Justin Bonomo Reveals One Drop Deal with Fedor Holz, Raising Questions from Backers

3 min read

When Justin Bonomo won the 2018 Big One for One Drop, his $10 million first prize made him the winningest tournament poker player of all time. It also meant a lot of cash for his backers, some of whom are now questioning just how much money they’re entitled to.

Justin Bonomo vs. Fedor Holz in One Drop
Justin Bonomo (right) and Fedor Holz compete heads up at the conclusion of the 2018 Big One for One Drop tournament. (Image: Joe Giron/WSOP)

Questions over how those who backed Bonomo would be compensated were raised after he posted a message to Twitter on Friday night, detailing a deal he made with Fedor Holz before heads up play began.

Bonomo Details How Chop Went Down

According to Bonomo, he decided to make details about the agreement public because of the hundreds of people who had bought pieces of his action on YouStake, the online service that acts as a crowdfunding site for backing professional poker players in tournaments.

“Fedor and I chopped half of the prize pool when we got HU and played for the other half,” Bonomo wrote. “My final share was: $8,751,111. I discussed how this would work with Scott from YouStake before the FT and he said I should wait until I get paid before announcing it.”

The fact that Bonomo and Holz made a deal is hardly shocking, especially considering how much money was at stake: the difference between first and second places was $4 million. And viewers were still treated to a fascinating heads up battle, so there were no complaints about the play as there were during the $100,000 High Roller earlier at the World Series of Poker.

But many observers felt that the agreement was problematic when it comes to what YouStake backers should expect to win. Since the WSOP doesn’t facilitate deals, Bonomo still officially won $10 million, and many believe that’s the amount backers should be paid from.

Some Backers Want Payouts from Announced Prize

“Thanks for the great ride, Justin,” wrote Tom Smith, apparently one of Bonomo’s backers, in a reply to his announcement. “It seems to me, though, that we should be paid based on published results from the WSOP. 235 backers have no real idea what you guys agreed to. All we have is what the WSOP says you won.”

Others questioned whether YouStake had the right to take the deal into account when paying out the backers, or how Bonomo’s decision to make the deal public might impact what Holz’s backers would receive.

But despite the controversy, most of those responding to Bonomo’s announcement were happy to have made a great return on their investment, with many praising his transparency.

“Congratulations on the win,” replied @417Shrink. “This experience and what you’ve posted publicly has made me a bigger fan.”

Bonomo’s announcement wasn’t just about how the deal would impact those who backed him. He also confirmed that he had made a $75,000 donation to One Drop, an amount that included the entirety of the markup he charged to his backers.

“Normally I wait until December to make donations for tax reasons, but as this was something I had promised publicly, I wanted to do it right away,” Bonomo wrote.

With his victory in the Big One for One Drop, Bonomo now has over $42.9 million in lifetime tournament earnings. That puts him more than $3.3 million ahead of Daniel Negreanu at the top of the all-time money list.

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