Justin Bonomo = Gen Y’s Scott Fischman?

by , Aug 5, 2008 | 11:08 pm

I’m just askin’ … watchin’ a little WSOP, and after an hour-and-a-half of ZeeJustin, I see a dude who’s good — really good — and possibly due for an ass-kicking.

UPDATE: Erick Lindgren says Bonomo is “the future of poker.”


23 Comments to “Justin Bonomo = Gen Y’s Scott Fischman?”


  1. Mike G
    says:

    Are they playing the latest WSOP on ESPN already? Wow, I’ve really got to start watching TV again. Or not.


  2. Steve S
    says:

    He needs an ass-kick’n – He’s a cheater – If he is the future of poker its DOA.


  3. Johnny Hughes
    says:

    The part I watched showed Bonomo played badly. I realize that was only a few hands. He drew out several times when he was chasing with a small pair. He seemed to think two pair on fifth was a huge hand. He’d bet a bad hand so fast that Eric would slow down with a good hand. I realize that was only a few hands. Bonomo mostly looked lonely, wishing there were two or three of him there. I will never, ever see this guy ever without thinking of the greatest photo shop of them all showing a poker table with five or so Bonomo’s and even one at the next table.


  4. California Jen
    says:

    Steve, you’re certainly entitled to that opinion. He did cheat. But isn’t it possible that over the last few years, he has made it up to the poker community? He tried to make immediate reparations, but when that didn’t work, he decided to let time heal all wounds. He simply played his live games, stayed humble and quiet, and hoped to build a reputation as a respectable player.

    Personally, I think he has done this quite nicely, and other online poker cheaters could take a page from Justin’s book.


  5. DanM
    says:

    Yeah, he kinda collapsed against Lindgren after I put up this post … but he ran a great bluff against Howard Lederer, stayed out of trouble in lots of hands … but overall wasn’t nearly as good as he thinks he is.

    Jen, did you see his interview, where he talked about Doyle Brunson not playing a million hands yet, and pretty much telling us how good he really is?


  6. California Jen
    says:

    I have not watched the episode yet. If he gets cocky, I may have to retract my “humble” statement.


  7. shronk
    says:

    “Steve, you’re certainly entitled to that opinion. He did cheat. But isn’t it possible that over the last few years, he has made it up to the poker community? He tried to make immediate reparations, but when that didn’t work, he decided to let time heal all wounds. He simply played his live games, stayed humble and quiet, and hoped to build a reputation as a respectable player.”

    I think I might be in some weird Fight Club movie and Jen might be the same person as me.

    I’ve spent time with Justin on numerous occasions and he is an absolutely respectful, gracious, humble kid – this has only been confirmed by every single pro I’ve talked to that’s been in the game for a long time.

    Go back to when you were around 20 years old and find your biggest f***-up. Now imagine if that was on the internet for millions of your peers to see and criticize for years to come. Now honestly tell me that you would have handled it with as much class as Justin has.

    And Dan, Justin might actually be one of these guys who is exactly as good he thinks he is.


  8. Woody
    says:

    He did say that he’s played more hands than Doyle Brunson (because of multi-tabling (and multi-chairing?) online), but in the next breath he said that he is certainly not yet claiming to be in the same category skill-wise as DB and other legends.


  9. DanM
    says:

    Right, like I said … Scott Fischman.

    2004: “Nice hand, Doyle.”


  10. Ed
    says:

    I can honestly say….in my 20s I was never a cheat…nor a fuck up. Pretty boring guy actually who lives by certain standards. Not being a cheating prick is one of them.


  11. Steve S
    says:

    Jen – Shronk

    He tried to make immediate reparations after he was caught; I understand you would like to turn the other cheek but with quote’s like “I am one of the best tournament players out there.”- “I have played 5 times as many hands as DB.”- “I would be surprised if Doyle has played even 1 million hands”. Does that sound “humble?” He made one final table in the 39th WSOP- is that the best out there? I have one final table at a WSOP event – no way am I going to say, I’m the best out there.

    Yes we have all done stupid things at 20, but had it been anywhere but online he would be in jail. Go into any Casino and get caught cheating, see what happens.

    Dan had spent many hours trying to prove online poker should be legal in the USA with players like this we have little hope of ever achieving that objective.


  12. luckydogruss
    says:

    What caught me a little off-guard was how far Norman Chad went in mentioning Bonomo’s cheating past. After the initial comment identifying the evil deeds, he came right back to say that if Bonomo got caught cheating again he “should be banned from poker”! I suppose a lot of players feel the same way, but it just sounded weird hearing it on the telecast…


  13. Poker Shrink
    says:

    True, but well you know…

    Yes, he was young; but plenty of young people are in prison…

    Trying to do better….

    All interesting positions, the one that interests me is the Norman Chad comments. As much as they check and recheck their fully vetted comments before they make it to air, one has to wonder why ESPN and Harrah’s decided to bring this up at all. Norman does not simply make random comments as the editing tries to imply, they tape and retape those overdubs and they always run the language by a group of internal censors. Remember the two line drop-in about the extra two million chips in ’06 final table, that was written at least two dozens times before everyone approved.

    So why mention a past online cheating incident?


  14. BJ Nemeth
    says:

    Disclaimer: I haven’t seen last night’s episode yet, but it’s on my TiVo.

    I think ESPN would mention Justin’s past history of cheating because it’s interesting. It gives casual viewers something to think about and latch on to (or root against) — and sets this episode off from the rest. I’m sure the producers discussed it a LOT (as Poker Shrink points out), but I think at least part of the reasoning was along the lines of “it’s the right thing to do.” If they ignored it, they’d have been criticized in some sectors. The UB/Absolute scandal (and impending “60 minutes” expose) may have factored into the decision as well.

    Personally, I think Jen and Shronk summed it up nicely. Justin doesn’t get a pass for cheating merely because he was a kid (we were all kids, but we didn’t all cheat). But he does get a second chance, because this is America, and *everybody* deserves a second chance. He screwed up, owned up to it the best he could, and then faced the music. I have no doubt in my mind that his days of cheating are behind him.

    Yes, he can be extremely confident and/or arrogant (depending on your point of view). But that hardly makes him unique among top poker players, don’t you think?

    I’ve covered Justin in a lot of major tournaments, and I can say that no matter how badly he plays a few edited hands on ESPN, I’ll still consider him one of the top tournament players.


  15. DanM
    says:

    ***So why mention a past online cheating incident?***
    ***What caught me a little off-guard was how far Norman Chad went in mentioning Bonomo’s cheating past.***

    Yeah, strangely I agree. It seemed so out of place. Like enough already — had someone at the table made a reference to it, OK, then it would merit a Norman Chad explanation. But bringing up this old situation at the beginning of the final table … it just seemed odd, and then was made even odder (to someone hearing about his sitch for the first time) to see the other players at the table warmly accept him.

    I gotta wonder if ESPN weren’t just worried that the bloggers would rip them a new one if they didn’t mention it. Who knows, maybe we woulda … but the better way for Chad to have brought it up woulda been to talk about how for the past two years he has been admirably redeeming himself.


  16. DanM
    says:

    You know … the more I think about this, the more I realize that ESPN actually missed a great storyline here … because this tourney was about ZeeJustin’s redemption. He has proven himself on tourney tour … but he doesn’t have that coveted bracelet (slipping into a Harrah’s/ESPN PR-y voice here) that validates he is a force at the table, even when he’s playing only one at a time.

    And that’s what we would have been working our way down to — can Erick Lindgren get that elusive bracelet, or would ZeeJustin beat him to it and be able to cement his place in poker, proving that he really does belong, having earned his way back?

    Norman Chad joke: “Just don’t even think about doing it again, punk! Cheating, we mean. Winning bracelets you can do that over and over. And I’m sure you will.”

    [cue WSOP tune]


  17. tbonezz111
    says:

    ** 2004: “Nice hand, Doyle.” **

    Yeah, and I think his next line was… “Doyle just busted my ass!!”


  18. shronk
    says:

    Being humble and thinking you’re one of the best in the world and making it known aren’t mutually exclusive. Barry would be one example, IMO. You can be ultra-confident about poker, but humble in life. Sadly, they usually go hand-in-hand, but not necessarily.


  19. DanM
    says:

    *** Go back to when you were around 20 years old and find your biggest f***-up. Now imagine if that was on the internet for millions of your peers to see and criticize for years to come. ***

    Yeah, that really might not have been good. Can only imagine how much worse I woulda made it if I had a 6-figure bankroll behind me, too.

    ***And Dan, Justin might actually be one of these guys who is exactly as good he thinks he is***

    Fanboy.


  20. Ed
    says:

    Just watched the two episodes. My opinion does not change.

    The guy reminds me of the typical gamer douche you might play in any online First Person Shooter. The one who talks shit and tells everyone he is the best. Months go by and then it comes out into the open that he has been using some kind of hack to help him see through walls or aim for his opponents head. Does this stop him? No he still talks shit and claims to be the greatest at whatever game he was playing.

    Soooo glad Eric won.


  21. BJ Nemeth
    says:

    *** Soooo glad Eric won. ***

    Even though I respect Justin’s game, I was rooting hard for Erick Lindgren to win. He’s one of the best in the game, and long overdue for a bracelet. Since I’ve been reporting full time (2005-present), I think Lindgren has been playing much better than his results indicate. (Though I wasn’t in Australia to see him win Aussie Millions in 2007.)


  22. shronk
    says:

    ***The one who talks shit and tells everyone he is the best. Months go by and then it comes out into the open that he has been using some kind of hack to help him see through walls or aim for his opponents head. Does this stop him? No he still talks shit and claims to be the greatest at whatever game he was playing.***

    This obviously explains his outstanding live results.

    Lifetime Winnings: $1,422,912
    2008 POY Rank: 15


  23. DanM
    says:

    Otis has an interesting take on it all here:

    http://www.upforanything.net/poker/archives/espn-changes-stylebook.html

    He brings up some good points how — regardless of your thoughts on how Norman Chad addressed ZeeJustin’s cheating past — ESPN’s coverage has clearly changed for the better.