Prior to the 2015 World Series of Poker November Nine returning to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, I offered my predictions along with the rest of the PokerNews Team.
For my bold prediction, I said that “[Thomas] Cannuli will put in a performance akin to [Martin] Jacobson, where he works his short stack up through a series of well-timed shoves. I think the kid has a lot of talent, and I expect him to put it on display for our viewing pleasure.”
While things didn’t play out exactly like that, there’s no denying that Cannuli impressed, not only through his play, but more specifically by his reaction to busting the tournament in brutal fashion.
“Super impressed with Cannuli, what a class act,” poker pro Liv Boeree offered after Cannuli was knocked out in sixth place for $1,426,283.
Reigning World Poker Tour World Champion Asher Conniff echoed those sentiments: “Money comes and money goes, but experiences last forever. What a legend, and so well spoken.”
Both were referencing Cannuli’s post-elimination interview, which you should watch here:
“That’s just the game, it’s a part of the game,” Cannuli said. “I mean, you have to respect the game and that element that you can get unlucky and not be a whiny baby about it. It’s over and done with, you can’t take it back. I’ll move forward, and it’s back to the grind for me.”
What’s amazing about Cannuli’s reaction, aside from the fact it came from the youngest player at the final table, is that he had every right to be disappointed and bitter after being coolered on just the second hand of the final table’s second day.
It happened in Level 37 (300,000/600,000/75,000) on Hand #74 of the final table when the short-stacked Cannuli opened for 1.4 million under the gun only to have Max Steinberg shove all in from the big blind. Cannuli called off for 10.275 million total, and his rail, rallied by poker pro Jeff Gross, erupted when the cards were turned on their backs.
Cannuli was in a great shape to double, while the majority of Steinberg’s chips were at risk. The dealer then burned and put out the flop — . Steinberg’s supporters went wild, while Cannuli’s rail was visibly devastated. Cannuli, surrounded by his family and friends, watched helplessly as the bricked on the turn followed by the river.
Just like that, his run at poker immortality came to an end via a ruthless bad beat. According to the PokerNews Odds Calculator, Cannuli had a 79.93% chance of winning the hand, meaning four out of five times he’d score the double and give himself a continued shot at the $7,680,021 first prize. The hand was essentially worth millions, and much to Cannuli’s supporters as well. Alas, this was the one out of five times things would not go his way.
Granted, such hands happen all the time in poker, but rarely during the November Nine. As previously mentioned, Cannuli had every right to be upset, but he showed his maturity in his postgame interview. I’ve been playing this game for a long time, and honestly I don’t know if I could have gotten up on that podium like he did. I certainly wouldn’t have been so accepting and grateful.
Poker can make people angry, turn optimists into pessimists, and break down even the most pragmatic player — if you let it. Cannuli didn’t, and both his composure and acceptance is something we as players should take note of and replicate when we can.
While Cannuli didn’t win, he carried himself like a champion.
*Photo credit: Jayne Furman/WSOP