Seven card from a specialist

December 13, 2016 3:10 AM


I had the pleasure of getting to know poker pro Michael Rocco volunteering for an organization that was preparing Thanksgiving meals to distribute to the needy.

I was asked if I could drop off meals to a halfway home in South L.A., so I asked my husband if he knew anyone who could lend a hand on such short notice, and Mike Rocco gladly agreed.

We took a wrong turn and ended up on Skid Row and witnessed true despair on the streets of Los Angeles, just blocks from the tallest skyscrapers of the prosperous financial district.

Helping others during the holidays makes those bad beats look insignificant.

What we consider one buy-in could help a family eat. It was an experience neither of us will ever forget. In the process, I got to know a person who is not your typical poker player.

Mike Rocco was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and has been playing stud since he was a kid with his family. Mike says, “They loved me in the game! I was the live one. I was in every pot trying to bluff. I learned that doesn’t work.”

Since he was in junior high school, he would tell anyone who would listen that he was going to move to Las Vegas some day. His dream finally came true after Mike spent his honeymoon in Las Vegas and moved there in 1982.

He had a cousin who owned the Chapel of the Bells on Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue and worked as a limo driver.

Mike then went to dealer school and became a blackjack dealer; from 1984 to 1987 he dealt blackjack at the Dunes and would play $15/$30 Seven Card Stud at Caesars Palace in his free time.

Mike improved his game by playing with really good players in Las Vegas in the 80s. As he says, “Play with good players, and do what they do. Watch and learn.” Mike took his own advice, and in 2008 he won a WSOP gold bracelet in the $1,500 Seven Card Stud for $135,753.

Mike is one of the most consistent winners in stud and has stuck to the game he loves. No one knows more stud players than Mike, which makes him an excellent host for Hollywood Park Casino’s new stud section where you can find a $6/$12 or $15/$30 stud game almost every day of the week.

Mike is one of the most down-to-earth people you will ever meet at the poker table. But he saves his praise for another fellow poker pro, “Robin Kay is one of the nicest persons to players I have ever seen. She is one of the hardest working poker hosts I have ever known.”

As Mike says, if you want to hone your game, play with the best. Hollywood Park Casino is one of the best places to play if you want to have fun while improving your game.