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Marc Karam: Playing at Home
Making the final table at the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo the past two years, the Aussie Millions this year and the WPT North American Poker Championship right here in Niagara Falls in 2006 means the past year or so has been quite good for Marc Karam.
Add in the fact he closed out Day 1b at or near the top of the leaderboard and it's no wonder when Karam speaks people are starting to listen. Check out what Canada's latest big-name poker pro had to say in a little chat with PL.com tonight.
We're not too far from where you grew up Marc, any added pressure being a Canadian poker pro here in Niagara Falls?
There is. It's like your hometown. You're playing on your home turf now and you really don't want to disappoint the crowd.
You seem to be handling it pretty well today though. Seems like your aggressive style is the cure for all that.
I'm up to about $97,000 now and I think I'm like first or second in chips. The more chips I get the more aggressive I play. I don't mind taking these small risks. Right now with $97,000 I don't mind getting in a race with somebody who has $20,000 because at the same time he doesn't want to get in a race because he only has $20,000. So I'll be able to pick up a lot of pots and when he does stand up against me I'm usually drawing pretty live so I'll have a chance to increase my chip stack.
Even if I go down to $70,000 maybe I'll adjust my strategy a bit, but I'm still in great shape. So really I just keep putting pressure on people who can't afford to lose a lot of chips.
I suppose that's the style of play that led you to final tables at the EPT Grand Final two years in a row, the Aussie Millions this year and this same tournament in 2006. How do you do it Marc?
It's kind of overwhelming because you look around on the first day and see like 700 people and think wow! How the hell am I going to make the final six? It's almost impossible. So you just don't think about it. Just play every hand and if you get there, you get there. You get closer and closer if you just don't think about it, because it can mess with your head. You start thinking I need more chips, I need more chips, but it doesn't really matter what other people are doing. You just play your hand, make very few mistakes and you'll get there.
So how do you avoid those mistakes? Are you a math guy?
I really study the odds and track the percentages when I'm in the hand. But it's also a lot of feel. Feel is a part of it, but yes, the math is a big part of my game.
You did have a tough time at the 2007 WSOP though. What happened there?
I think I played between five and seven events - I can't remember now. I cashed in one event. I went pretty deep in the heads-up event, and a couple of Day 2's. I don't know what it is about Vegas. I think I have a hex. I've never not made a Day 2 outside of Vegas, but in Vegas I've never made it past a third level. So I think it's some kind of crazy hex, but the thing is I love Vegas so I can't stay away.
All that face time you got on those TV final tables the past year, people must really be starting to recognize you now. What's it like?
For a while I wasn't really getting recognized, but I made four televised final tables in one year and all of a sudden they started coming on TV, so all of a sudden they're all, "You're Marc Karam," and it's kind of weird because I'm just a poker player.
I'm just an everyday guy.
Being from Ottawa, Canada, where there are no cardrooms, how did you get your start in the game?
Online. I started playing seven years ago almost every day until I guess with all that practice I really improved my game.
And personally, we hear you've got some pretty big news?
I just got married a couple of weeks ago. This is part of my honeymoon, this is the last leg of my honeymoon so we're ready to get back home.
Marc is the kind of guy who's always smiling and with that you can't help but wish him the best of luck. In his new marriage, here in Niagara Falls and in Vegas, where hopefully he'll get that hex turned around in time for the 2008 WSOP. In the meantime, interested parties can read more about Marc on his own blog at mystpoker.com.