Daniel Negreanu
Daniel Negreanu won the opening event of the PGT Last Chance tournament series for $218,400.

Kid Poker kicked off the year in style as he won the first trophy of 2024, taking down the PokerGO Tour Last Chance Opener for over $218,000. At a final table featuring Negreanu’s declared enemy, Justin Bonomo, the Canadian prevailed through dramatic eliminations to win the first major tournament of the year in style at the PokerGO Studio inside the ARIA Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas.

Zobian and Soverel Miss the Money

Just 13 ‘lucky’ players were paid in the opening event of the PokerGO Tour’s ‘Last Chance’ tournament series, players last opportunity to make the $1 million free roll event that takes place next week on PokerGO. That meant some big names would be out of luck given the standard of the field and just a couple of those saw their chances evaporate around the bubble period.

With 15 players left, a PokerGO favorite son made his way from the felt without profit, as Sam Soverel busted. All-in pre-flop with KsJc, the American needed help when up against Masashi Oya of Japan, who had called from the big blind with AcQh. A board of 8s8d2c5h4h was no help for Soverel and that meant hand-for-hand action began.

The unfortunate player to bust in 14th and stone bubble the event was Aram Zobian, whose JhJc were unable to hit against Oya’s AdAc, a queen-high board with no jack sending Zobian home with nothing but memories of the $10,100-entry event. The first player to cash was Kristen Foxen, who won $18,200 when her AdKc was unable to hold against the Th9h of Daniel Negreanu. The all-Canadian clash saw a board of QcJh8c2c8d saw ‘Kid Poker’ flop the straight and fade the flush draw on the river.

American Heroes Go Close

After the exits of British player Lewis Spencer (12th for $18,200) and Americans Justin Saliba (11th for $27,300) and Ping Liu (10th for $31,850), the final nine were in their seats at one table, albeit with the official final table not beginning until seven players remained. In 9th place, Jonathan Little busted. The American, one of several players to sell his action to the PGT Last Chance festival on PokerStake, was all-in with Td9d but was dominated and defeated by Justin Bonomo’s AsTc as a board of Jc9c7c3h3c put Little ahead on the flop but cruelly dashed his hopes on the river to send him home with $31,850.

After Nick Schulman was also dominated to an exit in 8th for $36,400, the final table was formed, with Bonomo announced as one of the final seven by a recent sworn enemy in Daniel Negreanu.

Two quick eliminations took out an American duo, as first Isaac Haxton (7th for $45,500) missed out on the final half dozen after losing to Daniel Smiljkovic from Germany and then David Peters lost his stack to the German too. All-in with AcTd, Peters was ahead of Smiljkovic’s KhQc pre-flop with all the chips in the middle, but although the flop of AsTh5h looked good for the at-risk player, Peters watched in horror as the Jd turn gave Smiljkovic a Broadway straight. The 2h on the river saw Peters head home and with the German pro edging ahead of Oya at the top of the counts, a thrilling denouement was guaranteed.

Kid Poker is King as Queen Saves the Day

There was clearly no love lost between the warring pair of Bonomo and Negreanu on X, formerly known as Twitter, but soon after the final five began playing towards the win, the two men – sat next to each other originally – clashed in poker terms too. Kid Poker got the double through his enemy.

Jonathan Cohen was the next player to go, as he moved all-in with As5s and was called by Oya with Th7d. The flop of Kd8h7c put the Japanese player in the lead and after a Js turn and 7s river, Oya’s trips sent Cohen to the rail with a score of $72,800. Minutes later, Justin Bonomo was out soon after, unable to recover from short stack as his king-high shove lost to Oya’s dominating ace-six. Bonomo cashed for $91,000 in fourth place.

Into three-handed play, Oya had as many chips as Negreanu and Smiljlkovic combined but not for long. The German doubled through Negreanu, then, stunningly, eliminated Oya, as a flop of 7s5d4d saw Oya get his chips in the middle with 6s6h against the German player’s JhJd. The As turn didn’t help the Japanese player and a Js on the river only confirmed his exit in third for $113,750.

Smiljkovic had a better than 4:1 chip lead but Negreanu dominated with ace-jack over ace-four to double, then sneaked ahead after a couple of no showdown hands. Soon after, with a board of JhJcTd4c showing, Negreanu raised all-in after using a time extension, bluffing with AsKh. The German called it off correctly but a four-outer Qh on the river gave Kid Poker the pot and the opening event’s title, as he banked $218,400, a good chunk more than Smiljkovic, who won $150,150 as runner-up.

After the event, Negreanu claimed the win was a ‘light bulb moment’ and that he pledged to pick “quality over quantity” in 2024. On this form, you can see why.

PGT Last Chance Event #1 $10,100 Final Table Results:
Place Player Country Prize
1st Daniel Negreanu Canada $218,400
2nd Daniel Smiljkovic Germany $150,150
3rd Masashi Oya Japan $113,750
4th Justin Bonomo United States $91,000
5th Jonathan Cohen United States $72,800
6th David Peters United States $54,600
7th Isaac Haxton United States $45,500