Mike McNick Ready to Click Buttons With Pennsylvania Online Poker

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Mike McNick is one of the top online poker players in Pennsyvlania.

A lot of people go to Atlantic City for their 21st birthday. The casinos give the birthday boy or girl the first opportunity to drink and gamble legally in one fun combination of some adult-only vices. Just a few days after hitting that milestone birthday, Pennsylvania online poker player Mike McNick made his way to the Borgata Hotel, but it wasn’t necessarily about hitting the clubs or trying out the Wheel of Fortune slots. McNick went to play some poker.

Even though he’s played poker since he was in high school, McNick hasn’t been able to play a live tournament in his home state of Pennsylvania or neighboring New Jersey until now.

McNick, who has been playing online since June 2017 and is now one of the top-ranked online players in PA, picked up some cashes early in his online career and that only served as a catalyst for him to take the game more seriously. Every time he runs deep or earns another big score, it gets him excited to put in the work away from the table.

“If I cash big in a tournament, that kind of just motivates me to study more,” McNick admitted. “Even more recently, I got Raise Your Edge and I met one of the guys online who’s 21, his name’s Ian Matakis, ‘RiverRiot72’ on ACR. He’s just a crusher and I’ve learned so much from him in general. Just seeing his success has motivated me too.”

Having first learned the game playing small-time stakes with buddies in high school, McNick didn’t take the game too seriously. It wasn’t until he got the bartending job he has now when he was introduced to the idea of playing poker professionally.

“My manager, Anthony Mastragostino, used to be a professional and he still plays a lot. He got me into online poker and got me more seriously into it and showed me the ropes,” said McNick.

Even though he’s one of the best players in Pennsylvania, he doesn’t consider himself a professional poker player and might never actually go that route.

“I call myself a semi-retired bartender and I work two days a week and then just grind poker Sundays and then maybe one or two days a week if I can fit time on my schedule,” said McNick.

He’s currently in college and remains committed to a career in finance, preferably with a hedge fund or in investment banking, with poker serving more as a hobby.

“Finance was my first passion. I would like to be in that field because, poker’s just such a high variance, high turnover field if I go pro,” said McNick.” I’ll definitely be playing in some capacity. But it’s just a matter of, where I’m at there in life. But I would say hopefully having a job and then playing poker on the side.”

This summer, McNick will be making time in his schedule for his first trip to Las Vegas to play in some World Series of Poker events. The opening few weeks of the schedule come with a few opportunities for him to test his chops against WSOP crowds in lower buy-in, big field events.

“I have it booked. I haven’t booked the flight yet, but I booked the hotel at the Hard Rock, so I’m going to play the Big 50 and then the Millionaire Maker. Then I’m thinking about just doing a one-way ticket there. If I have some success there and try and just parlay it and stay out there,” said McNick.

He’s also looking forward to being able to play on the regulated sites in Pennsylvania once they launch during the summer. He’s also considered making the drive into New Jersey to play there while a number of the better players are living in Las Vegas.

“I think I should definitely be open to that going forward. If it doesn’t (happen) in PA or whatever, I could play there easily in the summer. It’s an hour drive, ” said McNick.

Even though he’s fortunate enough to live in a state that will soon have regulated online poker, McNick longs for the day when every US online poker player is playing on the same network.

“I can’t wait till it’s just fully back in the U.S.,” said McNick. “I just don’t know if that’s ever gonna happen.”

Whether it does or not, McNick has all of his options open.