EPT11 Prague: "Aren't you...?" Leonid Markin takes seat in the Main

It wasn't until level four that Leonid Markin arrived. He spotted a massage therapist immediately.

"Hey, are you busy now?" he asked, taking charge of the stack of chips given to him by the dealer. But the therapist was, and pointed instead to Zohair Karim in seat one, her next customer. Markin conceded graciously, but it would be his only real loss of the level.
The request for a massage seemed unusual, for he looked like the most relaxed man in central Europe.


Leonid_Markin_ept11pra_d1b_12dec14.jpgLeonid Markin arrives


"How are you?" he asked Sabina Haitullah two seats along, who even with what looked close to the chip lead couldn't look as cheerful as the new arrival. Perhaps she knew it.

"Good I think," she answered.

Markin would do this a lot, talk. Sometimes he would listen or quietly ask questions instead, but it was mostly him, and all while playing hand after hand with absolute control and ease, exhibiting that tell-tale confidence--dropping his chips in from a few inches off the table, and announcing all of his actions.

--"How much? I call."
--"I bet."
--"Oh, did he call? I have kings."

Karim meanwhile took a more serious line. Perhaps the most successful player at the table prior to Markin's arrival, he'd won the massage, but now, despite taking on Markin readily, little else.

"It's like a flash back for me," said Markin as he showed a winning hand to Karim, one he'd used for profit earlier in the week.


Leonid_Markin_ept11pra_d1a_2_12dec14_2.jpgLeonid Markin (left) and Zohair Karim


"You don't need to justify it to me buddy," replied Karim. Markin got the point, and the massage therapist moved her elbows higher, towards Karim's shoulders.

Markin's mood though was unshakable. Not even a point of order could unsettle him. David Bokor tried it, pointing out to the Russian that he had used the word "raise" incorrectly, as there had been no bet before him. Markin brushed off the pedantry, but Boker awkwardly pushed his point home. In baffled reply Markin said nothing, but from that point on announced every raise with almost a singing voice. Even Bokor couldn't help but smile.

Because really it was like attending some sort of function and being dazzled by the hired entertainment; not a magician as such, but someone who could do things with cards at which you could only marvel.


markin quote 2.jpg

Almost in a blur Markin had amassed 40,000 chips. Then 45,000, stacking them to his right, too far to the right really, on turf that ought to have belonged to Baden Logan in seat eight, who was too polite to mention that he was having to reach around Markin's stack to retrieve his own cards.

Meanwhile I'd stopped writing down the hands. There were too many. A set of fours took him past the 50,000 mark. Bouyed further he looked to Sabina Hiatullah, who was wearing headphones.


Sabina_Hiatullah_12dec14.jpgSabina Hiatullah


"What are you listening to?" he asked.

"Music," deadpanned Hiatullah.

"Which music?" said Markin, declining the brush-off.

It was house music, said Hiatullah, which Markin proclaimed to be his favourite, immediately bringing up the subject of his favourite Swedish DJ. Did he know him? Unable to remember the name himself he paused to think. But Hiatullah just realised remembered something herself.

"You won the super high roller, right?" said Hiatullah, pointing.

"Yeah," replied Markin. But it was the DJ he was trying to recall, not the result that earned him €771,360, and propelled him into the minds of poker players around the world. He remembered the name and, watching Hiatullah's reaction, apologised for talking too much. Then introduced himself.

"Leo," he said, stretching out his hand.

And so on and so forth. This, it seemed, was to be the basis of the level, a demonstration in how victory in a Super High Roller the night before can really lift your mood.

Full coverage of the EPT Prague Poker Festival is on the main EPT Prague page.


Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.
Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in Prague