The Moneymaker Tour is back in full swing and has just awarded its latest Platinum Pass. The first player from North America to lay claim to a seat in the 2020 PokerStars Players No Limit Championship is Twitch streamer and Team Thirst Lounge member Drew Gonzalez.

It took nearly 13 hours of poker for Gonzalez to outlast the 428-player-strong field. The festivities began at 10 a.m. with Joe Stapleton introducing Chris Moneymaker, who let the players know exactly what they would be playing for: an all-inclusive package worth approximately $30,000, including a buy-in for PSPC 2020.

“I just have to say this as a disclaimer,” said Moneymaker. “I’ve won two of these. If I do win, the second-place person will get this Platinum Pass. And if you bust me, the tradition is you get put in a headlock. So don’t bust me.”

Chris Moneymaker kicks off the tournament

After the laughter died down, Moneymaker did the honors and announced “shuffle up and deal.”

Things moved quickly with blind levels at 20 minutes each and the starting stacks worth 10,000 chips. Gonzalez found himself among the early leaders after scoring a double-knockout with pocket tens, and a later run of three consecutive monster hands gave him a big boost of momentum.

Six hours in the players took their second break of the day with the field already down to the money bubble. Less than 10 minutes later Jonathan Bryan won a flip with pocket eights to start the payouts at 68th place, with the remaining field including the likes of Jesse Sylvia, Jon “PearlJammer” Turner, Patrick Tardif, Ricky “RatedGTO” Guan, Arlie Shaban, Ronnie Bardah, and last year’s Run It Up Reno Platinum Pass winner, Nathan Manuel.

The dinner break arrived with 16 players left. Once they returned it took about 40 minutes to trim that number down to nine, sending the action over to the final table.

The final table lineup

Gonzalez had the lead with 795,000 chips on the 10,000/20,000/20,000 level. After an hour and a half he was still no closer to the Platinum Pass, but then Jovanny Jayme busted Jinnifer Rister to trim the field to eight. Minutes later Gonzalez picked up K♦K♥ and eliminated Ireland’s Eoin Starr, but then another hour and a half went by without another knockout.

Gonzalez, Tim Duckworth, and Andrew Karkenny traded the lead before Karkenny’s A♣Q♥ took out Shawn Daniels, who had A♥8♣. Another 20 minutes passed before Gonzalez and Duckworth clashed, the former with pocket eights and the latter with pocket sixes. Without a six Duckworth was left critically short-stacked, and he busted moments later. Karkenny and Nayef Salem both hung tough but soon enough they both found their way to the payout cage, leaving Gonzalez with one opponent.

The heads-up match with Maxwell Young didn’t last long, but it was action-packed. After starting with 2.5 million to Young’s 1.8 million, a double-barrel bluff on an ace-high board in the early going got Young to fold pocket kings and helped Gonzalez take a bigger lead.

Then Young raised with pocket tens and snap-called when Gonzalez jammed with K♣4♣. The 5♠9♠K♥ flop put Gonzalez ahead and the 4♠ gave him two pair, but Young spiked the 10♠ on the river for a set and took over the lead.

Almost immediately after that, Gonzalez limped on the button with A♣5♣ and called when Young jammed with K♦10♦. Gonzalez took the lead on the 7♣A♦J♥ flop but fell behind when the Q♣ gave Young a Broadway straight. Then he dodged elimination and retook the lead with the 3♣ for a club flush on the river.

Another roller-coaster hand ends well for Drew Gonzalez

The final hand saw Young raise on the button with A♣J♥ and call when Gonzalez shoved with Q♣8♣. The board ran out A♦8♥9♦8♦3♣, Young’s pair of aces fell to Gonzalez’s trip eights, and Gonzalez earned the first Platinum Pass awarded in North America this year.

Gonzalez celebrates with his Thirst Lounge teammates

Drew, congratulations on winning the Platinum Pass! We’re looking forward to seeing you in Barcelona.

Thank you buddy!

It’s one thing to win a poker tournament, but to win a Platinum Pass is really special. What are you feeling right now?

It’s starting to set in a little bit. My legs are getting a little shaky thinking about it. I don’t know how to say it. It’s fun, it’s cool, and I can’t believe I didn’t bust out of this tournament! I’m very lucky.

Tell me a bit about your progression through the tournament — you built a big enough stack to hold the lead relatively early in the day. How did that come about and how did you go from there to the final table?

Earlier today I had three hands back-to-back — kings, aces, and aces — and I went from nobody stack to big boy stack. And then I got moved seven times with five tables left — just back and forth, back and forth. Those three hands in a row positioned me well. I maintained a stack decently, and then before I knew it I was at the final table with a good amount of chips. There were some really good spots so having chips was amazing.

How was this final table experience at Run It Up Reno special compared to if you’d won at just another tournament series?

The thing that made it so special here was that the whole Thirst Lounge crew was here. It’s like, all my friends are here, and I’ve been a Twitch streamer for about three or four years now and Run It Up Reno is kind of a Twitch event, so there’s been so many people that have watched my stream that have said hello, and then I have my team here, and it’s like — this is the way to win, you know what I mean?

What are your plans for poker between now and Barcelona next year?

I’m moving to Canada in less than a month to continue to play, to play on PokerStars and stuff like that. My plan is to get back to work, you know? We have some sick momentum and I think that’s big in poker, so I want to really capitalize on it — but after I finish my free throws.

Tell me again about this prop bet — what are the terms?

So the prop bet — Bill Perkins gave me 100-to-1 odds. I put up $100 and I have to make 100 free throws in a row, within a 24-hour period, and I’ll get $10,000. It’ll be a nice $10,000 more for Barcelona, right? I’m doing it this Saturday at noon.

Well, if you run anything like you did here, you’re definitely going to be collecting on that bet. Congratulations on the Platinum Pass, Drew!

Thanks, I appreciate it.

Drew Gonzalez, Platinum Pass winner


Run It Up Reno IX $175 Moneymaker Tour Event
October 16, 2019
Peppermill Casino, Reno, NV
428 entries
$92,274 prize pool

1. Drew Gonzalez (United States) $30,000 Platinum Pass Package
2. Max Young (United States) $10,260
3. Nayef Salem (United States) $6,500
4. Andrew Karkenny (United States) $4,550
5. Tim Duckworth (Australia) $3,440
6. Shawn Daniels (United States) $2,764
7. Jovanny Jayme (United States) $2,300
8. Eoin Starr (Ireland) $1,930
9. Jinnifer Rister (United States) $1,630


Photography courtesy of Run It Up, Nick Higman Photography, and Sebastian Diaz Photography.

Author Image
Jason has covered poker since 2005. He lives in Washington state with his wife and three dogs.

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