New Jersey 888poker ambassador Tom Cannuli busted out of the 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event final table in heartbreaking fashion.
Coming into the final table's second day, sixth of six in chips, he found pocket aces in just the second hand of play, got it in against Max Steinberg's tens, and was eliminated in sixth place when Steinberg flopped a set.
But instead of lamenting his bad luck in exit interviews, Cannuli was all class, thanking his rail of supporters and promising he would be back.
"It's not easy," Cannuli told PokerNews upon his return to the Rio this week. "It comes from playing for seven years, seeing the guys who lose $40k pots in a cash game and say nothing about it. That showed me a respect for the game. You see the other side where people are complaining every time they lose a hand. I just want to set an example and take a stand for the guys who have that etiquette, and lose like gentlemen, or women for that matter."
Cannuli earned $1,426,283 for his sixth-place run in the Main Event, and while that would be life-changing money for some, the New Jersey native said it really hasn't changed his life a whole lot.
"I like the people back in New Jersey, and I have my family there," he said. "I've been playing online, I'm with Team 888 in New Jersey now and I've been playing a lot of tournaments there. I took a little time off, and took some vacation time, but life didn't really change that much for me."
What did change was Cannuli's approach to the WSOP, as he's coming into this year's World Series planning to play as much as he can.
"I'm fully packed," he said of his schedule for the 2016 WSOP. "This is the first year I finally put a package together. I usually would do 90 percent cash games and pick three or four tournaments. This year I'm doing all tournaments. All the no-limit, $10K buy-ins and under basically."
All of this with one single, solitary goal in mind: WSOP gold.
"A bracelet would be the best thing for me," Cannuli said. "I'm just going to play my best and that's all I can do. Even if I don't go home with a bracelet, as long as I did my best, tried my best every day, every hand, every hour, just did my best, while I'm out here, I'm satisfied.
"I know my ability in poker, and as long as I just play my game and stick to it, I'll have success."
In fact, by sticking to that philosophy, Cannuli has already had some success at the 2016 WSOP.
On Thursday, he ran deep in the $1,500 Six-Max No-Limit Hold'em event, taking 26th for $10,717.
"The six-max is such a fun event," he said. "You play more hands because there are less players at the table and there is a lot of skill in it.
"For anybody, any kind of win is going to improve your confidence. You see Joe McKeehen, he had a win right before the Main Event, and he had another win right after. Any win is going to build confidence. Even though I have a lot of confidence in myself already, any win will help give me even more. So this is definitely going to help for future events."
Moving on to the next one, the New Jersey 888poker Ambassador says he's just going to keep doing his thing.
"Going forward, I'm just going to play my game and listen to my heart," Cannuli said. "That's what gets me here every time. I just listen to that inner voice inside me, and do everything I can. At the end of the day, I'm OK with whatever the results are, as long as I tried my best."