– General Information –
Known as ZeeJustin to those who follow him online, Justin Bonomo was born on September 30, 1985 and spent his formative years in Virginia. Formerly 1st on the All-Time Money List with over $45 million in live tournament cashes, he was dethroned by Bryn Kenney during Triton London in August 2019.
Bonomo’s obsessive study of his opponents’ hand histories and playing styles is well known, and this concentrated and particularly analytical approach to playing poker has definitely served him well.
– Key Career Dates –
- 2005: He becomes the first teenager to appear in a televised poker event at the EPT French Open.
- 2014: He wins his first WSOP gold bracelet after finishing first in the $1,500 No Limit Hold’em 6-Handed event for $449,980.
- 2017: He wins two WPT High Roller events at the Bellagio in a month for over $400K combined.
- 2018: He wins the $1 million Big One for One Drop tournament at the WSOP for $10 million. That is the biggest single live tournament cash of his career to date, which also made him overtake Daniel Negreanu in the #1 spot on Hendon’s all time money list.
– Justin Bonomo’s Career –
→ Beginnings ←
Bonomo has been an avid gamer since childhood. The first game he fell in love with was Magic: The Gathering, which he started playing when he was 9. By the time he was 12, he was competing in the top Magic tournaments around the world.
Although the prize pools for Magic were often worth up to $250k, Bonomo soon realized that a lot of Magic players were also making pretty good money playing poker online. He decided to give it a try too, but he found it difficult to build his bankroll. Unexpectedly, a Magic tournament in California proved to be a turning point in his poker career.
While at the Magic tournament, Bonomo watched some of a WPT on TV and got caught up in the live action. Reinvigorated to play more poker, he bought a few books and read them on his flight home to Virginia, where he began to approach his poker game with renewed focus and motivation.
At 16, he started playing online poker seriously. He sold an MMORPG character (Everquest) for $500, which he deposited on Paradise Poker. Continuing his intense study, he worked his way up the ranks at PartyPoker. Eventually, he built his bankroll to about $10k.
In September 2004, he made his debut in live play when he competed in a WPT event in Aruba. Although he failed to make it to the second day of play, he learned a lot that he brought back to a much more successful second attempt.
On his second attempt at the 2006 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, Bonomo came in 30th place, earning him $15,600. However, being under 21 and living in the US made it difficult for him to find live games that he was legally allowed to play in. Needing to find a way to hone his skills, he turned to the only option available and headed to Europe, which turned out to be a great move for him.
In February of the same year, he took 4th place at the French Open, becoming the youngest player ever to make a televised final table. That moment marked his breakthrough moment, as he went on to sit at many final tables, including at the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker.
→ World Series of Poker ←
- 2007: 1st WSOP appearance; cashed in three events, including a 4th-place finish in the $2,000 No-Limit Hold’em event, which brought him his biggest cash yet: $150,000.
- 2008: two WSOP cashes, including 2nd at the $5,000 Mixed Hold’em event for $230,159.
- 2009: six WSOP cashes, including a final table at the $40,000 No-Limit Hold’em – 40th Anniversary event for more than $400,000.
- 2011: four WSOP cashes and another runner-up finish at the $2,500 Limit 2-7 Triple Draw event for $117,305.
- 2012: six WSOP cashes, including €20,150 for 48th place at the WSOP Europe Main Event.
- 2014: 1st place at the 1,500 No Limit Hold’em – Six Handed (Event #11) for $449,980.
- 2016: 2nd place at the $50K Poker Player’s Championship for $801,048.
- 2018: 1st place at the $10K Heads Up for $185,965.
- 2018: 1st place in the Big One for One Drop for $10 million. His biggest live tournament score to date.
- 2019: 5 cashes, biggest one is a 31st place finish in the $25,000 Pot Limit Omaha High Roller for $43,270.
- 2020: 6th place finish in the $25,000 buy-in GGPoker.com Event #79: People’s Choice Event [Most Popular] for $194,469. That year, all WSOP events were forced to be played online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
→ World Poker Tour ←
Bonomo has made a total of $943,198 from WPT competitions. His biggest cash in a WPT event came in December 2016 when he finished 5th in the $10,000 + 400 No Limit Hold’em #17 Five Diamond Main Event for $345,272.
He followed up that excellent showing with a great 2017 at the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Las Vegas, where took down two $25,000 No Limit Hold’em – Bellagio High Roller events for $310,500 and $140,000, respectively.
→ Other Tournaments ←
European Poker Tour:
- 2012: 1st EPT win in Monte Carlo at the Super High Roller 8 Max Event for $2,165,217.
- 2015: 1st in Malta at the € 2,000 + 200 #47 No Limit Hold’em for $106,370.
- 2016: 1st in Monte Carlo at the € 2,000 + 200 No Limit Hold’em #47 for $126,568.
- 2018: 1st in Monte Carlo at the € 25,000 No Limit Hold’em #24 for $457,356 and the €24,700 + 300 No Limit Hold’em – Single Re-Entry #40 for $311,268.
Super High Rollers:
In May 2017, Justin Bonomo won the $50,000 Aria Super High Roller for 779,520, beating Ray Ferrari heads-up for the title.
In March 2018, Justin Bonomo won the Super High Roller Bowl China title for $4,800,000, beating Patrik Antonius.
In June 2018, Justin Bonomo beat Daniel Negreanu and won Aria Casino’s Super High Roller Bowl for $5,000,000.
In March 2019, Justin Bonomo won the HK$250,000 Short Deck Hold’em event at the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series in Jeju, South Korea for HK$4.6 million ($586,114).
In August 2019, Justin Bonomo won the £100,000 Short Deck Hold’em Main Event at the Triton Super High Roller Series in London, UK for £2.670 million ($3.249 million).
→ Global Poker League ←
In 2018, he joined the first Global Poker League, teaming up with Igor Kurganov, Chris Moorman, Liv Boeree, Sam Trickett, and Vanessa Selbst for the London Royals team.
In 2018, he was ranked among the top players on the Player of the Year Index.
— Bonologic (@JustinBonomo) May 11, 2016
→ Online Poker ←
Bonomo used to have an account on partypoker, where he was known by many for his ability to play on 12 tables simultaneously and to play 12-hour straight online poker sessions. His cunning ability to dominate Sit&Go poker at partypoker often involved playing eight $200+15 Sit N Go tables at once. At the peak of his online poker playing, he visited the $1k Sit&Go’s and played 8 at a time. According to Bonomo, he netted about $400/hour when he played like this.
Eventually, he moved up to the biggest heads-up poker on PokerStars and FullTilt, from $25/$50 to $100/$200. As Bonomo puts it:
“For me it’s really fun to play against the same player for 3,000 hands straight. You get to really analyze every aspect of his play, every single decision you make is so important heads-up. You really have to figure out every aspect of your opponents play and I enjoy that.”
However, following the total crash of his online career in 2010, he basically stopped playing on FullTilt. The online high stakes cash game database has 105,000 hands tracked on his FT account, which shows a $1.167 million loss.
Following the Black Friday fiasco, Bonomo headed to Malta and found better results playing on PokerStars, eventually joining the ranks of the SuperNova Elite. In 2015, he concluded that big live cash was a far better score for him.
In January 2021, he took down the $1,050 Sunday High Rollers Main Event for $99,798 on Natural8-GGNetwork. Interestingly, he triumphed at the end by knocking out every single player at the final table.
Not sure if I’ve ever done this before, but I just busted every other player at the final table to win this 1k. Fun day! pic.twitter.com/jcV2ZLhIcZ
— Bonologic (@JustinBonomo) January 25, 2021
→ Sponsorship Deals ←
From 2008 to 2010, Bonomo joined David Williams, Evelyn Ng and Jean-Robert Bellande as a member of Bodog Poker’s online pro team.
→ Scandals ←
Parrtypoker accused Bonomo of multi-account cheating in 2006. Exploiting a bug in their software enabled him to open multiple accounts at once by rapidly clicking the partypoker icon. Once they proved that he had indeed done this, partypoker confiscated $100k from his account, which equaled approximately the same amount that he had made the week before when he won the Big Sunday $600+40 partypoker tournament. After a thorough investigation of his account, partpoker concluded that his winnings from the Big Sunday tournament ($137k) were legitimate.
After the investigation, Bonomo publicly apologized for his actions and added a public statement to his website explaining how wrong he felt his behavior was but arguing that he believes that the poker site1s response was blown out of proportion. While many of his followers support his argument that partypoker overreacted to the situation, others were more than a little disappointed in him.
Account sharing accusations
Prahlad Friedman accused Bonomo and his friend Isaac Haxton of account sharing in 2011, but they have both vehemently denied the accusation. Instead, they’ve suggested that Haxton may have been coaching Bonomo and the situation was misunderstood.
Hole cards debate
During the Super High Roller Bowl in 2016, Bonomo refused to show his hole cards on the televised game, which earned him the ire of several players who openly criticized his decision. Indeed, Leon Tsoukernik took the criticism a step further, calling Bonomo “a scandal person” and suggesting that he should be disqualified.
After winning an EPT Monaco Satellite Event in November of 2016, Bonomo refused to take an official photograph because he claimed that PokerStars “stole” $50k from him in rake when they failed to honor the previous SuperNova reward system through the conclusion of the 2016 calendar year. However, he gave in to the request once it was pointed out to him that the tournament rules legally bound him to oblige to the photo request:
Bonomo’s stance on sexism
In his short life as a blogger, Bonomo created only two posts on the BlogSpot account he opened in 2015: one that narrated his Burning Man Festival experience and a second taking a stand against “Sexism and Misogyny in Poker“. In this post, he wrote, “An inexcusably large percentage of male poker players treat women like shit.“
He followed up on this indictment of sexism in poker in 2016, when he reported other players’ inappropriate behavior during a tournament. Using Twitter to report what he witnessed at the 47th Annual WSOP, he logged instances of “microaggressions,” which he defined as a “subtle but offensive comment or action directed at a minority or other non-dominant group that is often unintentional or unconsciously reinforces a stereotype.”
For these opinions of his, some in the online poker community dislike him intensely and brand him as a “Social Justice Warrior”.
Most recently, in response to the #metoo movement in 2017, Bonomo declared his support for the cause via social media and publically apologized for his own role in perpetuating sexist stereotypes and sexually aggressive behaviors:
– Justin Bonomo’s Private Life –
→ Love Life ←
According to Bonomo, he practices “ethical, responsible, consensual, non-monogamy“. Also known as “polyamory,” Bonomo enjoys non-monogamous, multi-partner relationships. As he further explained:
“I’ve watched girlfriends play with other people before, and it’s something I actually enjoy, it turns me on, I’m not possessive at all.” Moreover, he’s stated, “To me, that’s the strongest bond, when you can be emotionally intimate and sexually intimate with them, and you can still talk about other relationships with other people, that’s a really strong, powerful connection“.
→ Hobbies & Personal Life ←
Bonomo lives in Las Vegas, but he generally enjoys a more quiet life, rather than the party life the city is known for. Prior to 2018, when he moved, he lived in Panorama Towers, which is a three-building complex that houses over 70 professional poker players, including Barry Greenstein, Joe Sebok, David Williams, Adam Junglen and the Binger brothers, Michael and Nick. He is close friends with Haxton and Seiver. So close, in fact, that they all used to have a piece of each other’s action.
All moved in to my new apartment in Vegas pic.twitter.com/AtUOJpLo0O
— Bonologic (@JustinBonomo) May 23, 2018
In a 2010 interview with Bluff Magazine, Bonomo said claimed that while he rarely goes out to night clubs, he does revel in all the wonderful food options available in Vegas.
Besides poker and great eats, Bonomo enjoys playing video games (particularly Heartstone and Street Fighter), meditating, and listening to live music. He can frequently be found at alternative rock concerts.
— Bonologic (@JustinBonomo) April 30, 2018
Morning meditation in the Japanese gardens of Monaco to prepare for a long day of poker. A passerby took this photo of me and sent it to me a few days later when I ended up at his table pic.twitter.com/xSIJxa8qxD
— Bonologic (@JustinBonomo) April 30, 2018
Although he hasn’t publically expressed an interest in any particular philanthropic ventures, Bonomo did donate $13,250 to the SENS project, which is a life extension research project for the elderly.
– Justin Bonomo on Social Media –