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Take Your Marks: Lee Markholt at the WPT Legends of Poker
In a game that values stoicism to the extent that a facial expression has been named after it, few exemplify this quality as well as Lee Markholt. A pro's pro who maintains his collected demeanor at all times, Markholt is the picture of calm under fire at the poker table.
Markholt went on a tear late in the evening here on Day 3 of this year's Legends of Poker, crippling David Pham and Joe Sebok by a narrow margin.
Let's start with the general stuff. Take us through your tournament up to this point, your table draws, the way you played and your feelings on the field.
Well, I didn't have a very good table draw the first day. I had like five pros at my table. But I actually started out pretty good. I got up to about $45,000 by the third level and then I sort of hit a wall. I wasn't really winning any pots but then they broke my table and I was moved to a pretty good one.
I chipped up a bit there but then on the last hand of the night I lost a really big pot, about $50,000. So I only started Day 2 with around $13,000 but I doubled up twice right away. My table most of Day 2 was pretty tough, with a lot of chips, Tuan Le and several other pros were there but I was able to accumulate some chips.
Kenny Tran was at that table too; luckily I was on his left. But I feel like I'm playing great and I haven't made any major mistakes at all.
On the subject of table draws, obviously it's good to be playing against bad players but do you have a preference when it comes to playing against unknown players who are a bit more unpredictable rather than pros whose behavior you might have a better understanding of?
I do really well against pros because I read them fairly well. When I won on the PPT in 2005 at Bellagio it was all pros and I always seem to do well when I have a lot of pros at my table because I usually know where I'm at.
But obviously you want some dead money at your table. So while it's good to have some of those guys at your table you probably don't want a whole table full of them because it's sort of like walking through a mine field. But I always hope for two or three guys who are just going to give their money away.
Let's talk about today. Just in the last level you chipped up in a big way. The hand that you doubled through Gavin Griffin sort of played itself but give us your thoughts on it.
Yeah, I hadn't picked up any hands in a while and Gavin was pretty active, which he always is, and he raised and there was a caller and I looked down at two kings and I came over the top for about the size of the pot and he moved in.
Were you surprised at all that he'd be willing to play that big of a pot with pocket queens or is that in keeping with his style?
That's just Gavin. I think if he'd had jacks or less he wouldn't have played it that way. You know, I didn't have enough chips to bust him but it did cripple him.
Let's talk about the WPT a bit. You've had a ton of really deep finishes as well as bubbling off the final table once a few years ago.
Yeah, I have a very high percentage when it comes to cashing on the WPT. I'm like five out of the last seven and probably about 30% overall.
Obviously you're playing to win but is it more important to you to have that really consistent record rather than one big win?
I am playing tournaments for the win and I play a lot of pretty big cash games where I can win a lot more than what I earn by placing in these events so I really want to take one down.
I know I play well enough to win, that's not really a question, but it would be great for my family and friends for me to win and I really think I will win one. Hopefully this will be the one.
Speaking of family and friends, you're from the Pacific Northwest, near Seattle, so tell us a bit about your day-to-day life. A lot of pros move their families to Vegas or L.A. which might not be that great for them but which has to be better for business.
Well, I don't play poker when I'm at home. I'm on the road about 40% of the time and when I'm gone I play a lot. When I'm at home I relax and spend time with my family and do other things and it's really a good balance for me. Eventually I may buy a home in Vegas since I spend so much time there but I'll probably always live in the Northwest. I really like it there.
One final question, you're in great shape chipwise right now so what's your game plan going forward tomorrow?
I'm just going to keep playing the way I'm playing. Going with my reads and playing poker. It's what I do.
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Markholt has been supporting himself and his family by playing poker for more than a decade and although he has been a presence on the WPT since its inception a win on the tour has so far eluded him. Heading into Day 4 third out of the eighteen remaining players, he has yet another great opportunity to do just that.
Join us at 2 p.m. (PDT) Wednesday to find out how far Lee and the rest of the field will make it on their journey to WPT final-table glory.