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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

The Round Table - Get to know Justin Bonomo

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He is in his early twenties and he has already cashed for millions. Justin Bonomo talks with us about everything from strategy to the ups and downs of poker.

KL: Where are you from?

I was raised in Fairfax, Virginia which isn’t cornfield Virginia but right outside of Washington DC, a very suburban area.

KL: How did you get started with poker?

I played poker once every couple of months with my stepfather. We played five card draw and night baseball and all kinds of crazy games. We didn’t really even play on a level where you could consider someone a winner or a loser, we just played. When I started playing with magic players, though, it didn’t take me long to catch on.

KL: Are you an instinctual poker player, do you have gifts you brought to the game or are you all self taught?

I was not a natural at all. I learned everything that I possibly could; I studied everything I possibly could. I spent so much time just analyzing mathematical situations on my own and then discussing them with other players. I definitely learned it the scholastic way.

KL: What is your biggest poker weakness?

Over the past year or so, one of my biggest weaknesses has also turned into a great strength of mine, I have fancy play syndrome also known as ‘FPS’ which means sometimes I overcomplicate situations and come up with a play and sometimes I’ll give my opponents too much credit. I think I have really put myself in weird situations and I think I have learned a lot overall from even the mistakes I have made from fancy play syndrome.

KL: What is your greatest accomplishment?

There isn’t really any accomplishment that I am proud of, I feel like I have made a lot more than my fair share of final tables, so I guess I would pick that.

KL: How do you pick up such good reads on your opponents?

It’s not even so much about how they play their hands; I do a lot of stereotyping with players. I see how comfortable they are with their chips. Usually you can tell by someone’s personality if they are going to be an aggressive, bluffing player or a more conservative player. Age and race also play a big factor in it too.

KL: You played in one of the biggest tournaments around, the $50,000 WSOP H.O.R.S.E, did you ever feel intimidated?

I was really worried about the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. because I knew it was supposed to be the best players in the world and I’m still not nearly as confident with my H.O.R.S.E. game as I am with hold’em. I just don’t have the experience and I’m still learning all the games. When I first started playing that tournament I realized that the field wasn’t nearly as tough as they made it out to be. There were maybe 20 or 30 really rich guys that just had no business playing in that tournament. They weren’t nearly as good as the rest of the field. On top of that, there were a lot of no limit pros and other tournament pros that just aren’t mixed game players which also made the field really soft. I think the people don’t realize that even though maybe there are a high percentage of the best players in the world in that tournament, they aren’t all H.O.R.S.E. players. They are taken out of what they are used to.

KL: What do you think determines someone to be considered one of the best?

People that really know what they are talking about will put a lot of emphasis on mixed cash game players, players like Chip Reese, Barry Greenstein, and Phil Ivey, guys that know all the games and really do their thing. There are a lot of people that mistakenly think that some of the tournament players they see on TV are the best players in the world when really they are a lot weaker than some of the guys that just play the high stakes cash games and the same applies with online. The guys that are regularly beating the 200-400 no limit games are extremely talented players.

KL: You have said that you have attended over 200 concerts, who are some of your favorite artists?

When I first started getting into music it was mostly alternative rock, bands like Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, Live, Muse, Counting Crows and I have seen all of those bands in concert, they are all really good. Now I am starting to get into some of the newer music, some emo music like Brand New, bands like that.

KL: Do you like to prop bet?

I am very conservative; I don’t like to gamble on stuff that is completely out of my control. If we can set a line and I think I am a favorite I will take it. We were setting lines on players to win bracelets at the WSOP last year and I found some guy that gave me 10 to 1 odds that Phil Hellmuth wouldn’t win a bracelet and obviously he has won so many I think that is an example of a bet that I am going to be a huge favorite to win.

KL: How do you stay away from the vices of the poker world?

I am extremely lucky; I have never had any inclination to play blackjack or roulette whatsoever. I have played, probably in my life, two hours of those games combined, probably less. I just don’t find it fun. Even though I am a professional gambler, I really don’t like gambling itself. I like skill games and I like being able to find edges and being able to find the optimal strategy. That is what I am into. In terms of drugs and stuff I have had the misfortune of seeing some of my friends throw their life away. I am lucky I don’t have an addictive personality and I have seen what can happen with these guys. Overall I try to live a completely healthy lifestyle. I don’t take anything out of control.

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