EPT9 London Day 1B: Margets's moment in the sun. Make that snow.
Leo Margets played her first tournament in her new colours yesterday in what you could call her home EPT. Margets spends half her time in London and the other half in Spain. It suits her perfectly. For the most part, although when we spoke to her today he felt she needed to confess something.
"I don't want to get old here though," she said, as if asking if this was alright. "Today, it's supposed to rain but not be minus 7 degrees! It affects my mood! I like to do life outside, and run and stuff. It's so inconvenient. And in the winter 3pm is dark as night."
Margets has a point. It's hilariously cold in London today, minus two degrees but more like minus nine degrees in the stiff wind. Be that as it may however Margets looks like someone without a care in the world. And as far as she's concerned she hasn't, having become the newest member of Team PokerStars Pro. She's happy.
"Incredibly happy": Leo Margets
"Incredibly happy," she said. "As happy as when you have a super score in a tournament. Better. I think it's like this because the feedback I've been having from people. It's amazing how the community has been happy for me. Congratulating me."
This is hardly surprising. Since emerging on the poker scene several years ago Margets has become one of the most well-liked players on the circuit, with a story that started on a first date, a story worth hearing again.
"We were on the first date and I told him 'let's go for a drink'. We were in a restaurant. He was like 'no way, I'm going to play poker with some friends'.
Instead of walking out on this guy -- who perhaps didn't realize how things could have gone south at this point -- Margets was intrigued. "I was like, that must be interesting."
She liked this guy and followed him, spending a tedious two hours watching him play. Something must have clicked. "I'm actually still with him after 8 years."
From then on Margets began delving into the game.
"He started teaching me more," said Margets, who recounted the story with obvious joy. Actually Margets says everything with obvious joy. "He managed to explain to me the dynamics of the game. He passed to me the idea that if you study, if you take time, you can have an edge and beat your rivals, and I'm super competitive so I wanted to know more about it."
Margets proved an able student and soon both Margets and her boyfriend played a first tournament together. Margets won it. That triggered even more commitment to the game.
"I think I have a good relationship with poker," she said. "I know how demanding it is, like a super-demanding boyfriend or girlfriend. It's not a nine-to-five job. You have to dedicate time to study, otherwise you fall behind. It's a live thing, poker. If you're at the top level for a period of time unless you keep working you inevitably get worse."
Margets's competitive nature shines through. When not playing poker Margets is a marathon runner and had intended to compete in this Sunday's Barcelona marathon. But that all depends on how things go this week.
"The final table is on Saturday!" she said, laughing. "If I final table this I won't be able to run it. I really want to run it but I prefer to win the final table. Then I'll buy a marathon!"
Margets: will buy a marathon if necessary
Margets's career path has been steep. After that first win alongside her boyfriend she famously finished 27th in the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2009. It was a result that she recognised as the catalyst to her current career. But it almost never happened.
"I had a budget to play for a poker site in Spanish tournaments for around $10,000," she said. "Then I met some people, friends I used to play poker with who were going to the World Series for the main event. I wasn't supposed to go because my budget was less than the buy-in. So I spoke to the country manager: 'please, I have to go, please, please'. Impossible. But then two days before registration closed he said 'okay you can go'.
"It was magic. I was happier then than when I finished the main event. That was the saddest day I remember in poker."
Looking back to those heady days Margets said she doesn't remember any of it, her mind given over completely to poker.
"I was so much in the zone," said Margets. "I didn't speak to my family or to my friends. I'm not happy about it. I should have been more in touch, but I was in a bubble, an amazing bubble."
However, she did eventually crack.
"Okay, I remember when I passed the 100k mark I thought maybe I should phone home..."
That was then; a contract with Team PokerStars Pro is now, a new chapter of her life that she's eager to enjoy.
"I want to be good at what I want to do but as a Team PokerStars Pro our job is much more than just playing and grinding. You represent the brand and that means much more. I've been pretty lucky that I've always been sponsored. But now it's like you are with the best.
"My short term goal would be to still be there. Unfortunately, unlike sport, effort does not always equal results. But personally, you don't lie to yourself; you know whether you're there or not. So I just want to be there, and keep enjoying the moment. It's nice to be in the moment."
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter