Poker has a new all-time money leader and his name is Justin Bonomo.
Late in the evening on Tuesday, Bonomo secured his biggest payday to date by winning the $1 million buy-in The Big One for One Drop event. The $10 million first-place prize catapulted Bonomo ahead of Daniel Negreanu to sit on top of the poker world’s most-watched list–all-time tournament earnings.
Bonomo now lays claim to $42,979,591 in lifetime live tournament earnings. Negreanu has $39,656,196.
Negreanu didn’t seem to mind relinquishing the top spot. In response to the commentary on the broadcast, he Tweeted:
@phil_hellmuth @lonmceachern @NormanChad WRONG! It would be nice to be relieved of the pressure of feeling like I need to play all these events. It’s inevitable I’d be passed with my limited schedule. Might as well be now!
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) July 18, 2018
It was an emotional victory for Bonomo. When asked about his emotional state on the ESPN broadcast, Bonomo said:
“Disbelief. Happiness. All over the place. The adrenaline has been going through me like crazy.”
The Big One for One Drop
The third installment of the Big One for One Drop played out in Las Vegas, Nevada. A total of 27 players put up $1 million to play with the best of the best.
This year the tournament welcome far fewer players then it had in years past. In 2012, 48 players wrote a big check, and in 2014, 42 players signed on the dotted line.
The Big One for One Drop is unique in that there is no rake or fees to play. Guy Laliberté worked with Caesars and the World Series of Poker to bring a charity tournament unlike any other to the poker stage. A portion of each buy-in ($80,000) goes to the One Drop Foundation, which brings access to safe drinking water to underserved communities around the world.
The list of players is a combination of accomplished “recreational” players and a list of who’s who in poker. The final table reflected that formula.
Day 3 began with six players, only five of which would make the money.
David Einhorn, a hedge fund manager with $5,154,048 in live tournament winnings, was the unfortunate soul eliminated in sixth place. It’s always sad to see Einhorn get knocked out of a tournament because he donates all of his winnings to charity.
Bonomo was responsible for the elimination and lamented about it to WSOP.com.
“To be totally honest, I almost feel guilty for knocking out David Einhorn. I will give a lot to charity, but I’m not as well off as him to give it all to charity. It’s an honor to be part of the money that’s donated to One Drop.”
The Big One for One Drop final table results:
1st: Justin Bonomo ($10,000,000)
2nd: Fedor Holz ($6,000,000)
3rd: Dan Smith ($4,000,000)
4th: Rick Salomon ($2,840,000)
5th: Byron Kaverman ($2,000,000)
Bonomo’s heater keeps getting hotter
To say Bonomo is having a great year is the understatement of the century.
He has had four seven-, 11 six-, and seven five-figure scores. That is a lot of scores for seven months of poker. Not to mention, he logged 20 final tables, including nine first-, one second-, and two third-place finishes.
To be fair, Bonomo limits his play to mostly high-rollers which produce smaller fields. In the end, though, a heater is a heater.
To put his results in perspective, we looked at the earnings of the last three GPI players of the year. Bonomo has earned more in the first seven months of the year, then each of the three players did in their lifetime:
- Adrian Mateos (2017) – $15,603,074
- David Peters (2016) – $21,679,128
- Byron Kaverman (2015) – $14,501,379
Calling his results a heater downplays the work Bonomo puts into his game and the discipline he has to show up and play even after winning life-changing money several times over.
Bonomo doesn’t take this year’s stellar results for granted. He is still in study mode.
“It’s more money than I ever played for in my life, so I buckled down,” Bonomo said about preparing for the One Drop. “I studied. I took the day off the day before and just studied all day. Meditation every single day. I took this as seriously as I possibly could.”
About the money
The amount of money a poker player wins can be deceiving and not at all telling about their financial situation. Players often sell portions of their actions to limit their liability. Bonomo is no different. He sold pieces of his One Drop action to friends and through the website YouStake. When asked about selling a percentage, he said:
“Because of the wins this year, I absolutely do get to take bigger pieces of myself. This was a million-dollar buy-in, so I was not able to put up anywhere close to even half the money myself. It honestly made this even more special; I get to share this win with literally hundreds of people, because I sold action on the internet, as well. Also, some of my closest friends in the world who helped me prepare for this tournament [had pieces], and I’m so happy to give back to them.”
In February, after winning US Poker Open Event #1 – $10,000 + 500 No Limit Hold’em, Bonomo tweeted:
Does anybody know if the Twilight Zone episode with the gambler who can’t lose has a happy ending? Asking for a friend
— Bonologic (@JustinBonomo) February 4, 2018
Apparently, the answer is yes. At least for now.