Justin Bonomo, also known as ‘ZeeJustin’, is a professional poker player. He is one of the most famous and most successful professionals to ever play the game and has a reputation for taking part in the High Roller circuit.
Bonomo was born in Virginia in 1985 and showed an interest in card games during his childhood. Like some of his competitors, such as Bryn Kenney and David Williams, Bonomo was an avid player of ‘Magic: The Gathering’, a digital card collecting game, from the age of nine. A few years later, as a 12-year-old, Bonomo started to compete in ‘Magic’ tournaments across the US.
Bonomo’s interest in card games grew in his teen years. He was inspired to learn more about poker after watching a World Poker Tour event on television following a Magic tournament in California. This was a big turning point for Bonomo. He purchased a book about poker and quickly learned how he could profit from the game. Bonomo started his career by entering online poker tournaments and won his first event at the age of 16 on Paradise Poker.
When he was allowed to gamble legally, Bonomo started taking part in live events and played his first professional tournament in 2004 – the World Poker Tour Aruba Classic. It did not go well and Bonomo was eliminated on the first day. However, this was a big learning experience for him, and Bonomo came out of it determined to reflect and improve his skills. He returned to the professional stage for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in 2005, and he was much more successful, finishing 30th.
In 2005, Bonomo became the youngest player ever to feature in a live televised poker event – the European Poker Tour No Limit Hold ‘em competition in Deauville, France – when he was just 19. It was Bonomo’s third professional tournament but the pressure clearly didn’t faze him as he finished fourth.
Major Tournament Wins
Justin Bonomo is one of the most successful players at World Series of Poker events, winning over $14 million during his career. Bonomo has three WSOP gold bracelets, has reached 15 final tables, and cashed at 54 WSOP events since 2007.
Bonomo’s first WSOP bracelet came in 2014 when he won the No Limit Hold’em – Six Handed event in Las Vegas after a dramatic head to head with veteran Mike Sowers on the final day. The win was a huge relief for Bonomo after previous disappointments. Bonomo has reached the final table five times and finished as the runner-up to Erick Lindgren in 2008, but was never able to win it all.
Two more WSOP bracelets followed in quick succession for Bonomo during the 49th World Series of Poker tournament in 2018. He finished first at the No Limit Hold’em – Heads Up Championship in June. But it was the second 2018 WSOP win that was particularly profitable as he took home a winning pot of $10 million from the No Limit Hold’em – The Big One for One Drop – event in July. This was Bonomo’s biggest career win and took him to the top of the All-Time Money list for 2018, overtaking Canadian Daniel Negreanu.
Successive WSOP bracelets in 2018 were the icing on the cake for Bonomo. They capped a year where he placed first in 10 events overall, which also included two European Tour No Limit Hold’em wins in Monte Carlo. Bonomo also won $5 million at the 2018 Super High Roller Bowl, Las Vegas, and $4.8 million at the Super High Roller Bowl China, in Macau.
Total Poker Winnings
To date, Justin Bonomo has won $49,128,107 from live poker events. He is currently second in Hendon Mob’s All-Time Money List. Bonomo has since been replaced by fellow American star Bryn Kenney, who finished 2019 as the All-Time top earner.
Over half of Bonomo’s total winnings came from his incredible 2018 season, where he cashed a total of $24,945,435.