Boston Rob Mariano loves poker.
It becomes clear within minutes of talking to him.
He’s got a passion for the game that would put some fervent fans to shame.
It’s understandable why.
The parallels between poker and Reality TV stalwart Survivor have been well documented over the years.
Mariano was of course a beast on Survivor playing four times and winning it all in Survivor: Redemption Island in 2011 (and finishing second in Survivor: All-Stars in 2004.
Boston Rob: Poker and Survivor Perfect Match
Out of nowhere Mariano showed up to rail the action at the Super High Roller Bowl final table on Wednesday night and PokerListings grabbed a quick chat with the man and got his thoughts on the SHRBowl, Run It Up Reno and how a certain Canadian poker pro might fare on Survivor.
PokerListings: Do you have a rooting interest at the SHRBowl final table?
Nah, I’m just interested in poker. I played poker a lot like 10 years ago. Then I had four kids. Life got kinda busy. But recently I started to get into it again.
I’ve been playing a lot of events and I’m actually just coming from Reno for Run It Up Reno.
PL: How was that experience?
It was awesome. Jason is so cool. It was my second time up there with him. He’s such a great guy and a good ambassador for the game.
PL: Were you friends with Jason before the Reno event?
We had mutual friends. He’s friends with Rob Cesternino. I’m friends with Daniel Negreanu. Worlds just kinda came together. It’s the second time I’ve been up there and they had a bunch of Survivor people this time.
PL: You won the second event there right?
Yeah, I actually made three final tables. My game is coming together. It’s a smaller buy-in but it’s still a really good structure and well put together.
It gives people a chance to play games they normally wouldn’t be able to play at that price point. I enjoyed that and then came right here to Vegas for the start of the WSOP. Gonna play a little bit. I’ve been playing on the WSOPC.
PL: What's your WSOP schedule going to be like?
I’m gonna play the Colossus this week. I won’t play all the tournaments but I’m going to play some. I’m going to make sure my kids don’t forget who I am. [laughs] I’ll go home at some point — for Father’s Day and collect my gifts.
PL: What do you like to play? Do you pretty much stick to No-Limit Hold’em?
I play all the games. We play five-card PLO Hi-Lo at home in Florida, which is a weird game. We call it Big-O.
I’m not really great in the Deuce games and the Stud games but ironically when Foxwoods first opened in ’92 that’s one of the first games I played. I haven’t played those games in years. But I’m trying to get back into it. It’s changed so much over the years.
PL: Is poker a nice competitive outlet for someone that’s been on Survivor multiple times?
I love it, man. There are so many similarities between the game of Survivor and a poker tournament. It allows you to compete. Poker is a game that doesn’t discriminate.
There’s so much involved from a strategic point of view but there’s also a luck aspect. It’s so true of Survivor as well. You can do everything right in that game and still lose or you can make terrible decisions but get some luck. I really enjoy it.
PL: There were a ton of former Survivor stars at Run It Up Reno. Do you stay in touch with a lot of those guys?
The Survivor community is big now — there are like 400 people — but it’s still relatively small. It’s a lot like the poker community. It seems so big but it’s still really small.
PL: Did you watch Anna Khait during the last season? Did you like her?
Yeah. She was pretty good. I met her at Run It Up Reno. There are actually a lot of poker players who have been on Reality TV. It's funny I’m actually heading over to David Williams’ place after this. He’s on MasterChef this season.
David and I are friends from way back. I knew him like 10 years ago. I know Daniel [Negreanu] very well. We did a show like 10 years ago.
Daniel wants to be on Survivor and I think he’d be great at it. He had an issue before because he was Canadian and you have to be a US citizen to be on the show.
PL: I thought the issue was that Survivor shoots during the WSOP?
I think he was willing to do it. I know the reason they couldn’t have him before was because he wasn’t a US citizen. Now he is.
He would be awesome on it.
PL: What do you think of the Super High Roller Bowl?
This is cool. I just Tweeted at them this morning to see if I could watch some of it and they told me to come check it out.
The last couple days I’ve been watching it on Twitch and CBS Sports and it’s really, really good quality production.
It’s interesting to watch and see these guys compete at such a high level, especially for someone like me who’s still an aspiring player. There’s lots that can be learned from it.