Interview: Justin Bonomo (Zee Justin)

What up playboy! Congrats on the Bodog deal.  The poker life must be treating you well these days.  Tell us what’s been going on in your life.

Thank you, thank you. Life is amazing right now. I’m extremely happy to be Bodog’s newest team member; it’s something I’ve wanted for years now. It’s basically a dream come true. On top of that, I made the Caesar’s final table recently, and next week I will be moving to Vegas. I picked out a really nice condo at Panorama towers, where Bodog pros Dave Williams and Evelyn Ng also live. So yeah, life is great.

Sounds like you’re living the dream! Why are you leaving LA, I thought you loved it there?

Yeah, I do love LA, but I’m never here. I spend so much time travelling the tournament circuit that I only spend 2 months a year at home. I figure since I already spend 4 months a year in Vegas, that if I live there I get to spend an entire 6 months at home. I plan on moving back in a few years, but for the time being, I need a place to call home with my busy travel schedule.

Will you have any roommates in your new condo?

Ozzy87 will be living with me for two months during the World Series. After that I’m going to have to decide whether or not I’d prefer to live by myself. I’m only 22, and have never lived by myself before, so it would be a huge change without a roommate.

It’s nice to have space sometimes, especially if you have ever lived with loud and messy roommates.

Haha. Yeah, I’m always the anal one telling the guys here to clean up. I need to have a clean place.

Have you been playing much poker online these days, or just live?

I’ve barely played online at all so far this year, but there are no tournaments I plan on playing in May, so I’m going to be playing on Bodog a lot this month. They gave me a $3/$6 NL table named Justin Bonomo, so if anyone wants to play against me, find that table at BodogLife.com. Having a table named after me will be a great opportunity to play against and chat with all of the Bodog players. It should be a lot of fun. I’m down $20 so far this month on Bodog. I’m going to have to step up my game.

Don’t worry I will help you step up your game after this interview by giving you some key pointers.;) What events are you looking forward to playing at the WSOP?

Haha, thank you! The TV events will take first priority, but other than that, I’ll play as many tournaments as possible to increase my chances of winning a bracelet. I really really really want a bracelet, and eventually multiple.

What game would you want one in the most?

Well if I got to choose my bracelet, I would pick either the main event or the 50k HORSE. But over time, I would definitely love to have bracelets in different events, to show that I’m not a one trick pony. I think a lot of players still think of me as a NL tournament player, so a HORSE bracelet would be really cool.

Besides playing poker what do you like to do in your spare time?

I love music and have been to almost 200 concerts now!

What type of music do you listen to?

Mostly alternative rock, bands like Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, Muse, Our Lady Peace, Live, Pearl Jam, and Counting Crows. I’m also into some newer rock music, kind of the emo genre I guess, bands like Brand New and Manchester Orchestra.

Do you have a love life these days, or are you strictly business?

I’ve been single for a few months now. I travel so much that it’s hard to have a normal relationship, and I don’t go out and drink during tournaments. The last few girls I’ve dated I’ve met through poker, which is kind of odd.

Will we see 3 hot Bodog girls around your arm at the WSOP?

Haha, I hope so!

Do you have any prop bets lined up for the WSOP?

I bet “Rainkhan” a grand that the WSOP ME will have over 5,000 players. I’ve been talking to players about betting on Negreanu to win a bracelet at 5-1 odds. I’ll probably put some good action on that bet (last year Steve Sung gave me 10-1 that Hellmuth wouldn’t win a bracelet, and that paid off nicely). I’m also working on a WSOP ME bet with “Thorladen”, where I can purchase action from any player I want, for 8x the percent I buy. For example, if I want Ivey, I can pay $800 for 1% of him, and Thorladen will have to give me 1% of whatever he cashes for in the ME.

Now on to the Bluff Final Five.  What is pumping in your headphones while your pwning donkeys?

Completely depends on how I want to feel. After a bad beat, I put on something heavy and angry, like Brand New’s latest album. If I just want something relaxing, I might play something like Citizen Cope. I find music to be the perfect way to control my emotions and attention span at the table.

Do you believe luck is a factor in poker, and do you have any rituals to avoid bad luck?

Luck is certainly a huge factor, especially for a tournament player like myself, but I’m not superstitious at all. I just try to maximize my expectation, and when necessary, reduce variance. If you want good results, you should focus on playing well rather than luck. Sometimes it’s important to try and forget about how unlucky you have been recently (if that’s the case).

If you could bust anyone or take their whole bankroll, whose would it be?

Can I pick Bill Gates? I wouldn’t mind picking up a cool $50 billion.

Wouldn’t we all! How about poker wise?

There’s no one that I consider to be my nemesis or wish to go bust, so I’d just pick someone with a lot of money like Howard Lederer or Chris Ferguson. I suppose taking Phil Ivey’s bankroll heads up would give me a nice sense of accomplishment though.

Phil seems to be public enemy #1. What celebrities would you like to have in your entourage?

Calvin Ayre would certainly be cool. He’s one of the reasons I’m so happy to be on Bodog. He epitomizes the playboy lifestyle. I’m not one to get starstruck, so I’d prefer musicians that I respect, like Eddie Vedder, over the standard super famous picks most people might give you.

The final question that we always like to ask: Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Scarlett Johansson, or Giselle Bundchen?

I’ve always had a thing for Scarlett ever since I saw Lost in Translation in the theatre. I’d have to go with her. She has the perfect sexiest face IMO. The rest isn’t too shabby either.

You know she just got engaged to Ryan Reynolds.

That scumbag… you know that question above when you asked who I wanted to bust? I change my answer to Ryan Reynolds (ok actually I’ve never even heard of him, but still).

He’s in Blade and Smokin’ Aces. Ok he’s Van Wilder!

My brother was going through my DVD collection last night, and asked me if “this movie was any good?” (while holding up Van Wilder). I told him there was no way he would like that movie. ;p

Too funny. Justin, it was a fun interview, and ship us some bracelets at the WSOP. GLGLGLGL!

You’re welcome! I had a good time.

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Ryan Nelson

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