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Michael Rocco Turned European Vacation Into $750K Work Trip

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Sometimes, life puts you on a path you’re not expecting. For Michael Rocco, an unexpected detour was worth about $750,000 in cashes at World Series of Poker Europe 2023.

Rocco was one of just a handful of players to make the trek to Rozvadov, Czech Republic in early November for WSOPE, and he likely wouldn’t have been there at all if it weren’t for the right friends and some cosmically aligned timing.

As a matter of fact, Rozvadov wasn’t even the first coincidental poker stop on his European adventure.

“I actually didn’t plan on going to Rozvadov at all,” said Rocco. “I was in Europe for my friend’s wedding, and from there I decided to go to EPT Cyprus.”

After making a trio of side event final tables, including a win in a $5,200 8-Game Mix tournament in Cyprus, Rocco was once again pulled in another direction.

“Another friend of mine wanted to go out to Rozvadov,” said Rocco. “So I stayed around Europe for a little bit longer, traveled some more, and then we went to Rozvadov.”

That decision couldn’t have worked out much better. Rocco made a serious run at his first career WSOP bracelet in the €25,000 GGMillions event, eventually finishing second. Then, in the WSOPE European Championship, which drew a field of 712, Rocco made his second final table of the trip, finishing fifth.

“I mean, I ran well, and it’s always nice to go deep in tournaments like that,” said Rocco.

Rocco has enjoyed success in tournament poker for over a decade. He’s been in contention for a number of major live titles over the course of his career, including a televised final table appearance and third-place finish at the 2014 WPT LA Poker Classic, and a pair of runner-up results in WSOP bracelet events. In 2022, Rocco finished ninth, for $429,000, in the WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas.

His chase for a WPT title continued at the Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open, where Rocco was squarely focused on the $3,500 Championship Event and a handful of side tournaments on offer. But a return to Las Vegas for another shot at what should be one of the biggest events in history – this time with a $40 Million Guarantee attached – was also on his mind.

“I’m actually going to go Wynn right after this tournament, probably for the whole series,” Rocco said. “I considered going to Bahamas to play, but I’m probably not going to do that. Small chance I might leave Vegas and play the main event or something, but I think I’ll be in Vegas for all of December.”

A lucrative trip, be it in Vegas, the Czech Republic, or anywhere in between, is always a sweet reward. However, the pursuit of accolades and greatness in poker is still at the forefront of what drives Rocco in his poker career.

“My values in poker aren’t necessarily just about the money,” said Rocco. “I think that probably is contrary to a lot of people’s perspective. I generally just play for the competition and to try to become a better player. I do things off the table to make myself a better person. And hopefully, that ends up expressed through my poker results.”

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