Mike Sica was not a household name in the game of poker, but most seasoned players knew him and his superb poker-playing abilities.
Known as ‘Little Man,’ Sica tragically passed away on Wednesday at age 69 after a battle with lung cancer. He made his professional poker debut quite late in life when he first took to the felt in 2004, which came after a long career as a teacher.
However, the career move proved to be a highly successful one for Sica as he accrued over US$1.3 million in live poker tournament earnings over nine years.
His first professional live poker tournament came at the $1,000 Seniors No-Limit Hold’em event at the 2004 World Series of Poker (WSOP), where he finished tenth out of 519 entries. He topped that in his very next outing by winning his first (and only) WSOP gold bracelet in the $3,000 No-Limit Hold’Em event just two days later.
Sica played in numerous live poker tournaments over the years and had a total of 12 WSOP in-the-money finishes to his name. He continued to play the game just months before his passing, with his final cash coming in a $365 No-Limit Hold’em tournament at a WSOP Circuit event at the end of April.
That finish came a few weeks after Little Man was officially diagnosed with the sickness that would unfortunately end up taking his life. In an April 2013 interview with the WSOP website, Sica said that his smoking habit may have played a role in developing lung cancer and stated that taking up the habit was among his biggest regrets in life.
“I started (smoking) when I was 16 and I remember a 93-year-old neighbor who walked up to me one day when I was lighting up who said to me ‘you better stop doing that’,” he said in the interview. “Looking back, I wish I had listened to him. So to the younger players out there, I say do yourself a favor and quit now.”
Many professional poker players took to social media to give their condolences to Little Man, who was well-liked among the poker community during his nine years as a pro.
Fellow WSOP gold bracelet winner Jason Mercier was among those players who paid their respects to Sica. “I had the pleasure of playing against Mike ‘Little Man’ Sica many times in the last several years. His personality alone was inspiring. RIP,” he tweeted.
Tim Reilly also took to Twitter to pass his condolences to Sica, stating that it was “Really sad that the poker world lost a real stand up guy in Mike Sica. One of the sincerely nicest guys I’ve had the pleasure of playing with.”
Sica is survived by his wife of 47 years, a son, daughter and a number of grandchildren. According to the Gleason Funeral Home website, Sica’s funeral will be held on Monday morning in the city of New Brunswick in New Jersey.
We at PokerUpdate would like to pass our sincerest condolences to Sica’s family and friends in this sad time.