Justin Bonomo, or “ZeeJustin” to the online world, is not just a rising poker-star, but rather one of the brightest and most analytical players the game has ever seen, period. Born September 30, 1985 in Virginia, Justin got his competitive start at the tender age of 9 by thrusting himself headlong into the world of Magic: The Gathering. Magic being a card game which requires a great deal of skill and strategy to be successful, it’s no shock that Bonomo eventually made the transition over to poker.
What does come as a surprise is how immediately accomplished Justin Bonomo became – not so much online, where he flourished like many other young players – but especially in the live arena where younger players hadn’t quite made an impact yet. On February 19, 2005, with only a few live tournaments under his belt, Bonomo finished 4th at the EPT French Open in Deauville, becoming the youngest player to reach a televised final table at 19 years and 5 months. Following his $41K score in France, “ZeeJustin” final tabled three 2006 Five Diamond WPT events for a total of $110K, and then reached his first ever WSOP final table, claiming 5th in the 2007 $2000 No-Limit Hold’em event for $156K. Since then, Justin Bonomo has gone on to more than $300K in cashes, and at just 23 years old, his live poker earnings are now in excess of $2.5 million.
Despite his achievements at the tables, Justin Bonomo’s road to gaining the respect of the poker community has had a few bumps along the way. In 2006, Bonomo came under scrutiny when he was accused – and later found guilty – of entering multiple accounts into the same tournaments on PartyPoker. Justin’s account was immediately suspended, and he was forced to forfeit over $100K in winnings. PokerStars, the largest poker site on the internet, conducted their own investigation and also decided to suspend “ZeeJustin” from playing on their site. The poker community was enraged, and in perhaps the smartest move of his career, Justin disappeared for a while. When he resurfaced, he offered many formal apologies – in his blogs, on his site, in the various poker forums – and although people didn’t forgive him right away, Justin seemed legitimately sorry for his error in judgment. Once he turned 21, Justin Bonomo embraced live poker, and didn’t shy away from talking about his mistakes – he loved the game and truly regretted what he’d done. Justin has since been re-instated at all the online sites, and overall, the poker community as a whole has decided to give him a second chance.
In continuing both his online dominance and remarkable live success, Justin Bonomo has already launched himself into the upper echelon of poker talent, but there’s just an aura about this kid that says he’s destined for even bigger and better things in the not too distant future.