WSOP 2011: The PokerStars million dollar man

wsop2011-thumb-blog.pngPokerStars is highly regarded for putting together the coolest promotions around. One player here in Las Vegas knows about that better than most: our Million Dollar man, Mike Kosowski.

It was nearly two years ago that the PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge was conceived. Players got to play in a series of free qualification tournaments online, with the winners making it to the television stage where they played Team PokerStars Pros heads-up with the benefit of having Daniel Negreanu as a coach. If they won that, they were given the chance to play Kid Poker himself, with a million dollars on offer if they won.

Kosowski made it all the way, and he beat Negreanu to pocket the big $1 million prize.

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Mike Kosowski enjoys his big win

I know it sounds clichéd, but when we say it couldn't have happened to a nicer man, we really mean it. Kosowski was a police detective sergeant in New York, and like so many other brave people, he got caught up in the 9/11 atrocity. Injured and suffering illness as a result, he had to give up work.

That's when the idea of playing poker came in, and it seems to have worked out pretty well. Now financially secure, he's enjoying playing poker on the biggest stage, the WSOP Main Event. So far, it's been a good day. Going into the last break of the night, Kosowski had 118,000, well up from his 30,000 starting stack.

For Kosowski, this is a year later than planned. After his big win on TV, he played the PCA last year and had planned to play the Main Event in 2010, too. But illness--he had heart surgery, complicated by an allergy to his drugs--meant he had to put it off.

Thankfully, he got better, was able to take part in many charity tournaments, and has now made the trip to Vegas.

"Finally, it is lovely to be here," he said.

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Playing the WSOP

His wife will be joining him here in a day or so, but is currently at home, the same home they have always had in New York. Despite his new-found wealth, Kosowski declined to buy himself a plush new pad, preferring instead to make some renovations to the place they know best.

Since his win he has, he says, met a lot of "very good people". He's far too humble to admit it, but he is one of those good people, generously making sure his four sisters and two brothers are financially secure and helping charitable causes.

"I have found it is true what they say: the more you give, the more you get back," he said.

While that may be correct in life, it's probably fair to say it won't work very well at the poker table. Judging by his impressive chip stack tonight, Kosowski has worked that one out already.

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CHIP COUNT OF THE HOUR
86,000---Kristin Bicknell, PokerStars Supernova Elite and beneficiary of PCA Ladies Event save in 2011

TWEET OF THE HOUR
Barry Greenstein: "It's not getting any better. I have 14k. 35BB"

PROPOSITION OF THE HOUR
Daniel Negreanu: "I'm taking 10-1 odds that the winner of the main event was born in either Canada or the UK."

TV GUIDE OF THE HOUR
Vicky Coren, watching: "Water for Elephants" followed by "Rules of Blackjack" followed by Barbara Walters interviewing childhood kidnap victim

RANDOM STATISTIC OF THE HOUR FROM THE OFFICIAL MEDIA GUIDE
Bobby Hoff and Dewey Tomko each lost the World Series main event by moving all-in heads-up with pocket aces, Hoff losing to Hal Fowler in 1979, Tomko to Carlos Mortensen in 2001.

THE SPENDING TOO LONG LOOKING AT WINNER PICTURES FACT OF THE HOUR
Nick Binger, winner of Event 56 on Friday, was the only champion to wear his bracelet in his winner's photo.

Simon Young
@MrSimonYoung in World Series of Poker