I decided to play the main event of the Moscow Millions which was held at the Kosmos Casino & Hotel.
The bad news was that Full Tilt pulled out of sponsoring this event and that cut the field down by 150. But it was a great turnout for no satellites, with 53 players paying the $10,500 buy-in. $205,000 was first place prize and it’s just a start in Russian poker. There will be a boom in 2008 with many more big events coming up with added money.
This series was partly run by the Russian Poker and had a really good turnout. I must congratulate Bendigo, Rebo, and everyone from Poker Professionals; the management was great. The structure was better than the WSOP main event. We had two dealers at the final table so that the next hand was shuffled and ready to go and we had tons of hands at the final table.
Here’s the story:
I turned up 3 hours late on day one as I had a dentist appointment. It wasn’t a big deal for me as I lost 1k from a 25K starting stack in my absence. I quickly grabbed a few pots and was up to 30k. Later I took a down swing with some shocking play and got down to 12.5 but with blinds of 150-300, 25 ante my stack was fine.
I started building and rebuilding and just kept inching up. I got my chips in with 9-9 vs. J-J all-in, so 20%. But the river was a 9! How sick is that? Perhaps I didn’t play so great but I had luck. I should have been out.
After that I managed to get my money in when I was always ahead or just outplaying them. Later in a 50k all-in pot, I had A-K vs. Q-9. The turn came a Q and I got ready to leave, get my jacket, say good bye, etc., just like I did with my 9-9 before, but the river was good and I sat back down.
I got my stack pumped up to 250k – which was huge – just by plays and no all-ins. The average then was 100k I was cruising. But a few mistakes saw my stack go back down to 80k but by then the final table was set and 13 hours of play on day one was over.
Day 2 – final table: Alex Kravchenko also made it. I did not know the rest of the players that well but the standard of poker was really good. The final table was going to last 13 hours so we all had to be set for a grueling test. I was ready and really wanted to win. I think I was able to string together some really good plays and got players to lay down the best hands many, many times.
Some key hands:
I held 10-10, raised and got reraised, and called. My stack was 120k. There was 60k in the middle. I had 90k left. The flop was A-K-3. I checked and felt like he did not have a hand that he felt good about. He checked on the turn and I bet 32k and he flipped over Q-Q and folded.
I held my j-7 raise to 18k and got 2 callers. The flop was 5-5-K. I bet 40k and they folded. One guy showed me a K. Pretty sick! Hands like this, where they folded good hands, makes poker fun.
With four players left, I had 10-J and the button raised to 18k. His stack was 110k and mine was 600k. I called and the flop was 8-8-3. I checked. He bet 45k. I looked at him and could see that there was no hand at all. I took my time. Most players will give up here thinking this is a small stack and they must fold. I think that this is a great time to make a bluff. If he has no hand, there is no way he can call. So I moved all-in and he folded right away. Now this guy was crushed, the bike was coming out. I flipped over my hand. Everyone was stunned but I think all the good players make these plays. Two hands later he was seen pedaling on his trike down Prospekt Mira.
The winning hand: I finally picked up A-A. We were four handed. The button raised. I reraised and we got it all-in, easy stuff. He had K-K and no K showed. And I had an unassailable lead to win it. We then decided that there was no point in playing as I had the chip lead. Kravchenko had a small stack but we gave him nice money.
I am the Russian champ and proud of it. It just shows you that if a player like me can win events, then all of you at home can win for sure.
I left all the money with the Poker Professionals to give to Russian orphanages. My donations are not that big but I think it can help a little and it also paints poker in a good light…that is what I am hoping for. Obviously, I also want to get publicity for doing so. I feel good just being in a position where I can give away money that I win in poker tourneys. I got this from Barry Greenstein. He is the King of this stuff. And I hope that all the rich pros give money away. It can’t hurt the game in the long run.