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Salisbury man wins chance to play with the pros

By Shelley Smithssmith@salisburypost.com
Salisbury resident Michael McCowan, 70, hopes to soon play poker alongside of “Jesus” in the 2010 World Series of Poker Main Event. Not ‘the’ Jesus, but Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, one of McCowan’s favorite professional poker players.
McCowan was one of three people chosen at random out of 41,400 to compete in the World Series of Poker this summer in Las Vegas. He regularly buys the poker scratch-off tickets through the North Carolina Education Lottery. When he was not an instant winner, he registered online, like others, and was hoping to be one of the lucky three.
“I was very surprised,” McCowan said. “You always think that it happens to everyone else, it’s never going to happen to me. But it did, and it’s amazing.”
Although McCowan is not a professional poker player, he has experience.
McCowan played with fellow airmen while in the Air Force and was actually stationed in Las Vegas.
“When I lived in Las Vegas I used to go watch the poker tournaments at the original Binion’s Horseshoe Hotel,” McCowan said.
McCowan, who also plays online and on his cell phone, retired from the Air Force in 1976, and lived in Las Vegas until 1980. Although he is originally from Greensboro, his father was from Salisbury.
“We decided to move back here where we have trees and grass,” McCowan said. “My father worked for Southern Railroad and we have family here.”
McCowan said he will take his “darling wife” with him to Vegas this summer.
“If I tried to go out without her, I’d probably be dead,” McCowan joked.
“Everything has changed so much since I lived there,” McCowan said. He said he hasn’t been back since he left in 1980. “I’ll be like a new tourist, and will probably look up some of the people I knew there.
“I hope I can do pretty well. A lot of these guys do it for a living. The challenge of trying to beat the other fellow and catch the winning hand will be exciting.
“One time in my life it would be great to get to sit down with the pros,” he said. “That would be the icing on the cake.”
McCowan not only won a seat in the World Series of Poker, but was also given five days and four nights in deluxe hotel accommodations, round trip airfare for two and $500 spending money.
The World Series of Poker takes place in the summer and is available for viewing on cable television in the fall.

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