Las Vegas, NV (June 5, 2012) – John Monnette, a 30-year-old professional poker player from Palmdale, CA, won his second WSOP gold bracelet tonight, making his victory in one of the world's premier poker tournaments look far too easy. He won the $5,000 buy-in Seven-Card Stud World Championship, collecting $190,826 in prize money.
Monnette found himself competing amidst as stacked a field as has been witnessed in any recent WSOP event. Nearly half of the total field were former gold bracelet holders. In fact, half of the players that cashed – eight of 16 – were former title holders.
But Monnette wasn’t fazed a bit. He obliterated a final table lineup that included five-time victor Jeffrey Lisandro (also the 2009 WSOP Player of the Year) and another former champion with a strong pedigree, Perry Friedman. However, Monnette’s toughest adversary proved to be relative unknown Huu Vinh, from Huntington Beach, CA who made his second final table appearance in a stud event this year at the WSOP. He finished fifth in the $1,500 buy-in Seven-Card Stud tournament, which ended three days earlier.
Contrary to his bitter table image, Monnette was all smiles by end of the night. The man sometimes called "Angry John" by many of his peers for his chiseled facade and ultra-serious demeanor at the table, breezed through a final table in about five hours, considerably less time than some estimates that predicted an all-night slumber fest.
In addition to the three finalists, Monnette, Friedman, and Lisandro, five other former gold bracelet winners cracked the money ranks – including Eugene Katchalov, Cyndy Violette, Max Pescatori, Mike Sexton, and Nick Schulman. This was Sexton’s third top-16 cash at this year’s WSOP – which leads in the unofficial “deep run” category. Also of note was Katchalov's ninth-place finish.
Monnette is likley to be a serous threat in several upcoming events -- particularly the non-Hold'em competitions. The latest champion won his first gold bracelet in last year’s $2,500 buy-in Eight-Game Mix. He has been playing full time since the age of 22. His first WSOP in-the-money finish was in 2005.
Monnette’s victory gives him his second WSOP title, to go along with 22 cashes, and $833,408 in career WSOP earnings. He’s also officially coronated as the reigning “Seven-Card Stud World Champion,” at least until next year. That prospect may make a lot of people in the poker world angry, but Monnette will be smiling all the way to the bank.
MEET EVENT #10 CHAMPION – JOHN MONNETTE
The 2011 World Series of Poker $5,000 buy-in Seven-Card Stud World Champion is John Monnette, from Palmdale, CA.
Monnette is a 30-year-old professional poker player.
Monnette’s first recorded tournament cash took place in 2004. Since that time, he has won more than $1.2 million in live tournament winnings.
Monnette came close to winning a WSOP gold bracelet in 2009. He finished second in the $2,500 buy-in
Deuce-to-Seven Lowball event. He won the $2,500 buy-in Eight-Game Mix in 2011.
For his victory, Monnette collected $190,826 for first place.
According to official records, Monnette now has 2 wins, 4 final table appearances, and 22 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP.
Monnette currently has $833,408 in career WSOP winnings.
Monnette is to be classified as a professional poker player, since he has been playing full-time for several years.
WINNER QUOTES (POST-TOURNAMENT INTERVIEW) QUESTION: So, how does it feel to win again?
MONNETTE: It feels great. I mean, it’s the 5K championship event. So yeah, any bracelet feels good. This is awesome. It feels great.
QUESTION: Your results show that you play such a wide variety of games; probably one of the stronger mixed-game players amongst the younger generation. Which games do you consider is your strongest? MONNETTE: I don’t know if I’m part of the younger generation anymore.…
QUESTION: You’re kind of in between the two. MONNETTE: I’m getting old, but no -- I like all the draw games. I really enjoy all the draw games. A lot of them we don’t even get to play at the World Series that we play. The Draw games, and I still enjoy Omaha High-Low a lot. Yeah, probably just the draw games. The Stud games are my weaker games for sure.
QUESTION: Well there you are, you have a bracelet. How did it feel coming against some of these opponents like Jeffrey Lisandro who has such a wealth of Seven-Card Stud experience. What was your strategy against him? MONNETTE: We came in today and there were so many good stud players like Nick Schulman was still in. He was short, fortunately, and then he got busted out. He plays great. Eugene (Katchalov) -- awesome stud player. I didn’t really get to play with him. He lost a few pots and busted out before we got to the final table. When we got here to the final table, Jeff was to my immediate left, which I knew was going to be tolling. But fortunately for me, I had a lot of hands at key moments, and he was kind of handcuffed by some of the other players, and also not being able to make too many hands. He wasn’t able to make too many pots; which made it difficult for him. Because of that, he got short. And once he’s short, it’s easier to play against him. Once he was gone, it was definitely a relief. I didn’t have to worry about him to my left ever again.
QUESTION: Yeah, you definitely noticed an interesting shift after the dinner break. You seemed to really take control of the table, and kind of just leaned on the other two opponents until they were out. What was your strategy shift coming after the dinner break? MONNETTE: I was just trying to see how they reacted. I just kept getting the high card and stuff; which you usually just raise. So, I was fortunate to win a couple key pots. And then from there, they were both relatively short. Once that happened, you kind of see that no one wanted to lose any big pots. And then maybe thinking about second place money. So once that happened, it was just pressure, pressure, pressure for every hand. Luckily for me, they both got really short. When we got heads up, I had an 8 to 1 or something in chips. I just accumulated so many chips. It was a good comeback.
QUESTION: You don’t play that many tournaments -- but you have 22 cashes now at the WSOP. What percentage of your tournament play are WSOP events? MONNETTE: It used to be something like that when I would play the WPTs and stuff. I just don’t play too much No-Limit Hold’em anymore. This year, I might’ve hit a couple tournaments before the WSOP, and once the WSOP is over I probably won’t play anymore. Now it’s almost 100 percent because this is pretty much the only place where you can play limit tournaments and also non-PLO and No-Limit tournaments. It’s great. You play the Razz and the Mixed Games and the Deuce – all the games I really enjoy playing.
QUESTION: would you rather play in a field like this one where you kind of know almost everybody in there and they’re all tough? Or the other opposite of that – a 3,000 player field where you got to go through the whole army of people? MONNETTE: I think both of them create their own difficulties. Whenever you’re in a small tourney -- I just played the $1,500 Eight-or-Better. And when you’re in that there’s like 700 people in the bowl. And there are a lot of people you don’t know. It’s harder because you have to get through the field. You don’t start with as many chips. You play against players you don’t know, so you’re kind of not sure. A tournament like this, I’m focused every hand, because I know almost everybody. I know the way they’re going to play. I know what they’re thinking. They’re trying to outplay you every hand. It’s very enjoyable to play poker like this. You’re always thinking. You’re always trying to take it to the next level. You’re always trying to think what your opponent is thinking and react to that; which makes it fun. It makes it difficult. It puts a lot more pressure on you, but it’s very exciting.
QUESTION: It’s very enjoyable and very exciting – explain what that would mean to somebody reading this later that doesn’t really understand. You got all this pressure on you. What do you mean by fun and exciting? MONNETTE: It’s just like if you were a golf fan and you get to go golf with Tiger Woods or something. It’s something that you enjoy doing; competing against the players that are the best at the game. Mostly I know these players from cash games. The World Series is the only time a lot of these guys get together and play tournaments. It’s really fun. It’s definitely a good time.
QUESTION: I want to challenge you to one thing. If you were talking to the whole world and you wanted people to know something about you, what would it be? MONNETTE: When I play poker I’m often angry and very intense. I’m always wrapped up in poker. I think that a lot of people that know me outside of poker realize I’m not always so hardcore and so angry and just focused on poker. I’m actually alright, it’s just that they know me in such a competitive mode where sometimes I come across as angry and mean, where it’s just me being super competitive.
QUESTION: In fact, that was one of the things a few people said. They were shocked that John Monnette smiled. MONNETTE: Yeah, people look at me like “Angry John,” and stuff.
QUESTION: Do you prepare yourself, where you have game face? Is there a ritual you go through especially when you get to this stage? MONNETTE: No, nothing like that. I just try to stay focused -- that’s all. QUESTION: So, you just look mean, huh? [Laughter]
QUESTION: We have a picture up on the front page of WSOP.com where you are you’re smiling and it looks really good. MONNETTE: It’s because of the bracelet, man. [Laughter]
-- by Nolan Dalla
This was Seven-Card Stud first debuted at the 1973 WSOP. Walter Clyde “Puggy” Pearson was the first-ever Seven-Card Stud champion.
Eight players in WSOP history have won two gold bracelets in Seven-Card Stud. They are Johnny Moss, Bones Berland, Marty Sigel, Ted Forrest, Mel Judah, Rod Pardey, Sr. and Men 'the Master' Nguyen.
Artie Cobb and Men “the Master” Nguyen are the only players in WSOP history who won three gold bracelets in Seven-Card Stud.
Other former Seven-Card Stud gold bracelet winners include two deceased poker legends -- Stu Ungar and Chip Reese.
Years ago, Seven-Card Stud was the most popular game in casinos on the East Coast, primarily in big poker markets including Atlantic City and Foxwoods. In fact, Seven-Card Stud games outnumbered hold'em games several times over. Some East Coast casinos did not offer Hold'em, since Seven-Card Stud was the primary game of choice. But everything in changed in 2003, most crediting (or blaming) the cosmic shift on Chris Moneymaker's WSOP victory, which instantly created millions of new players who became curious about No-Limit Hold'em. Seven-Card stud has been steadily declining in popularity ever since. However, it remains popular enough to merit inclusion on the WSOP schedule. Its close cousin - Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split, a.k.a. Eight-or-Better, is actually more popular now as a tournament game. There is some talk that Seven-Card Stud (High) appears headed for Mixed-Game formats, rather than multiple stand-alone events based on steadily-declining participation. However, since both Stud events increased slightly in attendance this year, perhaps the game will endure.
Last year’s tournament drew 126 entries. This year attendance increased by 19 players. However, the buy-in was reduced this year from $10,000 to $5,000.
Last year’s two Seven-Card Stud champions were Eugene Katchalov (from Ukraine, but now residing in US) and Bertrand Grospellier (from France). Katchalov managed to cash this year, finishing in ninth place.