Few would argue 2018 wasn’t the year of Justin Bonomo. Not only did he become poker’s all-time winningest player after winning more than $25 million since January. He also all but locked up a spot in the Poker Hall of Fame once he’s eligible in 2026.
But he wasn’t the only poker player who crushed it in 2018. Mikita Badziakouski hit the $14 million earnings mark this year and became one of the top up-and-coming high rollers in the game.
Jason Koon also crossed the eight-figure bar, with more than $11 million in cashes this year. He’s been one of the best players in poker the past five years and has now surpassed the $22 million lifetime mark.
J-Koon hit the $1 million mark in three May tournaments, including his largest career score ($3.6 million) for winning a Triton Super High Roller Series event.
John Cynn, the reigning world champion, checks in at number four on our list of top earners in 2018, with $8.8 million. It’s a reminder that winning the WSOP Main Event is still the one event that can change your life and guarantee you a space among the most successful people in the game.
Champion of Champions
Bonomo was in a league of his own in 2018. He set the single-year record for highest gross tournament winnings ($25 million). And he surpassed Daniel Negreanu as the all-time live tournament winnings leader at over $43 million.
“ZeeJustin’s” year was so incredible that he won just over $1 million for second place in the January PCA and has probably since forgotten about that score. We’re being facetious, of course, well, maybe. But the point is he had enough huge wins in just one year to be set for life financially. Assuming he’s smart with his money, of course.
Two months later, he headed to Macau for the Super High Roller Bowl China. Bonomo won that for $4.8 million. That wasn’t enough so he came back to America for the Super High Roller Bowl in Las Vegas, a $300,000 buy-in event. Yep, he won that too for $5 million.
He then shipped a $10,000 heads-up WSOP bracelet event. But that was “only” for $186,000, a fraction of the $10 million he received for winning the $1 million buy-in WSOP Big One for One Drop to end the summer. Not a bad year for him.
Rising Big Money Star
Mikita Badziakouski isn’t a showman at the poker table. He’s rather quiet while he plays which is part of the reason many haven’t heard of him yet. He chooses to do his talking with his chips. And he’s done a lot of that this past year.
The Belarus native quietly hit the $14 million mark in tournaments in 2018, bringing his career mark over $20 million. Not bad for a guy many of you haven’t even heard of.
He’s one of the rising stars on the high roller scene. Badziakouski won at least $1.6 million an insane four times from May through October. That includes the biggest win of his career, $5.25 million for shipping the Triton Poker Super High Roller Series Main Event in July.
You should expect to see more dominance on the felt in 2019 from Badziakouski.