Daniel Negreanu may soon have a new rival for most popular Canadian poker player as Nenad Medic's star continues to rise on the poker scene.
Born in Apatin, Serbia (formerly Yugoslavia), in 1982, Medic moved to Canada with his parents when he was five and has since become a Canadian citizen.
Initially, young Medic had aspirations to become a professional basketball player. He was an avid New Orleans Hornets fan and hoped to someday be a part of the NBA.
Medic played college basketball at the University of Waterloo, and it was his teammates that introduced him to poker. When he graduated, his focus had shifted from a career in basketball to playing at the online felt.
However, the competitive spirit he enjoyed from basketball translated well to playing poker.
“The main thing I think get from basketball, and really that any athlete has, is the winner's mentality,” Medic said in a PokerListings interview. “When I played basketball, it was all about the win. When you lose - you can't lose, pretty much.”
Nenad Medic: The winner's mentality of a basketball player
He said the same thing holds true for poker.
“You have to go for the win. Second place, third place, none of that matters - you have to go for the win,” he said. “And mentally, just staying focused - like in basketball, when you're down by three, there's a lot of pressure on you. You have to keep your head straight, and that helps out a lot with poker.”
It didn’t take long for Medic to start finding success. With a successful online poker career going, he first came into the public eye in live events in 2005 when he made his first World Poker Tour final table at the PokerStars Caribbean Poker Adventure.
He ended up placing sixth in the event for a more than $100,000 payday. He followed that up with a second WPT cash that year as well as two cashes at the World Series of Poker. Then in January 2006, he scored another final table finish at the Aussie Millions.
Up against players such as Shannon Shorr, Mark Vos and Kenna James, Medic lasted until third place and watched Lee Nelson go on for the win.
It was a good start to a year that also saw Medic claim his first WPT win in November at the World Poker Finals. The win certainly helped to boost his bankroll – he earned more than $1.7 million – and his public profile in the poker world.
He has since cashed deep in several WPT events and in 2008 he won his first World Series of Poker bracelet.
Event 1 of the 2008 WSOP was a $10,000 buy-in World Championship Pot-Limit Hold’em tournament. Medic defeated a record-breaking field for the event and won the largest ever payout for a Pot-Limit Hold’em event.
It was not only an incredible win for the Canadian because it was his first WSOP bracelet, but also because of the stacked field he had to wade through to get to his win. The final table alone included two previous WSOP bracelet winners, Mike Sexton and Kathy Liebert, plus Andy Bloch, Phil Laak and Patrik Antonius providing star power.
When play was down to four-handed, Mike Sexton commented during a break that Medic was “one of the toughest No-Limit Hold’em players” he'd ever seen.
And the praise is well-deserved: Medic now holds two pieces to the poker triple crown and has plenty of years left to continue to improve his game and work toward even greater poker successes.