The multifarious and admirable talents of Canadian blackjack pro Monica Reeves.
If you research professional blackjack players, you won’t find too
many from Canada. In fact, the vast majority of them are from America
– at least, the recognized ones are. Here in Canada, we’re better
known for our poker prowess. That’s because poker players attain
celebrity status once they rise high enough in the ranks, whereas a
blackjack pro’s career is over the moment they gain fame.
Monica Reeves is an exception to this rule. Instead of
counting cards to manipulate the house edge like most clandestine
professionals, then writing books to brag about her skills and
exploit her fame, Monica made her name in the blackjack tournament
realm. Tournaments are a completely different format, wherein casinos
managed to devise a 21 game that pits players against each other
(just like poker), and guarantees a percentage-based cut of profits
(just like rake).
Before I get ahead of myself, let’s take a closer look at who
Monica Reeves is, and how she went from Oakville, Ontario’s academic
girl-wonder, to one of the nation’s most beloved gambling
Monica Reeves – Cards, Teeth and Modeling
Born in 1972, Monica grew up in a family where family game night
was a cherished form of entertainment. As a young girl, she was
taught everything from Go Fish to Five Card Draw. She also happened
to be incredibly intelligent, receiving excellent marks throughout
her school age years.
Her original dream was to go into dentistry. She earned a license
as a dental hygienist, but shortly into that career, another industry
came knocking. You see, along with a well-above average intellect,
Reeves was also blessed with beauty. A tall blonde with full lips and
a room-brightening smile, she was welcomed into the modeling industry
with open arms, and Monica couldn’t resist the opportunity.
For the Love of Poker
As the years went by, Ms. Reeves never forgot her love of cards.
Surprisingly, despite a highly successful modeling career, her
confidence fell short of the poker felt. As much as she loved the
game, and as sharp as her skills were, she simply couldn’t bring
herself to enter the live circuit. To better prepare herself for the
transition she so desired, Monica hired Canadian poker expert Jim
Worth as a private tutor.
Monica spent the first nine months of 2005 with Worth, building a
strategic foundation and honing her skills. That September, she
entered her first live event, the APT
Aruba Poker Classic. She would go on to finish 114th in that
event for a score of $5,500; not bad for her first attempt against a
field of 644. Although the payout only constituted $300 more than the
buy-in, cashing in her first event gave her the confidence she needed
to keep going.
The following spring, she finished 8th in the St. Maarten Spring
Poker Showdown for $2,570. Two months later, she landed a 5th place
score of $16,760 in a $1k NLHE event at the 2006 Bellagio Cup in Las
Vegas. 2007 was another great year for the budding Canadian poker
pro, where a trip of in-the-money finishes included a 2nd place
$11,850 prize in the WPS Bahamas Poker Showdown.
With a career total of $40,160, Monica packed up her poker chips and left the tables for good after that event. Another opportunity was unraveling that she found much more interesting, and she decided to pursue it full-force.
Reeves Headlines the Ultimate Blackjack Tour
In September 2006, in the midst of all her live (and online, see
below) poker success, Monica found herself intrigued by a new fork in
the road. The Ultimate Blackjack Tour (UBT), a special elimination
blackjack tournament series, was kicking off its very first season on
CBS, and Monica was determined to be a part of it.
Blackjack was one of the games she loved most growing up, and one
she had an inherently strategic affinity for. That much was evident
from the moment she joined the UBT. In the show’s fourth tournament,
Reeves conquered the competition, earning herself a spot in the first
UBT Tournament of Champions, where she would go on to finish 7th.
In the meantime, she finished runner up – just ahead of Hollywood
celeb and poker mistress Jennifer Tilly – in the UBT Ladies Night
In Season 2, Monica returned to the 21 tables where she finished
3rd in Tournament 6. The Ultimate Blackjack Tour was canceled weeks
later, bringing an end to our Canadian blackjack pro’s televised
Monica the “Mucker” on the Virtual Felt
Backing up a bit, part of Reeves initial poker training in 2005
was to practice her game at internet poker rooms. She joined
UltimateBet (UB) under the alias “Mucker” in early
2006 and started grinding the low-stakes ring games right away. While
her prevalence on the virtual felt went unrecorded in the cash
circuit, her tournament prowess has been tracked since that first
online poker tournament win in October of 2006, when she finished 9th
in a UB $40k GTD for $900.
It didn’t take long for the smart and sexy felt-grinder to gain
the attention of UB management, who immediately offered her a
sponsorship deal to promote the brand. Monica the Mucker continued to
cash consistently in online poker tournaments, mostly as Mucker
on UB. She also found some success at the tables of Full Tilt Poker
and PokerStars, both under the similar moniker “Muckersilly”.
Reeves was racking up dollar signs right up until January of 2008,
when she unofficially retired from the live and virtual tables. By
that time, she had two young children, and all of her card-based
career choices required a great deal of traveling. Monica was ready
to settle down and focus on family, and that’s exactly what she did.
It wasn’t until 2013 that Muckersilly reappeared on PokerStars,
joining in the occasional $5 tournament. She cashed in these events a
few times in 2013, again in 2014, and continued to show up on the
online poker radar several more times in 2015 and 2016. Then in
February and March of 2019, Reeves showed up again, collecting small,
2-figure cashes in $4 events.
To date, Monica has landed in the money in 49 online poker
tournaments, racking up $14,654 in winnings. Based on her performance
over the last six years, it’s evident she isn’t pursuing a
professional poker career whatsoever; choosing to play for small
stakes as an entertaining pastime. Whether Monica Reeves blackjack
career is still underway is impossible to say, since such activities
are not tracked like poker games.
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