Interview with Marek Kolk, Winner of the Pacific Poker UK Open 2006

James Cameron - 10 Feb 2007

This year's UK Poker Open was taken down by Estonian Marek 'The Maverick'Kolk. Kolk's largest tournament win in the past topped out at $18,000, making the huge $250,000 first prize check all the more impressive by comparison.

Marek picked up his nickname the same way Doyle Brunson became known as 'Texas Dolly'- through someone mispronouncing his name. Through an email interview Marek gives our readers a look at his poker background and shares his experience at the Poker Open, as well as his sense of humor. Marek Kolk, the Maverick, defeated Theo Dalton, Davey Clayton and Roland De Wolfe to claim his prize; read on to find out how.

TourneyBlog: Marek Kolk, congratulations on your fantastic victory at the 2006 UK Poker Open! How do you feel?

Marek “The Maverick” Kolk: Ty. Feels good , I deserved it

TB: In doing research for this interview, your name cropped up a number of times in poker databases, but very little information about you is available on the web; you live in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, you’ve been playing poker for 8 years, and you’ve had a number of tournament cashes over the last two years. There were no other personal details, no photos; now that you’ve won a high profile event with a huge paycheck, do you imagine there will be a lot more written about you?

Maverick: I have no time for imaginations for last two weeks. Writing articles, giving interviews. It was nice and quiet before. Next time I have to think twice before winning a big one

TB: Tell us about yourself outside of poker- give us the read on Marek Kolk.

Maverick: I have two lovely children (a boy is 7 and daughter 1year) and a beautiful wife (Estonia is full of them) . I like high jump and a card game bridge (see, have a reasonable collection of cones from  all around a world and  adore the way brasilians play football.

TB: You are also known as The Maverick; how did you come by your nickname? Big fan of Top Gun? How about James Garner?

Maverick: The most likely background of this nick is caused by my bad English pronunciation- try to say Maverick very fast and unclear and you `ll notice how similar it is to Marek.

TB: Having a nickname before you make it to a World Poker Tour final table is a good idea- otherwise Vince Van Patten will give you one, and you’ll forever be known as “The Estonian Enforcer.”

Maverick: Incredible how you can see right thru me, but who wants to live forever? Forgot about  “Queen”, my absolute favorite band. Actually “The EE” is good idea too

TB: What is your history with the game of poker; where and when did you learn, do you play online?

Maverick: First advice to play poker professionally came from famous finnish cash player Jarmo Grann (located mostly in Barcelona now) late 90-s . Sure I play online too, most often  on Tony G Poker.

TB: Is poker more hobby or career for you?
Maverick: Hard work

TB: According to the Hendon Mob database, your all time tournament winnings prior to your victory at the UK Poker Open totaled $24,482. Your recent victory was a hundred times greater than your total career record prior; was the UK Poker Open your White Ship?

Maverick: I know I was able to win something big, but did not expect it to happen on my 4-th attempt (buy-in $5.000 or more).

TB: Did you notice how I snuck in a reference to Estonian Mythology with my “White Ship” question? Pretty cool of me, eh?

Maverick: Yeah you have great knowledge about our bitter history. Peoples really believed for some help from outside during the second world war and it`s a small miracle that Estonian nation still exists. At least I proved it .

TB: With recent changes in US Law affecting online poker in the United States specifically, and impacting the global market generally, do you, living in Estonia, think there will be much of an impact on the way you and your fellow Europeans play poker?

Maverick: Sure it will be much harder to make living without players from this  country. Hope they find  some new ways to continue online gambling. Was`nt US the most free country in the world to do with human rights?:(

TB: When you made the final table you were facing Dave Clayton, Theo Dalton, Alan Parkinson, Roland De Wolfe and Simon Zach; did you take the time to size up your opponents? Did you get a good read on any of them that helped you beat them?

Maverick: Did`nt need any read at final, I just hitted everything :). My best performance still was a hand where I had K10o against Roland`s QQ . I raised , he reraised ( not enough :)) and I called preflop. Flop was something like A83 rainbow and he bets less than pot. I quickly called with intension to bluff the river when he checks the turn. So it happened , but unfortunately the turn was a K and I hade no need to bluff the river. I knew he`s a great player and is able to put me on A after raise and most important- call after flop! This move gained me about 100.000 in chips.

TB: Did you have an over all strategy coming into the event, and if so, did it change when you hit the money, then again at the final table?

Maverick: I always start tournament with one strategy- study your opponents first for one or two levels and make decisions accordingly. And this tourney was perfect for that. There was a very passive first leg, where I accumulated chips without having any big hand. Then it was an ultra aggressive, full of bluffing, semi-final. I waited for my few spots very carefully and got a maximum out from my good hands + continuous table talk to affect my opponents, which worked well against (Johnny Houston?) who finished  third and gave me a huge chiplead for a final. The final I played very loose and decided not to stop it before my luck runs out…. I did`nt have to stop it before the tournament was over!

TB: What was the most memorable moment of the UK Poker Open experience?

Maverick: Last hand in semi-final which should make the organizers happy- the winning hand included :)

TB: The UK Poker Open III is going to be broadcast on Challenge TV everyday at midnight starting October 23rd- and you are going to be the star of the show, especially as it gets down to final table play. Is this TV exposure going to be a good thing or a bad thing for “The Maverick”?

Maverick: I hope a good thing is  to get some new opportunity in a future. Same time makes it easier for opponents to read my game next time if they care.

TB: You cashed three times in this year’s WSOP; are you heading back to Las Vegas next year- and if so, do you expect to leave with a bracelet around your wrist?

Maverick: Let see first what will happen after the new law in US. Bracelet would be nice of course especially with field of 10000 participants.

TB: Marek Kolk, “The Maverick”; congratulations once more on your victory, and thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Best of luck at the tables!

Maverick: Thank you and hope to give another interview to TourneyBlog ASAP.


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