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  1. PocketFives had the chance to catch up with Westfield, New Jersey's Norman slystyle012Michalek (pictured, ranked #51 in New Jersey), who plays under the handle Abnormalitieson Borgata Poker. Over the summer, he took a three-month trip to Poland to visit family and then came back and went to work on the virtual felts. With over $380,000 in tracked online cashes, some of Michalek's accomplishments include a chop in the Garden State Super Series $75,000 Guaranteed Main Event for $15,750, a win in the WSOP $10,000 Guarantee for $3,324, and a win in the PartyPoker/Borgata Poker $10,000 Guarantee for $2,326. Visit PocketFives' New Jersey poker community for the latest news and discussion from New Jersey players. PocketFives: What got you started playing online poker? Norman Michalek: Like most players, I started playing poker after watching Chris Moneymaker win the WSOP Main Event back in 2003. I started playing a lot of dinky cash games in high school for lunch money and a few scrappy-structured tournaments after school to get better. During that time, I found myself immersed in the game and wanted to play more and get better. I always knew that Moneymaker was sponsored by PokerStars, so I decided that I would start playing there. I had a few runs in freerolls and the rest was history. PocketFives: What are your favorite New Jersey online poker sitesto play and why? Norman Michalek: I can't say I have a favorite. Each of the New Jersey sites has its own pros and cons. Borgata has the better structured tournaments, while WSOP has a better tournament schedule. I have also heard good things about 888 Poker and should be looking to get on there as soon as possible. I'm just waiting for the days when PokerStars finally gets to New Jersey. PocketFives: How many hours do you dedicate to poker each week? Norman Michalek: My schedule has always been rather flexible. Truthfully, it all boils down to how lazy I am. On a good week, I would say I spend approximately 40 to 45 hours. Primarily, I'm a tournament player, so it's hard to say. Some days I can go play a few tournaments and be out by 10:00pm and, other days, I'll play until 3:00am. The best part about playing poker for a living is making your own schedule and not having to worry about anything else. PocketFives: Since the launch of regulated online poker in New Jersey, what has been your most memorable cash or win? Norman Michalek: My most memorable cash comes from the Garden State Super Series this past September. I remember coming back from a three-month stay in Poland and was motivated to put in a lot of hours into poker. One week later, I chopped the series' $75,000 Guaranteed Main Event for about $16,000. This is my biggest cash to date and couldn't have come at a more opportune time. PocketFives: Is there anyone who helped change how you approach the game? Norman Michalek: A lot of my success in poker is attributed to posting and browsing threads on 2+2. I have come to know many of the top players through that site and we talk on a frequent basis. I'm very grateful that I have a rolodex of players I can consult when I have any questions. PocketFives: Do you play any live poker? Norman Michalek: Unfortunately, yes. Live poker has been a double-edged sword for me. I always come into tournaments feeling motivated and come out of them dejected and pissed off. It has always been the monkey on my shoulder that I have been trying to get rid of. I have been playing live poker since 2010 and have yet to get the significant win I've been looking for. Perhaps some justice coming up in these Harrah's Circuit Events?
  2. [caption width="640"] Norman 'slystyle012' Michalek spent the first part of 2017 rebuilding his bankroll online and then hit a major live score at the Spring Poker Open.[/caption] 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.”
  3. Friday night's World Series of Poker Online action on WSOP.com saw 'samadhi' overcome a final table that included Matt 'Berkey11_S4Y' Berkey and WSOP bracelet winner Ryan 'Adopt_aDogg0' Leng to win Event #24 ($400 NLHE 8-Max) and earn $133,412.83 and a WSOP bracelet. It didn't take long for the first final table bust out of the day when Christian 'CalcFather' Calcano open-jammed with [poker card="Ac"][poker card="9c"] from middle position for 1,226,311. Action folded to chip leader 'samadhi' in the big blind who made the call with [poker card="8c"][poker card="8s"]. It was a coin flip that Calcano needed to win but he didn't connect on the [poker card="Tc"][poker card="4d"][poker card="2d"][poker card="5s"][poker card="7h"] runout and ended his final table cameo appearance. Eight minutes later high-roller regular Berkey moved all-in for 2,936,652 after 'eric_shun' limped in on the button. The button limper called and they were off to the flop. 'eric_shun': [poker card="Kh"][poker card="Qd"] Berkey: [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Ts"] The [poker card="Jd"][poker card="9c"][poker card="5s"] flop meant Berkey was still ahead but gave 'eric_shun' a gutshot for Broadway. The [poker card="6c"] on the turn missed both players but Berkey made a pair on the [poker card="Td"] river which also gave 'eric_shun' the straight sending the 'Solve For Why' co-founder to the rail. With six players remaining, 'alululululu' raised to 480,000 from the cutoff, Norman 'abnormality' Michalek called off his remaining stack of 241,624 and Leng completed from the big blind. 'alululululu' fired a 240,000 continuation bet which Leng called after checking on the [poker card="6c"][poker card="5c"][poker card="2d"] flop. The [poker card="5d"] turn and [poker card="3d"] were checked down. The at-risk Michalek tabled [poker card="Ah"][poker card="Tc"] for ace-high but Leng rivered a pair as he was holding [poker card="Qc"][poker card="3h"] to eliminate Michalek in sixth place. Mark 'batsman' Bansemar was the next player with his tournament life on the line. Leng who was in the small blind put Bansemar all in, who committed his 2,161,265 stack from the big blind. Leng held [poker card="Jh"][poker card="3h"] while Bansemar showed [poker card="7c"][poker card="7h"]. The flop came a favorable [poker card="6c"][poker card="6d"][poker card="2h"] for Bansemar. The [poker card="Ad"] river meant that Leng just had three outs to hit, and hit he did as the [poker card="Js"] fell on the river and sent Bansemar packing for a $33K payout. There was more blind versus blind action 13 minutes later as short stack 'alululululu' shoved their 1,654,922 stack from the small blind with [poker card="Kd"][poker card="9h"] and 'samadhi' called with [poker card="Th"][poker card="7h"] in the big blind. Despite 'alululululu' remaining ahead on the [poker card="8h"][poker card="5h"][poker card="4d"] flop he still had to avoid what seemed like half the deck. An inconsequential [poker card="3d"] came on the turn but 'samadhi' completed his flush on the [poker card="Qh"] river ending the hopes of 'alululululu' in fourth place. Three-handed play ended just over ten minutes later after another blind versus blind battle. Leng limped in the small blind and 'eric_shun' checked his option. Leng bet 333,333 after seeing the [poker card="Jh"][poker card="9c"][poker card="6c"] flop and 'eric_shun' called. Leng put the pressure on betting 666,666 the [poker card="Ah"] turn and again 'eric_shun' called. Leng then put in a hefty bet of 3,669,669 on the [poker card="Kh"] river and then snap-called after 'eric_shun' river raised all-in with [poker card="Th"][poker card="9s"] for a pair of nines. Leng, holding [poker card="Qh"][poker card="8h"], rivered the nuts, rendering 'eric_shun's' holding useless to take it to heads up. Ryan 'Adopt_aDogg0' Leng at one point had a 8:1 chip lead and had 'samadhi' all in on three separate occasions with the latter winning all three to take the chip lead. With the blinds at 300,000/600,000 Leng moved all in on the button with [poker card="9c"][poker card="9d"] and was quickly called by 'samadhi' with [poker card="Kh"][poker card="8s"]. The chip leader continued his run good versus Leng as the flop came [poker card="Kd"][poker card="Qd"][poker card="2d"], looking to fade any diamond or nine, the turn came the [poker card="4s"] and the [poker card="7s"] on the river sealed the win for 'samadhi' who overcame the odds to pick up a WSOP title and the lion's share of $866,880 prize pool. Final Table Payouts Nick 'samadhi' Binger - $133,412.83 Ryan 'Adopt_aDogg0' Leng - $82,440.28 'eric_shun' - $60,161.47 'alululululu'- $44,297.56 Mark 'bansman' Bansemar - $32,941.44 Norman 'abnormality' Michalek - $24,706.08 Matt 'Berkey11_S4Y' Berkey - $18,637.92 Christian 'CalcFather' Calcano - $14,216.83 Faces in the Crowd 2020 WSOP bracelet winner Pat 'ichiikawawa' Lyons bubbled the tournament in 331st place and notable names like Ali 'sasukeuchiha' Imsirovic (82nd - $1,300.32) and Scott 'BudLightLime' Hempel (53rd - $2,340.57) finished in the money. WSOP veteran Mike 'mouth123' Matusow made it to the final four tables but finished 30th for $3,380.83 and the unfortunate final table bubble boy Jordan 'HFNeon' Spurlin picked up $11,009.37 for his efforts.

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