Marcel Luske has come close to final-tabling the WSOP Main Event twice before and this year he's deep again with a chance to finally make it.
Luske is one of the original Dutch poker pros and he's got tournament results stretching all the way back to 1999.
In 2003 and 2004 Luske finished 14th and 10th in the Main Event. This year he made it to Day 6 with 52 players remaining at time of publishing.
He's already guaranteed a $145,733 payday but he told PokerListings.com he's got his sights set on the prestige and massive prizes waiting at the final table.
Luske Joins partypoker
Luske also recently signed a sponsorship deal with partypoker, joining a team that includes Mike Sexton, Boris Becker, Sam Trickett and many more.
Luske spoke to PokerListings.com on a break from Day 6 of the 2017 Main Event to explain what this opportunity means to him and how he approaches this critical stage of poker's biggest tournament.
PokerListings.com: What's your approach to this tournament, especially at this really important stage?
Marcel Luske: Every day it's like playing a one-day tournament. You play your table, keep track with the average. It's important not to get too far below average but it's more important to think about it in terms of how many big blinds you have.
"It takes a lot of patience."
How playable is your stack and how fast is the structure moving? If you have 30-50 big blinds you shouldn't care if someone else has four times your stack because it's still very playable.
It takes a lot of patience.
You don't want to stare yourself down and worry about someone else who has a huge stack.
There's a small edge if you're patient because some people start feeling shortstacked in their imagination when they compare themselves to the chip leaders.
They're more likely to pay off and they're going to play looser and take more chances. No one's giving it away here because everyone's very good, but there is a small edge because in their minds they're feeling pressure to make something happen.
PL: Apart from the strategy, what's it like being deep in the biggest tournament of the year?
ML: It's fun but the only worry every player has is "Please don't let me get unlucky". For example I played a hand where I called in position with ten-nine and the flop came J-Q-K.
Perfect flop because the guy who opened made top two, led out and we got the money in and I doubled. So when you get it in that far ahead, you really don't want to get unlucky. But you have to take some chances.
PL: In 2003 and 2004 you almost made the final table in this tournament. How valuable is that experience?
ML: I definitely learned that a lot of people underestimate the value of your chips in this tournament. You can sit tight for a long time in this event and play three or four really key hands in the whole day.
"Sometimes your opponents will beat themselves."
Knowing that people blow up and tilt, you don't have to beat all your opponents. Some people will actually beat themselves.
PL: Do you see more people blowing up in this tournament compared to others?
ML: It's a long tournament and there's a lot of money on the line so some people make themselves crazy. You'll have good runs and other times you'll be cold as ice.
You can run cold for hours or even all day and that's when you have to survive.
PL: You recently signed with partypoker. Why did you choose to sign with them?
ML: I joined with partypoker mostly because after being with PokerStars for many years, the landscape began to change. I wanted to focus more on the social aspect of the game.
When I split with Stars I had more time to spend with my family and I started looking for more social, fun games to play. partypoker has a great team and they all play poker themselves and know what the game is supposed to be like.
It should be a social game that's fun and entertaining to play.
PL: We're not at the final table yet but how much would it mean to you to improve on that 10th-place finish from 2004?
ML: Of course it's very important. It's life-changing. Of course I want to get to the final table.
PL: Is it about more than just the money for you?
"It's about the prestige too."
ML: It's about the prestige too. If you look at my overall achievements, I have so many smaller cashes. In Europe for a long time the tournaments were a lot smaller than in the US.
I have $4.5 million in lifetime earnings but I think if I lived in America that would be a lot bigger. I'm proud of my achievements and I think I've played really well but I don't think that number really shows that. So this is a big opportunity for me.
It's also a big honor for me to have a sponsor like partypoker and I want them to get a lot of exposure out of it. I'm very grateful to partypoker because I'm really not the youngest player around. But I think it's a perfect match.
I'm really excited to see partypoker getting in the race and putting big money behind it. They want to do what's right for players and look after them and they're not afraid to invest in the long run.
The team is getting bigger with experienced people, a good mix of young and older people like me, Mike Sexton, Padraig Parkinson, Simon Trumper, Rob Yong.
They are heart and soul poker players and we're all working together to try to better the poker world.