While attending the 2020 888poker LIVE Madrid festival, taking place at the Casino Gran Via, I had the opportunity to conduct an interview with 888poker ambassador Ana Marquez.
Over the course of our conversation, Ana shared the story of how she first got into the game of poker, her love for the history of the game, her poker study habits, what it’s like to “host” a poker festival in her home country of Spain, the experience of being an ambassador for 888poker, her goals for 2020, and much more!
A full transcript follows the interview below.
Ana Marquez Interview Transcript
Hola a todos! Me llamo Roberto Strazynski y yo estoy aqui por Cardplayer Lifestyle punto com en Madrid, la ciudad capital de Espana, con la embajadora de 888poker Ana Marquez. Ana, que tal? Como estas?
Muy bien, y tu?
Alright, now we can do English. Thank G-d, I got through it. How was it? Was it OK?
It was very good. I was a little scared because I do better in English.
Thankfully, I do too, and our audience is English-speaking. But I really tried! You’ve got to get that accent.
It was great, it was great.
So why Spanish? We’re here in…
Madrid, of course!
Madrid! It’s very cool. So all of YOU guys out there understand, we’re in Madrid for the 888poker LIVE festival. It’s the first time we’re in Madrid. Ana Marquez, great ambassador for the brand. So, Ana, we’ve never met before. Maybe you could just take a minute and please share a little bit about yourself. How did you get started with poker and what is it about the game that attracted you?
OK, so, I started when I was in university; I went to university in Washington DC. And in America, poker is very popular.
I’ve heard, yes.
You heard? So, that’s where I found the game. And I didn’t like it at the beginning so much because I thought it was all about gambling and stuff, and I don’t gamble. So I was like, this is kind of boring. But then I realized that it’s all about strategy, and I’m a huge fan of strategy. In fact, I wanted to do my master’s degree in military strategy, so I fell in love with that. And to this day, it’s my biggest passion. And what I love about the game is the constant changing strategy. I love it.
That’s very cool. At what point did you decide, OK, this is what I want to do, I want to become a professional poker player?
I think it took me like, one year.
Yeah, that’s it! I was taking a break from university because I had to do my thesis and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write it on. I decided to take the year off to investigate a little bit. This is when I found poker, and I went full on it. I was every day studying and every day I actually started studying before playing. Back in the day the studying was very short, I was just reading books and watching on poker training sites and stuff like that. But it was more about learning the strategy, and in one year I was every day, boom boom boom. Then I went back to school, finished the thesis, and continued playing.
Well, you talk about school, and I’ve read that you LOVE history and did your Bachelor’s thesis on the History of Poker since the 1970s. Take us back to that time as a student. What was it like doing all the research? When you were doing that, what stories and personalities did you find most captivating and why?
I mean, it was really fun to do that topic in university, because it gave me big excuses to go to the casinos all the time. I was like “I have to go to Binion’s, that means I have to go to Vegas.” So in Vegas, you can always play some cash games, it was great. It was amazing to research the story of the game, especially because it was focused on tournament poker. It was the 1970s when the World Series started, and it was super cool to learn how the game I love started.
Were there any personalities that just sort of stood out to you?
I mean, there’s so many legends back in the day. Obviously, I’m a huge Doyle Brunson fan, obviously, I read like SuperSystem, SuperSystem 2, I love it. And there’s a lot of good stories.
Poker, we all know, is all about moving forward, getting better, improving. Why do you think it’s also important for poker players not just to move forward strategically and better understand the game, but also to be good students of the game’s history?
Why is history important? Because we learn from the mistakes! I think that’s why I love history, because you can look back and you understand how everything works, how everything came to be, and you can learn from mistakes and you can learn how the patterns were built.
Interesting. So it’s not just the excitement of it, it’s not just appreciation for the personalities, it’s specifically looking at the mistakes, you’re saying.
Yes, I mean, the mistakes and the things they did good, too. It’s just like learning from the past, that others follow. The people before us built where we are now.
Interesting. Well, you said you were a student, but it seems to me that as a professional player, you are still a student.
You’re still studying. So, what sort of studying? What does it mean to be studying as a professional poker player? When you’re not playing you’re in the lab, you’re studying. What does that involve for Ana Marquez?
Well, I mean, nowadays we have a lot of ways to study. So for me, it involves doing a lot of reviewing my own game. I mean, that’s the most important thing, to go back in your game and see what you’re doing wrong and checking out your leaks, pretty much.
Online specifically, you’re looking at your hands?
Yeah, I mean online is the easiest way to do it.
All the information’s right there.
It’s just there, and then you just put it down and you have every program you need to double-check if you’re doing things right or not. So that’s one thing. And then also, there’s so much good content out there that, everything. I mean, I breathe poker.
It hasn’t always been like this. I had a break during my career, and during that time I wasn’t breathing poker. Things are very different when you’re not breathing poker, you know?
How long of a break did you take?
It was long. It wasn’t like a full break…
Like, a WHOLE DAY?!
No, first I tried two weeks, then it went to three months.
OK, that’s reasonable.
It kind of slowed down everything. So it wasn’t actually such a long break, but for me it feels like it was a whole decade.
And what were you doing? Did you just, take some time off to chill, go travel a little bit?
No, actually, I was just like studying and learning about myself, about performance, about doing things better. I actually put a lot into performance, meditating a lot, learning about nutrition, yoga. Because I was very unhealthy back then! I was just playing nonstop and not taking care of myself. And then I realized that I can’t do this. I love the game, but I’m going to end up hating it if I don’t take care of having a balance.
Interesting. So, taking a break is obviously important, and as a professional poker player you have to strike some sort of balance regularly, on the day-to-day grind. So, what do you enjoy doing during your downtime, besides studying, besides playing? What else do you do when you’re not thinking and breathing poker?
This is tough. I mean, I usually go and see my family. My family is kind of like my downtime. When I need a break from everything, I just go see my family.
You have brothers, sisters?
Yeah, I have a big family.
Familia grande. I like that. So, you’ve been an 888poker ambassador for about 1.5 years now. I think I was there in Las Vegas when they announced you, it was really nice. What are the biggest ways in which your life has changed in the last 1.5 years vs. before you were a sponsored pro?
I mean, Instagram for sure.
Instagram, there’s a lot more on Instagram. What’s your handle? Where can they follow you?
It’s anamarquezpoker. Super original.
Anamarquezpoker. Sounds good. On the ‘gram.
I’m doing a good job. I try my best. I don’t know, I guess, it’s really nice to be part of a thing. It’s really exciting that you have these breaks, it’s like, I come to 888poker LIVE events, and it’s like I’m kind of taking a break from other things I’m doing.
That’s so cool, what a great way to look at it.
Yeah, so for example, when I’m home I’m studying a lot, around playing a lot, whatever I’m doing, whatever. And then you want to take a break. I’m still a little bit off-balance on how to take breaks.
You’re always learning.
Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. It’s either my family, or the 888poker family. Those are my breaks.
Gotcha, I really like that. Well, as we know, this is the first 888poker LIVE event in Madrid. You’ve been at the company’s LIVE events around the world; what does it mean to you to be on your “home court” and welcome all these players to your own country?
I love it. I love it, I’m so happy here. I have all my family here.
You used to live in Madrid?
No, I’m from Malaga, born and raised in Malaga.
It’s on the coast, right?
Yeah. Born and raised in Malaga. But all my family is from Madrid. So I actually don’t even visit Malaga anymore, everybody’s just in Madrid.
Amazing! So you can sleep at home.
I mean, it’s more convenient here, because Madrid is really big. But my mom is coming, my sister’s coming.
That’s so cool! So they can even watch you play.
Yeah, they want to come watch me play.
That’s very cool. So, I forgot to even ask, besides the studying online, if you’re at a featured table, do you — like the basketball players — do you go back over the tape and watch yourself? Or now your family’s going to be like “Ana, you twitched”?
Tells, I’ve got my family watching for tells! Haha.
No, I actually never look at myself. Maybe I should. That’s a good idea. But to be honest, there’s so much out there, and you really have to pick what you’re going to do, and where you’re going to study. Watching myself play for a couple of hands, like watching live poker is already a little slow, in terms of study. It’s super fun to watch it, but if you really want to put study hours, it’s a little slow. So watching myself maybe, it could be interesting, as you said, for tells, but I don’t really do it.
Does anyone else in your family play poker?
Why don’t you teach them? You can have a family home game.
I taught my mom to play sit-and-gos, and she actually made like $500 playing $10 sit-and-gos. But then she got bored, she was like, “eh.”
“I don’t like winning money, it’s too boring. All this money, I don’t need this money.”
What about, as this is your city, your area. What are your thoughts about the venue here, Casino Gran Via? It is beautiful. Have you been here before, to this casino?
No, it’s the first time I’m here, because it’s usually in the other one and it’s really far from the city. But this is amazing, I’m loving it. It’s super cute.
What’s your favorite part of the building?
I think the stairs, like when you go and they have the top and you feel like, it’s very similar to like, and I lived in Austria for a while, this style of like, classical, like you’re in a palace or something.
You’re walking into history. Now you’ve got to make history at the table. Of course, we don’t always get to play poker in our own backyard, you’ve lived in Vienna in Austria. You’ve traveled all over the world to play. Is there a particular place outside of Spain that you like to visit the most? Maybe a particular room or poker tournament that you look forward to more than all the others?
I mean, there’s two places I love to—or, actually, hold on. I think my favorite poker room for sure is Borgata. AC, Atlantic City for life. I love Borgata; have you been there?
You must have been. It is the best poker room in the world.
Well, for me it’s always, my home, I’m from Los Angeles, Commerce is the biggest one in the world. But I’ve got to say, it’s the World Series. When you walk into the World Series, there’s nothing like that.
If I’m saying places to go play, for sure, I go for Vegas. In terms of poker. In terms of life quality, I go for Australia. Oh my god, I love Australia. It’s so nice. The weather is nice.
You go to the Crown, in Melbourne?
Yeah, it really is amazing. So yeah, I’d say life quality Melbourne, poker quality Vegas, and poker room Borgata.
You’ve got all the bases covered. Brilliant. We’re just at the start of 2020. Do you have any special goals set for the year? If so, how do you intend to achieve them?
I have so many goals, actually. I have a lot a lot of goals. I have a lot of sub-goals. I’m trying to do it little by little, so instead of having one big goal, I just have mini-goals. I do have a bigger goal, a little bit more of an open bigger goal, I’m just focusing on mini-goal, mini-goal, mini-goal. And it’s really fun, because you get a lot of dopamine, like when you cross off that task and you’re like “nice!” Oh my god, getting little goals are the best.
Can you share with us some of the goals that you might have, just for an example?
I mean, for example, playing online. I have, as I said, when I took the break, I was playing online a lot, and now I really want to be back.
Or .es, right?
I do .com. Because I live in England, so. But I mean, I crush 888, I love it.
That’s why you’re wearing the patch, right?
I love it. You’re going to see me playing there so much, I love it there. So yeah, one of my goals is for sure hours of online poker, hours of studying, eating paleo, I don’t know, just trying to be healthy.
Paleo diet, you don’t hear that too often! Everyone’s fasting now.
I mean, I fast without even noticing, because I’m always busy in the morning and I don’t realize, and then I’m like oh, I should eat now.
Interesting. So, why do you think it’s important to set goals in the first place?
Well, because otherwise you don’t get anything done.
Yeah, because, I mean, at least for me, if I don’t set goals, I’m just like “yeah, one day I’ll do that, one day, one day, one day” and I leave it, I leave it, I leave it, and then it’s like years pass by and I don’t get it done.
Well, Ana, anything else you want to tell our audience here at Cardplayerlifestyle.com?
I don’t know. Come play at 888poker.
Brilliant. This is Robbie Strazynski here at 888poker Live Madrid for Cardplayer Lifestyle. This has been Ana Marquez, everybody, thank you so much for tuning in.