California cash game pro turns to tournaments and secures first WSOP bracelet

June 10, 2017 (Las Vegas, NV) - Until recently, Anthony Marquez stuck to high-stakes limit cash games. On Saturday night, he made his mark on the tournament world. 

In just his second World Series of Poker cash, Marquez earned his first bracelet by taking down the $1,500 Six-Max No-Limit Hold'em for $393,273. He defeated a massive field of 1,708 players and defeated Demoesthenes Kiriopoulos heads-up to earn the title. 

"I'm overwhelmed," said Marquez. "I'm kind of speechless. I've been knocking on the door. [I've made] a lot of Day 2's and now I'm over the hump. It feels so good. It's a dream come true." 

The win comes in just his second World Series of Poker cash. Marquez considered himself a cash game pro and spent all of his time playing high-stakes limit hold'em in the Los Angeles area casinos. It wasn't until the games dried up that he started taking his shots at tournaments.

"I played $100/$200 limit, some $200/$400," said Marquez of his limit hold'em stakes. "I wasn't really a tournament player. I just started playing tournaments and found a love for it. And here I am."

Marquez admitted that his dive into the tournament world was initially one of necessity. Had the limit hold'em games stayed soft, he might not have earned his first bracelet.

"Honestly, the games at Commerce [casino] dried up," said the 33-year-old pro. "I had no other option. I had to pick up a new game, start learning and get better."

Get better he did, as he came out on top of a final table that featured two of the top pros in the game - Matt Berkey and Daniel Weinman. He came into the final table with the chip lead and never let it go. He continually applied pressure and went wire-to-wire with the lead. 

Marquez eliminated Berkey when his ace-three bested Berkey's queen-nine suited all in preflop to extend his chip lead four-handed. According to Marquez, the turning point came in a massive three-way all in during four-handed play.

Daniel Weinman, Steven Buckner and Marquez all got the chips into the middle preflop. Buckner tabled pocket jacks, Weinman showed pocket kings, and Marquez's ace-king needed help. The board came       and Marqeuz hit runners to make a wheel and eliminate two players.

Of the two players eliminated, Weinman held the bigger stack and took third place, while Buckner earned fourth place money. Marquez took a massive chip lead into heads-up play against Kiriopoulos.

"From that point on, I had a huge, massive lead," said Marquez about the double knockout hand. "Even thought Demo is an awesome player, I knew I could beat him if I just kept applying pressure. And I did."

The final day's action wasn't just the final table. Cards got in the air at noon with 21 players remaining and a ton of poker talent in the field.

Matt Stout, Andy Spears, James Mackey, Brett Murray and Ismael Bojang were all in the field at the start of the day, but fell short of the final table. Bojang made the best finish of the bunch, finishing in eighth place just before the redraw to the unofficial final table of seven. By the time the final hand was dealt, Marquez put in a 12-hour day at the table and matched wits with some of the best. 

"It was mental warfare," said the Ventura, California native. "My brain is like jelly right now. I'm not as talented as these guys. I just had to keep applying pressure. I got some chips early and rode it out."

After the final card was dealt, Marquez rushed to the rail to celebrate with the many friends and family members that made the trip to Las Vegas from Southern California. He acknowledged that the support system he had in place helped him get through the long day.

"I couldn't have done it without them," said Marquez. "They keep me balanced and this is just awesome. [They] gave me some inspiration."

Full Results
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Final Table Results:

1st: Anthony Marquez - $393,273
2nd: Demosthenes Kiriopoulos - $242,978
3rd: Daniel Weinman - $170,477
4th: Steven Buckner - $121,114
5th: Matt Berkey - $87,141
6th: Ilkin Amirov - $63,506