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Top 10 Stories of 2018, #1: Justin Bonomo's $25 Million Year

Top 10 Stories of 2018, #1: Justin Bonomo's $25 Million Year

This year's Top Stories are brought to you by Upswing Poker. If you want to improve your skills and confidence at the table, look no further than the free resources and premium training courses on upswingpoker.com.


Early 2018 Success

When 2018 is reviewed by Justin Bonomo, poker's record-breaking all-time money list leader might well struggle to believe it really all happened. But that Bonomo's phenomenally successful year of titles all happened within twelve months is nothing short of a miracle. Players work for decades to earn just a fraction of what Bonomo has won in 2018, and with each new success, each crowning glory gave him that much more impetus.

As the year closes, we look at Justin Bonomo not just as the most successful player this year, but as the most successful poker player in any year in poker history. The year 2018 was the Year of Bonomo.

Bonomo's year started with a runner-up finish to Cary Katz in the PCA $100,000 for $1,077,800. Not much later, he took home two titles; the $25,500 No Limit Hold'em High Roller event Lucky Hearts Poker Open ($556,873) and the U.S. Poker Open $10,000 No Limit Hold'em Event, which he won for $190,400. But it was only just beginning. Bonomo flew to Macau, and won the Super High Roller Bowl in China for $4.8 Million. At the time, that was Bonomo's biggest ever tournament result, but by the end of the year, it wouldn't be worth half his largest. Macau was the setting for his defeat of Patrik Antonius to take the title, and Bonomo had already won well over $5.5 million.

Justin Bonomo won the Super High Roller Bowl China for $4.8 million
Justin Bonomo won the Super High Roller Bowl China for $4.8 Million

Bonomo's Vegas Run

The World Series of Poker was now in his sights, and Bonomo went into the world's biggest poker festival in great form, heading to Vegas with six cashes in mainland Europe totalling $1.5m, including two more titles, this time on the riviera in Monte Carlo on the European Poker Tour.
To Vegas Bonomo went, not knowing that it would become a summer he would never forget.

With the World Series of Poker yet to start, Bonomo played the $300,000 buy-in Super High Roller Bowl. He won it, beating Daniel Negreanu heads-up, adding another $5 million with the entire WSOP schedule still to come.

Justin Bonomo won the 2018 Super High Roller Bowl ($5,000,000)
Justin Bonomo won the 2018 Super High Roller Bowl ($5,000,000)

Heading into the World Series of Poker, Bonomo had already banked $13 million. But he was far from finished. Unsatisfied with demolishing large fields table by table, Bonomo took on the best of the best in the $10,000 Heads-Up Championship, winning that too. Having put over $14.5 million into the coffers in less than six months of poker, Bonomo was almost as stunned as us when he spoke to PokerNews and declared: "I think that this is not real life and I think that’s the secret."

Justin Bonomo won his second WSOP Bracelet in the $10K Heads-Up Championship
Justin Bonomo won his second WSOP Bracelet in the $10K Heads-Up Championship for $185,965

Bonomo took time out from lifting trophies to cash four more times as a warm-up to another big one. Specifically, The Big One for One Drop. Going into the tournament as favourite, Bonomo lived with the pressure that put him under and came out on top again, this time defeating 2016 wunderkind Fedor Holz heads-up. The German banked $6 million, a fantastic result. But Bonomo walked away with his biggest prize to date, an astonishing $10 million. After an almost surreal streak, Bonomo was humbled by the magnitude of his achievement.

Justin Bonomo won the $1 Million Big One for One Drop ($10,000,000)
Justin Bonomo won the $1 Million Big One for One Drop ($10,000,000)

"At the end of the day, I feel like for the past year I've played absolutely fantastic poker," he said. "I'm not going to say I'm the best player in the world but I'm very confident that I'm up there."

We are confident he's the best in the world right now, and so are most people in and around poker. While an amazing 24 players have enjoyed a year in which they won over $5 million, a staggering achievement for the popularity of poker itself, one man stood out as having achieved greatness. At the close of the year, Bonomo leads the All-Time Money List, ahead of Daniel Negreanu, the man he beat in the Super High Roller Bowl in May and who had topped the list since 2014. Negreanu's reign is over, and quite how long Bonomo will hold the lead is anyone's guess.

Justin Bonomo will be remembered as a phenomenally successful player whenever he retires from tournament poker, but 2018 will always be remembered as the Year of Bonomo. Quite simply, it was his from start to finish.

Justin Bonomo's Cashes in 2018

Here's a look at all of Justin Bonomo's 2018 cashes:

MonthFestivalBuy-inEventEntriesPositionPrize in $
JanuaryPCA$100,000PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Super High Roller482nd$1,077,800
JanuaryPCA$25,000PokerStars Caribbean Adventure High Roller1444th$310,150
JanuaryWPT$50,000WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open Super High Roller253rd$197,200
JanuaryWPT$3,500WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open Main Event911104th$6,090
JanuaryWPT$25,500WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open High Roller751st$556,873
FebruaryUSPO$10,500US Poker Open Event 1681st$190,400
MarchSHRB ChinaHK$2,100,000Super High Roller Bowl China751st$4,823,077
MarchAPPTHK$100,000APPT Macau High Roller1959th$51,738
AprilMILLIONS€ 25,500partypoker MILLIONS Grand Final Barcelona High Roller908th$73,541
AprilWPT€ 3,300WPT Amsterdam Main Event20716th$10,916
AprilEPT€ 100,000EPT Monte Carlo Super High Roller465th$488,953
AprilEPT€ 50,000EPT Monte Carlo 8-Handed High Roller414th$276,776
MayEPT€ 25,000EPT Monte Carlo High Roller501st$457,356
MayEPT€ 25,000EPT Monte Carlo Single Reentry High Roller291st$311,268
MayAria$25,000High Roller304th$75,000
MaySHRB$300,000Super High Roller Bowl481st$5,000,000
MayAria$26,000High Roller351st$350,000
JuneAria$26,000High Roller271st$310,500
JuneWSOP$10,000WSOP Heads-Up Championship1141st$185,965
JuneWSOP$5,000WSOP No-Limit Hold'em51829th$12,331
JuneMSPT$3,500MSPT Big Blind Ante Event109610th$49,101
JulyAria$10,500No-Limit Hold'em335th$26,400
JulyAria$26,000High Roller263rd$104,000
JulyWSOP$1,000,000The Big One for One Drop271st$10,000,000
SeptemberPoker Masters$52,000High Roller476th$141,000
OctoberAria$26,000High Roller234th$57,500
NovemberAria$52,000High Roller254th$125,000
Novemberpartypoker$10,300High Roller1964th$160,000
      $25,428,935

* All data courtesy of TheHendonMob.com

Justin Bonomo
Justin Bonomo


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Top 10 Stories Since 2011

Top 10 Stories of 2011

  1. Black Friday
  2. Full Tilt Poker
  3. PokerStars Back to Business After Black Friday
  4. Phil Ivey
  5. The Year of Seidel
  6. Ben Lamb Makes His Mark
  7. Grospellier and Cody Complete Poker's Triple Crown
  8. Forming the Epic Poker League
  9. Second Place Goes to — Phil Hellmuth
  10. The Big One for One Drop

Top 10 Stories of 2012

  1. PokerStars Acquires Assets of Full Tilt Poker
  2. Phil Hellmuth Wins Two Bracelets, Including WSOP-E Main Event
  3. Howard Lederer Breaks Year-Long Silence in the Lederer Files
  4. The Big One for One Drop
  5. #5a, Greg Merson Wins the WSOP Main Event and POY Award
  6. #5b, Dan Smith Dominates
  7. Greg Raymer Wins Four Heartland Poker Tour Titles
  8. Marvin Rettenmaier Wins Back-To-Back WPTs and Much More
  9. Baumann and Hille Bubble WSOP Main Event Final Table
  10. Phil Ivey Returns in a Big Way

Top 10 Stories of 2013

  1. The Launch of Regulated Online Poker in the U.S.
  2. Daniel Negreanu's Massive Year
  3. German Domination
  4. Full Tilt Poker Repayment in the U.S.
  5. Drama Involving Past WSOP Main Event Champs
  6. Controversial "First Card Off the Deck" Rule
  7. World Series of Poker Circuit Grinders Dominate
  8. The Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open $10 Million Guarantee
  9. Canada Crushes at the WSOP
  10. Ivey, Kagawa, Smith, and Others Face Legal Trouble

Top 10 Stories of 2014

  1. PokerStars Acquired By Amaya and Makes Significant Changes
  2. Phil Ivey Endures More Legal Drama
  3. Christian Lusardi and the Borgata Counterfeit Chip Scandal
  4. Daniel Colman's Massive Success and Controversial Year
  5. Passing of Strassmann, Brown, Korfman, Sartori, Elvis Joe
  6. Vicky Coren Mitchell Becomes First Two-Time EPT Champ
  7. Yong, Phua, Others Involved in World Cup Betting Scandal
  8. Ultimate Poker Closes in New Jersey and Nevada
  9. Tony G Leaves Poker for European Parliament
  10. Darren Elias Wins Back-To-Back World Poker Tour Events

Top 10 Stories of 2015

  1. Online Poker Changes at PokerStars and Full Tilt
  2. Negreanu’s Run and McKeehen’s Dominance in WSOP Main Event
  3. WSOP Highs and Lows; Colossal Records, Heads-Up Controversy
  4. The Loss of David Ulliott, Chad Batista, and Others
  5. Ivey Wins 3rd Aussie Millions $250K, Is Online's Top Loser
  6. Old Guys Still Got It - Hellmuth, Juanda, Seidel Score Big
  7. Andy Beal Returns to Vegas to Face Todd Brunson
  8. GPI Player of the Year Race Comes Down to the Wire
  9. PokerStars Approved to Operate in New Jersey
  10. GVC Buys bwin.party, Ourgame Buys WPT

Top 10 Stories of 2016

  1. Qui Nguyen Wins the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event
  2. Once-In-a-Lifetime Heater for Fedor Holz
  3. The Mercier Bracelet Bets That Shook the Poker World
  4. Big Changes at PokerStars
  5. William Kassouf Dominates ESPN
  6. Prop Bets Grab Headlines
  7. Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer Return
  8. Online Gaming Marketplace Consolidates
  9. GPL Holds Season 1
  10. Big One For One Drop Open to Recs Only

Top 10 Stories of 2017

  1. Chris Ferguson Wins World Series of Poker POY
  2. John Hesp Reignites Poker Excitement During WSOP Main Event
  3. Doug Polk Wins One Drop and the Internet
  4. PokerGO Changes the Way WSOP is Consumed
  5. Online Poker Advances in the U.S.
  6. Fedor Holz and the Germans Continue High Roller Dominance
  7. Phil Ivey Loses $19 Million in Court Battles
  8. partypoker's Resurgence
  9. Australia Loses Fight for Legalized Online Poker
  10. Computer Beats Poker Pros in 'Brains vs. AI'
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