2011 PCA Main Event: Introducing chip leader Ana Marquez

PCA-2010-thumbnail.jpgWho is Ana Marquez and how did she get to be chip leader at the PCA? That is the question we are all asking ourselves today as the fifth day of PokerStars Caribbean Adventure gets into swing here at the Atlantis Resort in the sunny Bahamas.

In the last few days the PokerStars Blog team has been following her every move, but before the last day or so, Ana Marquez was a relative unknown in the poker scene. Her only previous cash was a very respectable 15th place in the 2010 Venetian Deepstack, where she cashed for $5,932. Today, going into the final 22 here at PCA, she is looking at considerably more. The winner of this tournament will take home $2,300,000 and everyone at the final table will cash for at least $202,000. As a matter-of-fact, the final twenty-two who remain will take home a minimum of $52,000.

That's a nice cash for any tournament, and especially one with a week's vacation in the Bahamas thrown in. So from here on it's all gravy, as they say in Texas, but for the winner it will mean a championship title and the status that goes along with winning the second largest poker tournament in the world.

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Ana Marquez

Ana, who is from Spain, is the chip leader with 3,805,000. Chris Moneymaker, the 2003 WSOP Champion from the U.S., is nipping at her heels with $3,765.000. In third is Dimitriy Stelmak, from Russia, with 3,340,000. Ana won a large portion of her stack in a hand shortly before the end of day four when she busted out Pilippe Plouffe in one of those nightmare situations that all poker players dread, a set-over-set scenario, which is usually a duel to the death. It was in this case, with Ana coming out the winner. Ana has also taken significant stacks from Ilan Rouah, when she busted him, and half a million chips in another tough hand from Bolivar Palacios.

Two other well-known women have cashed so far in this tournament that started out with 1560 players. Sandra Naujoks from Germany, (a member of Team PokerStars Pro), cashed in 196th place for $15,000, and Maria Demetriou, who is a popular and well-known player from the UK, finished 204th, also for $15,000. Sandra is the winner of an EPT title at Dortmond in 2009 and a cash of over a million dollars.

So all eyes are on the lady from Spain today as she goes into the tournament arena as the only woman who has ever advanced this far as the chip leader at the PCA. If she is to win it, she will have to overcome twenty-one men who also have their eye on a $2.3m payday and will be doing their best to take the lead from her. Now that we are down to three tables, the end is in sight and we will all be watching to see if she can make it happen.

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Italian PokerStars qualifier Erika Cerasti is exactly the kind of player I love to meet at the PCA. For a start, she's a neuroscientist and who doesn't want to meet one of them?!, writes Mad Harper

Secondly, she bust in the Main Event in 42nd place and, instead of getting all upset because she hasn't won a gazillion dollars, she is totally thrilled that she got to spend a week in the Bahamas and the fact that she is going home $52,000 richer!


Erika Cerasti

The 30-year-old academic, who works at the College de France research centre, took up poker three years ago while living in Trieste. Her boyfriend Federico taught her the basics (he's an astrophysicist) but she honed her game playing in casinos over the border in Slovenia and also online on PokerStars. The couple moved to Paris a while ago to pursue their careers so now play on PokerStars.fr which is where Erika won her PCA package in mid-December.

Until she got to Atlantis, winning her trip to the PCA was by far Erika's biggest result - either online or live. It was the first big live event she had ever played. She said: "It's fantastic. I am really thrilled that I got so far. I never expected it. $52,000 is an awful lot of money for me."

Erika was eliminated by German PokerStars qualifier Max Lehmanski (who bust yesterday in 26th place). She was down to her last 250,000 and pushed all-in with A♥5♠. That might have worked except Max, who won the EPT Vilamoura €3k Heads-Up tourney, had woken up with A♦K♠. Erika's elimination left just one woman in the field - the current chip leader Ana Marquez.

Erika would have liked to play in the $1,000 Ladies Event this weekend but work and family commitments mean she and Federico have to leave tomorrow. She said: "Actually I wasn't even sure I was going to be able to come in the first place. I have a lot of work things going on and also my brother is about to become a father so I want to be home for that. But it's been great. "