WSOP Main Event: Flushed Out

by C.J. Hoyt

Mike Conti is no stranger to the World Series of Poker. Although it's been a long time since he found himself in the spotlight. Back in 1982, Mike finished 2nd in the Limit Draw High event to David Sklansky. Today, Mike found himself at the featured table with ESPN cameras all around.

At 73 years old, Mike says has been playing poker since he was 13, and he's been finding success. He once played a Triple Draw Lowball tournament at the Four Queens and found himself at a final table with the likes of Daniel Negreanu, John Juanda and Men the Master. He bested them all, finishing first.

"I've been making dough for 40 years in the bakery business so it was an easy transition to poker to make more dough," Mike says.

The pressure of tournament poker is nothing new to Mike. He's probably the only WSOP entrant who's also played in five World Bocce Championships. In fact, he's won several National Championships and was the president of the U.S. Bocce Association for 8 years.

"Playing in world competion with the very best bocce players in the world, makes it easy for me to play with some of the best poker players in the world," Mike says. "Bocce is a game of great concentration and I am sure it can also be used in poker."

Mike had big goals if he had gotten deep in the tournament. With 17 grandchildren, he hoped to pay for a lot of college tuition. Unfortunately, the cards didn't fall his way.

In early action, Mike was unable to find the action he wanted, and the hands he did play turned up being no better than second best. A litle more than an hour into play, he was down to 7,200.

Then it happened.

Mike raises from early position with AhQh. A player in late position calls and the BB decides to stick around, too.

The flop is 6h8c6s. Everyone checks. The turn is the 3h. The BB leads out and Mike calls. The late position player lays down his hand. Mike figures at this point that he's got the nut flush draw and there's a good chance no one has a 6. That means his A and Q may be live, too. That's 15 outs, he figures.

The river is the 4 of hearts. Mike has made his flush. The BB leads out again, and after a moment of thought, Mike decides to raise him. This time, the BB has to think about it, and finally decides to push Mike all in.

It's not what Mike wanted to see. The problem here is that with a paired board, his flush may not be good. Finally, Mike decided he was willing to put his tournament life on the line, and he called.

The good news is that the BB did not have a full house. Instead, he flipped over 5h7h.

Mike had run his flush right into a straight flush. It was the only card in the deck that would make his hand, but also send him home. It's the kind of luck that can kill anyone's Main Event.

Mike shook hands with the rest of the players at the featured table, and took his leave. I'm guessing it won't be the last time we hear his name in a big tournament.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker