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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Where Are They Now – Marco Traniello

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Where are They Now is a series of an in depth look at all poker players - not just the pros - as they travel through one long game. Some of the players profiled are deceased but not forgotten.

All too often in poker, a player will get discredited for his or her achievements because of whom they are associated with.  All too often comments will come out that sound like “Yeah, but if (fill in name here) hadn’t hooked up with (fill in other name here), then he/she wouldn’t have even got into poker.”  What’s funny about these comments is that nobody would have ever got into poker without someone else first telling them about the game.  The problem some people have with my example above is that they were associated with someone who was generally already a successful player, therefore they didn’t have to do the work, or “the grind” that a majority of the players have to do before they reach the upper echelon of the poker world.  Let me be the first to say, “Good for them!”

It’s hard to get mad at these late comers to the game, especially when they start showing results comparable to their “mentors” (i.e. boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife).  This was largely the case of Marco Traniello, who had his poker fate decided for him upon deciding on such a trivial thing as a parking spot.  

Traniello’s life before poker was as far away from the neon lights in Las Vegas that you can get.  Traniello was born in a small town near Rome, Italy.  His first love was something I would bet that a poker player spends less than two seconds a day thinking about.  Hair.  When he was a young man he opened up a shop in Italy and quickly became one of the best hair dressers not only in the town, but in the entire country.  In just a few short years he was the “go to” guy when it came to hairdressing in Italy.  Dignitaries and other famous people would travel to his shop just to get their hair done by him.  It seemed that Traniello had found his niche in life and would probably spend the rest of his life making good money in Italy, and maybe eventually the world, taking his hairdressing show on the road, especially if the rave reviews kept flying in.  Not so fast.

In 1999 Traniello and a friend went on vacation to the United States for a few weeks.  Before they could go Traniello at least wanted to see the city he had heard described as “Sin City.”  His friend agreed, and while driving down the world renowned “Strip” for the first time, he saw the Mirage and decided he would visit.  Traniello wandered around the casino with his friend for a few hours, gambling just a bit, but eventually grew bored and decided it was time to find something else to do before heading back to Italy.

Heading back to his car he noticed a woman approaching a car right next to his.  Without hesitation he asked this woman if she would like to go out dancing.  Little did he know that this woman had just lost $50,000.  For some reason she said yes, and just a few weeks later Marco Traniello and his famous bride, Jennifer Harmon tied the knot.

Despite being married to one of the best cash game players in the world, Traniello still didn’t have much of an interest for poker.  Instead, he basically moved his shop in Italy to Las Vegas, and started right back up without missing a beat.  Traniello knew very little about the game of poker, and thought that his wife was just on a lucky streak, and would have to resort to a “real job” when the well ran dry.  Nearly ten years later, the well is still plenty full.

Despite not being a poker player, the players at the Big Game at Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio enjoyed having Traniello around, which was no small feat, considering that room was off limits to the general public.  More and more, Traniello found himself paying attention to the cards rather than the conversation like when he first arrived.  Even though it was unintentional, Traniello was getting an education from the best players in poker as they played for more money in one hand than he was making in a year as a hairdresser.  The wheel was in motion.

When Harmon started having home games, Traniello started participating.  However, this isn’t your typical home game, this line-up included such poker stars as Daniel Negreanu, Erick Lindgren, and Todd Brunson.  After nearly five whole years of getting schooled night in and night out by these professionals, Traniello decided he was ready to go off on his own, so to speak.  Harmon, as mentioned, is one of the top cash game players in the world, so it was only natural for Traniello to want to became a top tournament player, so they could get a strangle hold on the entire poker universe.  

Traniello has only been on the tournament circuit for coming up on four years, but has already made a name for himself as a player to be feared.  In 2005, his very first year of tournament poker, he cashed in seven World Series of Poker events, tying with Michael Mizrachi and Tony Cousineau with the most that year.

While he is still waiting for his first bracelet, a feat some players wait decades for, he has come close, making three final tables.  In 2007 he netted his biggest cash to date, $156,435, after finishing 5th in the $10,000 World Championship Pot Limit Omaha event.

This past year he continued showing a good showing at the WSOP, finishing in the money of five more events.  He also finished 22nd of the European WSOP main event this year.  

Perhaps it’s because he saw such a wide array of strategies from the big cash games he watched, but fellow players have said that he’s nearly impossible to put on a hand.  He is also very good at changing the pace.  One second he can seem tight as a rock, and the next he’s throwing chips into the pot every hand.  There are different strategies that work for different players, and it appears Traniello has incorporated all of these into his game.

Traniello has said in past interviews that he is on the verge of knocking the door down that is keeping him from being one of the best well known poker players on the circuit.  In my opinion, he isn’t about to just knock it down, he’s about to blow it off its hinges.  With the success he has had in just this short period he can surely become one of the greats of all time before it’s all said and done.  You can say he was lucky to get into the position he was in to be mentored by some of the greats, but when he’s at the table he’s the only one looking at his cards.  Also, anyone with enough luck to decide to park his car, of all the parking spots in the world, right next to Harmon, well, maybe luck is on their side.

Traniello is one of the poker professionals, along with his wife, at Full Tilt Poker.  He and his wife also have twin infant sons.

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