As it turns out, poker pro Leo Margets is a woman of undisclosed talents.
Not only is she a member of the elite Team PokerStars, and recently starred in the Spanish version of Survivor, she’s also had a finished novel ready to go for 13 years.
Leading the Spanish contingent at her hometown EPT in Barcelona Margets hasn't had much luck at the felt so far this week but, as always, carried herself glowingly as a host and ambassador for poker.
“Too bad, I’m not in the main event anymore," she said as she walked through the tournament area on Day 4 yesterday. “But I will definitely play some more tournaments here, I want to win something at my home EPT!”
PokerListings Germany's Dirk Oetzmann carried on the conversation for more about her writing aspirations, how legislation in Spain is stifling poker tournament attendance, her recent foray into television and her visit to the 2014 Battle of Malta:
PokerListings: Surprisingly Spanish players are not the largest group at EPT Barcelona. Why not?
Leo Margets: Because of the Spanish poker regulations. They have put huge taxes on poker winnings in Spain, and they’ve done it completely wrong.
Spanish taxation plan terribly misguided.
First, they only count your winnings but you can’t plead your expenses. And then they made the law retroactive, so they can go and tax the players back to the year 2008.
Now nobody wants to play tournaments anymore because the results are public. So the financial authorities are going to come after you.
Cash games, on the other hand, cannot be traced back so now players prefer to sit at the cash-game tables and the 100th EPT does not have the number of Spanish players it deserves.
This is also why the number of players keeps dropping in Spain. Legislation is killing the game. So now we have the biggest EPT of all times here, and the Spanish are not playing. It’s really sad.
PL: And where do you live these days?
LM: I go back and forth between Barcelona and London. I have an apartment there, and I used to study in London, so I have some friends there, too.
Partly because of my studies I’m one of the people who discovered poker relatively late. Which, I think, is actually an advantage.
I was older when I started and I have something I can fall back on as opposed to the online youngsters who sometimes even drop out of school to play professionally.
I am also currently following a plan B. I am involved in courses at the University of Manchester (England) about poker strategies in business, for example poker as a negotiation tool or emotional intelligence.
PL: Is there anything else in your plan B?
LM: Well, I love writing. I’m writing a lot. I’ve been writing a lot of short stories, and to be honest, I have also written a novel but I’ve never had the courage to get it published.
"I heard about the Battle of Malta last year for the first time and I know it was huge."
Also, I am a little afraid that some people who are close to me, or even family, might take offense at what I have written and could be mad at me.
One of my friends tells me I’m silly and I should go ahead and just do it. So I’m sure one day I will go ahead and have it published.
Incredible, but the manuscript has been lying on my bookshelf for about 13 years now and I haven’t done anything about it.
PL: For now it looks like you don’t need a plan B. You are well settled in the poker world and you are coming to Malta to play the Battle of Malta in November.
LM: Yes! I’m looking forward to it. I have a couple of friends in Malta but I’ve never been there. I’m trying to convince my boyfriend to come, too. It’s a cool island.
I heard about the Battle of Malta last year for the first time and I know it was huge. People recommended it to me, so I thought, why not? There will also be a high roller event so it’s going to be quite interesting.
I’m thinking of staying the whole week so I can see a little more than just the casino.
PL: You have recently been in the Spanish version of the show Survivor. How was that experience?
LM: Yes. A bunch of people are gathered on an island and have to solve challenges to “survive."
I quite like the idea of being challenged to survive in the wilderness but the other participants were not really interested in that.
Uphill battle for tournament players in Spain despite record-smashing EPT.
Most of them were the type that are basically famous for sleeping with someone famous or being at some party. Their only interest was to get screen time so they could then get invitations to other TV shows.
The whole idea of the show was watered down by that. I had expected a lot more and more demanding challenges. Still, I managed to stay in there for eight weeks, which is not too far away from the final.
PL: Eight weeks sounds quite long.
LM: It felt even longer, believe me.
PL: Would you do it again?
LM: I don’t think so. I would do something if it was more genuine, if it really would use that idea of survival, because I think that’s something that makes you stronger.