EPT11 Barcelona: It's a family affair, with Pedro Marques ready to make Portugal proud
It's never been cool to hang around with your parents, especially when you're older than about 12. But exceptions apply for Pedro Marques, a 21-year-old poker pro from Aroeira, near Lisbon in Portugal, who might just have the coolest mum and dad in the business.
When he was about 16, Marques discovered poker, playing for play money or in small games with friends. As he began to take the game more seriously, and eventually turned pro several years later, his parents, Joaquim and Margarida, similarly became fascinated by the game.
On their request, Pedro taught his parents the basics and signed them up for an online account. Lo and behold, all three of them were suddenly gripped by the game and, here in Barcelona, the family obsession reached its natural conclusion: all three took part in the EPT Main Event.
"My parents are recreational players," Marques, who is still in the tournament, said during the first break in play on Day 4. "They like the game and they usually come with me and we play the same tournament...My mother won a satellite and my father came 22nd in the Estrellas High Roller and bought in."
I have covered a lot of tournaments on the European Poker Tour, as well as plenty much further afield, and it is about as unusual as a walk in the big blind in a Super High Roller event to find mother, father and offspring in the same tournament.
A quick straw poll in the press room came up with only Allyn, Barry and Jeff Schulman, who tend to play the big tournaments in the United States; the Grays in Scotland, who sometimes play on the UKIPT; and the Jerney family in the Czech Republic who use EPT Prague as a reunion and all join the action. (Even the famous Brunson clan can't boast similar immersion in the game. Mother Louise, Doyle's wife, never plays.)
Joaquim and Margarida's tournament ended before the money, but Pedro is continuing his progression towards the biggest live payday of his career.
"It's been great," he said. "It's been a great feeling, a great sensation. I never had this feeling before. We are really deep now, we are 70 guys. Let's see what happens."
Marques is a former psychology student and used to make his money as an online Omaha cash game player, but has since dedicated almost all of his time to online MTTs. He played his first event on the EPT when the tour went to Vilamoura a couple of years ago, and he has had a couple of small cashes on the Estrellas Poker Tour in Madrid and Marbella.
This is already guaranteed to be his largest live cash, however, and he is not taking anything for granted.
"Today I studied before the tournament, all of my table," he said. "I am ready for it."
Although the poker community in Portugal is still relatively small, it is known to be exceptionally tight-knit. Most of the top players, including Marques and the Team PokerStars Pro Jaoa Nunes, are close friends and their appearances on the deep stages of the European Poker Tour attracts exceptionally fervent support on the online forums.
They also wear their colours proudly. Despite a multicoloured T-shirt today, Marques has a more permanent reminder of his national affiliation: a tattoo that reads "MADE IN PORTUGAL" across his shoulders.
Marques was interviewed this morning by a mainstream Portuguese newspaper, who have come over to Barcelona to track his progress. It's been a long time since Joao Barbosa and Antonio Matias became the only two Portuguese EPT winner. With about a million chips among the final 60 players here -- significantly above average -- Marques is moving into position to make country, and family, very proud.
Follow all the action from the tournament floor on the main EPT Barcelona page. There's hand-by-hand coverage in the panel at the top, including chip counts, and feature pieces below. Follow the action from the High Roller on the High Roller page. There's also EPT Live, which is streaming action from Day 4 of the Main Event.