The Spring Poker Open at the Borgata wrapped up early Saturday morning with 21 different champions being crowned over the past three weeks. The Almighty Stack event drew the second largest field of the entire series as 1,764 players took their chance at a $500,000 guaranteed prize pool. The tournament ended in a seven-way chop and as a result of ICM configurations, Norman ‘slystyle12’ Michalek took second place and over $56,000.
The deal gave Michalek the largest score of his tournament career that has stretched over the better part of a decade and included heavy volume both online and live. Even though he has had a successful career by a variety of metrics, Michalek’s tournament history is checkered with close calls in high equity spots.
Those close calls hit a peak last summer when Michalek came in on Day 2 of the Colossus as the chip leader before finishing just inside the top-100 and followed that result up by finishing 16th in Millionaire Maker just a week later. Despite the near-misses over the years, Michalek’s confidence remains as high as ever heading into NJSCOOP and the live poker mecca of the summer.
“[My] confidence is the same as it’s ever been. Have always been strong in confidence. As far as the schedule goes for this summer I’m looking to play a similar schedule as last summer. I’m hoping this recent result at least changes other people’s confidence in me. I am capable of playing just as well as anybody else. I truly believe it and hope people realize it soon as well.”
Michalek’s bankroll hit a downswing during January’s Winter Poker Open and he opted to rebuild it by grinding online in New Jersey. Online poker is a field Michalek takes himself seriously in and last year, Michalek decided to temporarily relocate to Costa Rica to live with friends while playing the best tournaments the world has to offer. Since recommitting himself to the virtual playing field in New Jersey, Michalek has picked up a few things that he used as assets in his Almighty Stack run.
“I used to take all of the spots I can take and I learned that this is often not necessary. I pick and choose them more carefully. I have gone deep countless times and have gotten involved in many unnecessary marginal spots. I was determined to not let this spot go in vain.”
Indeed, Michalek did not, as he battled up on Day 3 from being sixth in chips out of 14 players to finish with the second-biggest prize of the deal. There was a lot of money on the line with a six-figure score initially set aside for first place. Michalek admits the money was on his mind as he continued to advance deep in the tournament but put those thoughts aside and played his most optimal game.
“As I was getting deeper in the almighty the money was always at the back of my mind because I didn’t want to be stuck with another 10-20th finisA. However, I believe I was able to separate that from the focus needed to ‘let the results take care of themselves’.”
In a former life, Michalek traveled the live tournament circuit but eventually got sick of the variance and expenses that come with that lifestyle. Now a staple of the New Jersey online scene, Michalek is comfortable with his new lifestyle and will continue living it even with his large score.
“There is so much more variance in live since sample sizes are drastically different. From the beginning of this year, I was determined to play less live and focus more on online and making money. Live variance is insane and level of expenses I’ve been keeping up with is an unsustainable kind of living. I hope to keep online volume high and live volume minimal with the rare few local series and summer in Vegas.”