“Miami” John Cernuto, with a 13th place finish in a $350 H.O.R.S.E. event at the LA Poker Classic, surpassed Men “The Master” Nguyen for the all-time live tournament cashes record (490), according to the Hendon Mob database.
Poker playing actor James Woods paid tribute to the record holder on Twitter.
Congratulations to the great Miami John Cernuto. As of today he is the greatest tournament poker player in history. More cashes than anyone ever. And my dear, dear friend. #Bravo @MiamiJohnC pic.twitter.com/s5BCPzR9bD
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) February 6, 2019
Woods and Cernuto are long-time friends and have competed against each other in numerous poker games. Phil Hellmuth and other poker pros chimed in with congratulations. One Twitter user (@iamscottro) disagreed with the assertion that “Miami John” is the best tournament player ever.
“‘Most cashes’ does not make one the greatest tournament player in history. In all honesty, as far as the greatest tournament players go, he doesn’t make my top 25. A legend for sure, but not one of the greatest,” he wrote.
Fired by Ronald Reagan
John Cernuto, a Florida State University graduate, worked as a union air traffic controller 40 years ago. In 1981, the union (PATCO) went on strike seeking better working conditions and pay.
Despite supporting PATCO’s efforts on the campaign, President Ronald Reagan, citing a “peril to national security,” ordered the strikers back to work. But only 1,300 of the 13,000 controllers followed his orders.
Reagan fired those who refused to go back to work, including Cernuto. That is when “Miami John” turned to poker.
Great Career Move
Getting fired from his job turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Cernuto went on to win three WSOP bracelets, appear at three WPT final tables, and is now the all-time live tournament cashes record holder with 490.
He has $5.85 million in cashes throughout his brilliant career, 68 of which were in WSOP bracelet events. Cernuto last won a World Series of Poker title in 2002 ($1,500 Limit Omaha for $73,320).
“Miami John” has never hit a massive score. His biggest win was $259,150, the day he won his second bracelet in 1997 ($2,000 No-Limit Hold’em). But he’s been a staple of consistency for nearly four decades.
Top Five All-Time Live Tournament Cashes
- John Cernuto (USA) 490
- Men “The Master” Nguyen (Vietnam) 489
- Randy Holland (Canada) 441
- T.J. Cloutier (USA) 393
- Dan Heimiller (USA) 365
Cloutier is the only player on that list who is a member of the Poker Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 2006 along with Billy Baxter.
At age 75, Cernuto is still grinding the low to mid-stakes tournament circuits. He already has four cashes at the 2019 LA Poker Classic, none for more than $4,060, however.
Like Doyle Brunson, who famously said, “we don’t stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing,” Cernuto will likely play poker for the rest of his life.