Hello, Newman: 2017 Rock ‘N’ Roll Champ Making a Deep WPT Run

Nov 25, 2018

By Sean Chaffin

Michael Newman
Mike Newman is hoping for some deja vu at the WPT Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open. A year ago at this time, Newman took down the biggest cash of his career when he won this title for $374,240.

“It’s pretty cool especially since I don’t do this for a living,” he says of having a chance to actually repeat as a champion of a major tournament.

The only thing that might have made it better is if the event had been a WPT event last year. Having his name on the Champions Cup would have made the win even sweeter.

“Yeah, they didn’t have the WPT or I would have gotten the chance to play for a WPT championship,” he says. “If I could somehow get lucky now and get on a good run, and have a chance to go back to back that would be great. It’s unrealistic, but you never know.”

Up until just before the break, Newman had been among the chip leaders with around 690,000, but a big pot made took a chunk out of his stack. He stood at about 360,000 chips as Level 17 got underway.

“It’s funny, last year at the final table, my Queens held up against Shaun Deeb’s Ace-King,” he says. “This time I lost. [The other player] hit the Ace on the turn. That’s poker.”

Originally from New York, the 50-year-old moved to South Florida three years ago. He owned a business in private banking and mortgage loans, and still dabbles a bit in the industry.

Newman is a regular at the Seminole Hard Rock and plays a couple tournaments a month at the property. He loves the property and has chalked up several nice scores at the casino since moving to the area.

The relocation to the Sunshine State came after a friend asked him to help open up in an office in the area. After helping out, Newman decided to stay and was soon attracted to poker. He had played cards for several years, but not at a competitive level.

In Florida, the game piqued his interest when he began working with Paul Snead, who finished 21st in the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2008. Newman gave him some razzing about the game, but soon became more interested.

“I was joking with him that I had played some home games and stuff and that I’d be able to take him, no problem,” he says, “He said, ‘I don’t think so,’ and he kind of taught me the game.”

The student learned well. He began playing more and now has almost $887,000 in live tournament winnings. He’s had several other wins and nice finishes at the Hard Rock. The most recent came in October when he won a $150 Friday Big Stack event for $4,900.

Competition has always been a part of life for Newman. He played a lot of sports growing up including football and basketball, and remained liked to remain active. Running his own business also stoked some competitive fires, but moving to Florida came at just the right time.

Newman says getting away from the business world has been a nice change of pace. His father also lives in South Florida and he spends quite a bit of time with him. He enjoys hanging out with friends, meeting for a nice cigar or meal.

“I kind of just wanted to come down here to Florida and chill a little bit,” he says. “I wanted to relax, have some fun, do some traveling.”

That mission has been accomplished. A fan of the beaches of the Caribbean when it comes to getting away, he’s been to Antigua, Aruba, St. Bart’s, St. Martin, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Another win here at the Hard Rock, and there could be a few more trips in his future.

Either way, Newman’s having fun trying to defend his title and loves playing at the property so close to home.

“This place is just amazing,” he says. “Tony Burns runs an amazing poker room. The staff is great, and it just feels like home.”

Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.

Looking to win your way to a World Poker Tour event for your shot at becoming a WPT champion? Play for your chance on ClubWPT.com, where eligible VIP Members can play for over $100,000 in cash and prizes each month, including seats to WPT events, no purchase necessary.

Recent Tweets @WPT