Justin Bonomo Stakes His Claim as the Best No-Limit Hold’em Player in the World

Justin Bonomo advanced on Thursday to the final four at the WSOP $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Heads-Up Championship — yet another incredible accomplishment, win or lose, in a heater of historic proportions, arguably even better than Fedor Holz’s epic 2016 run.

Justin Bonomo heads-up

Justin Bonomo (center) has been utterly dominating his competition in 2018, and could be one day away from winning his second WSOP bracelet. (Image: Jon Sofen/CardsChat News)

Bonomo is guaranteed his 43rd career WSOP cash for at least $73,000 regardless of how the cards fall on Friday. After winning the Super High Roller Bowl last week, he told PokerGo in his post-game interview that he’s “at the top” of his game and among the best no-limit hold’em players in the world. It’s hard to dispute that claim.

Since shipping the SHRB for $5 million, enough to propel the former Team Bodog member to third on poker’s all-time tournament winnings list ($32.6 million), he’s won two $25,000 buy-in Aria high rollers for $660,000 combined and has a chance to win his second career bracelet — $186,000 goes to the winner — on Friday if he can beat out two more heads-up opponents.

Performance for the Ages

Bonomo’s skillful — and admittedly lucky — run began long before the SHRB. It started back in January at the PokerStars PCA in the Bahamas with a $1 million score for 2nd place in a $100,000 Super High Roller followed by four six-figure cashes before scooping the Super High Roller Bowl China for $4.8 million.

In total, he’s cashed for $14,568,638, all in no-limit hold’em tournaments, since the start of the year. To put things in perspective, had Bonomo never before played in a single poker tournament, he’d have enough in earnings to rank 33rd on the all-time winnings list just from the past five-plus months. Or, enough money to retire comfortably, at age 32.

Ok so you might not believe this, but I just won the Aria $25k high roller again. I don’t know what’s happening anymore.

— Justin Bonomo (@JustinBonomo) June 4, 2018

Comparing Two Superstars

In 2016, at age 23, Fedor Holz had an eight-month stretch many considered the greatest heater in poker history. During that span, the young German sensation had $15.8 million in cashes, including four seven-figure scores.

Bonomo, with an average of $2.9 million in cashes per month this year is on pace to shatter Fedor’s run from January to August 2016. If “ZeeJustin,” his long-time online poker screen name, continues at this pace, he will have won over $20 million for the year by the middle of August.

Tale of the Tape: Bonomo 2018 vs. Holz 2016


$14.5 million in cashes (early January to early June)$2.9 million average monthly cashes8 tournament titles0 WSOP bracelets*3 seven-figure scores


$15.8 million in cashes (early January to late August)$1.98 million average monthly cashes6 tournament titles1 WSOP bracelet4 seven-figure scores

*Bonomo is one of four remaining players in the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Heads-Up Championship

Left on the WSOP schedule includes the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop in July, a tournament that will likely pay its winner at least $14 million, along with the Main Event and the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. So, there’s plenty of opportunity for Bonomo to crush Holz’s mark.

Chasing Negreanu

Before the year began, Bonomo wasn’t even in the top 15 all-time. Now, he’s rapidly climbing closer to Daniel Negreanu’s long-held record. Sure, $7 million may seem like a lot more ground to cover, but it’s hardly a benchmark out of Bonomo’s reach.

Current All-Time Live Tournament Money List

1 Daniel Negreanu (Canada) $39,546,094
2 Erik Seidel (United States) $34,507,095
3 Justin Bonomo (United States) $32,601,796
4 Dan Colman (United States) $28,925,059
5 Antonio Esfandiari (United States) $27,628,047

The $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop returns to the WSOP for the first time since 2014, and it’s almost certain to shake up the all-time leaderboard. Dan Colman, the 2014 champion, won $15.3 million of his lifetime $28.9 million lifetime earnings from that one event. Antonio Esfandiari added $18 million to his totals when he won in 2012.

In addition to the current top five, Bryn Kenney, Phil Ivey, and Fedor Holz all could leapfrog past Negreanu with a Big One for One Drop title.

As well as Bonomo has been playing — and as lucky as he has been getting — he’s almost certain to be the favorite to win the One Drop, or any NLH tournament for that matter.

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