Craig Marquis talks us through his experience on the final table of the WSOP: “One of the first things I did when I got back from Las Vegas was order a 2009 Audi S5”

Only one member of the November Nine was destined to get no more cash. That man was Craig Marquis…


So Craig, as one of the November Nine, what do you make of the 117-day break now that you’ve been through it? And have you used the time to get a bit of extra coaching?

I think it was definitely better for the less experienced players. It was an interesting experiment and it’s been fun to be part of it. Hopefully, it broadens the appeal of poker and makes the final table more exciting to watch for fans. I haven’t sought coaching, as I’m fortunate enough to have a lot of very good players, such as Tom Dwan and David Benefield, as friends. I’ll definitely be discussing some strategy with them before I play, but I’m not revamping my game, as that’s what got me this far. Tampering with your game could actually do a lot of harm.

Have you been watching the World Series coverage on TV? And has that affected how you’re going to play against certain players?

I watched the majority of the coverage, particularly from Day 4 onwards. It was really fun to watch, but trying to glean strategy information is really tough because television poker is so edited. Also, a lot of things at the poker table are extremely situational; you can’t possibly know the history and mannerisms of the person making a certain play without being there, so relying on it to make reads at the final table is probably a bad idea. It does give you some idea how certain people play however.

What else have you been up to since July 14? 


Since the break I’ve been relaxing and taking it easy. I played the WSOPE in London, which was a ton of fun, but I’ve been absent from the tournament scene besides that. I haven’t done a whole lot in the downtime other than relax. I have been keeping an eye on the other final table members to see what they’re up to though. Ivan Demidov’s performance at the WSOPE was very impressive, and being able to watch him play at that final table definitely helped my understanding of his game a lot.

Have you spent any of the $ 900,670 prize money you were all given?

One of the first things I did when I got back from Las Vegas was order a 2009 Audi S5. I’m really excited as it’s getting delivered mid-November. I also bought my mum a truck and furnished my apartment.

And how are you feeling now as you’re about to play the final table?

I’m not really the type to get super nervous or anxious over poker, but the closer it all gets the more surreal it becomes. It seems crazy how quickly the four months have passed, and I’m actually in disbelief that it’s finally here.

How do you think you’re going to do? 


I might be the second shortest stack starting the final table but I’ve still got 41 big blinds, which is relatively deep- stacked. I’m unsure how I’m going to play it at this point as so much is going to depend on how the table starts playing. Hopefully I can manage to get an early double-up and become a nightmare for the people to my right.

I’m actually looking forward to it being over because it’s had such a long build-up and it seems crazy that I’m going to start playing soon after waiting for so long. I would love to win, but as long as I play my best I’ll be happy with how I did. If it comes down to it I’d love to be heads- up against Ivan or Peter.


Blinds: 200,000/400,000/50,000

Craig Marquis moves all-in with 7?-7? for 4.925m chips and is called by Scott Montgomery with A?-Q?. The flop of 10?-A?-7? makes Marquis a 96.46% favourite to double-up, but the J? on the turn and a cruel K? on the river gives Montgomery a straight .


Hard luck Craig, how did you find it?

It was a pretty solid final table as far as good players go, and all my friends and family were out here to support me. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I might never have another one like it, so I decided to enjoy myself and came here to do my best to win.

Was it hard to play in that sort of atmosphere?

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel because it was such a high-pressure situation. It was a crazy set-up in the Penn and Teller Theatre; there was a lot of cameras and thousands of people watching, but I didn’t feel stressed. I just played the game I’m used to and was really relaxed.

Is there anything you wish you’d done differently?

The only advice I got from Tom [Dwan] and David [Benefield] before the final table was, ‘People aren’t going to bluff [on the] river against you.’ I got in a spot against Peter Eastgate where I had a river decision with a marginal hand, and in my head I was thinking of what they’d said, but if there’s anyone who’s going to bluff, it’s Peter. I called and he had a better hand than me so I probably should have listened to their advice as I would have had a couple million chips more, but things still would have ended the same way.

I came out with the attitude that I wanted to win the tournament and I’m not going to fold my way up a few hundred thousand in winnings.

Not everyone had that perspective though – Kelly Kim might as well have stayed home. He didn’t play any hands and I think it’s unfortunate to be at a WSOP final table and give up any chance you have of winning. Maybe the money was worth a lot more to him than it was for me, but that affected the play more than anything else. There were five people who were relatively close in stacks, and having a guy with a quarter [of each of our stacks] folding down to two big blinds… makes those five stacks play a lot tighter.

Had Kelly busted earlier the play would have been vastly different, because people would have been a lot less afraid of going out ninth. I could have folded for another two hands losing 200k in antes, hoping that Kelly lost the all-in he’d have to make, but if he wins it, he’s going to fold for another orbit.

And how about the final hand?

I went all-in with a pair of sevens and Scott Montgomery called with A-Q. The A-10-7 flop was more than I could have hoped for. I’m 96% to win the hand. But the turn’s a Jack, the river’s a King and he hits a straight. I’ve gotten a lot of crap for the way I played the hand, even though there’s no other way to play it if I want to win the tournament. I’d have to pick up a hand better than Sevens, and that was the best hand I’d had so I decided to go with it. I had 12 big blinds which means I didn’t have any plays left to my stack. I didn’t want any callers – I’d rather take down the antes and blinds uncontested.

I still had a decent amount that they have to have a good hand to call me, so shoving there is pretty standard. Sevens is the bottom of my range in that spot and I ran into pretty much the bottom of Scott’s calling range. I ended up losing the flip and Kelly busted out the next hand.

And busting out ninth meant you got no more money than you were paid back in July. Is that hard to take?

I was paid $900k back in July, so it’s crazy to have the four-month wait and then go home with no more money. If I wanted to, I could have walked away from the table and, more than likely, made eighth-place money, but that’s not what I came here for. I wanted the bracelet, my giant face up on the wall, and all of the accolades that go with that, so I don’t regret my decision. I’ve had an awesome time. I’m not sad, just a little disappointed. But hopefully I’ve got a lot of poker to be played ahead of me.

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