9/11 Hero Hopes for Legal Online Poker

Mike Kosowki
Mike Kosowski

It would be an understatement to say former New York City cop Mike Kosowski has lived a fascinating life.

The former detective sergeant was one of the first responders on 9/11 and was trapped with eight other people when the World Trade Center’s south tower collapsed.

Kosowski was seriously injured but eventually escaped with his life. Due to leg and back injuries he was forced to retire in from the Police Department in 2004.

“I was one of the luckiest guys in the world to survive that day,” Kosowski told the NY Daily News.

Initially bedridden, Kosowski started playing online poker to escape the pain and boredom. As his health improved, so did his poker game.

In 2009 Kosowski won a special qualifier online to play against Daniel Negreanu for $1 million as part of the TV show PokerStars.net Million Dollar Showdown.

As fate would have it Kosowski won the show and took home $1 million in prize money, becoming the talk of the poker world.

Nearly two years later, and despite winning the cash, Kosowski has been through more challenges.

“My health has been bad, which is not too good,” he said. “I had a heart stent put in and I was diagnosed with diabetes. It put me out of action for a good 10 months.”

By the time Kosowki’s health started to improve and he was actually able to play a few tournaments, the poker industry had gone through a massive overhaul with the events of Black Friday barring major sites PokerStars and Full Tilt from the U.S. market.

Mike Kosowski
Mike Kosowski

He was no longer able to play the game that helped him recover from the original injuries he suffered in 2001.

“I don’t know what’s the matter with the U.S. government,” he said. “They would only make money on it.

"I don’t know who’s pushing the buttons or running the show but I gotta tell you it’s not the right people.”

Kosowski went on to say there are many players that physically can’t make the trip to casinos that should be able to experience the fun of playing poker.

“I hope it’s [regulated soon] because all the gentleman, such as myself, but much older still love to play but they don’t like to travel to do it,” he said.

“With online poker they can do it in the comfort of their own home.”

On the bright side, Kosowski was finally able to take a seat in the 2011 WSOP Main Event on Sunday.

Kosowski, who was forced to skip the 2010 Main Event because of his health issues, had been waiting for over a year to play in the prestigious tournament.

“It’s fantastic,” he said. “There’s nothing like playing in a major event like this.”

After three levels of play, Kosowski continued to show some solid poker chops. He had one of the biggest stacks in the room with just over 80,000 chips.

Whether he wins $1 million in this contest, remains to be seen.

The 2011 WSOP continues through July 19. For comprehensive coverage live from Las Vegas check PokerListings' Live Updates brought to you by PartyPoker.

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