Day  6. Yekaterinburg, Ural.

The Poker Player

First I was playing as an amateur, I just liked poker. When I first won 3000 rubles (ed. note, 42 euros), I thought that I would only dedicate my life to poker from now on. Once I met a man, who was surprised about the level of my game and saw talent in me. He liked the way I took non-standard decisions, and said, “Let’s play a game of poker.” We set beer as the prize for the winner, I got lucky and beat him. He offered me to study with him, and in one year I achieved great success.

Whereas I didn’t even have pocket money to buy cigarettes before, as I was playing in free tournaments, one moment I saved 40 thousand rubles ( 570 euros). Then I won another tournament with prize money of 200 000 rubles (2850 euros)! Then I started playing online, had some other big wins and saved $100 K. 2011 was the biggest year for me; I dominated all possible tournaments. Sometimes I would be in a mental state of “machine zone”, when you have dozens of thousand dollars, and you lose one, two, three and all you do is try to win it back. You get these mental states quiet often in poker. It’s important to stop the game, and to switch to something else.

The problem was also that I didn’t live a healthy way of life: constant night games, neurosis, alcohol. You are young, you have a lot of money, and you constantly want to spend it. Girls, trips, night clubs. At some point I started having panic attacks. I went to doctors, but got no answers.

I was obsessed with an idea that I would always keep winning big money and that my success is never going to end. However, five years later a lot of poker schools emerged, and people were learning how to play, but I stayed still in my poker techniques. I thought my talent was limitless, but those people who worked hard, have caught up with my abilities and even surpassed them. One day you realize it, and either you choose to improve or decide to quit and start doing something else.

I opted for option number two and decided to do science, enrolled in Master’s degree on physiology of humans and animals.

Success in poker is 80% of good luck and 20% of talent, if we talk about one day in the game. But if you measure the formula for the time period of a year, it’s exactly the opposite – 20% of good luck and 80% of your abilities. The longer the timing is, the better you get a chance to apply your abilities. In poker hard work beats talent.

It’s a delusion that pokers can read people. There is a book by Mike Caro “Poker Tells”, there are practical recommendations on how to read body language. If the person has good cards, he tends to lean back and relax, and if he is bluffing, he leans forward a lot, holds his hands next to the face, as he tries to hide something. But there are people who use this just to confuse their rivals.

Two and a half years ago my father died. He had a stroke, both me and my mom were not at home. He was lying there for four hours. It changed me a lot and pushed me to development. I started treating many things seriously, the game of poker and my goals. My father was the closest person to me, he still comes to me in my dreams, and we talk for a long time. And I know that he would have supported me 100%. He always supported me in everything.