Nov. 9: Marquis saves luck for Main Event

Craig Marquis

This is the eighth in a nine-part series taking a look at the players set to battle at the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event final table on Nov. 9. Craig Marquis has our attention for this round as he is one of two players with the potential to take the youngest Main Event winner title away from Phil Hellmuth.

Sick poker. That's what 2008 World Series of Poker Final Table player Craig Marquis is all about.

As one of the two remaining players who could break Phil Hellmuth's record as the youngest WSOP Main Event champion ever, Marquis is happy for the three-month break leading to the November 9 Final Table. Much of his gratitude stems from the fact he got brutally ill during Day 4 of WSOP Main Event play, and the affliction followed him right through to Day 7.

"Grueling is the best way to describe it," Marquis told ESPN after play stopped. "It was pretty bad there for a while. I am feeling a lot better now though, because I made it through to November."

As for how the 23-year-old got into the game of poker, Marquis maintains friendships with famed online players David "raptor" Benefield and Tom "durrrr" Dwan. He went to a New Year's Eve party at Benefield's house, and started to think that the lifestyle his pals were living sure would beat his of working and going to school full time.

"I started [playing poker] because I was jealous of my friends," says Marquis.

Shortly afterward, in January of 2007, Marquis made a $100 deposit on Full Tilt and began playing $5.50 sit-and-gos. He ran his bankroll up to a modest $1k and boldly quit his job to focus on poker full time.

Almost immediately, he won a $24k guaranteed on Full Tilt, and that bought him the time he needed to really improve his play.

"I actually started making more playing online than I was making at my job," said Marquis. "I quit my job and then like a week after I won the $24k guaranteed.

"That was a nice little bankroll boost because I probably didn't really have enough money at that point to quit [my job]. But I was doing well enough to where I didn't have to worry about it. That extra $9k gave me the boost I needed to start moving up the ranks."

Since then Marquis' live-tournament resume reads as follows:


39th WSOP Event 17



38th WSOP Event 52



38th WSOP Event 13



Not bad for a guy who has been playing for less than two years. However, Marquis claims to have played well over one million hands of online poker, and that's his bread and butter.

As for how he got to the 2008 WSOP final table, Marquis mixed up his play well and always seemed to find the right hands at the right time. It's a good thing, he says, as he had had a brutal 2008 WSOP leading up to the Main Event.

"I didn't do very good in the other events," said Marquis. "Everybody in my house did really, really well. I only had one cash. I told everybody I was saving my luck for the Main Event and it ends up that was the case."

Leading up to Nov. 9 Marquis said that he really didn't want to play too much - that he would rather try to take it easy and enjoy the moment.

"I am going to relax, buy some cool stuff, try to enjoy myself," he said of the three-month layoff before the 2008 WSOP final table. "I really wasn't planning on playing a lot of poker but I will probably try and play a couple of tournaments."

As for the nerves associated with making it to such heights so early in his career as a professional poker player, Marquis says he's pretty much immune.

"Poker doesn't really make me nervous at all," said Marquis. "I haven't been nervous at all. My attitude on poker, especially when I am playing, is that all I can do is affect all the things I can affect. I am just gonna go out and play as best I can and wherever I wind up is perfectly fine."

Don't be fooled by Marquis's casual demeanor, though. He's been spotted playing live in Europe, and continues to play regularly on Full Tilt. He's sure to be taking stock of the strengths and weaknesses of the opponents he'll face in the fight at the Nov. 9 final table.

"The people I would least want to play heads-up would be Peter Eastgate or Ivan Demidov," Marquis said in an interview for Dead Money, a blog for The Grand Rapids Press. "They both come from a cash background and would have the best idea of how to play in a heads-up situation. Everyone at the final table is pretty solid, which is unfortunate for me."

Hey; Marquis is 23 years old and having the time of his life. What's to worry about? With a little card luck he could become the 2008 WSOP Main Event Champion. If not, he's just going to enjoy the ride.

"I have a pretty laid-back perspective [on] poker, and I think that definitely helps me not get stressed out or frustrated as much as I would. I am eighth in chips. I've got no expectations."

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