Meet poker pro John Racener of Tampa

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By Christopher Cosenza

Age: He turns 23 this month.

Nickname: Spikey, though he goes by JMONEY in some circles.

Hometown: He lives in the Channelside area of Tampa (“Just having fun at a young age,” he says), though he went to school at Ridgewood High in New Port Richey and played baseball for the Rams.

Where he plays poker: Mainly online at PokerStars (screen name on Stars is $30K and he once won the site’s $500K guaranteed tournament), though he has accounts on all the major sites. He cashed in one of the recent WCOOP second-chance events for $11K and he played in September’s Pros vs. Joes H.O.R.S.E. event at One-Eyed Jacks in Sarasota. “I’ve been getting into H.O.R.S.E. lately” he said. “So I thought I’d go down there and give it a shot.”

Favorite game: He’s by no means a no-limit hold’em specialist. He loves pot-limit Omaha. Racener made the final table at this year’s World Series of Poker’s $2,500 Omaha-Stud/8 event and as numerous PLO cashes in major events. With three cashes each in the WSOP and World Poker Tour, the self-taught poker pro has amassed more than $1 million in live tournament winnings, and that’s just since December 2006.

Favorite hold’em hand: {5-Clubs}{5-Spades}

How long has he been playing? He says he started playing online when he was 17 or 18, though he officially turned pro on his 21st birthday. And what a birthday that was. When asked what his favorite moment in his career is, here’s what he had to say “On my 21st birthday that was Day 1 of the WSOP $5K circuit event at Harrah’s (in Atlantic City). I ended up winning it. … well, I did a three-way chop (for $103K), and then the next year I won the same tournament in a three-way chop again on my birthday (for $379K). Basically everyone tells me I should just go to that tournament once a year. (laughing) I’d be up $300K a year, and be set. ‘Stay home, go to the beach and then go out to that tournament every year,’ that’s what they say.”

How he feels about Florida’s restrictive limits: “I hate it so much. They moved up to the higher limits at Hard Rock at one point and I happened to be in Vegas at the time for two weeks. So that really sucked. I heard it was really good, like $10-$25 no-limit or whatever. But I go up there now and it’s just boring. I go there and it’s just a social thing, like maybe get a drink before you go out or something. It’s not even competitive or anything in my opinion. … Then again, if you go out to Vegas, it could get dangerous. You could lose a lot of money within a year’s span and then be back home. So right now I’m just hanging around here and just traveling around the circuit to WPT events, and stuff.”

More on Florida poker: “I don’t understand why they don’t have $5-$10 NL and stuff. I think they should have $5-$10… nothing big like $1,500 no-limit, nothing like that because I don’t think it will draw big enough, but maybe $5-$10 no-limit with a $1,000 max buy-in, which is standard. That’s how it is online and that’d be good. Nobody would get hurt.”