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Tournament Trail Q and A -- Michael Martin

Catching Up with the EPT London Winner Minutes After His Victory


Michael MartinMichael Martin had come close to live tournament glory before his major victory at the European Poker Tour London stop in early October. Martin finished in fifth place at the EPT Grand Final in season four. He also finished as runner-up at the 2007 Master Classics of Poker in Amsterdam and scored another second-place finish at the World Series of Poker Circuit event in Council Bluffs, Iowa. All of those cashes, combined with his £1 million win in London, give Martin more than $3 million in career winnings early in his career. He has made $2,513,506 in 2008, which is more than all but a handful of players during that time.

Martin is 24, and he began playing poker five years ago while he was a student at Penn State. He decided to become a poker professional in 2007 after he graduated with a degree in English. The bulk of his poker education took place online, where he plays under the screen name “Martine23” and has cashed for $284,873 in Online Player of the Year-qualified finishes alone. Martin has proved a quick student in the live world, as well, having booked three wins over $500,000 during his short career, all in Europe. Martin will see if he can keep his European success going, and he plans to play in every EPT event until the end of the year. Card Player caught up with Martin twice in London, and this interview took place just minutes after his big win.


Ryan Lucchesi: Last time we spoke, we talked about how you had come so close to your first major win a few times that it felt like you were due to make the jump and claim that victory. How does it feel to have now made that jump?

Michael Martin: It feels awesome. At the beginning of heads up, when I lost that coin flip, I was sick to my stomach thinking I couldn’t take another second [place]. In past times, I’ve mentally given up at the end, and I didn’t want to do it this time. I got incredibly lucky to even get through this final table; we didn’t have too many chips to play with, and I came back from 95,000, and that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen.

RL: You have a lot more confidence since you have been to so many final tables now. How much did that help you when your chip stack was knocked down early and you were card-dead?

A lot, but I think having my family here was what made me really stay in it. They flew in just last night, and there was no way I was going to have them fly out here for a seventh-place finish.

RL: What were you thinking when you went on that sick run there to come back from 95,000?

After I doubled up, then tripled up with the pocket aces, I knew I was going to do something with the 250K, and then I got nines the next hand and double up. It was surreal, everything was surreal. That stuff happens maybe once a year online, but to have it happen at a live, huge final table is beyond belief.

How does it feel to set the benchmark for best comeback on the European Poker Tour? This ranks as the EPT version of the Jack Straus chip-and-a-chair comeback at the World Series of Poker, and the Bill Edler comeback in Biloxi on the World Poker Tour.

MM: It’s nice to be a luckbox ... honestly.

What was going through your mind during the first stretch of the final table, when you were card-dead?

MM: I knew they would come, but there was nothing I could do. I had Eric [Liu], Philippe [Dauteuil], and Johannes [Strassmann] all to my left, so I couldn’t really steal, because they don’t let you steal with cheese from late position, or from anywhere. I basically just waited it out.

RL: You were so close to wrapping things up against Michael Tureniec a few hands into the heads-up match, but then he scored the double-up to even things out. What helped you keep your composure and focus when things didn’t go your way there?

Michael MartinMM: I was not giving up easily this time; if the cards beat me, so be it, but there was no way I was losing because of what I did. In the very beginning, there was a lot of gambling on my part, because he was really short, so I was going to be shoving every button. When I lost that coin flip, I still had a really good lead. He won a few pots, but I felt like I had him the whole time.

RL: On the river bet that Michael made in the second-to-last hand, what range of hands did you put him on?

The hand as featured in's live updates:

Penultimate Call of the Tournament

Michael Martin raises to 250,000 preflop and Michael Tureniec makes the call. The flop is dealt J 10 6 and both players check. The turn brings the 3 and Turniec opens the action for 380,000. Martin makes the call. The J falls on the river and Tureniec leads out once again, this time for 680,000. Martin goes into the tank for a minute and eventually makes the call. Tureniec reveals Q-4 for a bluff, and Martin shows K-10 for two pair, jacks and 10s. Martin takes down the large pot and grows his stack to 4,630,000 to take a huge lead in the heads-up match. Tureniec now holds just 1,375,000.

MM: Once I checked the flop with a flush draw, and then the backdoor-flush draw came, he bet and I called. He can put me on all sorts of hands at that point. The dream card hit for me with the jack. It’s a dream card because, one, I know he doesn’t have a jack, and two, he has to bluff at that just in case I have some sort of draw. It was a snap-call on the river, but I just didn’t want to look stupid.