18-Year-Old Steven Marin Savoring Breakout at WPT Prime Montreal

Steven Marin has been traveling the world playing poker since he turned 18 last October, and he’ll play for his first major title on Tuesday at WPT Prime Montreal.

Tim Fiorvanti
May 19, 2024
Steven Marin will play at his first career televised final table on Tuesday as he competes for the WPT Prime Montreal title.

It’s exceedingly rare in 2024 to see an 18-year-old thriving in a live tournament poker setting. There are are only a handful of live venues that cater to American players under 21 years old, and the fallback of chasing major online titles as an American ended over a decade ago after Black Friday.

But there are still a handful of players that find a way to break through, and perhaps none more impressively so in recent memory than Steven Marin.

Since turning 18 last October, Marin has traveled to Florida, New York and Panama in pursuit of venues where he can play under the age of 21, and he’s shown a high level of competency at each stop. He reached a new peak this week by making the televised final table of WPT Prime Montreal.

In an era in which most of the players he’s up against are older and occasionally two or three times his age, Marin’s early entry into major tournament poker was inspired by his older brother Nikita.

“When I was younger, I would see my brother playing online – my brother was into poker,” said Marin. “I was always either watching him online and learning, or I would be watching YouTube videos.”

Marin has obviously shown competency in No Limit Hold’em, having made the WPT Prime Montreal final table, but it’s actually not his preferred game of choice.

“My game is PLO, that’s what I play most in home games or just with friends,” said Marin. “I like watching what ‘JNandez’ does, he’s a good PLO player. I read some books. And the best players in my area, I just played with them for a while, so I got better at poker by playing with them.”

The first time Marin popped up on the poker radar was just over a month ago in South Florida. During a trip to the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown festival, Marin spent April enjoying a full calendar of tournaments, including quite a few Pot Limit Omaha events.

He’d go on to make three final tables during that festival and won a pair of trophies – both in 5-card PLO.

“It was definitely an amazing experience just coming down to my that WPT series – meeting a lot of good players, and the good cash games,” said Marin. “When I was playing PLO I felt confident in my ability, just because I have studied the game and been playing for a while. It was awesome to win the two trophies, especially with both being 5-Card PLO, in the same month.”

In the middle of his trip to Florida in April, Marin traveled down to Panama and played several Latin American Poker Tour events, locking down a top-three finish in a half No Limit Hold’em, half Pot Limit Omaha event while he was down there.

The prospect of hopping on a plane to play a series of high-stakes poker tournaments far away from home might seem overwhelming for most 18-year-olds. But Marin keeps a level head about him that belies his age, and a pretty tight circle around him.

“Either some friends from the poker community, or my brother, he went to two of the trips,” Marin said about his typical traveling party.

With a few days off before the WPT Prime Montreal final table resumes play on Tuesday, Marin has taken his shots at the $3,500 CAD WPT Montreal championship event and a handful of other side events in the meantime. After busting out of WPT Montreal Sunday afternoon, he went right to the cash games at Playground Poker with a mind towards staying sharp in the meantime.

He’ll start the final table of six with the shortest stack, but Marin is confident in his ability to maximize on whatever spots will come his way.

“I’m just going to try my best like everyone else that’s there,” said Marin. “I put in the work beforehand and I’m just gonna come in and do my best to play my game. There’s a lot more money involved, but all I can do is play my best.”

As Marin prepares to play for almost $140,000, he’ll have a few familiar faces in his corner cheering him on as the WPT cameras roll.

“Mostly my brother Nikita, he’s going to be supporting me on the rail,” said Marin. “I made some friends while being on the trip, and then just off whoever else I’ve met on this trip as well.”

While most of his friends and family are almost 500 miles away in Philadelphia, Marin is enjoying their support from afar. And just seven months into the start of his live tournament poker career, he’s not taking a single element of this moment for granted.

“It’s just gonna be an amazing experience,” said Marin. “My friends back home, I am going to send them like the live stream link. Everyone is supporting me by messages, group chats, on Twitter. I’m just going to try to do well since it is a big spot for me, and some people who have been playing for a long time don’t get into the position I am in.”