Thomas Cannuli: Cash Game Grinder to 888Poker Ambassador

TAGs: 888poker, November Nine, Thomas Cannuli, WSOP

Lee Davy sits down with the 2015 World Series of Poker November Niner, Thomas Cannuli, to talk about his role as 888Poker Ambassador, his experience at The Choice Centre, and much more.

Thomas Cannuli: Cash Game Grinder to 888Poker Ambassador Audio




Voodoo mysticism?

Whatever it was, one day Thomas Cannuli is grinding out a living playing cash games, dreaming of becoming an ambassador for one of the world’s largest online poker rooms, and the next minute he is one.

2015 was a huge year for Cannuli. A spot in the November Nine. $1.4m in prize money. And a sponsorship deal with the second largest online poker room in the world: 888Poker.

Thomas Cannuli: Cash Game Grinder to 888Poker AmbassadorAnd it all began at The Choice Centre where Cannuli set himself the goal of making the final table of the world’s greatest poker tournament. I hope he dreamed a bigger dream because all that is old hat.

As Cannuli gets set to represent 888Poker in 17-18 WSOP events – something he has never done before – I caught up with him to find out what life is like for a New Jersey cash tournament grinder.

*Please note: what follows is a shortened version of the audio interview.

How has life been treating you since the WSOP?

“Life has been great. I am an ambassador for 888Poker. Having the role is exciting. I had always looked up to the bigger guys in poker that were ambassadors when I was younger. Seeing myself growing in the game feels really good. It feels right. I have always wanted to be an ambassador for the sport and finally this year is the year. 888Poker is the best company and I am super pumped to be with them

“Other than that I have been preparing for the summer months. It takes a toll on you when you are out in Vegas playing tournament after tournament. You need that month before the WSOP to prepare.”

Being a cash game grinder, I bet you thought you would never get the chance to be an ambassador?

“I never really thought about being an ambassador because I was always the underground guy. I never got any credit or exposure because I didn’t play tournaments. I never put myself in that spot. I knew it was going to be very difficult to be an ambassador, but once I got into tournaments, I knew I belonged there.”

You are an ambassador based in New Jersey, does that add any additional pressure?

“The online game is perfect for me back in New Jersey. The games are really good. I have been practising tournaments for the past couple of months and have been in a groove. I recently won one of the majors and had been doing well. I am getting myself prepared for those long grinds ahead.”

What does your schedule look like for the WSOP?

Thomas Cannuli: Cash Game Grinder to 888Poker Ambassador“I have 22 written down but I won’t play them all. I think I will play 17-18 events as they all overlap. It’s new for me. It’s my third year now and previously I would go the WSOP and play 90% cash games, and 10% tournaments. I would only play 4-5 tournaments in the summer, and now I am switching that around to 90% tournaments.

“I believe in my game. I want to be in the mix. If I am not playing these tournaments, I don’t stand a chance. I have friends who won’t play tournaments because they don’t see the value. They would rather grind cash games. For me, I want to take advantage of the ambassadorial role and play more tournaments.”

What advice have your buddies Jeff Gross and Antonio Esfandiari been giving you ahead of the long grind?

“They don’t give me advice; I am just another pro in their circle. They are there to support me. We know each other’s games and there is not that much to say. It’s all about the scheduling, getting enough sleep, and drinking lots of water. I have to keep hydrated.

“I need to get on a schedule where I am waking up at the same time each day. I’m working out. Then I am off to work. Keeping rehydrated is the key thing towards making optimal decisions. It’s a big one for me. Eat, sleep, and hydration will keep my brain functioning at a high level.”

How did someone so young end up in the Choice Centre and what did you learn?

“Jeff {Gross} sent me. He saw something inside of me that wanted to break loose. So I went. I trusted him. I understood the process at the end. It’s incredible, man. I was 20 when I went to Choice and when I was there everybody came up with a goal they wanted to accomplish. I wanted to make $100,000 in 100 days and I completed the goal. It shocked me. Then when I came back to class, everyone had finished their goals.

“To go even deeper I had another goal and that was to make the final table at the Main Event. Three years later I made the final table. I do believe dreams are possible; anything you put your mind to you can accomplish. It was an incredible experience and I am a better man for it. My family get to see the best of me.”

What was the biggest change for you?

“Not talking from my head and instead speaking from my heart. When you speak from your head, you have to think about what you are saying. When it comes from the heart, you just say what’s there. When you have to start thinking, you know something is not right. It takes a second because you are trying to ensure your response is perfect. When you speak from your heart, it comes out correctly. The process has helped me grow up as a man.”

$1.4m is a lot of money to be handling at such a young age, how have you coped?

“I have handled it well. I am looking long term. I have little brothers; a girlfriend; my Mum. It’s longevity man. I have been through ups and down in my career and it makes me know I won’t splurge and buy all of these things. I like being a professional. I like what I do. I am looking to purchase a house but other than that I am not seeking to spend a lot of money.”

If I gave you 10,000hrs to master anything what would it be and why?

“It’s always been a dream of mine to be a professional paintball player. I think it’s cool. So I might devote the time to a hobby. I would get really good at it. The pro paintball guys are cool as hell.”

Give my 15-year old son some advice.

“Most importantly, follow his heart. He needs to do what he wants to do in life. Listen to your Dad. Figure out what you want to do, and find out what makes you happy. Don’t try and make everyone else happy. Also, finish school and take care of yourself.”


views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of