Justin Bonomo's BIG WIN and How This Might Affect Poker


It's official, Justin Bonomo is currently in the center of the biggest heater that poker has ever seen.

With upwards of $24 million so far in 2018, it is easy to see why people everywhere are interested in this success story. His sudden rise of popularity is sparking conversations everywhere, and it is hard to not draw similarities to the poker boom of the early 2000s, but is this a fair similarity?


The Year of Making Money

The early 2000s was a time where poker, a sport which has been around for hundreds of years, was suddenly becoming fresh and new again. With the success of Rounders (1998), the sport had been given a wider audience who was willing to learn the strategic ins and outs to become pro. With this, poker received a slight but noticeable boost in buy-ins in the following WSOPs. New faces were making appearances at the live events, and the sharks were all too willing to play against the wannabe pros; That is, until 2003 happened. 

The man was Chris Moneymaker. With a name that was designed by the gods and was given with a purpose, Moneymaker made his way to the WSOP after winning a buy-in from an online game. Pro after pro faced him on the table, but after every session he remained victorious. Winning the main event was all that every amateur wanted, as it granted them respect and a bankroll which would allow them to pursue poker as an honest career. Moneymaker certainly achieved that goal, and with it he became a hero. 

To say the least, people wanted to be like Moneymaker.

Imagine a fan winning the chance to be the quarterback at the superbowl. Now imagine this fan throwing the ball into the endzone, leading to the game-winning touchdown. This is what it was like in poker.

Every older poker player remembers the 2000s as the wild wild west; online sites were opening up and expanding, new tourneys were being scheduled, more people were showing up to live events. Everyone wanted to win the superbowl.

Everything was fine until it wasn't. The sites were shut down. Online poker became illegal across America. The love for the game began to fade. For a long time it started to feel like new players no longer had the chance to become as big as the already-made-pros, especially with Negreanu sitting firmly atop the all time money list. That is, until someone came and took it from him.


The Year of Bonomo

There are similarities that can be drawn of course between Moneymaker and Bonomo, though they may be few. For instance, Bonomo has been playing professionally for almost 15 years, which means that his rise to fame, though meteoric, has not been given to him simply by luck. A mistake that many people make when they use the word "heater" is that they assume luck to be the driver, while the player is merely the passenger. However, I would like to impose that the player is the driver and the luck is merely the car that they are driving, while the passenger is the large stack of cash that they are making. Bonomo however built his own car over the past decade and he is now finally getting the chance to drive it.

Similarly, Bonomo and Moneymaker represent the bright side of poker; I mean, who wouldn't want to make $24 million dollars in half a year by playing your favorite card game? With Bonomo stealing that top spot from Negreanu, every blog site realized that they had to make a story about it.

It suddenly became possible to beat the pros again!

Although Bonomo was already a pro, and although the all time money list is heavily skewed in favor of those who have bought into and won portions of the Big One Drop, Bonomo has become a symbol for the people. Does this mean that we will see another poker boom?

Given the numbers, it certainly looks like it. People like Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk have been steadily increasing their popularity on YouTube which in turn has been spreading poker news everywhere. With Bonomo being at the center of this news, yet again fresh new faces are getting the chance to experience poker. With any luck, this will lead to a new era of poker, and hopefully it is a good one. 

And hopefully Bonomo teaches us how he makes his cars. I mean seriously, what is under that hood?!

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