We have enough ammunition to go to the World Series each year and expect that the winner will be a European.
PV caught up with the Dutch legend at the EPT Dortmund… SH: What do you make of the EPT Events now with the young, aggressive online generation coming in; do you find it harder to play them? Marcel Luske: “It is harder to play them because you used to be able to play more poker; you could play without hands in position. They stop you from doing this by analysing what kind of value their hand has, how much they have put in, how much they get back if they hit it, and they are willing to take the risk. They just take the mathematics, how much change they have, and say ‘let’s go for it’. So they just wipe out the danger of nearly drawing dead or giving too much away in the hands that they draw. So even when they have 5:1 or 4:1 shots, if you have 3, 4 or 5 of them like this to take you on for all your money, you may be in great shape. But if you roll the dice and you take one number, I take five, and we roll the dice six times, because I have to go through the whole field, finding players like this all the time, then my chance to get knocked out is bigger than to stay in. You might survive it one time, two times, three times, but on the fourth time or the fifth time it might come up that you hit it, which you are entitled to do, and I am out. The game has changed into another style where you say lets play more attacking, and that’s what Phil Hellmuth is doing. He is trying not to go all-in unless he is absolutely sure he has the best hand; grinding it to get a big chip lead, and then when he is in front with a big chip lead he can put you all-in when he knows his hand is good. But before that, in the beginning of the tournament, he wants to stay away from that.” SH: So do you notice a difference in style when you go to Vegas? Marcel Luske: “I think the European players are getting very serious, very aggressive. And with the amount of new players, we have enough ammunition to go to the World Series each year and expect that the winner will be a European. Because I expect a lot of these young kids to go there and bruise those good players with their actions and their heart; no fear, you know? They have nothing to lose except to play the game, take the percentages and take those big shots on. And it’s different here because Daniel Negreanu was complaining a bit about a few Germans having slow-rolled him a couple of times. Turning over the best hand very slowly, and he didn’t like that. I don’t like it because I think its very bad etiquette. But there is an edge on that which says that they don’t really slow-roll and mean it like a slow-roll. It’s just like they are enjoying the moment so much that they actually beat Daniel Negreanu. I know it because when they beat me they want to take the time to show everybody and enjoy it. If people do things they like, then they do it for as long as possible; a good glass of wine, a good cigar or whatever. They say why does it always last for such a short time because it’s so enjoyable; why do you have to work 8 hours a day, and its work, and not do the things we like 8 hours a day instead? People enjoy beating up the pros because it only happens now and then to somebody. That’s probably the reason why they slow-roll Daniel Negreanu. Or me sometimes …well it depends who it is. If it is somebody who is just enjoying it then I try to just go ‘nice hand, thank you’ because I know they enjoy it. But if I see somebody doing this on purpose I get ten times more mad than anybody because I am so against it; it’s such bad etiquette. And I don’t want to have anything to do with these people.” SH: I noticed that you receive a lot of media attention around the table. Do you think you can use that to your advantage with the other players at the table? Marcel Luske: “No. I think it’s a big disadvantage for me as a player to be on the televised table. Because every move you make they put it on television; everything you say they put it on television. And sometimes I like to talk just a little bit of rubbish just to create a conversation, to see what my opponents are like, how they feel today, are they trying to be friendly, are they trying to be tricky; you can read and hear it in their voice, how they say it, so it helps you to know where you stand quicker. Otherwise I have to sit there and watch what they say and hardly speak. So you have no clue where they are coming from, how long they’ve played, what they are doing for a living, and what is going on in their minds. And then I will put them on a range of what I expect them to have by playing with them; but it might take 3 hours, 4 hours to see them play 3, 4 or 5 hands! The key information you need is extracted by talking to them. If the television is there then they always want it to be nice and good for television and it’s not always that nice.” SH: So do you think players come after you because you are a name player? Do you think it makes it harder playing big field events? Marcel Luske: “It makes it a lot harder, yes. Because they are willing to give up all their chips to have a hand with you. I get people saying ‘I call, I’m going to lose the tournament anyway and if I lose my chips to you then I have a story. I can tell them at home, I was playing with you and you took all my chips.’ They think that’s great that I took all their chips! Like, people look at the most beautiful woman around and say to her ‘can my wife have a picture with you?’ It’s the opposite because they are so amused and so thrilled by poker as a sport, treating you like you are a movie star, trying to make you look better than you are. It’s great to get that attention and it’s great that poker is going where it’s going to be a sport for all generations, beliefs & religions, and we can all join with each other. For that reason I want to stay away from people who slow-roll and behave badly. But at the same time they go for my throat in a nice way to say at home ‘Yeah I was playing with him and I beat him up’, or ‘he took my chips’; it doesn’t make a difference to them; they have a story. So we have to live with that. It’s good to be me because I play with a lot of people who are like dead money; they still pay me off because they don’t believe I have a hand because they have seen me bluffing. They see this and they do it another time when there is no way I cannot have this hand; but more often than not I do have the hand. Its very obvious, so any good player will see that, but they say ‘who cares?’. They think ‘I am in a hand with him, I have pocket nines, he has only king jack’, yeah but there was only 5,000 in the pot pre-flop. On the flop was king-king-queen and he puts in another 100,000! I mean I don’t believe it’s that good here if you have 99, it doesn’t work like that. You are not going to waste money trying to play with the worst hand before the flop but after the flop it’s different. So there is a part which is very good but the other side is you sometimes have no clue where you stand because they do play stuff like A-4 against you when you re-raise because they want to play the hand with you!” SH: So you get people calling without the odds just to be in a pot with you. Surely in the long run that must be better for you? Marcel Luske: “Oh yeah sure, but there are too many people doing that, whereby the odds for the guy is 6:1 with a small pair, hoping that you have Ace-King and that you don’t have a better pair. There are still ways to win that hand, even when you get 17%. You can still hit a set, and sometimes they do. And when they have Ace-Jack and you have pocket kings, they still have like 27%. But if you do this 3 or 4 times they will probably win one time. If you go to one tournament and you do this situation three of four times, with these odds, then you should be out if all the money goes in.” SH: So you find the aggressive players take chances early on to build a big stack and they feel that chance is worth their investment so then they can dominate the field afterwards. Marcel Luske: “I like to create a big stack and dominate the field to the bubble. And then you can get to the end-game where you need the poker gods to give you playable hands. There’s nothing you can do: you have to play J-Q, 2-8 or 3-5. If I wait any longer without playing many hands then I am out because I don’t have enough time.” SH: And one other question: you are always immaculately dressed. Marcel Luske: “Thank You.” SH: Is that part of an image you try and portray at the table? Marcel Luske: “No, it’s healthy for the poker industry. I like to promote poker as a sport. People see me to be an ambassador for poker and I try and uphold that with people like Mike Sexton. I do have a future project with Mike which I am looking forward to doing because he is a great guy. So yes I would like to be an ambassador for the sport. Keeping the game fair, making it enjoyable, and hopefully the poker organisations can help to sanction events where you get a board of control that says the service has to be good. Because it’s very clear that to charge €70 for players who want to compete here per day is bad. I mean, I would really say a rip-off. Why should I pay €70? For players that have won a package, great, but for people who want to see or visit its no good.” SH: Definitely. Well thanks very much for your time Marcel and we hope to be in touch soon. Marcel Luske: “Thank you, I hope you enjoyed it.”