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A 'woozy' Miami John Cernuto unsure if he'll play in Main Event

1 July 2009

LAS VEGAS – Eight days after collapsing at the poker table during the World Series of Poker, "Miam John" Cernuto is unsure whether he will be able to play in this year's Main Event.

Last Tuesday during Day 2 of the $2,500 Seven Card Razz Tournament (Event 44), Cernuto -- one of the more popular players in the game -- passed out at the table and had to be wheeled out on a stretcher. Today, Casino City caught up with Cernuto in the hallway of the Rio to get a complete update on what happened that night and find out how he's feeling as the Day 1 of the Main Event beckons this weekend.

"I'm still a little woozy," smiled Cernuto, who suffered from internal bleeding and ended up spending three days in the hospital. "You know, it wasn't scary at the time, but now looking back, yes, it was a scary moment. I'm just glad to be back on my feet."

He said that he's still not sure if he's going to feel up to playing in the $10,000 Main Event, which begins on Friday.

"It's my decision, not the doctors'," he said. "If I do play, it will be on Sunday (Day 1C). I have a doctor friend of mine who said that I probably shouldn't do it. But I have another good friend who told me that he had an epiphany that I was not only going to play, but that I was going to win it.

"Wouldn't that be something – from the floor to the final table," he added with a hearty laugh.

Cernuto – who has 47-career WSOP cashes to his name and more than $4.6 million in tournament earnings – said he distinctly remembers the hand that was going on in the tournament when the incident took place. He said that he had been waiting for hours to get a good hand and when he finally drew a 2-4-5, he was thrilled to have a chance to get his money in good.

But soon after getting the great hand, he started to feel like he was going to pass out. Most of the players at the table thought he was falling asleep and, apparently, so did the WSOP staff.

"I said to the floor guy, 'I think I need some help.' And he said, 'OK, I'll get you a Red Bull,'" Cernuto said, once again, laughing about his misfortune. "I said, 'No. I don't need that kind of help. I need medical attention.' The next thing I know I was being pulled out of there on a stretcher."

But being the hardcore poker player that he is, Cernuto wanted to know what happened with the hand as soon as he was stabilized at the hospital. He called WSOP Media Director Nolan Dalla on the phone about three hours after leaving the Rio via ambulance to find out, but couldn't get a straight answer.

"As soon as I got back here on Tuesday I went and found Chris Ferguson because he was at the table," explained "Miami John," who was actually born in New Jersey. "I asked him what happened and he said, 'What happened? You passed out!' I said, 'I know that Chris. I mean what happened with the damn hand.' He said that I never bet it. I just passed out.

"But I don't believe him. Even if I was going to pass out, I wouldn't miss a chance to bet that hand in a game of Razz."

Cernuto – who lives in Las Vegas – said that one thing he did learn from the incident is how caring the poker community can be in times of distress.

"I can't tell you how many people have called or that have stopped me to ask how I'm doing," he said fondly. "You know we come in here every day to play poker and sometimes I think we all take each other for granted. But when something happens to one of us, it's a wake up call.

"People have told me that there was a lot of concern when I was getting wheeled out of the room. I even heard that some people were in tears. That's touching to know that people care so much."

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Best of Gary Trask
Gary Trask

Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT
Gary Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT