Last Monday, Daniel Smyth introduced us to Ana Marquez, Team Pro Pokerstars, and current leader of the GPI National 100 for Spain. After telling us how she got her start in online poker thanks to WSOP Champion Greg Merson, she talked to us about her GPI competition with boyfriend Bryn Kenney. In this second part of our interview we learn more about Ana and Bryn’s relationship, find out what she thinks about Spanish poker and see what it’s like to be in the spotlight.
Owing it to Bryn
Hard work and determination are two things you need to succeed in poker, but if you want to continue improving and stay atop of the poker world you need a guiding hand. Fortunately for Ana she had to expert tutelage of boyfriend Bryn Kenney.
In Part 1 of our interview we touched on his influence in her development, but as she’s continued to progress so has Bryn’s influence.
Owing much of her recent success to his sage words, Ana ranks Bryn as her most important mentor in the poker world.
“After watching Bryn play online I tried to focus on my tournament game and, after my first live score at the PCA, he began to take me more seriously. Now he’s my number one teacher. If I play in a tournament I go to him and ask for the answer. I don’t care what anyone else says, whatever he says I listen to. He tells me how I should be playing, what moves I should pull and now he’s my only teacher. He’s changed my game completely.”
Ana’s respect and thanks for Bryn is clear and there’s no doubt that she (along with many other people) rank him as one of the best players in the world.
However, with the Spanish GPI rankings getting even tighter, we turned our attentions to the talent emerging from her homeland.
Reviewing the Plains of Spain
When you’re out in front one of the main dangers you face – aside from constantly looking behind you and getting a bad neck – is complacency. Indeed, staying at the top is tougher than getting there, which is why Ana is keeping an eye on the Spain’s other top players.
“The one that is closest to me right now is Tomeu Gomila and although I don’t know his game very well, I know he’s very well known in Spain. He’s very close to me, so he could definitely pass me if he hits a decent cash. I guess the race is going to be decided in Prague.
I haven’t seen much of Carlos Mortensen and I don’t know him personally, but I think I saw him at the WSOP this summer. I’m not sure how much he travels though so I don’t think he’s that much of a threat at the moment.
Cesar Garcia is my friend and I think he’s one of the best Spanish players right now. He has to fix some things in his game but I think he’s very good. He’s had a really good run this year and I expect him to do better in the future. He’s creative and that’s why I think he’ll go very far.”
Although Spanish born, Ana’s game didn’t evolve in her native Spain. Indeed, having learnt to play poker in America before reconnecting with the Spanish game, she’s now has an insight into both cultures and sees many parallels between the two.
“What I think is special about the Spanish is that they play like the Americans did about 2/3 years ago. When I talk to Spanish players they seem to be following the same path and not creating their own style like the British or Germans.
I think culture affects how nationalities play poker. The Spanish are studious and they have a lot of poker schools which is probably the reason why they are following a similar style to Americans. This approach has probably taken away from their creativity a little bit, but it has given them a solid base.
Poker changes constantly and when I speak to some Spanish players its clear they know what they are doing, but some things that were once correct to do aren’t anymore.”
Living in the Spotlight
Even with all her success to-date, Ana is still fighting: fighting the critics who assume she’s a soft touch because she’s a woman. However, with recognition comes opportunity and rather than hiding from the doubters, Ana is now standing proud in the spotlight. Flying under the wings of PokerStars, she’s ready to face off against anyone who feels up to the challenge.
“I’m not a proud person but it hurts when someone tells you that you can’t play just because you’re a girl. When they made me a PokerStars pro I knew some people would assume it was only because I’m a girl. However, I knew that wasn’t true and that I’d now have a chance to prove myself. That’s very precious to me.
In poker it’s possible to achieve lots of things, but if it’s out of the spotlight no one will really know about it or acknowledge it. My sponsorship deal puts me in the firing line, though. For some people that’s bad, but for me it’s great because I can show people what I’m worth.
I’ve worked really hard to become good at poker so I want show people I can do it and I’m not just ‘some girl’ at the table. Now I’m ranked as Spain’s GPI #1, who can argue against me being a world-class player? If there’s anyone out there that wants to play against me, I say good luck because you’ll need it.”