Player Down: Miami John Cernuto Falls from Table

by , Jun 23, 2009 | 6:58 pm

The $2,500 Razz event came to an abrupt halt today when Miami John Cernuto collapsed at the table. Apparently action was on him, at first people thought he was asleep, and then someone said I don’t think he’s breathing … at which point they kinda poked him, and he fell to the ground felt.

Tournament officials stopped the clock and cleared the area while paramedics rushed to attend to him. No official medical report yet, but it appeared to be a heart attack. However, in the end, about 40 minutes later, he appeared to be OK. Like an injured athlete being carried off the field of play, Cernuto waved to the crowd and received an ovation as he left the Brasilia room and was calling someone on his cell phone en route to the hospital.

Pokerati was there to try to show how a major tournament handles such incidents — and though we know this matter isn’t about “us”, we apologize for the unclear photographs snapped before being expelled from the premises for trying to bring you the story:


Also apologies to those — all of you, as far as I can tell — who think publishing something like this is “inappropriate”. I respectfully disagree and welcome the debate on how much “reality” poker people should see.

Cernuto’s stack remains in play — about 14,000, making him one of the shortest stacks with 49 players remaining (out of 315) and 32 getting paid.

UPDATE: Word from Miami John on his health situation and recovery. (It wasn’t a heart attack.)


74 Comments to “Player Down: Miami John Cernuto Falls from Table”


  1. Easycure
    says:

    There is no such thing as good reporting or bad reporting. If you call it like you see it, it’s just reporting. If you call it like you see it and then change it to fit your agenda, it’s op-ed.

    You reported it, and well.


  2. BJ Nemeth
    says:

    It’s definitely newsworthy, and I would have no shame in reporting this. It directly affected the tournament, and if it’s not in the official updates, then they are being deceptive. (I haven’t checked, but I’m sure it’s in the official updates.)

    The moral question isn’t “Should this be reported?” The question is “Should you take and/or publish photographs of the incident?”

    In my opinion, the photographs add nothing to the story, other than the fact that you were abruptly asked to stop shooting pictures and nearly removed from the premises. But at that point, the story is about you, and not about Miami John Cernuto.

    Even if you had gotten a clear photo of Cernuto on the ground, I’m not sure it adds anything to the story.

    If I were on the premises (I wasn’t), I would have taken plenty of photos, but I would have focused on the fact that they cleared that part of room. I might have taken photos of the media watching, or the players out in the hall talking about it. But I wouldn’t have pointed my camera at Cernuto.

    Having said that, I think that’s a personal call. I wouldn’t photograph Cernuto there, but I don’t fault you for trying to get the shot. Publishing the photos here, however, fail to add anything to the story in my opinion. (They might attract links and web traffic; however, that wouldn’t factor into my decision.)


  3. Poker Shrink
    says:

    I’m way on the other side of this Dan. I get it when a wide receiver goes down or someone is beaned with a baseball. But this is poker, it’s not a sport and anyone in this situation deserves his or her dignity and privacy. Paparazzi you are not or are you?


  4. BJ Nemeth
    says:

    Thinking on it a bit more, this post would have been much better served with a stock photo of Miami John Cernuto, giving everyone a clear idea of exactly who you’re talking about.


  5. DanM
    says:

    I woulda liked to have taken a photograph of him heroically waving to the crowd. But I did not get that opportunity. All I got was a blurry shot of people saving someone’s life. Still, I will contend saving a life mid-Razz tourney is something people would like to see.

    You guys can say what you want about dignity and privacy … I just try to share with people what I am looking at. And if you don’t think I would use discretion in which shots get published … well, they can handle that after-the-fact but before publication.

    I will always stand up to anyone who gets thuggishly tough trying to suddenly be my editor.

    And this “private property” argument they love to throw out there … sorry, I’ve researched Nevada law on this — the WSOP is a public event.

    But hey, I backed off. I know when I am dealing with someone not intelligent enough to understand the concept of the First Amendment, LOL.

    (OK, I swear I’m off tilt. Maybe not.)


  6. BJ Nemeth
    says:

    The WSOP is clearly within its rights to escort you out of the room for taking photos. “Freedom of the Press” has no bearing on this incident whatsoever. Reread the First Amendment, Dan, because the key phrase is “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” Notice how it doesn’t say anything about what the media is allowed to do or not to do — it’s about what *Congress* is allowed to do and not do.

    But the thing people usually overlook when talking about what’s legal and what isn’t is this — it rarely gets to that point.

    You tried to take photos, and they tried to stop you. Nobody deleted the photos off your camera, there was no violence, and nobody ended up in jail — there were no damages done, which basically rules out a civil suit as well. The incident is over, but if something happens again, the exact same scenario will play out — you’ll try to take photos, and they’ll try to stop you.

    So what’s your recourse? To sue them? Good luck. It’d be a silly case that would cost you a lot of money in lawyer’s fees with little to no chance of victory. What would you be suing for, exactly? Of course, before the case ever saw a courtroom, you could kiss your WSOP media credentials goodbye forever. So it’d be a losing proposition for you either way.

    If you wanted the photo of Cernuto waving heroically to the crowd, you should have stood by respectfully with your camera down and your lens cap on. Nobody would have paid you any notice. Then, if that shot becomes available, you take it.


  7. DanM
    says:

    BJ, excellent point about the mugshot. I have added one. And fair enough putting me in my place on my high-minded principles. Seriously, I may be getting a bit carried away.

    No, it’s not a matter of suing or violence or anything like that. I knew I got three frames off, hoped they weren’t blurry, and chose to pick a different battle. I could tell what I was up against …

    I definitely coulda done a better job getting the shot I was looking for.

    The bottom line is that I have been authorized to take photographs in the tournament area, I was doing that, and sorry, but some security guard is never going to stand in my way, and some floorman that I’ve heard be a short-tempered pro-biased tourney official does not have the authority in my mind to prevent me from doing my “job” unless I am getting in the way of him doing his.

    Save the editorial opinions and what’s in the interests of our hosts here on this private property for after I get the shot but before I publish it.


  8. Kevin Mathers
    says:

    Change100 doing the updates for PokerNews did note that the tournament was stopped because of an emergency and that it was Miami John as the player affected.


  9. DanM
    says:

    **Publishing the photos here, however, fail to add anything to the story in my opinion.***

    I will leave that to the readers. I think even these blurry shots give a sense of the controlled mayhem that took place, and how people responded to it. And if I am wrong, they are welcome to stop coming to Pokerati for a taste of how things really shake down in the poker world.


  10. BJ Nemeth
    says:

    “The bottom line is that I have been authorized to take photographs in the tournament area, I was doing that, and sorry, but some security guard is never going to stand in my way, and some floorman that I’ve heard be a short-tempered pro-biased tourney official does not have the authority in my mind to prevent me from doing my “job” unless I am getting in the way of him doing his.”

    Actually, your own words and photos prove that a security guard *did* stop you.

    And the fact that you’re using not-relevant-to-this-situation adjectives to describe the floorperson proves to me that you’re still on tilt about it too.


  11. BJ Nemeth
    says:

    “I will leave that to the readers.”

    No, that’s an editorial decision, and you made it on your own. And that’s the way it should be. (It’s your site, after all.)

    If you truly “left it to the readers,” you would have taken a poll asking everyone whether or not you should publish the photos, and then acted on the results of the poll.


  12. Vinny B.
    says:

    This is something I see both sides of. Not that I think you did anything wrong, I would have personally used (and preferred) the stock photo.

    I will pray for his health tonight.


  13. Vinny B.
    says:

    And by the way, your headline is unnecesary and isn’t funny, witty, or clever.


  14. Pauly
    says:

    You should change the name of your site to …. Pokerazzi.


  15. California Jen
    says:

    Let’s say first that I never went to journalism school or reported on anything before poker. My technical journo knowledge is limited. I’d like to think that my opinion on this comes from common sense, but that’s subject to debate.

    If one player punched another, that warrants photos. If you witnessed two players screaming at each other over a hand and one collapsed, that might warrant a photo – if taken at the moment it happened. Those are newsworthy stories that warrant photos to document the series of events.

    When a person collapses from a medical problem – one that has yet to be diagnosed – and is lying on the ground in a half-state of consciousness and an unflattering position, that is news. But photography was tactless, in my opinion. Those of us who know John and care about him know that the photos would be embarrassing to him, and the only concern at that moment was if he was going to be okay. Anyone who couldn’t muster up the compassion to simply look at the scene out of concern should have walked away.

    Just because you can get a photo of a guy on the floor possibly having a heart attack (which is a complete guess on your part, by the way), doesn’t mean you have to take that photo. Even journalists can have a little compassion.


  16. BJ Nemeth
    says:

    For the record, I have no problem with the title of this post. Yes, “player down” has multiple meanings, but it doesn’t strike me as a bad pun or a jokey phrase. It’s a straightforward, descriptive title, and I think it’s fine.


  17. California Jen
    says:

    Personally, I’m not fond of “player down” because it makes me think that the situation is worse than it is. But I won’t take a major stand on the issue. The wording of the title of this post is minor in the scheme of it.


  18. BJ Nemeth
    says:

    I agree, Jen, but part of the purpose of a headline is to attract the reader’s attention. If it raises the apparent stakes a little bit (as it might in this case), I have no problem with it, as long as it doesn’t mislead the reader as to what actually happened. And I don’t think there’s anything misleading in this title — he did, after all, fall down from the table.


  19. DanM
    says:

    **And the fact that you’re using not-relevant-to-this-situation adjectives to describe the floorperson proves to me that you’re still on tilt about it too.***

    Definitely right. AND, to make matters worse, I have since learned it wasn’t a lead floor guy who was trying to stop me — it was lead security.

    As you all know, I’ll stand up for all I say and do — and retract when necessary — and at this moment, I feel I started to get a little too personal for calling a guy “thuggish” when he was just doing his job, as I was trying to do mine.

    But really, this story shouldn’t be about me or Pokerati. It should be about Miami John, his medical condition, and maybe how tournament operations handled the situation.


  20. BJ Nemeth
    says:

    Now that I think about it some more, the title doesn’t raise the stakes at all. Miami John fell down, and from the sound of things (reading multiple sources), he was down for a while before being removed from the room on a stretcher and taken to a hospital.

    If anything, the title makes me think the situation was far more benign than it actually was.


  21. DanM
    says:

    Sigh … you guys are really picking me apart for doing something others either lacked the courage or weakness of character to do. Regardless, yes, if I could re-think it, I would have gone with a less snarky hedline.

    But all this had to be fast. I didn’t publish the pic immediately for the sake of being a traffic whore exploiting someone else’s calamity … in fact, if I wanted to do that, it probably woulda served my purposes by holding off the photo for a day or more. (Benjo’s suggestion, and a good one.)

    But as I saw it, with so many cell phones snapping pics, Daniel Negreanu twittering about a “heart attack” before the paramedics even arrived … it was a reminder to me of why there is a need for someone with a journalistic sense about them to filter through it all for the sake of presenting facts.

    OK, seriously, I’ll get off my self-righteous soapbox on this. But it really does touch on bigger 21st century (social) media issues.


  22. California Jen
    says:

    Dan, are you really saying that because I chose not to take a photo of a guy who was experiencing a medical emergency that I’m weak and lack courage?

    Seriously?

    And you’re saying that Daniel twittered about a “heart attack” before paramedics arrived, but you posted the same thing – that it was an apparent heart attack. Pure speculation without having even seen him fall or what symptoms led up to it.

    I should probably step away from this issue right now.


  23. DanM
    says:

    No Jen, definitely not. If anyone should step away, it should be me. My game is clearly not “tight” at the moment.

    I’m saying courage or weakness depending on how you look at it. Some people would see the people who like to run into fires as courageous. Others see it as exploitive papparazzi-ish stuff, and therefor a character weakness.

    If anyone has handled the situation well it has been you, reporting actual info one-off from Cernuto himself — clarifying matters instead of making them more cloudy.

    As to the difference between non-journo twitters about a “heart attack” and my reporting that it “appeared to be a heart attack” with the disclosure that this was not an official medical diagnosis … well yes, that’s what they teach us in J-school — how to use apparently, supposedly, and reportedly to be technically correct.

    Meanwhile, we are still writing about it, sorting through the info, trying to bring more clarity to the matter. Daniel, as he should be, is back to twittering about poker hands.

    (And just to be clear, I am NOT knocking @RealKidPoker here for simply twittering what he was seeing. I’m just saying that there is a purpose for “journalists” even in a twitterfied world.)


  24. Anonymous
    says:

    I sort of voiced my opinion on this at the time, but I still think it’s ultimately Dan’s call.

    I’m in BJ’s corner here, but probably for the wrong reasons. Had this been a no-name player, or even a not-so-liked player, I probably wouldn’t have been too upset by it. But since it’s a player that I find to be an extremely nice, great guy, I suddenly took exception to it. Maybe that’s hypocritical, but I don’t really care.

    John probably wouldn’t admit to it, but he’s always struck me as a prideful guy and these photos are just plain embarrassing. Not necessarily demeaning, but I don’t think he’d laugh these off.

    I took an informal poll of the media around me and most agreed that the photos weren’t necessary. Those that were for the photos were all first-year reporters and had never met John personally.


  25. Poker Shrink
    says:

    How about a compromise. No more posts tonight. Tomorrow cooling heads and all that. . .


  26. DigDeeporDie
    says:

    As a random passerby that just happens to be following along, I feel that posting photos of a pro player in a state of weakness is perhaps somewhat rude, and potentially damaging to that player. I’m sure a photographer has every right to take compromising photos of stuff in their “journalastic area”, but I care more about what actually ends up on the neato website.


  27. BJ Nemeth
    says:

    DAN SAID — “I’m saying courage or weakness depending on how you look at it. Some people would see the people who like to run into fires as courageous.”

    BJ SAYS — Are you talking about firefighters? I don’t think any of them “like” to run into fires, but regardless, I don’t think anyone can question their bravery for doing so.

    There is no courage in grabbing a camera to shoot something like this, unless you’re talking about the fact that you’re risking your media pass to do so. But I don’t think endangering their credentials is what stopped others in the media from taking photos.

    DAN SAID — “As to the difference between non-journo twitters about a “heart attack” and my reporting that it “appeared to be a heart attack” with the disclosure that this was not an official medical diagnosis … well yes, that’s what they teach us in J-school — how to use apparently, supposedly, and reportedly to be technically correct.”

    BJ SAYS — Daniel provided a first-person account of the situation, which is extremely valuable in journalism. No, that first-person account doesn’t tell the entire story, but eyewitness reports are definitely part of it.

    For my money, the most important part of being a journalist isn’t the ability to use words like “apparently” and “supposedly,” it’s the ability to find and report the facts.

    Instead of grabbing your camera and clashing with security, you could have hovered nearby, paying close attention to everything that was going on (eyes and ears), and then asked those involved for more information when it was appropriate. Once you have a clear picture of the situation, report it. *That’s* journalism.

    I feel like I’m picking on Dan here, and I don’t like doing that. Dan is one of the best journalists we have in the poker media, and I really respect him and his journalistic standards. He digs for facts, and he questions his sources. When it comes to journalism, I only disagree with Dan on a few small things — photos like these, and his First Amendment claims to media rights in a public/private event. (Which we’ve debated before.)

    DAN SAID — “But really, this story shouldn’t be about me or Pokerati. It should be about Miami John, his medical condition, and maybe how tournament operations handled the situation.”

    BJ SAYS – How the WSOP staff handled the situation is definitely worth reporting and discussing. But so far, I haven’t seen any information about how they handled it, other than the fact that they stopped you from taking photos.

    What did the first responders do when it happened? How long did it take for paramedics to arrive? Were the paramedics part of the Rio staff, or from a hospital?How long did they treat him before wheeling him out on a gurney? How long was the tournament action suspended? What happened to Miami John’s chip stack, and the hand in play when it happened?

    Some of the best reporting I’ve seen on this subject has been from Change100, doing the official live reporting on that event for PokerNews.com. (And she credits some of her information to California Jen and Kevin Mathers of Pokerati.) I think Change100 handled the situation perfectly from a live updates perspective — I couldn’t have done a better job myself. (Which, as anyone who knows me can attest, is the highest praise I can give to a tournament poker reporter.)


  28. DanM
    says:

    ***Those that were for the photos were all first-year reporters and had never met John personally.***

    Ouch, anon! And though normally I would discredit you based on your anon-ness, I do know who you are and understand your reasons for going nameless.

    I’ve never met Miami John either — though I think I might have played him on the Playstation a few times. Everything I hear about him is that he’s a delightful, wonderful, friendly guy.

    My only ethical standards are that I will write (or photograph) whatever I want, but will never do so if I’m not willing to look the subject (or their family) in the eye and say the same things. I will have no problems sitting face-to-face discussing this with Cernuto once he has recovered, and giving him his say (and my apologies) if I goofed. Believe me, I’m very familiar with the concept of make-good. Likewise for the security guy I scuffled with — I recognize he was just doing his job.

    BJ, of course, always keeps me in check — tune in to The Poker Beat! — and in this case I will not call him an idiot for doing so. He makes some strong points that I will think about for a long time as I grapple with the differences between covering poker and war.


  29. BJ Nemeth
    says:

    DAN SAID — “My only ethical standards are that I will write (or photograph) whatever I want, but will never do so if I’m not willing to look the subject (or their family) in the eye and say the same things. I will have no problems sitting face-to-face discussing this with Cernuto once he has recovered, and giving him his say (and my apologies) if I goofed.”

    BJ SAYS – Actually, that’s a pretty good standard. I try to follow a similar ethic when I’m posting in forums or here in Pokerati’s comment thread. My goal is to never write something online that I wouldn’t be willing to tell that person face-to-face.

    That’s when I’m writing from a personal account, whether it’s a forum post or my Twitter feed. When I’m writing an article or doing tournament live updates, I have a different set of standards. (Which I won’t go into here.)


  30. Anonymous
    says:

    Whoops, obviously didn’t mean to compare Dan to a first-year intern. Just meant to point out that those who know John were less likely to agree about the photos.


  31. Robert Goldfarb
    says:

    Your little strike-through conversations you love to have with yourself when you publish articles are sometimes funny, mostly boring, but in this case utterly disrespectful. Striking out that he fell to the ground and replacing it with he fell to the felt in your cutesy tone is simply horrible. Why not just edit the article and correct the ‘mistake?’ Miami John is a human being, not just an opportunity to get attention. I hope I am wrong, but it sure seems like you are having fun at his expense.


  32. DanM
    says:

    Robert, gah … no, I’m not trying to be snarky. I’m trying to be accurate and not “submarine” edit to imply I got everything right on first go.

    The process of gathering news as it happens can be messy business.


  33. Allan
    says:

    Dan, I have to say that my respect for pokerati shrunk quite a bit after this post.
    Especially the way you are still defending publishing the photos and worse of all your strike-through editing of the text.
    Forgive me, but this is bush-league and you (should) know better.


  34. Johnny Hughes
    says:

    This too will pass. Writers need to stick together. The First Amendment has both the letter of the law, and the spirit.

    If you are totally against censorship, then you are against it on the things you do not like, as well as the things you like.

    I’m looking at all the good things Dan has done.


  35. DanM
    says:

    LOL, this is not the comment I was looking/hoping for, Johnny. But thanks for your support.


  36. Johnny Hughes
    says:

    Perception of the pictures is different for those at the Rio working as reporters, and those who are readers/viewers.

    I see a group scene, with a man on the floor. It does not show a closeup or his face. The picture shows the area cleared, and officials standing around. It does also show that no one is leaning over Miami John.

    I do think poker is a sport. It is covered, and reported as a sport.

    I have seen a similar group scene on television in football, basketball, boxing, soccer, baseball, and every televised sport. If he had been left alone, Dan would have the uplifting picture of the man waving to the crowd. Where is that picture? Who took it? If Dan had a group of pictures to select from, it would have been different.


  37. Kevin Mathers
    says:

    Just to note my role, all I did was give Change100 a link to Jen’s article, she certainly deserves full credit for the reporting she’s done regarding Miami John’s status.


  38. George
    says:

    So what if nobody had reported it… Then next tournament he does the same thing at the table and people just think hes sleeping and he dies from not getting treatment? He is allowed to report news, this is a free country for at least the next couple of months.


  39. Roxci Rhodes
    says:

    I spoke with John. He is feeling much better. He is appreciative of everyones “well wishes.” He did not have a “heart attack.” They are doing some tests but it doesn’t appear to be serious. He will be back to the tables soon.


  40. Zero
    says:

    So I just read this whole thread of comments. Seems like everyone is trying to rationalize how they thought the situation should have been handled.

    What if he was poisened or otherwise put down by someone else? What if it was Russ Hamilton? What if he was faking it? Would you all feel the same way about the it should be reported? Silly? Probably so. But just because he was a nice guy or the details of what happened shouldn’t factor into how its reported IMO.

    Everyone seems to be more concerned about not being tasteful, or not being rude, or trying not to hurt someones feelings than just reporting the facts.

    Some people perfer the facts be delivered via sensors (ie the current Iran situation), some people perfer raw unedited facts through any means neccessary, and other people want something in between.

    We all choose our news sources for our own personal reasons, if you don’t like the way “news” is reported at one place, you always have options.

    I personally perfer photos of the scene, good bad or indifferent. Photos tell more of a story than any reporter.


  41. Ed
    says:

    Photos are fine to an extent. When it gets out of hand like at the Princess Diana wreck then I have issues. Snap a shot or two of the scene you will be describing then get out of the way so people can help those in need.


  42. Brian G.
    says:

    I agree with the guys above who think the headline is improper.


  43. Dave
    says:

    I think Dan was right to try and take photos. I would have done the same.

    This is a public event and news reporters have a right to do their job unhindered by security staff.

    Whether such pictures should be published is another debate.

    Although people say he is a nice guy, my initial reaction was that, to be fair, he looks a little out of condition and possibly not in a proper physical state to be playing high pressure poker. That might sound cruel but probably only what his own physician would tell him.


  44. BJ Nemeth
    says:

    ZERO SAID — “What if he was poisened or otherwise put down by someone else? What if it was Russ Hamilton? What if he was faking it? Would you all feel the same way about the it should be reported? Silly? Probably so. But just because he was a nice guy or the details of what happened shouldn’t factor into how its reported IMO.

    Some people perfer the facts be delivered via sensors (ie the current Iran situation), some people perfer raw unedited facts through any means neccessary, and other people want something in between.”

    BJ SAYS — I assure you that my thoughts on this issue would be the same whether it was Miami John, Russ Hamilton, Doyle Brunson, Joe Sebok, or some random 35-year-old player I’ve never even heard of. They would also be the same whether he collapsed due to health reasons, poison, or being stabbed by another player. That has nothing to do with my opinion on this issue.

    FYI, there wasn’t *any* censorship here, either. Stopping someone from taking photos is *not* censorship!

    Dan, did anyone from the WSOP staff ask you to delete the photos that you had already taken? Did anyone from the WSOP staff ask you not to write about this? *That* would be an attempt at censorship.

    Stopping you from taking photos, escorting you out of the room, or even stripping you of your media credentials — none of these things amounts to censorship. It’s a very important distinction that shouldn’t be muddled or thrown around lightly. (Same with the First Amendment, which doesn’t apply here either.)

    Censorship is when you have information and/or photos that you would like to publish, and someone in authority tries to stop you. Stopping you from getting the information in the first place is *not* censorship.


  45. BJ Nemeth
    says:

    DAVE SAID: “This is a public event and news reporters have a right to do their job unhindered by security staff. Whether such pictures should be published is another debate.”

    BJ SAYS: Show me something — anything — that says that news reporters have that right. I’m looking for something in U.S. law or the WSOP media guidelines. And no, the First Amendment doesn’t say that.


  46. BJ Nemeth
    says:

    GEORGE SAID — “So what if nobody had reported it… Then next tournament he does the same thing at the table and people just think hes sleeping and he dies from not getting treatment? He is allowed to report news, this is a free country for at least the next couple of months.”

    BJ SAYS — As far as I can tell, nobody ever asked Dan not to report this, and nobody in this comment thread complained about Dan reporting this. If you read the official live updates at WSOP.com, the situation was reported there as well. (And quite well, I might add.)

    To suggest that Miami John’s life would be somehow be at risk if Dan didn’t write about it at Pokerati is actually more absurd than Dan’s comment that his situation is comparable to the protests in Iran. I didn’t think that was possible, so kudos there.

    The issue being debated here is whether or not Dan, as a journalist, should have taken and published those photos, and whether or not the WSOP staff should have restricted him from taking those photos.


  47. Poker Shrink
    says:

    Patients never take the advice of their doctors.


  48. scott diamond
    says:

    I have found that people in this Country Love photos like Dan was trying to take whether “tasteless” or not.

    Look at the profits the National Enquirer makes! But the question Dan has raised is how the Rio staff acted while he was trying to take pictures.

    Our society has changed, look at the pictures the paparazzi are taking each and every day and selling to TV shows like TMZ, people want this sort of thing. Me personally, I don’t read or watch magazines or shows like that, but thousands of others do.

    I will use a very strong analogy here, “gestapo techniques” threats of banning from premises etc.

    It was the way they contacted Dan that has his panties all twisted and I can see why he is upset and venting on his site.

    I think as in any sporting event there is always medical personnel on the premises. This situation that Dan has received a lot of press on, may in the long run be good for those who attend the WSOP by them having EMT personnel in the Amazon, Brasilia and Miranda rooms in the future, do to the vast amount of players in attendance.

    I hope this does not become a huge discussion on the Poker Beat this week between BJ who has posted some great responses here as usual. I would like them to discuss why there is no medical personnel on the premises in hopes the powers to be at the WSOP make a change ASAP.

    Forty plus responses in this thread show it is an important issue and the different opinions here are what make sites like these great to read.

    The biggest Poker Tournament is just a few days away and there are going to be thousands of players and spectators in the Rio. This tirade of Dan’s may save a future life!

    Dan if it were not Miami John, who I know very well and have shared some stories with just last week and is a very nice person,would you have treated it the same way?

    I wonder if the Rio would of treated you the same way, say if it were me or any other no name.


  49. BJ Nemeth
    says:

    Let me state this again, very clearly — the WSOP has *not* suppressed this story.

    Dan was not some “lone wolf” reporter, the only one with the guts to publish this story. The Miami John incident was described EVERYWHERE, from Twitter to Wicked Chops to Tao of Poker to the official live updates at WSOP.com.

    The debate in this thread is about the photos, and only the photos. Dan’s attempt to take them, and security’s attempt to stop him. That’s it.


  50. California Jen
    says:

    I agree, BJ. The only issue here is the photos – taking them and using them.

    There is no question that the Rio was prepared for the medical emergency. There were techs on the scene immediately with the security personnel, and the ambulance/paramedics arrived as quickly as possible, it seemed. There are medical personnel at the Rio, including at the WSOP, just in case situations like this arise. I don’t think there is any question about the casino’s readiness for this today or during the main event.

    And would they treat his case like any other player, known or not? Of course! C’mon…


  51. scott diamond
    says:

    BJ Nemeth said, The debate in this thread is about the photos, and only the photos. Dan’s attempt to take them, and security’s attempt to stop him. That’s it.

    Scott Diamond said, I wonder if the Rio would of treated you the same way, say if it were me or any other no name.

    Also I think the debate should be how the Personnel of the Rio acted.

    Was it proper? Or overboard. I think if the rio security and floor would of said in a normal tone. Sir, please step back no photos right now professionally to dan he would not be this upset.

    I have had to deal with bigger situations like this in my career and I always try depending on the siyuation to talk professionaly. Now when i am dealing with a bunch of gangsters in Compton, well it’s different, or in an an emergent situation such as the Metrolink crash last September or the MacArthur Park riots but those are different types of individuals and situations.

    This is the Rio not the Ghetto


  52. scott diamond
    says:

    Jen I am talking regarding taking the pictures, not how the medical staff responded.


  53. California Jen
    says:

    Wow. Wow. Wow. This is a discussion for another place and another time, but the “ghetto” (however you define that word) and the Rio should be treated exactly the same way. Anything else is called discrimination.


  54. Ed
    says:

    Has the Rio changed? When I visited LV back in ’98 and went to the Rio it felt very ghetto-y.


  55. scott diamond
    says:

    Ok Jen one of these days you will have to go on a ride along with me to see what I am talking about, I have never discriminated against ANYONE it’s just a different world and you cannot be using “SIR” when dealing with certain individuals( true gang members) you will get no respect


  56. DanM
    says:

    Actually every member of the media, poker or otherwise, should go on a police ride-along. Awesome, eye-opening experience.


  57. BJ Nemeth
    says:

    How is it relevant to someone in the poker media? Unless you’re arguing that *everyone* should go on a police ride-along, media or not.

    But then you’re caught up in the trap of all sorts of things — Everyone should see “The Godfather.” Everyone should see the Grand Canyon. Everyone should witness the miracle of child birth. Everyone should backpack across Europe. Everyone should learn a foreign language. Everyone should …


  58. DanM
    says:

    ***Everyone should see “The Godfather.” Everyone should see the Grand Canyon. Everyone should witness the miracle of child birth. Everyone should backpack across Europe. Everyone should learn a foreign language.***

    I agree with all of the above.


  59. scott diamond
    says:

    Wow what happened to all the Love?

    I think what Dan is trying to say, media is media whether Poker or TV,Papers etc.

    Anything that educates someone on anything has to be good, right?


  60. DanM
    says:

    yes, and i went on my first of many ride-alongs in high school … forever changed my life. taught me not to believe what i see on the news, and in general that there’s always another story behind someone’s life.

    also taught me that gunfire is something to run to, not away from. (though you should, of course, duck.)


  61. DanM
    says:

    with that said, i probably shouldn’t tell Deputy Diamond that the rest of my education came from Compton-based gangsta rap.


  62. scott diamond
    says:

    Not to change the topic here, But thank you Dan for understanding. I just had my 23rd anniversary Sunday as a LA County Deputy Sheriff. I have been shot, stabbed,spit on hit, kicked plus hospitalized along with 5 surgeries (all in the last 5 years)One citizen complaint.

    I may not be a professional in the Poker world(media or Player) but I do ok in my world.(Law Enforcement and Daddy) :)


  63. scott diamond
    says:

    Funny you should say that Dan, oh by the way I have a few pictures of me doing my job..There hanging on the wall at Compton station!

    Anytime you want to go on a ride here, let me know


  64. Robert Goldfarb
    says:

    Dan, get real. You don’t display your strike-through snarkery every time you have a typo. You seem to be okay with editing those secretly, submarine or whatever you want to call it. They ONLY appear when you are trying to be funny or make a point. You might be fooling yourself, but you aren’t fooling the readers.


  65. Poker Shrink
    says:

    2+2 or Pokerati? Hard to tell in this thread.

    Dan supports Iranian fundamentalists! I can tell because he thinks freedom depends on photographs that tell the truth.

    Off with his head or buy him a beer, there appears to be no middle ground. Now back to Fox News, I mean CNN.


  66. DanM
    says:

    OK, where to begin …

    1. Ed, I think we may need numbered comments on Pokerati.

    2. To be clear, the WSOP in no way tried to *censor* me, though I did get pulled aside for a talking to that would leave me feeling really guilty had things turned out differently.

    3. The Rio security guy was just doing his job, even though I dispute his interpretation of his duties just as he disputes my interpretation of mine. I did not realize who he was, btw — thought he was a floor guy — and thus did not properly respect his authority and owe him an apology for that. However, I’ve always been more of a question-authority kinda guy anyhow. And because I was outside the ropes, not in them, I felt (and still feel) that my rights as a public citizen at a public event were in play.

    4. Yes, the WSOP is a public event, despite it’s being on private property. Though I know laws vary by state — and I am researching them further to update my own knowledge — I did find this ( http://www.citmedialaw.org/blog ):

    In the 1940s, the Supreme Court took on the issue of “company towns” with regard to the First Amendment. Although the company town was private property owned by the company, the fact that it had been opened up to use by the public generally made it subject to the constitutional requirements of the First Amendment. Marsh v. Alabama, 326 U.S. 501 (1946).

    While obv not the end-all-be-all in relevant case law, it is that “one thing” BJ refers to, and a starting point for future conversations. Many such laws will likely be challenged in the coming decade+ as the courts figure out how to handle a twitterfied citizenry that has the ability to insta-publish.

    4. ***Dan was not some “lone wolf” reporter, the only one with the guts to publish this story. The Miami John incident was described EVERYWHERE, from Twitter to Wicked Chops to Tao of Poker to the official live updates at WSOP.com. ***

    With the appropriate disclaimer that I highly respect what BJ says and does … BJ, everything you photograph is covered EVERYWHERE. Are you saying that your photos have no relevance? You know they do, no matter how many people report on the same things.

    5. Let’s not forget, this is not the first time Pokerati has published a photo of a player on the ground in a similar position. Remember Eskimo Clark ’07? I ran into the same resistance trying to take that photo — only it was given by official WSOP photogs, not security. Obviously that was a who-are-you-get-the-fug-outta-my-way situation; I am happy that I have made peace with one of the principals I scuffled with that day, and don’t lose any sleep over the fact that the other guy and Eskimo won’t give me the time of day ever since.

    6. Who it was on the ground and why makes no difference to me. Though if it were Tom Schneider lying on the floor, I probably woulda fought even harder to keep photographing as much as I could. And that is kinda the issue(s) here. Fair enough clearing the area to all medics to do their work. But at that point, security shouldn’t worry itself what’s going on outside the contained area. The police understand this at every crime scene. (Why do you think they cover dead bodies?) Had I been able to act like any other citizen in that outside-the-ropes area, I woulda had better pictures to choose from, as well as the option to not publish any. I still had the latter option, I suppose, but that’s where my tilt factor came in.

    7. I wonder what woulda happened had more people in the poker media shared my viewpoint and tried to ignore the “hey, no photos, declaration.” my guess is there would be at least on great, tasteful shot that everyone would use, and we wouldn’t be having this debate.

    8. Factoring into my insta-decisions probably were some of my general beefs with poker media. For example, I really wish my colleagues wouldn’t clap at press conferences. even for the PPA. yes, we are all biased on the issue they champion, but that’s all the more reason to question, not cheerlead for a group that controls millions of poker dollars in a way that affects all our readers.

    9. Though I am thankful that some members in the media (and posters on Pokerati) have a heart, I do not think it was appropriate for one member of the media to stop a couple european photogs from taking pictures. leave that to security unless they are paying you to do their job. Yes we are all on the same team, but no we are not really.

    10. While all this may seem cold-hearted on my part … hey, I’m sorry. I have spent many hours debating and discussing how to handle even more difficult situations. For example, if it’s you and one shot person … do you try to help save their life or do you capture their death? My personal standards would be to first try to assist — humanity first — and then worry about doing your job — self-interest second. However, if say they are bleeding profusely and you can stop the blood with your fingers, there’s nothing wrong with using your free hand to also snap a pic. In this situation, paramedics already had control of the matter and were attending to the life at hand. With those experts in place, there was no reason for me to worry about my own abilities to save a life … so there was nothing wrong with my getting back to work, so long as i didn’t inhibit those first-responders from doing their job, which all the other press who were standing with me outside the ropes know is the case.

    11. Two mornings ago I changed the “inspirational” profile song on my Facebook page to “Back the Fuck Up” by Fear Factory … Ironic coincidence, but obv. heavy metal music is to blame.

    12. Robert, with all due respect, back-the-fuck-up! typos, misspellings, etc. are one thing. but when i make a reporting mistake i never try to hide it. you can believe i was trying to be snarky, but i know deep down inside i was trying to be accurate. had i discovered that error (that he fell to the table when nudged, not to the floor, for example) in a matter of minutes and with no comments, then yes, i probably woulda just submarine edited.

    13. ***I think if the rio security and floor would of said in a normal tone. Sir, please step back no photos right now professionally to dan he would not be this upset.***

    Again, just to be clear, that’s exactly what the first security guard said and did. I informed him that he would need someone higher up to tell me that, because I would not be listening to such a directive. I did not push forward (my intent wasn’t to get past the ropes), but I did try to change the settings on my camera to allow me to get a clearer picture from afar. That’s when the head of Rio security came to me (I thought he was a floor supervisor) and told me the same thing. I again said I would not be listening to his directive as I had a job to due (and obviously we didn’t have time to assemble an ad-hoc committee to arbitrate). At that point he told me “this is private property” and that he will have me removed. At this point, thanks to a poker agent actually, who said “pick a different battle, dan”, I realized this was not a fight I could win at this point and thus I left the Brasilia Room and began looking for other ways I could get in and get the picture I wanted, but I was unsuccessful at that.

    So there you have it. I think that covers about everything. Though I know I am in the minority here, I still stand by my underlying principles, though I would handle a few things differently if it were to happen again. And I think the end results would be the same — just with a better hedline and picture.

    It should be noted that security did not tell anyone to put their notepads down. Nor did they institute any ban on audio recording. Pen and paper, voice recorders, cameras … the internet … these are the tools of our trade. How we use them inside the ropes is often influenced by rules related to media business deals, and those of us given media privileges (mostly) respect that. How they are used outside the ropes is a matter of “rights” — so long as you don’t use a flash.

    You guys are welcome to carry on this debate — really, I think it’s a worthwhile one to have — but if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to leading what I like to think is Pokerati’s unique brand of coverage … helping you readers not in town feel like you are at the WSOP, and for those who are here have a better understanding of what’s really going on.


  67. scott diamond
    says:

    When they pulled you aside Dan did they tell you to hold out your hand so they could slap it?

    Goodnight Dan :)


  68. Lillian2611
    says:

    You did the right thing.

    This debate occurred very early in my college journalism program. About six weeks into my first year, a cyclist crossed an intersection against the traffic lights and was hit by a ginormous tour bus. The rider had no helmet and probably died instantly despite the relatively slow speed of the bus at the time (30mph at MOST).
    The program whose classroom neighbored ours was for paramedics; their entire student body, of course, ran to the scene to work on the cyclist.
    We sent one student. He and the professional photographers and cameramen from nearby news agencies endured ironic jeers from the crowd as they did their jobs. Later that afternoon we learned that even the paramedicine students had been tilted by my classmate’s participation.

    Taking those kinds of pictures, I now know, is one of the hardest things a photographer/reporter can do. Not only are we aware of the disapproval, we have the same emotional responses to danger and tragedy as everyone else.

    The thing is, the job means you take the pictures now and make editorial decisions about them later. But if you don’t take them, you can’t make choices about whether or not to publish.

    The photos here are quite benign, in my view, and publishing them was not a bad decision. They document a real-life event without compromising Cernuto’s dignity. I believe we’ve all seen much more graphic material online – Iran’s Neda, anyone?

    Thank you for getting what you could. If I’d been there I would have tried to see at least as much of what was going on and I won’t pretend otherwise.


  69. melissa h
    says:

    interesting discussion here.

    i think both bj and dan are right/wrong here.

    u know a grt photographer takes pictures first and asks questions later. also for the most part a photog rarely decides whats published. the editor does, thats why we have them and thats a good thing. cooler heads prevail and objectivity stays in check.

    if your decision to make a photo of someone or something is based on youre personal feelings then you need to have a chat w/urself.

    making photo choices based on who you like or dont like when trying to record events as they unfold in a journalistic manner is the path to paparazzi photography.

    tabloids have an agenda. they seek out a celeb and try to make a photo that will “fit” a story. usually a concocted story, but, a story none the less.

    in the case of the wsop, are you looking for photos that present the wsop in a “certain” light or is your objective to record events as they unfold?

    as a photographer and as one whos known miami john for 12yrs being in dans position would have been tough for me. if i was covering the series, in a manner that bj has been ala the globes big picture, then the shots are absolutly necessary and i would have been able to make them knowing i was doing my job.
    i would have made the one on the floor, the thumbs up, and if i missed the thumbes up i would have got the into the ambulance one w/caption noting thumbs up.

    from a personal side the only thing i may have done was call (or have a team member) call mrs. cernuto to advise her that images of her husband would be online and to pls. advise her family.

    ive been in spots where i shown someone in what could be perceived a violation of privacy and on the rare times its occured ive done my best to proceed with as much compassion as possible.

    i also have put away my camera many times out of respect, but, the second ive done that -story over. as a photographer when ive done that ive failed to do my job properly.

    i thinks its a difficult spot to be in but if youre going to the wsop to cover the series unless you want to be the guy making party pictures the kinds of shots like miami falling will present themselves.

    as for the writers who say it could be written no photo necessary, that doesnt work if ur a photog. almost all events can be written and many are written (if ur a good writer) better than the photos.

    the public vs private spaces arguement is a valid one (at least legally) but have you all notice how many public events have been occuring in “private” places?

    for so long photographers were treated like heros and protected from danger. during wars or any kind of conflicts they would come thru wearing the words PRESS and were safe.
    then came the days of killing journalists, and now just shutting them out completely. china, iran, iraq etc.

    here in the US if your going to shoot an event your only credentialed if you make photos that the event promoters want.
    if you show anything they deem unfavorable your out.

    i reccomend that you all sit down quietly and look at the current iran election photos.
    u can view them here: (http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/06/a_troubled_week_in_iran.html)

    that includes the murder of the woman known as neda. altho this is different it clearly illustrates the importance of pics and being able to take them. almost every shot of the struggle in iran photos show someone who is being compromised by being in the picture.
    do you protect that person or do you show the world what is happening and perhaps protect something bigger?

    i realize miami collapsing with internal bleeding isnt the same, but then again is it?
    just an opinion…best melissa


  70. melissa h
    says:

    lol after i posted ubove, i see the note that my comment is awaiting moderation…im looking for my moderation but i just dont have any! -melissa


  71. scott diamond
    says:

    Dan I am sworn by the County of los Angeles and the Stae of California which gives me the right to carry my weapon where ever I go,on or off duty. My position in the sheriff’s Dept allows me to take my gun anywhere in the USA…

    Disneyland, Six Flags,Angel Stadium,Kodak Theatre,Staples Center are all public places,but they will not allow me on the premises with my gun off duty and the Kodak theatre and Staples does not allow me inside in Uniform without their head of securities permission.

    So the Rio being public, but private..It’s a new trend.


  72. Johnny Hughes
    says:

    I have always found that the comfort and joy of a police ride along had to do with whether you were handcuffed in the front or the back. One time they let me drink my last two beers, and sing.


  73. Justtt21
    says:

    The title was inappropriate, the content of the article was fine.


  74. Brian
    says:

    Hello Mr. Expert,

    When are going to write up a follow up article on this post… is it going to be anytime soon? :)

    _______
    “We run a Lawyer Directory about Child Custody Laws” …
    ( http://www.QSLaw.com )

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