Earlier this month, the poker world got the news of this great grinder Mike McClain died of stomach cancer.
McClain had a degree in engineering and previously worked in the IT industry before turning to poker full-time.
“Mike had been a poker mentor to me. Just hearing him describe hands made me a much better player,” said the poker author Lee Jones, a friend of McClain’s, shared a memory on Poker.org. “He would drive from his home in the Sacramento area and sit on Bay 101’s $60-$120 LHE game for a few days, make enough money to last him a month, then drive home.”
Lee explained that McClain, who was diagnosed in 2021, recently made the decision to end chemotherapy and spend his remaining days with family and friends.
“Mike didn’t make decisions like most people, but in the years I knew him, he made far more right decisions than wrong decisions,” Lee added. “His last major decision was certainly harder than any of us would want to face, but I have no doubt that Mike made the right decision for himself and his family – that’s all that matters.”
Mike McClain at the 2004 WSOP.
According to the Hendon Mob, McClain earned $1,303,837 in lifetime tournament earnings, including a career-best $470,400 for finishing ninth in the World Series of Poker Main Event ( WSOP) of 2004. In fact, it was that tournament where he got his big time in the poker spotlight thanks, in large part, to battling an eventual champion. Greg Raymer.
Aces Cracked at the 2004 WSOP Final Table
In the 2004 WSOP Final Table, which can be viewed on demand at PokerGO, McClain checked down and raised to 150,000. Raymer checked the button and three-bet to 500,000. Both blinds folded and McClain moved all-in.
Raymer called and got lucky when the flop came to give him a set. The turn meant a nine would cut him, but the river was a brick to eliminate McClain.
“In my limited interactions with him, the thing that probably stood out the most was how well he took the bad hit I gave him at the final table,” Raymer told PokerNews after learning of his death McClain. “Although he was obviously disappointed, he was calm and composed, and never had a bad word to say about anything. He honestly seemed to handle it as perfectly as possible. Instead of focusing on the bad luck of this hand, he factored in all the good luck that got him this far and helped him win nearly half a million dollars.I doubt even 2% of all poker players could have managed that either, and that’s a great testament to him and his poker ability.”
Greg Raymer and Mike McClain shake hands.
Raymer added: “I’ve run into him a number of times after that final table, and he’s always been a super nice guy, very cool and calm. I think the thing that stood out to me the most about Mike was his intelligence glaringly obvious intelligence. Somehow, even if he’d barely said a word, you just knew he was great.”
Other highlights of McClain’s poker resume included $182,900 for fifth place at the 2007 World Poker Tour (WPT) Legends of Poker, $99,648 for finishing ninth at the 2006 WPT LA Poker Classic, and $53,777 for finishing fourth at the Circuit $OP 2005 Maine de Lake Taho 2008. Event. His last documented tournament cash came in March 2020 when he finished 16th in the $5,200 Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event for $17,595.
PokerNews extends its condolences to the friends and family of Mike McClain, who will be greatly missed by the poker world.
*2004 WSOP images courtesy of PokerGO broadcast.
Chad Holloway Executive Editor USA
US Executive Editor, PokerNews Podcast co-host and 2013 WSOP bracelet winner.