A local man drew a winning hand at the poker table and is now headed to a prestigious poker tournament in the Bahamas.
Ronald Mici, a janitor by trade who lives in Pelham Bay, won a ticket worth $25,000 to the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship in the Bahamas in January, along with hotel accommodations and a $5,000 cash prize at a recent Foxwoods Resorts Casino event.
The ticket, known as Platinum Pass, was part of the Moneymaker PSPC tour that came to Foxwoods on Monday, September 9 and ran through the following morning. It was hosted by poker legend Chris Moneymaker.
Mici was at the poker table for 18 hours, with several of his friends also participating in the competition and providing support for one another, said the winner.
“It was hard…but as crazy as it sounds I was having fun the whole time,” said Mici of competition, where he took home the first place prize.
The PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship has a pool of prizes totaling $9 million and takes place between Sunday, January 6 and Thursday, January 10.
Mici said that one of the things that he likes about poker and that originally interested him in the activity was the talent required, competitiveness and lifestyle associated with the game, as well as all of the various people you can meet at the poker table.
“When this happened, it was like a ‘bang-bang thing,’ and I haven’t looked back since then,” said Mici of his poker interest.
When asked to share some of his secrets in becoming an expert poker player, Mici stressed composure and concentration.
“You got to keep your composure,” said Mici. “You have to think about how someone is always tying to take away your money. It is like a job and you have to be on point.”
Good poker players need to study the situation at the table, and be aware when other players may have a clue to the hand you are holding.
“It is kind of a like you are showing a magic trick and other people are looking and looking,” he said. “When they catch on, you have to change your trick up.”
Mici said that he and his friends, four of which accompanied him to Foxwoods, used to roll dice for fun and that they eventually began playing poker.
After winning the tournament at Foxwoods, Mici said that he drove home to Pelham Bay, told his family that he had won and preceded to work an six and a half hour shift at a large office building in lower Manhattan.
Mici told the Bronx Times that he and his family came to the United States from his native Albania in 1997, and that he is proud of his roots in the borough.
“The Bronx gives you a lot of pride,” he said. “There are a lot of tough people here, and thank God I grew up in a good situation with good friends.”
The proud borough native said that he thinks his upbringing in the borough kept him “grinding” and striving for more.
For his chance to win millions of dollars at the upcoming tournament, he is keeping a level head, playing the game, keeping his mind sharp and reading books and watching poker videos, he said.