When you look at Nenad Medic, you’re not going to think ‘poker player’. At a broad, built 6’3”, the man looks more like a mixed martial artist than a poker player, but beneath the thick exterior lies the lethal combination of competitive will and advanced comprehension of the nuances of the game. That’s what’s made him one of the best players in the world.
David Williams was one of a dozen professionals in attendance cheering Medic on during the final table of Sunday’s $10,000 pot limit world championship. “It’s tough to say anyone’s the best no limit cash game player in the world, but he’s definitely in the discussion. He’s one of the best cash game players there is.”
Born in Serbia, but raised in Canada from the age of five, “Big Serb” hasn’t been too shabby in tournament play either. In 2006, he won the World Poker Tour’s World Poker Finals at Foxwoods, taking home $1,717,194. In ’07, his big score was a third place finish in the same event. Now, he adds a bracelet to his trophy case, leaving little doubt he’s one of poker’s true stars. After the $794,112 he won in Event #1, his career winnings total $3,654,183. Not bad for a cash game player.
To take the title, Medic had to overcome a star-laden final table featuring a remarkable final foursome. After Phil Laak, Mike Sowers, Patrik Antonius, Chris Bell and Amit Makhija went out in order, the field was down to a remarkable collection of four players; Medic, Andy Bloch, Kathy Liebert and Mike Sexton. The four battled for hours before Sexton finally went down.
Liebert would be the next to go. In a remarkable hand, she moved all-in on the short stack on the strength of pocket sixes only to be raised by Bloch’s pocket nines. When the action the action went back to Medic on the button and he couldn't fold his pocket queens, moved all-in himself, then after Bloch called, hit a queen on the flop.
“Most of the players were excellent. There were only one or two guys I didn’t know and they were internet geniuses. Obviously it was a very tough final table,” said Liebert after her elimination. “I mean, you always want to get first but to come in to the day eighth in chips and move up and get third is pretty good. I knew I had a shot to win it, so it’s bittersweet, but I feel good about the performance.”
With Liebert gone, Medic held a better-than 2:1 advantage in chips and never relinquished it. For Bloch, the second-place finish has to be bittersweet, as he remains one of the world’s best-established tournament players to have never won a WSOP bracelet. Bloch had come into the day as a massive chip leader and held the advantage through the entirety of final table play until the three-way pot eliminating Liebert left him behind the eight ball. Despite the heads-up prowess demonstrated by his NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship runner-up finish, Bloch was unable to reverse the tide, once again leaving him the bridesmaid. The $488,048 he got for second should ease his pain.
In the end, this night was about Medic. Whilst basking in the glow of his victory, Medic was still thoughtful and collected in his thoughts. “There are a lot of great players who don’t have a bracelet like my man Grinder (Michael Mizrachi, who was in attendance for moral support). It means a lot, but the bracelet doesn’t make the player. The Foxwoods win was a lot of money, but this was probably a tougher field, I don’t know. They’re both great honors.”
Asked afterwards about the money, Medic said something about a new car, but was hardly ready to sit on his laurels. “I'm coming back tomorrow (to play in event #4, $5,000 - Mixed Hold'em (Limit/No-Limit). Hopefully, I will get gold bracelet number two. I'm not going to be satisfied until I get gold bracelet number three, but of course, I have to be realistic. I'm joking of course…just to make it to a final table is tough enough."
Gary Wise is covering the WSOP all summer for WorldSeriesofPoker.com, espn.com/poker and in his blog at www.wisehandpoker.net.