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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2008 | WSOP 2008 Circuit Events

2008 World Series of Poker Circuit Atlantic City - Event 4

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2008 World Series of Poker Circuit
Caesars Atlantic City
Official Report

Event #4
No-Limit Hold’em
Buy-In: $1,000 (+80)
Number of Entries: 411
Total Prize Money: $411,000
March 8-9, 2007

Final Results:

1. Victor V. Bonavita Bellmore, NY $123,300
2. Al Garver Billings, MT 66,171
3. Larry Nelson Harleysville, PA 32,880
4. Stuart Elkin Delray Beach, FL 28,770
5. Jason B. Goldman Port Charlotte, FL 24,660
6. Tim Bryan Centerville, VA 20,550
7. Matthew Casterella White Plains, NY 16,440
8. James English Tamarac, FL 12,330
9. Han S. Oh Catonsville, MD 8,220

Victor Bonavita, a.k.a. “The Exterminator”

Pest Control Service Owner Bugs the Competition

New Yorker Knocks-Out Seven of Final Eight Players in Caesars Atlantic City WSOP Event

Atlantic City, NJ – It is said that every poker tournament winner needs just a little bit of luck to win. There always seems to be at least one key hand that made a significant difference and catapulted the winner on to victory. In Victor Bonavita’s case, he had about dozen such hands. Playing in the $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament, part of the World Series of Poker Circuit events being held this week at Caesars Atlantic City, Bonavita absolutely demolished everyone in his path and earned his biggest poker prize ever -- $123,300 for first place. This is not to say Bonavita did not play magnificently, or that he didn’t deserve his victory. To the contrary, given the course of events that transpired in the final two hours of the tournament, had Bonavita not been victorious, it would have been a travesty.

The tournament winner and headline would have been completely different had it not been for an earth-shattering hand that took place about 30 minutes into play at the final table. That’s when Bonavita caught his first miracle. With eight players still alive, Bonavita was dealt Q-Q. He was all-in and was drawing slim at one point against an opponent who showed 4-4. When a four flopped -- making a set of fours -- it appeared Bonavita would become the eighth-place finisher. However, running aces were dealt which made the final board A-4-2-A-A. That meant Bonavita made the higher full house – aces over queens. Little did anyone know at the time how everyone’s fate had just radically changed.

After that bell weather hand, Bonavita went on to eliminate every single player at the final table. It was as dominating a performance as has ever been witnessed on the WSOP Circuit scene. On four of the eight key hands, Bonavita started as the favorite. On the other four hands, he managed to get struck by a bolt of lucky lightening. For his eight opponents who were forced to bear witness to Bonavita’s supreme command of cards and fate, it was a shocking experience indeed.

The tournament began on the previous day with 411 entries. After 402 players were eliminated on the first day and a half of play, the nine finalists took their seats as the feature table. Bonavita arrived with a comfortable chip lead. However, second-place Larry Nelson appeared that he could make things interesting. Each of the remaining players had some catching up to do. Players and starting chip counts began as follows:

Seat 1: Victor V. Bonavita 685,000
Seat 2: Steve Oh 250,000
Seat 3: Stuart Elkin 215,000
Seat 4: James English 91,500
Seat 5: Matthew Casterella 200,000
Seat 6: Al Garver 199,000
Seat 7: Tim Bryan 270,000
Seat 8: Jason B. Goldman 134,500
Seat 9: Larry Nelson 435,000

Players were eliminated in the following order:

9th Place – Just a few hands into play, Steve Oh was dealt A-Q. He decided to re-raise all-in before the flop but ran into what might was well have been a roaring freight train. Al Garver was delighted to call with his A-A. Garver’s pocket rockets held up and within minutes the first player of the final nine had been blasted away. Han Steve Oh, a network engineer, connected for $8,220 in prize money for ninth place.

8th Place – A short time later, James English was dealt pocket tens and went all-in after the inconspicuous flop came 2-3-4. The overpair appeared strong. But two hearts on board gave Victor Bonavita a flush draw and he called. A third heart fell on the turn, breaking the heart of English who staggered away from the table as the eighth-place finisher. English, a Florida real estate broker, collected a commission totaling $12,333. To his credit, English now has more than $1 million in lifetime poker tournament earnings.

7th Place
– English’s elimination marked the start of a serious momentum shift at the final table, with Victor Bonavita clearly tilting the balance of power in his favor. Bonavita had lost his chip lead in the early stages of the finale. No one could possibly have expected the massacre that was to follow over the next two hours. His second of seven victims was Matthew Casterella, who has enjoyed great tournament success in the past two years. Casterella ranked 27th on Card Player magazine’s yearly rankings in 2007. He added to his tournament earnings with a seventh-place showing in this event. Casterella went out with J-J when the board showed A-K-Q-8-7. Indeed, the last thing a player holding pocket jacks wants to see is three overcards (A-K-Q). Bonavita showed A-10, good for a pair of aces, and Casterella settled for a payout totaling $16,440.

6th Place
– Bonavita’s next target was Tim Garver. The Centerville, VA poker player ended up losing to a straight on his final hand of the tournament. Garver made a pair on the hand, but lost when a runner-runner straight materialized, held by (who else?) Bonavita. Garver, who works as an IT consultant, was unplugged from the final table. But he did collect $20,550 for sixth place.

5th Place – Down to five, Jason Goldman was now low on chips. Forced to play any two big cards because of his precarious chip position, he moved all-in with K-9. Bonavita called the raise and showed A-9. This was not the position Goldman hoped to be in as a big dog. Neither player made a pair, which meant the ace-high played. Goldman was forced to accept defeat and a fifth-place finish which paid $24,660.

4th Place – Any lingering doubts that Victor Bonavita would run out of steam were quickly erased on the 60th hand of play at the final table. Victim number five. Stuart Elkin, a Florida dentist may spend a fair amount of time with delicate tools in his hands. But Elkin was absolutely drilled on what became his final hand of the tournament. The hand began with Elkin being dealt A-7. Victor Bonavita, on the roll of his life, called the all-in raise with J-J. It appeared Bonavita’s dominance would finally end when an ace flopped. Suddenly, Elkin had the best hand. A blank fell on the turn. Then the river shattered Elkin and brought the cheering crowd to its feet. A jack gave Bonavita trip-jacks and a 450,000 pot. Elkin looked like he’d been hit in the head with a brick. No amount of novacane could alleviate the pain of losing to a two outer. Elkin earned $28,770 for fourth place.

3rd Place – Despite Bonavita’s run of good fortune, Al Garver and Larry Nelson had won just enough pots along the way to maintain their positions as threats to win the tournament. Although behind Bonavita in chips at that point, both Garver and Nelson were essentially one big hand and a double up from taking the chip lead. That created tighter play as the prize money came more into focus, with the jump between first and third place a whopping $91,000.

It’s tough to say exactly which hand was more shocking to the players and spectators watching events unfold at Caesars Atlantic City. Larry Nelson would probably cast his vote for the following abomination: Nelson was deal 10-10 and was all-in before the flop versus Bonavita’s Q-10. When the flop came K-4-3, Nelson had to be pleased. An ace on the turn provided Bonavita with a few extra outs. Then, almost as if preordained, a jack rivered. Wham! Bonavita had spiked an inside straight and scooped the largest pot of the night. All poor Nelson could do was shake his head in disbelief and try to figure out how he managed to lose with such a dominant hand. Nelson, a salesman of medical equipment, collected $32,880 for third place. Larry Nelson, a Penn State graduate, also wanted to note that his girlfriend Nadine had given him her blessing to play in this tournament, and now Nelson had more than 32,000 reasons to show her that was the correct decision.

2nd Place
– It would be wrong to suggest Bonavita’s victory was a foregone conclusion. Al Garver still had enough chips to double up a few times and take the chip lead. But then again by this time, there weren’t many people betting against Bonavita. Sensing victory on the horizon, Bonavita took advantage of his stack size and gradually increased his margin until the following final hand ended all suspense. Garver was dealt Q-10. Bonavita was dealt A-Q. Given the many exciting hands over the course of the final table, the finale was anti-climatic. Neither player made a pair. Bonavita’s ace-high won, and the tournament was over. The runner-up was Al Garver, who served many years proudly in the U.S. Air Force. He now flies as a private pilot. Garver, who now resides in Montana, flew off with a very respectable $66,171 for second place. Garver qualified to play in this event by winning a single-table satellite, that cost him only $80.

1st Place – Victor A. Bonavita is a 36-year-old owner of his own pest control company. Exterminating bugs is not exactly the world’s most glamorous job. So, Bonavita enjoys playing poker in his spare time. Incredibly, this was Bonavita’s first time to enter a major poker tournament. He had previously played in some charity and home games near his home in Bellmore, NY. If Bonavita’s recreational poker skills are indicative of his full-time work in pest control, all the bugs back in New York are drawing dead.

For more information, please contact:
Nolan Dalla -- WSOP Media Director at (702) 358-4642
Or visit our official website:

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