Joe Marincola wasn’t sure he was good enough to make the World Series of Poker Main Event when he entered the tournament in November.
But after a deep run that ended in a bad beat on Day 5 of this tournament, the Philadelphia resident knew he would come back.
“I honestly didn’t know if I was just a lucky bum,” Marincola said, borrowing a line from the movie “Rocky.”
“But I’m here to do it again. I belong here.
Marincola purchased the WSOP’s $10,000 World No-Limit Hold’em Championship last year using an 18-month interest-free credit card and did the same for his entry fee this year.
The bet worked again, as he made day 4 of the tournament before being knocked out in 777th place for $19,000.
There were unofficially 594 players left at Sunday’s dinner break as the starting field of 8,663 continued to shrink. Zilong Zhang of Irvine, Calif., was the leader with 4.8 million chips.
The Main Event continues with Day 5 on Monday at Bally’s.
“Poker is the only sport where amateurs can sit down and take on the pros,” Marincola said. “I love poker so much for this reason. Everyone has a shot, and you have to take yours.
Marincola finished in 288th place last year for $38,600 after using the credit card to play his first Main Event.
With his winnings, the 37-year-old owner and bartender said he paid off credit card debt and invested in the properties he owns.
But his elimination on the fifth day of the tournament remained a source of motivation. After coming up after having had a big blind the day before, Marincola lost with ace-king to ace-queen for all his chips.
“I can’t get over the fact that I had the best hand,” Marincola said. “The second I got knocked out, I was like, ‘I’m coming back.’ ”
Marincola opened a new credit card about a month ago with a limit of $19,000, more than enough to travel to Las Vegas and gamble.
“I’m a credit card gambler,” he said.
In preparation for his return to the Main Event, Marincola ran at the Philadelphia Museum of Art like Rocky Balboa did in the movie. Unlike last year, when Marincola had to tend to his short stack to get to the money, he had a smoother ride this time around.
Marincola doubled his starting stack by 60,000 chips at the end of Day 1 and continued to push it higher on Days 2 and 3. He had close to 300,000 chips when the money bubble burst early Sunday on Day 3 after more than an hour of play. game for the hand.
“It was so exciting,” Marincola said. “It was much more relaxing because I had a lot of chips this year. Last year I was struggling. This year I kind of had a smooth ride until (Sunday).
Marincola started Day 4 with around 37 big blinds but couldn’t double down at any point. He came out about two hours before the dinner break when he moved all-in from the button for 17 big blinds with ace-queen but ran into pocket kings from the big blind.
Marincola said he hopes his runs in November and this month serve as an inspiration to his poker-playing friends and others in his Philadelphia neighborhood.
“At the end of the day, it’s an underdog story, and there’s a lot to tell,” Marincola said. “Sometimes I don’t know if I’m grateful enough or if I realize how special it is in the moment. I try to cherish it. I try my best to realize how special it is.