John Racener plays his cards right, pockets $5.5 million
TAMPA – When John Racener was a teen his mother gave him $50 so he could start playing poker online.
He soon turned that into $30,000.
Six years later, that seems like chump change.
The longtime Port Richey resident finished second Monday in the no-limit Texas Hold ‘em main event at the World Series of Poker, taking home $5.55 million.
For Racener, a 24-year-old Dunedin native, just getting to the final table in Las Vegas was a dream come true.
He started playing poker for fun with his family as a youngster and was introduced to online poker years later by a friend, according to the World Series of Poker’s media guide. Prior to this week’s finish, he had more than $700,000 in combined World Series of Poker and World Series of Poker Circuit earnings.
The main event tournament started July 5, with 7,319 players paying $10,000 to enter. The last nine players remaining played at a final table and each was guaranteed to earn at least $811,000.
Jonathan Duhamel, a poker professional from Quebec, bested Racener to take first place and $8.94 million.
“I could never get anything going,” Racener, a Ridgewood High School graduate, said of the last hand. “It was unfortunate and he played it well.”
Tampa lawyer Tim Taylor, who placed 91st in the 2008 main event, said Racener is an aggressive player.
“He knows what you have just by your betting pattern,” Taylor said. “He has a very good feel for the table. He knows when people are weak; he knows when people are strong.”