Online Poker Pro: Justin Bonomo

justin-bonomo-105x92Player Profile: Justin Bonomo

Name: Justin Bonomo
Handle: ZeeJustin
Age: 24 (2009)
Gender: Male
Country: USA

The Internet is littered with young players that have exploded onto the scene, won a big tournament, and then vanished again once their 15 minutes of fame had run out. Visit the front page of any major poker news website for examples of this.

But every once in a while, a young player debuts who is not a 15 minute wonder, who is composed more of the skill required to go the distance rather than the luck required to win a single event. Justin Bonomo is such a player.

Promising Young Poker Pro

That he is ridiculously young to have achieved the level of success he has is no longer a rarity: he is only 24, but the nature of the current online industry means we are seeing more and more professional players in this age bracket. However, what sets him apart from other poker players in this group is his persistence, his natural talent, and his analytical style of play.

Magic: The Gathering and… Poker?

Some people might call Bonomo a geek, but that term is no longer the insult it was 10 years ago. He got his start in competitive card playing at the age of nine. At this tender age his poison was Magic: The Gathering, not poker.

But the game has many parallels with poker. To be successful, you must be able to mislead your opponent, and anticipate their behaviour. Most importantly, the biggest wins come as the result of traps carefully laid early in the game.

The Begging of Poker Magic

Bonomo became interested in the game of poker during his teens, and got his start in the game by playing illegally at many online poker websites. He developed his game slowly and methodically using the handle ZeeJustin, and as he grew in confidence he moved to increasingly higher stakes games.

By the time he made his live poker debut in 2005, he was already a well-known player online. Most people were shocked to discover how young he was, but his age had nothing to do with the fact that he cashed in 30th place at his first live event: the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. He pocketed $15,600 from a $7,800 buy in, but the kid was on his way.

Tournament Performances

Reading over Bonomo’s tournament history is like looking at a schedule of all the top events in the world. He regularly plays World Poker Tour (WPT) events, European Poker Tournament (EPT) events, as well as those held at the Bellagio. In the four years of his professional life poker career, he has cashed at World Series of Poker (WSOP) events 12 times.

His first tournament win that exceeded $100,000 came in December 2006, when he finished in fifth place at the Bellagio Five Diamond World Poker Classic, cashing an impressive $152,230. He was just 21 years old.

His first taste of the WSOP came in April of 2007 at a Caesar’s Palace circuit event where he cashed in 2nd place, taking home $40,973 off a $3,000 buy in. When June rolled round, he entered the WSOP for real.

In event 10 he came 4th, cashing $156,040. He also finished 49th in event 45, and 55th in event 52. Since then he has returned annually, with his most impressive win coming in 2009 when he cleared $413,166 coming 4th in the WSOP 2009 Event 2.

Jacob is a monster player not because he wins lots of tournaments – he doesn’t. He’s exceptional because he plays consistently, performs consistently, and never leaves a tournament with less money than he used to buy in.