Like several of his fellow professionals, including Bryn Kenney, Justin Bonomo graduated to poker from ‘Magic: The Gathering’ at any early age. He frequently played poker online in his teenage years, but first came to worldwide attention when, in 2005, age the age of 19 – that is, still not of legal age to play live poker tournaments in the United States – he finished fourth in the European Poker Tour (EPT) French Open in Deauville, making him the youngest player to make the final table in a televised poker tournament.
Bonomo won his first of his three World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets in 2014, but his second and third in 2018, a year in which he won nine tournaments and over $25 million in prize money. Highlights of his ‘annus mirabilis’ included a Super High Roller Bowl China event at the Babylon Casino in Macau, worth HK$37.8 million, or $4.8 million, to the winner and, of course, the WSOP Big One for One Drop event at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas, worth a staggering $10 million. Bonomo has definitely benefited from the rapid increase in the number of ‘high roller’ poker tournaments in the last decade but, even so, his unprecedented winning streak in 2018 took him to the top of the all-time money list, ahead of Daniel Negreanu, with just over $45 million in live earnings alone.
Formerly a frequent and successful online poker player, under the moniker ‘ZeeJustin’, Bonomo has courted his fair share of controversy over the years and was, in fact, banned by PartyPoker for operating multiple accounts at the same time. However, in recent years Virginia-born Bonomo, 33, has focussed solely on live poker tournaments and, if 2018 and the early part of 2019 are anything to go by, appears to have made a wise decision.