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Tournament Trail POY Q and A -- Ivan Demidov

Demidov Talks About his Debut Year and the Growing Russian Poker Scene

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Ivan DemidovIvan Demidov accomplished the most impressive poker feat of 2008 on his way to finishing in fourth place in the Card Player Player of the Year race. He made the final table of the 2008 World Series of Poker $10,000 no-limit hold'em world championship main event in July, and he also made the final table of the World Series of Poker Europe main event in October. Demidov finished in third place in London to take home  £334,850 in prize money, and this gave him momentum heading into November for part one of the WSOP main event final table. Many were picking Demidov to make the heads-up match and possibly win the world championship, and the young Russian delivered. He made the final heads-up battle with Peter Eastgate, eventually finishing in second place, to win $5,809,595. Demidov made his debut in 2008, and scored 4,940 POY points, making him the unofficial Rookie of the Year in the POY race. Card Player caught up with him as the year came to a close to talk about his achievements and some exciting advancements for Russian poker in 2009.

Ryan Lucchesi: You made history this year by making the final tables at both the World Series of Poker main event and WSOP Europe. What did it mean to you personally to accomplish both of those feats in the same year when no one else has done it?

Ivan Demidov: It’s probably an achievement that I will never do again. Not just making the final table, but something close to that like winning two titles in one year is going to be almost impossible. So it’s the best year so far for me…I’m just enjoying myself and the freedom that money gave me and the ability to play anywhere that I want and to travel a lot. That’s the most important part for me.

RL: PokerStars announced the first year of the Russian Poker Tour a few days ago. That has to be in large part thanks to the success of yourself and Alex Kravchenko in recent years. Does it give you a lot of pride that there is a Russian Poker Tour now?

ID: Definitely, because we lacked a really big tournament in Russia. There were finally some big tournaments last year finally, but that was still only 100 players. With the support of PokerStars and online qualifiers it will be really nice to see a huge event in Russia. There a lot of good players and some players that are under 21 that can play in Russia and it will be nice to see what happens. I’m optimistic about it.

RL: What can you tell me about the Russian poker scene?

ID: There are a lot of good young Russian players. There mainly cash players, but if they convince themselves to switch to live tournaments and play them for a little bit I think they will have great results. They’re still under 21 so they can’t travel and play here in the U.S. We’ll have to see in a couple of years but the Russian poker scene is really growing.

Ivan DemidovRL:
Every year during the POY race a certain player emerges as the Rookie of the Year, and this year you are that player. How has your poker game matured during the last year?

ID: It’s really hard to say with poker, it was probably a combination of finally traveling to events and getting lucky at certain times, it’s really a combination of things. It’s really hard to say if I will be able to sustain results over the next years, but we’ll see. It’s impossible to say if you’re just that good or if it is just variance. I’ll just have to keep playing.

RL: You’re definitely a player that has emerged that we expect to see out on the tournament trail consistently moving forward. What are your plans for tournament poker in 2009?

ID:
I’m going to play here and then at the Bahamas, and then the Aussie Millions. Then I’m going to play all of the EPT events and most of the big tournaments in Europe, the Russian Poker Tour, Asian Poker Tour, and definitely the World Series, and definitely the WPT Championship in April. I’ll probably concentrate on Europe because the fields are really small this year here in the U.S. In Europe…EPT London was sold out and there was a long waiting list…it really makes sense to concentrate on Europe right now for me, especially considering the travel times. And also it’s sponsored by Poker Stars and I have some relations with them.