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NBA champion Shawn Marion may turn to poker after basketball career

Former UNLV star plays in World Series of Poker event for the second straight year

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Erik Kabik/Retna/www.erikkabikphoto.com

Shawn Marion at the Shawn Marion Foundation Celebrity Poker Tournament at the Palms on July 24, 2010.

Thu, Jul 7, 2011 (2:05 a.m.)

Marion World Series of Poker

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KSNV coverage of UNLV's Marion playing in the World Series of Poker, July 6, 2011.

WSOP Main Event Quick Facts

  • Schedule: The Main Event is officially a 13-day tournament. Players can choose between four starting days, Thursday-Sunday, which consolidate into two Day 2s. The fields are combined for the third day and play will run until July 20, when nine players survive to move onto November’s final table.
  • Last Five Champions: 2010- Jonathan Duhamel 2009-Joe Cada 2008-Peter Eastgate 2007-Jerry Yang 2006-Jamie Gold
  • Last Established Pro to win: Although both Duhamel and Cada were poker professionals at the time they won the Main Event, a well known player hasn’t become the champion since Juan Carlos Mortensen in 2001.
  • Winningest Hand: Pocket 9s is the only starting hand that a player has used to win the Main Event on three different occasions. It happened most recently when Joe Cada used his pair of 9s to beat Darvin Moon’s Queen-Jack two years ago.
  • Doyle Brunson: The 77-year old “Tex Dolly” is the only player to have won the Main Event twice and made the final table five times. Brunson had said he wouldn’t play in this year’s tournament, but announced a change of heart via twitter Wednesday evening.
  • Shawn Marion hopes to someday own one of the world’s most exclusive jewelry collections.

    Marion, the former UNLV basketball player who recently won an NBA championship ring with the Dallas Mavericks, would next like to get his hands on a World Series of Poker bracelet. Marion thinks he’s capable of becoming the first man with both an NBA and WSOP championship.

    “That would be nice,” Marion said Tuesday while competing in a $1,500 no-limit hold’ em tournament at the Rio. “That would be sweet. If I could get some cards and some double-ups here and there, anything is possible.”

    Looks like Marion will have to wait at least one more year before that’s possible. Marion busted near the end of the first day in the no-limit tournament when he ran his suited Ace-4 into pocket Kings.

    Marion finished around 800th out of the 3,389 players who signed up for the tournament. That was well short of the money, as players had to make the top 342 to receive a payout.

    “Tournaments are hard to play,” Marion said. “I’m a cash game type of guy. You have to be patient, wait for cards and sometimes you wait for so long, you get antsy.”

    Marion is in Las Vegas to relax and visit family during his first downtime since Dallas beat the Miami Heat in six games to win the 2011 NBA Championship.

    Marion always makes poker part of his trip. He wanted to play in the $10,000 Main Event, which begins Thursday at Noon and runs two weeks until a final nine players emerge, for the second straight year but a busy scheduled prevented it.

    Marion has a trip planned to Los Angeles with his Maverick teammates for the 2011 ESPY Awards show next week and will also host his annual basketball camp in Chicago. But he’s not too broken up about missing the Main Event. Marion said there would be plenty of opportunities to test his card game in the future.

    “I love playing poker,” he said. “I might turn pro when I get done playing ball. You never know.”

    At this point, Marion is more proven on the hardwood than the felt. He’s played for four NBA teams since the Phoenix Suns drafted him ninth overall out of UNLV in 1999.

    Marion started in every game of the NBA Finals and averaged 12 points and seven rebounds per game for Dallas this season.

    “I’ve been in the league 12 years and I got there for the first time,” Marion said. “It was my time. But at the same time, it’s hard to get there. You see all these great players that go through in the history of the league that don’t make it to the NBA Finals or get a chance to play at all and win a championship. It makes it that much more special.”

    Marion still treasures his year at UNLV, in which he led the team with 19 points and nine rebounds per game, and let out a “Rebels” chant upon noticing a local reporter walk by his table at the Rio.

    The feelings seem to be mutual with the program. UNLV coach Dave Rice was an assistant during Marion’s year as a Rebel and has fond memories of him.

    “For as talented a guy as he was, he was always just so humble and committed to the team,” Rice told the Sun earlier this summer. “I was always impressed with his presence and how he carried himself.”

    It remains to be seen if that confidence translates to the poker table. Marion has never cashed in a WSOP event.

    But based on his basketball career, that’s not going to stop Marion from continuing to try to reach the top.

    Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or case.keefer@lasvegassun.com. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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