Daniel Smyth took some time to speak with Ana Marquez, Team Pro Pokerstars, about her life as a poker player, and also her 1st position in the Spanish GPI rankings and 2nd position in the Spanish POY. There are only a few tournaments left before the end of the year for her to add a few more points and finish Player Of the Year 2012 in her country. This interview will be in two parts, so stay tuned!
From grinding underground cash games with WSOP champions, to standing atop of the Spanish poker world, Ana Marquez has climbed from obscurity to become one of the game’s brightest stars. Now a fully-fledged member of PokerStars’ stable of pros, Ana is riding high on the GPI’s Spanish rankings and looking to use her new found fame to prove that she’s one of the world’s best.
We talked exclusively to Ana about her ascent through the poker world and found out how her game has changed since bursting on the scene in 2010. We also delved into how she’s using the Global Poker Index to take her game to the next level and why she’ll glad take on anyone who tries to stop her.
The Formative years
There aren’t many people in the world who can say they owe their start in the online poker world to 2012 WSOP Champion, Greg Merson, but Ana can. Having moved to the US for her studies, Ana was soon frequenting the same underground games as Greg Merson, Christian Harder and Anthony Gregg. Before long she was making a steady living playing cash games, but that wasn’t where she would make her name.
“Greg Merson is from my hometown in the US and I started playing with him. In fact, he was the one who transferred me my first $20 online. Christian Harder was also from Maryland and we all used to play underground cash games in the local area: that’s how we all met each other.
I was mainly a cash game player at the time, but because I was amongst tournament wizards I started to learn more about MTTs. At that point cash games became a bit boring, so I started to play more tournaments until I virtually stopped playing cash altogether. Tournaments are my thing now and they are so much fun. I look at every new tournament as a challenge and a chance to try out new moves.”
For all her original teachers, it’s Ana’s now boyfriend, Bryn Kenney (GPI #16), who gave her the skills to transition into the upper echelons of the poker world.
“The person who really changed by game was Bryn. Before that I was basically learning on my own. I would grind with friends and talk about hands, but when you’re a woman they don’t really take you seriously.
Bryn was a bit like this at first which tilted me a little, but now he’s my number one teacher. I go to him with all my questions and he’s changed my game completely. I’ve gone from being a complete nit who knew some moves, to someone who now understands poker in a completely different way. I came to realise that winning is not about playing your cards, but getting chips anyway you can.”
Transition to the Top
A 10th place finish at the 2011 PCA set Ana on her way and with the cashes mounting up one would be forgiven for thinking she could afford to take her foot off the gas. However, when you’re desperate to make a statement in the poker world, you can’t afford to stop building your bankroll.
“For me poker is about cash and being profitable over anything else. If I’m cashing, I’m doing well: if I’m not cashing, I’m losing money. Everything else – such as my GPI ranking – should fall into place if I keep winning.”
There comes a point, though, when all poker players have to look beyond the money and draw inspiration from other sources. With the GPI now becoming more of a factor in many tournament players’ careers, Ana is also pushing herself to grind harder than ever in order to maintain her position at the top of the Spanish tree.
“Making money is aim at the moment but I’m also really focusing on GPI. Since I found out I was Spain’s GPI #1, it’s really motivated me. I needed something like this because I am very tired and I’ve been playing for a long time, so having the GPI to focus on has kept me going. I’m now going to as many tournaments as I can in order to maintain my position at the top.”
Life on the GPI
Like a shot of extra strength Red Bull the GPI has been a fuel surging through Ana’s body, giving her an extra boost when she’s at the felt. But it’s not just Ana who’s using the GPI as a tonic to supercharge their efforts as it seems the tournament landscape has been remoulded the ranking system.
“At first I didn’t pay much attention to the GPI. It was Bryn who brought it to my attention. He’s ranked 16th in the GPI Top 300 and he told me to check out my ranking. Then I got a tweet from the GPI to say that I was leading the Spanish rankings.
It was funny because Bryn and I were fighting to see who could make it further in their own table: me in Spain and Bryn in the world rankings.
I think the GPI makes poker fun because it turns it into a competition. Obviously poker is competitive, but it brings a different element to the game. I also think it helps generate more recognition for players that don’t have sponsorship deals and things like that.
On a personal level it also gives you a lot of motivation; especially when you’re on the circuit with friends. It’s cool to say ‘I’m ranked number one in Spain’ rather than ‘I’m a PokerStars pro’.”
Check out Part 2 of our exclusive interview with Ana Marquez from Next Wednesday and get her thoughts on Spanish poker and life as a PokerStars pro.