picture: ©Neil Stoddart
Ana Márquez: "I wouldn't change it for the world"
We had the pleasure of interviewing Ana Márquez, one of the Spanish most international poker players who has achieved many triumphs throughout her career.
-Hi Ana, you have been quite out of the spotlight during the last years, so people new in poker might not know you enough. Where are you from? How long have you been playing poker? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, there’s not much to say, I am originary from Malaga, Spain, although unfortunately I have been long time far from home. When I was 17 I left to study History and Economics in Washington D.C. and it was there when my passion for poker kindled and since then, I haven’t stopped travelling. This year I have done 10 years of playing poker.
-After all these years, what is your first memory related to poker?
My first memories of poker are the cash games I used to play in Maryland and Atlantic City. Not only was the beginning of my career in poker but also a really thrilling and wonderful stage of my life, when I met the poker community and some players that would end up becoming some of my best friends big names of poker.
-Despite having enjoyed a retirement period, you keep being in the top ten of the Spanish Money List. Regarding big prizes and ITM positions, what do you recall of those first tournaments when you were still anonymous?
I really didn’t have time to enjoy what being completely unknown meant. In my first main event in Bahamas, I was 10th and already got quite media attention. Earlier than that I had played small tournaments in Venetian, where I also got attention for being a girl…While playing online I enjoyed being unknown and yes, I recalled it as a quite relaxing feeling, jeje. The truth is that being in the spotlight adds a little bit of pressure, even so it is great to feel the support of the people.
-Little by little we can see more women “holding all the cards” but some time ago, it wasn’t that common. Do you think women playing poker is becoming more natural or is there still a lot to do?
I think things have got much better. More and more I see women playing and winning tournaments, and it makes me happy that they’re truly grinders. Many of them are really driven and they are getting the results they deserve. It feels women are being more respected and admired now than years before, which make many girls feel more confident when playing tournaments. But still there’s a lot to do for those coming behind.
-Let’s move forward and talk about 2012-2013, when you propably did your best performance standing out in the Hollywood Poker Open live and event 5 High of Ps SCOOP. You were also picked Leading Lady in the 2013 GPI European Awards and Pokerstars Team Pro member. What can you tell us about that period? What was like a regular day in that time?
It was a really great moment in my life, with so many achievements I could never have dreamed of like being number one in Spain. However, I would have loved being able to enjoy it more. I was so focused in tournaments, improving my game, travelling around…that I barely realized what I was accomplishing. I just had time for poker and playing while the present was almost flying away.
-But it is from 2014 on, when you start reducing the volume of tournaments and during 2015 you almost disappeared? What did you do? How was your rutine in that stage?
In 2014 I started reducing volume because I realised how little I was enjoying life at that moment. I still loved poker, but I was so centered on rankings, being the best that I realised I was missing so many important things outside the poker world. At the beginning I just tried to cut off but then I was sort of falling between two stools and I decided to quit for a while so I could enjoy things I had missed and learn to set up a much more balanced routine.
-Looking at things with perspective, how do you see all that hustle and bustle of tournaments, trips, events? You may be the envy of half the Spanish field but it had to be pretty stressful.
To be honest, I wouldn’t change a thing. Nobody forced me to do it and I did it because I loved it. I am so proud of what I lived and what I learned, but, yes, that kind of life is unsustainable in the long-term. I am very happy to have experienced it, but now is a different moment.
-If today, a poker room calls you to offer you a sponsorship, would you say yes?
Depending on the conditions of course, but yes, it is something I would be interested in. I think after all I‘ve learned I could do it much better than when I was with Pokerstars. Reducing volume of game allows me to do other things and I also realize now of the importance of promoting poker in a different way that I used to do. Also, I feel part of my duties these years have been being an example for other women, proving we can do it, and I feel honoured for that.
-We have seen you already this year in the Aussie Millions, how do you plan your agenda? Do you know in advance which tournaments are you going to play every year or you just get carried away? Will we see you playing in Spain this year?
I have a rough idea at the beginning of the year, but basically, everything depends on how tournaments fit in the rest of my routine. Some tournaments are really planned and for some others I just improvise; and of course I would love to have the opportunity to go to Spain.
- You were ITM several times in some of the old EPT’s, what do you think about the new Pokerstars festival?
The EPT has been a very special tournament for lots of us. Personally, it represents a very important moment of my career. I imagine the new circuit will be basically very similar. It’s sad to say goodbye to the EPT but it’s also thrilling PS Festival as a new phase.
-And last, but not least, I would like to ask you about a hot topic nowadays in Spain, what do you think about unification of markets between Spain and some European countries?
In my personal view, everything that means a broader market and more options for players are great news.
We would like to thank Ana for her time and we really wish her many successes in her career.