The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa is proud to have prestigious Tampa Bay ambassadors that represent the organization proudly wherever they’re spotted. The Seminole Hard Rock Tampa, including the poker room, values each and every one of their team members and is lucky to have John Racener on board as a poker ambassador. John Racener never bluffs when it comes to his love and commitment to the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Poker partnership.
We sat down with John to learn more about him:
Tell us a little bit about yourself: where are you from?
I was born and raised in Port Richie, Florida. When I was 21, I moved to South Tampa to be closer to the Seminole Hard Rock and to play in more private home games.
How did you start your hand in poker?
When I was 16 years old, I started playing online poker. My mom deposited $50 online with her credit card and I slowly built it up each night. I gradually turned $50 into $30,000 over a six month period. I attribute that to playing smart, yet patient.
What do you like best about being a Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Poker Ambassador?
Tommy Bates, Director of Poker, treats me like a king. He takes care of me and believes in the game. One of the best thing about being an ambassador is wearing the Hard Rock patch at tournaments and having people ask me about it. They admire me because of it, which makes being a Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Poker Ambassador a winning hand.
What do you see changing in the future for Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Poker?
Poker will continue to grow at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa. The game is popular in Tampa and will grow in terms of figure cash games. I also see larger tournaments coming to the area such as the World Poker Tour.
Which restaurant at Seminole Hard Rock Tampa is your favorite?
For food – Rise Kitchen & Bakery, the food there is by far my favorite. For atmosphere – Council Oak Lounge on a Friday or Saturday night.
What is your all-time favorite movie?
I would say Rounders. It’s a poker based movie starring Matt Damon and I’ve probably watched it a few hundred times. Every day after my classes at Florida Southern College in Lakeland I would go back to my room, watch Rounders and then go play at the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Poker Room.
Do you have a Smartphone? If so, what’s your favorite app?
Yes and I would say my favorite app is Fantasy Football because I’m able to competitively follow my teams.
Tell us something about you most people don’t know?
My mom and dad taught me how to play poker. When I was younger we would play at the kitchen table, it was fun family activity. Playing with them is how I got into cards and learned the strategy. Now my mom and dad have both passed away and it’s one of the ways I like to remember them. I contribute my success to both of them.
What does your poker face look like?
I would say it’s an original blank stare. I’m always in the zone when I’m at the poker table and I’m there to compete. I’m mean business when I’m playing, so I’m very focused which gives me a straight face.
What’s your favorite thing about the game of poker?
There are a couple of things that I love about poker. I love to compete because I’ve always wanted to do something with my life that involved competition. Also, I love the big money prize pools. It’s exhilarating when you’re playing poker there’s a million dollars in the pot
What do you consider your greatest success?
My greatest success was in 2010 when I got second place in the World Series of Poker. There were about 7,300 players and I got $5.5 million for second place. It was quite a rush just to be playing at the final poker table that I had grown up watching on TV.