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Gary Trask

Gary  Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has worked as a writer and editor more than 20 years. The Boston native was a member of the Poker Hall of Fame's inaugural Media Committee and a current member of the Women in Poker Hall of Fame voting panel.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

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Around the WSOP: Online grinder Marchington still has a shot to become youngest Main Event winner

13 Jul 2019

By Gary Trask
LAS VEGAS -- As soon as Nick Marchington heard the question, you could sense the near embarrassment as he slowly lowered his chin into his chest and sighed. “Well . . .” he said slowly with a sheepish grin after being asked how many World Series of Poker cashes he has to his name. “This is my first trip to the WSOP and I’ve played in about 30 events. If you take a look at my results, there isn’t much to talk about.” Surely, one cash out of 30 events wasn’t what the 21-year-old was hoping for when he made the trip across the pond from his home in London, even if it was a nice payday when he collected $12,415 by taking 19th in the $800 Deepstack 8-Handed Event. But as we head into the final table of the $10,000 WSOP Main Event on Sunday evening, Marchington most certainly has nothing to be ashamed of any more. By making the final nine of a massive field of 8,529, Marchington has already secured WSOP cash No. 2 and at least $1 million. More importantly, he’s still alive — albeit barely alive — to win the most prestigious prize in poker, the gaudy gold and diamond Main Event championship bracelet, as well as the $10 million that will come with it. What’s more, Marchington also still has slim hopes to try and become the youngest player to ever win the WSOP Main Event. Currently, that record belongs to Joe Cada, who took down the 2009 Main Event just before his 22nd birthday. Marchington said he wasn’t aware of that fact until someone mentioned it to him earlier in the week, but it’s not something he’s spent too much time dwelling on. “That kind of thing doesn’t really motivate me,” he told Casino City during a break in the action on Friday afternoon. “But winning it on its own, well, that most definitely motivates me. I would love to win it. It would mean so much.” In order to do so, the fresh-faced Marchington — who could easily pass for a younger version of pro golfer and fellow Brit Justin Rose — is going to have his work cut out for him. He was sixth in chips after Day 5 and heading into yesterday’s Day 7 action he was the chip leader with a stack of 39.8 million, but that honor now belongs to Ensan, who owns nearly a third of all the chips in play with a stack of 177 million, well ahead of second-place Garry Gates (99.3 million) and eons ahead of Marchington, who will be the short stack when the cards go in the air for the final table with a stack of 20.1 million. No matter what happens, you probably won’t see much of Marchington going forward, since he’s an online grinder. He began playing poker in penny stakes online when he was an 18-year-old high school kid in Hornchurch, Essex. Two years later he dropped out of college where he was pursuing a computer science degree and began his career as a professional poker player. So, while his live tournament results are far from robust, he’s making a living playing online poker and a decent one at that. “I work very hard on my game; I study the game quite a bit,” he said. “To be honest, I don’t have a lot of hobbies. For me it’s poker, poker and more poker. I love it. “But playing live on a big stage like this has been a completely different experience for me. I’ve been in such a zone and so locked in, I guess the attention doesn’t bother me.” Marchington said his mother, Allie, was planning on flying to Las Vegas to watch the final table in person after he convinced her to apply for a travel visa Friday morning, and he knows he’ll continue to get a ton of support from his family and friends back in the U.K. “Even my grandparents have a PokerGo account now so that can watch every moment hand,” he added with a laugh. “The whole experience has just been so exciting. I just hope I can keep it going.” Marchington and his final tablemates return to the Rio on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. at which time they'll play from nine players down to six. Then it's back to the table on Monday night when they'll play down to three, before the final night on Tuesday, when a champion will be crowned, most likely early Wednesday morning. As expected, chipleader Ensan is the heavy chalk No surprises from bet365 Mobile Sports after it posted betting odds for the WSOP Main Event final table. Ensan is the big favorite at 5-to-4, followed by Gates at 4-to-1. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Gates’ odds come down since he is, by far, the man most poker pros are pulling for. Gates has a ton of WSOP experience and got his start in poker as a live reporter and for the past several years has worked as an events manager and senior consultant for player affairs with PokerStars. Following Gates on the outright odds are Zhen Cai (7-to-1), Dario Sammartino (9-to-1), Kevin Maahs (11-to-1), Alex Livingston (12-to-1), Milos Skrbic (14-to-1), Timothy Su (25-to-1) and Marchington (25-to-1) The “chip leader jinx” and other Main Event final table trends The chip leader entering the Main Event final table has not fared very well in recent years. In fact, the man with the biggest stack at the start of final table play has prevailed just three times (Scott Blumstein in 2017, Joe McKeehen in 2015 and Jonathan Duhamel in 2010) in the last 11 years. Three of those fallen chip leaders (Darvin Moon in 2009, Martin Staszko in 2011 and Jesse Sylvia in 2012) finished second and three took third (Dennis Phillips in 2008, Jorryt van Hoof in 2014 and Cliff Josephy in 2016). Nic Manion dropped down and finished fourth last year, but the biggest fall came in 2013 when JC Tran took fifth place. The player second in chips heading into the final table has also suffered his share of struggles. Over the last 11 years, Qui Nguyen is the only player to start in second place and win the bracelet, and the second-largest stack has finished fourth or worse five times. Aside from Nguyen in 2016, just two of those players made it to heads-up play (Felix Stephensen, 2014 and Ivan Demidov, 2008). While Ensan most certainly has one of the biggest chip leads in Main Event history heading into the final table, there have been a few unlikely comebacks that should give those chasing the 55-year-old Iranian-German poker pro who starts with 177 big blinds. In 2009, Cada trailed Moon by a 46.715 million chips entering the final table and ended up with the bracelet. Heinz (23.75 million) and Jacobson (23.475 million) also overcame huge deficits to win the Main Event. Speaking of Ensan, he is not only trying to snap a streak that has seen a U.S. player win four Main Events in a row and six of the last seven, but he would also become the oldest player to win since 1999 when 61-year-old Noel Furlong prevailed. Ensan would become the third-oldest Main Event winner, after Furlong and three-time champ Johnny Moss, who won it when he was 64, 65 and 68. With a victory, Ensan would also become just the third champion in the last 11 years to be over the age of 30. The average age of the winner since 2008 is 25.6. Finally, past WSOP success — and there is a lot of it at this year’s final table — plays zero factor in determining the WSOP Main Event winner. The final table player with the most previous WSOP cashes has finished fifth or worse seven times in the last 11 years and the best finish for the player with the most WSOP cashes came in 2011 when Ben Lamb, who was also at the final table last year, finished third. Additionally, since 2008, the 2012 champ, Greg Merson, is the only previous WSOP bracelet winner to capture the Main Event. As for this year’s final nine, Sammartino leads the way with 38 WSOP cashes, followed by Cai (21), Livingston (17) and Gates (15). Ensan has three previous WSOP cashes.

 
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