Before the pandemic Michael Marder was practically at almost every major tournament series in the northeast. A New Jersey rounder, he’s considered a top-notch player among his peers.
Marder is a full-time poker pro that had to make some tough choices when COVID shut down casinos. After live tournaments were canceled, he was forced to move to NJ online poker sites.
Ironically, Marder goes by the name “ParxBigStax” online. But unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to play in a Parx series since February 2020.
“The pandemic actually had a pretty big effect on my poker career,” he says. “I have been missing the local tournament scene as far as Borgata and Parx series go, but on the other hand, it was a major growing experience for my game. It forced me to get into the online scene.”
A life grinding it out
Marder, 35, hails from Sewell, New Jersey, and is a product of the Moneymaker boom. After playing poker with friends in high school he then started hitting the home game circuit during college.
“I didn’t really have any kind of crazy story or big challenge to overcome to get into poker necessarily,” he says. “I just was basically always broke, working multiple minimum wage jobs, grinding out paychecks to take down to the casino.”
He hit his stride with a breakout year in 2012, winning more than $145,000 in tournaments. This included a runner-up finish for $110,044 in the summer Borgata Championship.
Marder has been a regular tournament grinder ever since and has racked up over $1.4 million in live tournament winnings. Some of his more impressive cashes include:
- $3,500 Borgata Main Event (2018) – fifth for $181,329
- $10,400 WPT Five Diamond Classic (2019) – 11th for $130,052
- $3,150 WPT Borgata Open (2019) – first for $59,362
- $2,500 Delaware Park Classic (2013) – third for $51,000
Even though he didn’t win the bracelet, Marder was happy with how he played. He faced some tough competition at a final table that included Chris Ferguson and Dylan Linde.
“It was an awesome experience,” he says. “I doubled up through Ferguson early on, and even had the chip lead five-handed at one point.”
Championship ring warrior
While he doesn’t yet have a bracelet, Marder has locked up three WSOP Circuit rings. Two of those came online at WSOP.com in the last two years.
The pandemic may have changed his everyday live tournament routine, but he didn’t let it hold him back.
“I do consider myself more of a live player at heart,” he says. “I enjoy it more than online, even though I’ve gotten into the online streets a little over the pandemic and have had some success there.”
The biggest of his WSOPC wins came in 2020 in a $320 MonsterStack, where he took home $50,832.
“For the upcoming year, I hope to play a lot more live poker,” Marder says. “Really looking forward to getting back to year-round live tournaments, hopefully some more local series will be back in action.”
Keeping it up online, but getting back to the live felt
Unfortunately, at the moment Marder’s home turf hasn’t announced any new major series anytime soon. Borgata and Parx were among the Northeast staples in the poker tournament circuit before the pandemic.
Marder isn’t letting that hold him back from making his rounds in 2022. He plans on playing in Maryland, Las Vegas, and Florida. He’s optimistic about the future and believes more live tournament poker will be back soon.
In the meantime, he’ll also continue grinding online at WSOP.com and BorgataPoker.com.
“Poker is my profession,” he says, “with any luck I’ll be able to keep it that way.”
* Photo courtesy WPT