet and $220,817 in prize money.

The tournament started midweek with 337 entries. Three days after it began, Bonkowski was the only player standing – make that sitting – at the final table at well past midnight. Piled high in front if his beaming smile where thousands of multi-colored poker chips and one very coveted prize – the WSOP gold bracelet.

Bonkowski is a 26-year-old from Regina, Saskatchewan. He spent three years in college before finally deciding he didn't quite know what to do with this life. So, instead he started playing poker full-time. During that first year, Bonkowski discovered something he was both suited to do and enjoyed. Prior to his WSOP win, Bonkowski’s best tournament finished was a 14th-place showing at the 2011 Aussie Millions. He also took 19th-place in the 2010 Irish Open.

Bonkowski cashed three times at last year's WSOP. With each tournament played, he steadily improved his skills and stamina. The investment and experience paid off this year, as Bonkowski endured a wide gambit of strategic situations -- being the chip leader at one point and also being desperately low on chips when playing heads-up.

Bonkowski was down by about a 12 to 1 margin at one stage, but was never rattled. He stuck to his game plan and waited for the cards to turn in his favor. When they did, Bonkowski was there patiently waiting ready to enjoy the breeze of a wind in his sails.

The runner up was 24-year-old poke pro Brandon Demes, from Tempe, Ariz. Demes put up a strong fight at the final table, but was never able to finish off the very determined Bonkowski. Second place paid $136,419.

Andrew Brongo, a professional poker player from Rochester, N.Y., was third to claim $100,198, Shawn Keller of Chandler, Ariz., was fourth, Matt Sterling of Brownstown, Ind., was fifth, Mitch Schock of Bismark, N.D., was sixth, Casey McCarrel of Lafayette, Calif., was seventh, and Ron Burke, of La Selva Beach, Calif., was eighth.

The ninth-place finisher was Jeff Shulman, from Las Vegas, NV. He has made the WSOP Main Event final table twice, mostly recently finishing fifth in 2009.

Tournament summary provided by Nolan Dalla, WSOP Media Director, reprinted by permission.

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