Meet Manny Manelic … Tampa poker pro

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Meet … Manelic “Manny” Minaya

Age: 56

Hometown: Manny’s lived in Tampa for the past six years, but he used to live in New Jersey.

Family: Married to his lovely wife, Mirasol, for 18 years; five children.

When did he start playing professionally? “In 2005. (It was) the year Joe Hachem won (the WSOP Main Event) and I finished 61st. I also finished fourth in the Omaha/8 tournament that Todd Brunson won. But before I started on the tour I used to play regular home cash games. I’ve been playing poker for about 40 years.”

Game of choice: He likes all of the games in H.O.R.S.E. and prefers tournaments to cash games, though he says he still plays cash.

Favorite hold’em hand: K-8 suited. “I won a lot of money with that hand.”

Friends: Manny has been friends with Jacobo Fernandez of Hollywood for more than 30 years. “We know each other from New York, back in the late ’70s,” said Minaya of the CardPlayer World Series of Poker Player of the Year. “We’ve been good friends for a long, long time. We used to play poker together back then, too.” But his closest friend is a gentleman by the name of Nick Bickey, with whom Manny travels to all of his poker tournaments. “Manny and I once traveled to Omaha, Neb. for a WSOP Circuit event in the snow,” Bickey said as he sat down during the interview at One-Eyed Jacks in Sarasota. “I cashed, came in first in the $1K. Then I finished 15th in the main event. But enough about me. We go everywhere together. If Manny was single I’d marry him! That’s how much I love him!” (Bickey’s better half might have something to say about that.)
How often does Manny travel? About 10 times a year I leave home to play in events on the tour.

Does he play online? “I’m not a big online player. I don’t believe too much in online. I don’t know what goes on, and the things that have happened before. … I do play, but I’m not too crazy about it.”

How did it feel to have such a strong year? “It feels great. But I was very disappointed at the World Series. There were two or three events that I could have gone deep in but I got a couple bad beats.”

WSOP cashes: He has nine overall, including a remarkable six cashes in 2008, plus he has nearly $1 million in career tournament winnings.

What’s he think of Florida poker? “It’s really good. I’m impressed with how many good poker players are from Florida. You can see them all over the place, Vegas, Atlantic City, everywhere. I think Florida has one of the best group of poker players in the world.”
What does he think of Florida poker in general? “I don’t understand why we don’t have a big main event here in Florida. The WPT or WSOP circuit events should have at least one main event here in Florida.”