Over the last few weeks, I’ve begun to interview members of the 2019 World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table on my radio show / podcast, The Bernard Lee Poker Show. Over the next few weeks, I’ll continue talking to others who made it to the final table and finish with the WSOP Main Event Champion 2019, Hossein Ensan.
Last week, I interviewed eight-ranked Nick Marchington. With 35 players remaining after day 6, the British player led the remaining field. Had he made the ultimate journey, 21-year-old Marchington would have broken Joe Cadas 2009 record as the youngest WSOP Main Event Champion of all time.
Due to the age requirement, the summer of 2019 was Marchington’s first trip to Las Vegas to play in the WSOP. He had developed his game via online, but quickly realized, while playing in Vegas, that his live game had to be improved. During the summer, he worked diligently to improve his live performance and discussed some of the specific aspects he addressed during our interview.
Below is an excerpt from our conversation that highlights some tips that should be helpful to amateur poker players who make a similar transition from online to live games.
Congratulations on such an incredible run in the 2019 WSOP Main Event. Did you ever imagine that you would have made it so deep?
Nick Marchington: Thanks. I think you always go with high ambitions and big dreams, but you never really expect to have such a crazy run.
You run well seems to have continued since the summer as she recently finalized the UK WPT DeepStacks, where she finished fourth and before that was five in a € 10,300 event at EPT Barcelona.
Absolutely. It was definitely a nice run in 2019.
Before you came to the WSOP 2019, how did you start playing poker?
The first time I ever played, I was maybe 15 or 16. It was a random poker night with a friend. I had a lot of fun there, even though I became the last one.
When I turned 18, I put a very small amount online and played the lowest stakes cash games ($ 0.01 / $ 0.02 tournaments) and $ 0.50 tournaments and just worked their way up. It was definitely a long journey to finally play higher stakes.
When I first played, I was a big fan of playing as many tables as possible. I can remember a time when I would play 24 tables at $ 0.05 / $ 0.10.
What has brought you to the WSOP 2019?
I was almost always a cash game player in the first place. I might play the Sunday Million on PokerStars and maybe a couple of tournaments a month, but that’s it.
About a year ago, I started playing tournaments with the idea that I would be 21 years old soon. Maybe I can go to Vegas and I have a go at the World Series of Poker (I thought).
Since you were primarily online, did you have any issues that changed to live poker last summer?
I did not have much live experience at all. For a few months before the WSOP, I played a couple of live cash sessions. I was very inexperienced.
The WSOP 2019 was my first real live poker experience. Even at the beginning of the journey, I was still folded from the train and occasionally someone could even see my punch cards. I learned in the workplace and continued to do so.
They played about 15 WSOP bracelet events and a few others on the strip, including in the Venetian and Aria. After playing in so many events this summer, do you have any advice for players switching from online poker to live poker?
The most important advice I have for people who want to improve their live poker game is to focus more. There is a lot going on in live poker. It’s easy to control your decisions automatically. On the flop, your decision is often simple, but on the river, the details of the hand are really important.
As players begin to feel more comfortable playing live, are there any other words of wisdom that you have for amateurs hoping to replicate their deep running in the WSOP Main Event?
Make sure you focus on solid poker fundamentals. Good fundamentals do not matter, unless you actively apply them to every situation.
For example, if you are actively making value bets, think about what you want to value. When bluffing, think about which hands you are trying to fold.
Also, when you play in tournaments, I think you have to love the pain. It is a very brutal game type.
Now that you’ve had such an incredible run in the 2019 WSOP Main Event, what does the future hold in store for you?
Just continue to play the highest stakes online cash games online and still try to get better at tournaments. I would definitely like to get into the high roller scene. Not quite there, but still learning every day.
I’m just trying to improve and love every minute of it. I love the lifestyle and the freedom that comes with it. I also love the pain in a way. I think you definitely have to be a little bit crazy to really do this whole poker thing. But I still love it and still go.