‘Mad’ Marty Wilson talks about this love affair with poker: “To survive in poker, you have to plan, and you have to plan quickly”

‘Mad’ Marty Wilson is the consummate raconteur may be better known for his machine gun brummy wit – but he’s also a serious poker talent

I don’t play much poker anymore – maybe once a month.

I’m doing so much hospitality and I’m getting paid for talking. Can you believe it? I’ve been doing that all my life!

Poker is about creating make-believe.

If I can’t think of a story, I just make one up. I’m in the Guinness Book of Records four times. Did you know I have the largest collection of neckties in the world? I’ve got 425,000 – including every registered football club. Thing is, with one of the records, I haven’t got the guts to ring them up and admit I made it up.

Poker is all about survival, isn’t it?

There’s a life-lesson for anyone who likes to play. It’s amazing how far I’ve come and how far poker has taken me. I’ve lived off gambling for 24 years and you’ve got to be a survivor. The only job I’ve ever had is looking for a job, so that didn’t last very long.

I was always geared up for making money.

Back in 1979, when I was 13, I had the biggest paper round in Wolverhampton; it paid £3.30 a week. I also worked the turnstiles at the dog and speedway track. Together, with all the scams I used to get up to, I’d earn about £8 a week. It’s about loving life. I used to hitch down to Old Trafford, even once getting a lift in a Ford Capri. How’s that for living!

Reading form from an early age helped when it came to reading poker players.

I was already halfway there before picking up a deck of cards. When I was ten, I used to go with my 80-year old gran down to the races. She was amazing; she taught me how to read the form and we had a great scheme going on beaten favourites who would run again within five days. Anyway, when I was 15 my parents went on holiday to Jersey and I stayed behind with Nan. On a 60 pence bet we made £998. In those days you could buy a mini on the road for £800 – so we were laughing. I was too young to go in the bookies, so I pushed her two and a half miles in the wheelchair to pick them up [the winnings].

It was inevitable that I should come to poker – or perhaps that poker should come to me.

I was at the Rubicon Casino in Wolverhampton one night when Liam Flood and some of the top Irish players needed a dealer for one of their games. I dealt for them and made about £100 an hour in tips. That’s when I thought: ‘This is the game for me’.

I had a friend from the Rubicon, called Mac Colwell, and he really taught me what the game was about, the importance of position and so on.

He and I travelled down to London to the European Open together. It was my first tournament and he was coaching me on the train. I ended up chopping it with some Canadian fella. I won £18,000.

Never give away your seat easily, make them pay for it with their last breaths.

To survive in poker, you have to plan, and you have to plan quickly. You’ve got to be aggressive. You don’t win anything for quiet contemplation. And remember that position is everything. If there are ten players round the table, that’s 20 cards and if seven have folded, that’s 14 cards. Other than yours, there are only four cards you’ve got to get rid of to win.

Timing is vital. It’s really important when you’re putting in a steal or a bluff.

You’ve got to have the timing of a metronome, otherwise you will just be giving away a tell. I’ve always been good at spotting tells.

People who choose to wear sunglasses at the table are full of tells.

You’d be amazed how many look at their cards and then pull the shades down and sit up. It’s the same with iPods: put the pod on; look at the cards – then hello! Their faces light up; they pull the plugs out of their ears and ask how much it is to raise. These people may as well send you a letter telling you they’re going to play the hand.

You can read more amazing articles like this in PokerPlayer magazine HERE

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