After collapsing at the table during the Day Two play at the $2500 Razz tournament at the World Series of Poker and being wheeled away on a stretcher, professional poker player “Miami” John Cernuto is reported to be in stable condition and undergoing tests at a Las Vegas hospital.
Cernuto’s collapse went unnoticed for some time before it was recognized that he was unconscious. Around 6PM (Pacific Time), players around the felt assumed that Cernuto was sleeping during play; it wasn’t until one of his competitors nudged him and he collapsed on the table that it was known there was a problem.
Play was immediately stopped in the tournament while paramedics were called to assist Cernuto. After approximately a half hour, paramedics wheeled the now-conscious “Miami” John from the tournament arena to a round of applause from the Brasilia Room players and audience. Much like a valiant gladiator, Cernuto acknowledged the crowd with a wave and was on his cell phone, presumably to contact family members. While most in the tournament figured that Cernuto had suffered a heart attack, Cernuto contacted World Series of Poker Media Director Nolan Dalla at 9PM to update everyone on his condition. Initial testing at the hospital revealed that Cernuto was suffering from internal bleeding and he was to be held at least overnight for further testing.
Indicative of many poker players, one of Cernuto’s first questions for Dalla was comically what happened in the play of the hand. He is reported to have said that he looked at his hand, saw three small cards and entered into the action before he lost consciousness. While his desire to know if he won the hand is admirable, the point was moot; tournament directors killed the hand and there was no outcome.
A former air traffic controller, Cernuto has been a stalwart at the World Series for the past twenty years. He has been able to earn three WSOP bracelets in his career in three different disciplines, Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo (1996), No Limit Hold’em (1997) and Limit Omaha (2002). He has also made a final table on the World Poker Tour and has numerous cashes in other events around the world. With two cashes at this year’s WSOP in the $10K World Championship Mixed Event (won by Ville Wahlbeck and the $1500 Seven Card Stud event (won by Jeffrey Lisandro), Cernuto has 47 WSOP cashes and earned more than $4.6 million in tournament earnings.
Strangely enough, this isn’t the first time that this type of situation has presented itself at the World Series. In 2007, poker pro Paul “Eskimo” Clark collapsed in not one but two events, including this Razz tournament. Clark suffered a stroke during play in the tournament and, rather than seeking medical assistance, continued on to finish in fourth place in the tournament that was won by German professional Katja Thater.
After the scare by Cernuto on Tuesday night, play will continue today in the tournament. Jeffrey Lisandro, who has already captured two bracelets this year, is looking for a third as he is the chip leader in the tournament. Lisandro is followed by Steve Diano, Vegas pro Don Zewin and Kenna James and the champion of the event will be determined tonight. Poker News Daily will have a report on all the action from the Razz final table and wishes a quick return to the tables for “Miami” John Cernuto.