Often the most intimidating player at the table in terms of sheer size, 6'5 Nenad Medic has, in only three short years, climbed the ranks from low-limit online player to a competitor among poker's elite. One of a talented few who have earned both a World Series of Poker bracelet and a World Poker Tour title, Medic earned that distinction this summer after adding a bracelet in the 2008 WSOP's very first event to his WPT trophy, which he picked up in 2006 at Foxwoods.
Nenad Medic was born in Apatin, Serbia in 1983. At the age of five his family moved across the ocean to Canada where he remained for most of his life to date. Medic dreamed of a career in professional basketball as a youth, and was a star player for the University of Waterloo. After college, however, his dreams of being drafted to the NBA unfortunately never materialized. Medic needed a new passion, and had started to learn poker from his teammates in casual games. His competitive spirit translated easily to the felt. As the legend goes, Medic decided one day to deposit $75 into an online poker site, and he never had to look back.
Playing under the name "serb2127", Medic found quick success online. He satellite into his first major live event, the PokerStars Carribean Adventure, in January 2005 and ended up placing sixth and making the televised final table. Medic added $112,500 to his bankroll for his performance. After that finish, he began hitting the tournament circuit, cashing in the WPT World Poker Open in Tunica only a month later. He made his first foray into the World Series of Poker in the summer of '05 and racked up two cashes in no-limit hold'em events. All the while, Medic's game continued to flourish online, and he racked up nearly another $200,000 in winnings, including a runner-up finish in the PokerStars Sunday Million on Christmas Day, 2005.
Medic's next live tournament splash would come at the 2006 Aussie Millions where he finished third in the Main Event, which was ultimately won by Lee Nelson. Medic banked another $275,000 for that finish, but was still hungry for a major win. He continued to rack up more major online finishes, coming in ninth in the PokerStars WCOOP $2,600 Main Event at a final table that featured Annette "Annette_15" Obrestad and eventual winner J.C. Tran.
Medic didn't have to wait long for that win. He took down the WPT World Poker Finals at Foxwoods in November 2006. For besting a final table that included Mimi Tran and Kathy Liebert, Medic earned over $1.7 million and a lot of TV face time. He continued to extensively travel the tournament circuit, making steady cashes throughout 2007 until he found himself back at the scene of his greatest success. Medic entered the '07 WPT World Poker Finals and again made the final table, attempting to become the first player to win back-to-back titles in a WPT event. This time, however, he finished his run in third place, good for nearly half a million more in winnings. (Interestingly enough, the event's 2005 winner, Nick Schulman also made a repeat final-table appearance, finishing second.)
By now, Medic was a bona fide star of the game and picked up sponsorship from Full Tilt Poker. He also ramped up his cash game play, sitting in at games as sky-high as $200-$400 pot-limit Omaha.
At the dawn of the 2008 WSOP, Medic made the final table of Event #1, $10,000 World Championship Pot-Limit Hold'em. As play for the bracelet began, Mike Sexton remarked to the media that five of the nine players at the final table had won over a million dollars in a single tournament—himself (2006 WSOP Tournament of Champions), Kathy Liebert (2004 Party Poker Million), Patrik Antonius (2005 Bellagio Five Diamond), Andy Bloch (2006 WSOP $50,000 H.O.R.S.E.) and Medic. The other four were no slouches either, including Chris Bell, Phil Laak and feared online players Mike "SowersUNCC" Sowers and Amit "amak316" Makhija.
Medic came into the final table second in chips to Andy Bloch and Bloch's chip lead only grew as play became four-handed. After Mike Sexton was eliminated in fourth place, the most dramatic hand of the tournament unfolded when Liebert open-shoved with pocket sixes, Bloch reraised with pocket nines, and Medic moved all in over the top with pocket queens. Bloch made the call and Medic hit a set on the A-Q-2 rainbow flop. Liebert was eliminated in third, and Medic took a 5:2 chip lead on Bloch. After an hour of heads-up play, Medic defeated Bloch to win his first WSOP bracelet and $794,112.
Currently, only Gavin Griffin has won all three pieces of what's commonly referred to as poker's "Triple Crown"—a WSOP bracelet, a WPT title, and an EPT title. After this summer, Medic has two of those wins to his credit. Would anyone really be that surprised if he added the third next year?