More Tales from the Felt: Miami John, Part 2

Thank you to everyone for making Part 1 of “Miami” John’s story such a great success. You can read the article that originally appeared in Gaming Today here:

When I think of the Poker Hall of Fame, I notice that several names are missing. These players have made a positive impact on poker the last 40 years. One of these names is “Miami” John Cernuto. His accomplishments speak for themselves. He has the most tournament cashes of all time.

I’m reminded of one tournament in particular at the Bicycle Casino. Cernuto says, “Only a handful of players have ever won three events in one venue, but no one had ever won four. At the 1999 Legends of Poker, I did it. Four ring events in one venue.

He discussed how the price we pay to play the game we love has increased, “I don’t know why or how, but from 2008 till present, the industry has been sucker punching the players in order to extract more money to play their tournaments. I’m sure if you had an industry spokesperson he would be able to tell you the whys and the hows, but the bottom line is they are choking poker to death.”

He continues, “The problem is there cannot be a meeting of the minds when only one mind is in charge and the other doesn’t have a voice. The WSOP is the Holy Grail, but their numbers have gone down in many events over the last few years. They’ve made some changes this year that will enhance the WSOP experience by improving its structures and starting stacks. I hope this will encourage more participants. I’d like to see some lowering of fees or add some benefits in the form of hotel/food comps. But until players have an actual voice, I’m not holding my breath for the industry to change its position.”

Cernuto has played against hundreds of players, but some names stand out. In No-Limit, the masters of the game include Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu and anyone under 30 who played a million hands online. Other formidable opponents in his favorite games include:

  • 7 Stud. Danny Robison/Barb Enright
  • 7 Stud Hi Lo. Men “The Master” Nguyen/Susan Genard
  • Limit Hold’em David Chiu/Cissy Bottoms
  • Razz Ted Forrest/Don Zewin
  • 2 to 7 3 Draws Lenny Martin
  • Mixed games Jimmy the Mix aka Woods/Allen Levinson
  • PLO8 Mike Wattel/Frankie O’Dell
  • PLO Most Europeans

    What keeps Cernuto at the top of his game is the way he acknowledges both the past and looks to the future. He is quick to praises the new generation of players:

    “Nowadays the kids enter the poker world with tons of experience. It has taken me a lifetime to play a million hands and they achieve this in a year or so. Their prime mean age is probably 40. They are amazing and deserve the praise and accolades that they have received. What I would like to do is be thankful that our game has flourished, but also reflect on those that pioneered this and made this all possible. Without Benny and Jack Binion, Doyle, Moss, Reese, Straus and their buddies, this wouldn’t have been here for me.”

    In my 50 years of playing poker, I have seen many players come and go. Very few players could survive the swings and the pitfalls. Not only has Miami John stood the test of time and maintained his integrity, but he is still at the top of his game. He is a great ambassador of the game and deserves to be in the Poker Hall of Fame. To paraphrase the legendary actor James Woods, if not now, when?”

    Robert Turner is a legendary poker player most well-known for introducing the game of Omaha poker to Nevada in 1982 and to California in 1986. He created Legends of Poker for the Bicycle Casino in 1995 and Live at the Bike, the first live gaming site broadcast on the Internet in 2002.

    Robert has over 30 years’ experience in casino marketing and player development. He has served as an executive host at the Bicycle Casino and MGM. He is currently working as a casino consultant.

    Robert can be reached at for consulting, marketing and coaching. Find Robert on Facebook at and on Twitter @thechipburner.


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