The PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge event has been won by a former NYPD police officer who beat out a long time poker pro to take the $1million prize.
It was described as a Christmas miracle that came early in an amazing turn of events that saw the former police officer from New York, Mike Kosowski defeat Daniel Negreanu, the poker pro tipped by many to go all the way. The specially televised PokerStars heads up match carried a $1million first prize that the winner took away in front of a large TV audience.
Mr Kosowski was forced to retire from his job as a police officer with the NYPD after injuring his back following the 2001 September 11 World Trade Center attacks during the frantic search for survivors. Following his retirement, he decided to take up online poker as a way of passing the time and occupying his thoughts. He became very proficient, often playing six hours or so a day. During this period, he built up a sizeable bankroll as he honed his skills taking part in many online tournaments and also numerous sit and go contests.
When PokerStars announced they were searching for contestants for the forthcoming televised event, Kosowski immediately signed up, sending in his audition video.
Despite his advanced skill level, Kosowski’s poker journey was almost cut short in the first round, which he lost to Joanna Krupa, a model and former contestant on “Dancing with the Stars”. Luckily for him, he was given a consolation pass to compete in a tough sit-and-go six player tournament, the winner of which would advance to yet another tough, winner takes all six player contest.
Luck was on his side now and Kosowski won both of the sit-and-go contests for the chance to go heads-up with Negreanu, who has won four World Series of Poker bracelets during his poker career. It was a combination of Kosowski’s skill and tenacity, traits certainly gained during his time as a serving NYPD officer, that saw him gain the upper hand against the highly rated poker pro.
After taking down the first prize of $1million, Kosowski made the announcement that he intended to donate some of the prize money to a variety of charities that serve the families and victims of the New York terrorist attacks. He would also make a donation to a leading charity that was dedicated to the homeless in his native city of New York.