If you’ve spent time at The Venetian, chances are you’ve crossed paths with Diana Monnette, who tackles all things media for the room. A veteran of the poker industry, she was previously known as Diana Cox before her marriage to poker pro and high-stakes grinder “Angry” John Monnette.
Born and raised in Oregon, Monnette grew up in a small town where her and her older sister both attended the same high school as their parents. While in college, she worked some retail and office jobs, coached a high school dance team and taught tumbling and dance classes while she attempted to figure out what she really wanted to do in life.
She eventually cheered and danced for a semi-pro basketball team for a season, and also worked as a reporter for a couple of newspapers. As for poker, it was a game she learned from her father, and she would inherit his passion.
“My father passed away from cholangiocarcinoma in 2014,” says Monnette. “He was a fan of poker, playing for fun whenever he could outside of running his own business for 30 years. I remember him watching it on TV during the Moneymaker year – as does just about everyone else, but I actually did not pay much attention to it at the time. Poker would come to be something we would bond over during the last years of his life and it still brings me a lot of bittersweet feelings to this day.”
A Chance Job Opportunity
At the age of 24, Monnette was bored with her life and she moved to Las Vegas on a whim. Then, in 2008, she stumbled across an ad that would change the course of her life.
“I was browsing the Craigslist job section and saw an ad that sparked my interest – BLUFF Magazine was looking to fill some temporary staff positions for the World Series of Poker. I reached out via email, was asked to come in for an interview and was hired for the summer.”
She had training as a journalist, but as far as poker was concerned she had to learn a lot as she went along. She obviously did a good job as she’d return to BLUFF for subsequent WSOPS, and also did stints with both the World Poker Tour and CardPlayer. Obviously, a lot changed in the industry over those years.
“I feel one of the best things now is the number of options players have for tournament poker,” she reflects. “Players no longer have to follow the industry giants around the globe and instead have many options much closer to home. Smaller traveling tours have popped up and many rooms are running their own tournament series at regular intervals throughout the year. It gives players the option to grind out a living while not having to up and move their lives to one of the poker destination cities.”
She continues: “Add in the proliferation of high-roller tournaments and there really is something for everyone. I think that is a very good thing. Plenty of things in life are exclusive and often beyond someone’s control. Poker does not need to be that way. Anyone is welcome and anyone can take a shot.”
Joining the Venetian Team
In 2015, Venetian Poker Room Manager Tommy LaRosa reached out to Monnette with an idea. He was looking for someone to utilize social media to promote the room, communicate with players and guests, and make information about the room and tournaments readily and easily available.
To add another level of player appreciation, including live updates from major final tables and the promotion of players who win single-day tournaments, the room brought Monnette on board in December of that year.
“I don’t know of any other room that offers lower buy-in, big guarantee tournaments year-round the way The Venetian does,” she says of the room. “What I think is special about that is it allows recreational and semi-professional players to play for large paydays without having to put up massive entry costs.”
Based on Venetian numbers, players certainly seem to love it. For Monnette, she often gets a front row seat to special tournament moments.
“When a player in a senior’s event tells me the kids and grandkids are all following along on the blog, and they say it with such joy. When a player asks if I’ll take a photo of them with their newly won trophy on their phone because they want to be able to send it to family and friends, post on social media and such. Just seeing them so proud in the moment, it’s a pretty uplifting thing to see in person. Doing this every day, it becomes routine and it’s easy to forget that for some people that trophy, or seeing their name online, that might be a once in a lifetime thing and it’s something that is meaningful to them on a personal level. It’s cool to have a part in facilitating that.”
Monnette also credits guarantees on every tournament and the room’s willingness to offer value to their guests as reasons for the room’s success, thought she doesn’t take advantage of such things.
“I like to joke that one poker player per family is enough,” Monnette responds when asked if she ever plays poker. “I’m pretty risk adverse and knowing I’m not a favorite to win, I just choose not to do it the majority of the time. I enjoy and appreciate the game for the mental aspect of it and I could see myself enjoying some of the smaller tournaments, but it’s just not something I make time for outside of work and my hobbies.”
While she doesn’t play, Monnette can’t imagine her life without poker.
“This year marks 10 years of being in the poker industry for me – the time has gone by so incredibly fast when I think back on it - and the idea of moving on to something else is actually a little scary,” she says when asked what she’d be doing if she wasn’t in poker. “I feel as though this is what I know, what I’m comfortable with, and what I’m good at. I if I had the ability to just transplant myself into another job with the snap of my fingers, I think I’d choose to be an archeologist, a wildlife photographer or a writer for National Geographic.”
You can follow Diana at @DianaMonnette.