Bridge to Omaha: Remembering Michael Cappelletti
This part of the calendar hasn’t been kind to poker writers in recent years.
Two years ago, we lost Barry Tanenbaum. He was best-known as a Limit Hold’em specialist who not only wrote authoritatively about the game, but also played full-time for a living, mostly at the Bellagio, winning consistently over many years. SEE MY VIDEO TRIBUTE TO BARRY HERE
Then, last year at about this same time, Lou Kreiger passed away. Lou wrote a total of seven books on poker strategy, and was one of Card Player magazine’s most prolific contributors for nearly two decades. READ A REMEMBRANCE OF LOU HERE
Only yesterday did I learn of the very recent death of another fine writer and friend — Michael Cappelletti. He passed away on November 14th.
Mike was probably most familiar to many readers for his groundbreaking strategy work on Omaha High-Low Split. However, prior to winning money and respect in poker, Mike was equally revered as a master bridge player. In short, whatever Mike set out to do, he usually accomplished it — albeit in his own way and with an original flair that became a lifelong Cappelletti trademark.
I knew Mike for nearly twenty years. We both lived for a time in Wasington, D.C., which meant our paths crossed quite often, mostly at the poker tables in suburban Maryland. Mike was always instantly recognizable. He was the one who sat quietly with folded arms, chomping on an unlit cigar the size of a torpedo.
During all the time I knew and saw Mike, I don’t think I ever saw him once raise his voice, get out of line, or go on tilt. He was the consummate low-stakes cash game pro who seemed to enjoy the game more as a mental exercise and challenge than a profit center.
I’ll tell you a little story. Once, I played in a private game with Mike where everyone was straddling, except Mike, of course. He didn’t believe in that. Finally, after several hours someone finally convinced him to post a live straddle, which for him must have been like swallowing his cigar. Sure enough, Mike won the huge pot, raked in a huge pile of chips, and immediately announced he was cashing out. He booked a win and was out the door within minutes. That was classic Cappelletti.
During these occasions of remembrance, my heart especially goes out Betty Tanenbaum. She was not only married to husband Barry for many years, long before that she was also a close friend to Mike, linked together as partners within the gin world.
Any parting words seem woefully inadequate given the recurrent losses of those who spent a great portion of their lives working towards a greater understanding of strategy and gamesmanship. Knowing as I do the immeasurable number of hours spent plying the writing trade for what amounts to minimal compensation, I’ve become acutely aware that such toil must merit recognition, even more so among those of us who survive these three poker masters, and who shall profit immeasurably from their contributions and friendships.
A special note of thanks goes to Washington, D.C. attorney Ken Adams, who brought this sad news to my attention. A special tribute to Cappelletti can be read HERE.