There are several instances where people often confuse poker to be a game of chance. But is it really that? Winning in poker can bring wads of cash, sure, but is winning that easy?! Do wads of cash come so easily? Does someone simply become the number one player on the All Time Money List? Well, NO!
Let’s look at the story of a struggle, hustle, glory and everything else that there is to know about becoming the number one player on poker’s All Time Money List. We are talking about Justin Bonomo.
A controversial face, a successful face, whatever you’d recognise him as, Bonomo is a face that you will surely come across whenever you’re talking about poker.
Bonomo was born on 30th September 1985. He grew up in Virginia and was always inclined towards gaming. He began playing Magic: The Gathering recreationally at the age of 9. The game is a tabletop card game. Three years later, he took his gaming obsession ahead by competing at Magic tournaments all around the world.
He eventually took up poker, and went on to become the youngest player to be featured at a televised final table on 19th February 2005. He finished fourth at the inaugural year of the European Poker Tour (EPT), French Open in Deauville, France, at just 19 years of age. The player is 37 years old today and yes, that could be the number of years it takes to get on the top. He finished fourth at the event, which is an impressive achievement for someone of that age.
Bonomo, is also popularly known by the username ‘ZeeJustin’ among his online poker fans. He is one of the most famous poker players across the global poker fraternity. His most widely known and highlight breakthrough was when he won two World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets at WSOP 2018. One of these came from the Big One for One Drop event, wherein he earned a whopping $10 Million.
In 2012, Bonomo claimed the first place at the Monte Carlo European Poker Tour (EPT) Super High Roller, wherein he took home a hefty pay cheque of $21,67,588. With that, Justin Bonomo’s net worth hit the millions.
Bonomo has 55 cashes in the WSOP so far and has also made it to 19 WSOP final tables. Additionally, he also has one circuit ring for which he won $3,65,277.
His first-ever WSOP bracelet came in the year 2014 after shipping Event #11: No-Limit Hold’em Six Handed, and earned $4,49,980 in prize money. In the same year, Event #5: Limit 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball, he missed the bracelet by finishing at the runner-up spot for $2,19,565.
Interestingly, this runner-up finish was his third second place finish. “Always a bride’s maid, never a bride,” he tweeted after the event. At the WSOP 2018 Bonomo clinched his second victory in Event #16, the $10,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship for a prize of $1,85,965.
Next he won Event #78 $10,00,000 One Drop for $1,00,00,000 in the same season. This victory made him temporarily overtake poker legend Daniel Negreanu as the number one poker player on the All Time Money List (live tournament). This was then surpassed by Bryn Kenney in August 2019. Later Bonomo again surpassed Kenny to reclaim his numero uno spot in July 2022. He continues to hold that spot till date.
Bonomo first appeared at a World Poker Tour event in 2004 in Aruba. He did ot succeed in that event, however took home a lot of experience which would come in handy years later. ‘ZeeJustin’ does not have any WPT title to his name yet, however has some good earnings from the series. He registered his first big win in WPT at the $15,400 World Poker Tour Doyle Brunson North American Poker Classic – No Limit Hold’em event. This was the 5th Annual Five Diamond World Poker Classic event held in Las Vegas, and Bonomo finished in the seventh place cashing a total of $1,52,230.
Post that he did not play any WPT events for almost 10 years, until 2016. He finished fifth at the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic $10,400 No Limit Hold’em #17 Main Event in 2016. He cashed $3,45,272 for his efforts, which was the biggest single cash at WPT back then.
In December 2017, he pocketed a total of $4,50,500 from two events at the World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Las Vegas. First, he shipped the $25,000 No Limit Hold’em – Bellagio High Roller #14 for $3,10,500. About a week later, he took down the $25,000 No Limit Hold’em – $25K High Roller Event for $1,40,000. So far Bonomo has a total of 11 cashes at the WPT along with three final table appearances.
At times top achievers get embroiled in controversies of varied kinds and Bonomo is no different. Bonomo has his own share of legal cases, and scandals attached to his name.
In the year 2006, Bonomo made headlines after being accused of cheating in online poker. Popular American online poker giant partypoker made these accusations of Bonomo. The site stated that Bonomo has been taking undue advantage of a bug in the software of the online poker room.
The bug allowed him to register and play from more than one account at the same time on the platform. After this was discovered, Bonomo’s account was shut and a total of $1,00,000 was seized from his account. One of the earnings came from partypoker’s Big Sunday $640 tournament. Later after it was discovered that his winnings from the Big Sunday tournament was won legally, he got his $1,37,000.
That’s not the only scandal that had Bonomo’s name involved. In 2011, he grabbed headlines for another scandal wherein he was accused of sharing the same account with a friend, Isaac Haxton. This time, it was popular poker player Prahlad Friedman, who raised these accusations against Bonomo.
Friedman accused that both Bonomo and Haxton were sharing the same account at an online poker platform, where both were playing the same game. Bonomo and Haxton denied the accusation and said that the account was opened so that Haxton could teach Bonomo some poker strategies. They further claimed that the whole thing was a misunderstanding on the part of Friedman.
Bonomo identifies himself a polyamorous individual. Polyamory is the practice or desire for romantic relationships with more than one partner at the same time, with the informed consent of all partners involved. It is when more than two individuals consensually share a romantic relationship. He also identifies as a feminist.
His Twitter bio reads, “Poker player, #1 on the all-time money list. Polyamorous, progressive, feminist. Obsessed with acroyoga. He/him. Pro choice” (sic.)
Three years back he did a video interaction with PokerNews wherein he spoke about embracing polyamory. However, that video has been taken down from YouTube, where it was originally shared.
Recently, Bonomo got into a Twitter feud with poker pro Daniel Negreanu. The six-time WSOP bracelet winner suffered a terrible bad beat at the hands of David Peters at WSOP 2022 Event #50: $2,50,000 Super High Roller No-Limit Hold’em. Terrified by the bad beat, Negreanu threw things at the wall and on the poker table, and all of this was caught on camera.
Bonomo took the opportunity to publish a poll on Twitter about DNegs’ behaviour. He asked people to cast their votes on what they thought about Negreanu’s antics. And gave options like pathetic and sad/violent and unacceptable, etc. DNegs in one of his WSOP vlogs, called Bonomo a cheater stating that he was totally indoctrinated with respect to Bonomo’s social justice beliefs.
Bonomo had a fabulous year when it comes to live poker earnings. He won three titles this year. First, he won the $10,000 No Limit Hold’em – Aria High Roller #16 at PGT Aria High Roller Summer Series 2022 in Las Vegas for $1,24,200. Later he won the $10,000 No Limit Hold’em – Bellagio High Roller #5 (Event #10) at WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic, Las Vegas for $75,792. Five days later he claimed the $25,000 No Limit Hold’em – Bellagio High Roller #11 (Event #24) title in the same series for $2,29,500.
He had a total of 13 live cashes this year which includes his four final table finishes. His fourth place finish at $3,00,000 No Limit Hold’em – Super High Roller Bowl VII at PokerGO Tour – Super High Roller Bowl VII (SHRB), Las Vegas earned him his fattest pay cheque of the year of $7,20,000. Notably, these are only his live poker earnings.
The number one player on the All Time Money List has a net worth of $49 million in 2024. To know more about poker players and their net worth click here. This Fairfax-born pro’s net worth in the coming year will be an interesting thing to see. He hasn’t shipped a major event but isn’t doing horribly either. Only time will tell which way Justin Bonomo’s net worth will swing in the new year.
Amarylisa Gonsalves is a Content Writer at Gutshot Magazine. Advancing from a marketing background, she found her calling in writing. She takes delight in exploring genres and is a curious learner. Patient and ambivert, she believes in letting her work speak for itself. Apart from content writing, she finds solace in writing poetry by expressing herself through words. Additionally, she adores indulging in anything that satisfies her creative self, like drawing and DIY crafts.