The 2022 Five Diamond World Poker Clasic at Bellagio kicked off at the end of the first week of October. The festival is centered around the marquee $5 million guaranteed $10,400 buy-in World Poker Tour main event, but there are also a variety of high roller events on offer. Four such high-stakes poker tournaments have already concluded, each won by a highly-accomplished professional.
The first high roller on the schedule was a $25,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournament that ran on Saturday, Oct. 8. The event drew a small but tough field of nine entries, creating a prize pool of $225,000.
In the end, two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner and longtime Card Player columnist Steve Zolotow came away with the title, defeating bracelet winner Mikita Badziakouski heads-up to secure the title and the top prize of $135,000. This was the fourth-largest score of Zolotow’s storied career. It increased his lifetime tournament earnings to more than $3.4 million.
Badziakouski was awarded $90,000 as the runner-up, growing his lifetime total to just shy of $40.6 million. This was his 10th PokerGO Tour cash of the year, with two wins and more than $4.2 million in qualified earnings. The 54 PGT points he earned for this performance were enough to see him climb into ninth place on the overall leaderboard.
The second high roller on the schedule did not run, but the third did. A total of 15 entries were made in the $10,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event, creating a $150,000 prize pool.
The top three finishers ultimately divvied up that money, with the largest share going to three-time bracelet winner and WPT champion Nick Schulman. Schulman cut a heads-up deal with recent Poker Masters Purple Jacket winner Sean Winter that saw him secure the title and $68,256. Schulman now sits just shy of $15 million in lifetime cashes. He has made the money in nine events since the start of September, with those cashes alone accounting for $585,000 of his career total.
Winter earned $57,744 as the runner-up, bringing his lifetime earnings to more than $23 million. This was his 18th PGT cash of the year, with more than $3.5 million in earnings accrued across those scores. Winter now sits in sixth place in that points race as a result.
Three-time bracelet winner and three-time Super High Roller Bowl champion Justin Bonomo finished third for $24,000. Bonomo was not yet done adding to his tournament resume at this series, though.
Next up on the agenda was the $10,000 buy-in eight-game event. Twelve mixed-game aficionados ponied up the five-figure buy-in to create a prize pool of $120,000. As with the previous event, the top three finishers made the money. The largest share was captured by five-time bracelet winner Eli Elezra. The Poker Hall of Fame member earned $57,000 after striking a heads-up deal with fellow Hall of Famer and PokerGO president Mori Eskandani, who locked up $53,000 before the final two decided to play on for the trophy.
Eskandani got all-in preflop in pot-limit Omaha with A664 facing the AK52 of Elezra. Eskandani bit bottom set on a Q86 flop. The 2 kept him in the lead, but the 10 on the river gave Elezra the ace-high flush and the pot. Eskandani was left on fumes heading into the next game: deuce-to-seven triple draw. In his final hand, he got all-in before the draws and made a 9-8-7-5-4, but it was no good against the 7-6-4-3-2 of Elezra.
Five-time bracelet winner Brian Rast was the third-place finisher, earning $10,000 to surpass $23.1 million in lifetime cashes.
The game returned to no-limit hold’em for the next high roller on the schedule, with 16 entries at $10,000 building a $160,000 prize pool. The top three finishers made the money, with a classic preflop race bursting the money bubble. Two-time bracelet winner Jim Collopy’s A-K was unable to outrun the pocket nines of Yasuhiro Waki.
Despite winning that flip, Waki was the next to hit the rail. He lost a big chunk of his stack with a wheel against a flush for Justin Bonomo. He then got the last of his stack in with pocket jacks leading Bonomo’s K-8, but two eights came off the deck by the river to give Bonomo trips. Wakiearned $25,600 as the third-place finisher.
With that, Bonomo took a healthy lead into heads-up play with bracelet winner and 2019 Card Player Player of the Year award winner Stephen Chidwick. The two highly-accomplished high-stakes stars opted to strike a deal rather than play on, though, with Bonomo taking the title and $75,792 while Chidwick earned $58,608 as the runner-up.
Bonomo added to his lead on poker’s all-time money list, increasing his career earnings to a staggering $60,562,613. Chidwick remains in fourth place on that leaderboard with $44,647,605 in career cashes.
Player photo credits: PokerGO / Antonio Abrego.