It could've happened after he won a WPT event. It could've happened after he won a WCOOP bracelet. It could've happened when he won the 2011 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure $100,000 High Roller event. Frankly, it could've happened at just about any time. Finally, that time has come. Eugene Katchalov is now a member of Team PokerStars Pro.
If you were raised by wolves and haven't been keeping up with poker for the past several years, you might have missed Katchalov's quiet rise to the top of the game. Since turning pro in 2003, Katchalov has earned more than $6 million in live tournament poker. His online winnings are nothing at which to sneeze either. Known for years as "MyRabbiFoo" on PokerStars, Katchalov has a WCOOP bracelet and plays the highest mixed games he can find online.
Born in Kiev and raised in Brooklyn, Katchalov is a one-time business and finance student who dabbled in day trading before turning his analytical mind to poker. Since then, he's done little else but win piles of money with little more than insane talent and no small amount of modesty.
Still young, Katchalov has already earned legendary status in his native Ukraine. Now he's working from the elite stable of Team PokerStars Pros. You'll find him playing on PokerStars now as 'E. Katchalov', and you can catch up on his official bio page here.
Welcome to the team, Eugene. It's been a long time coming.
Want to know more about Katchalov? Check out the Q&A below
1. While most people know about you already, take a moment to introduce yourself.
I have an undergraduate degree from Stern School of Business at NYU. I had a double major in Finance and International business. I wasn't a particularly big fan of school, as I didn't really like writing papers or preparing for exams, though I did really enjoy learning about many different subjects from good teachers. Math was always an easier subject for me compared to others. So, anything where that was involved came easier to me. At some point, my focus turned from a potential job as an analyst or banker to one of a trader since the gambling aspect really appealed to me, even though there was a lot of uncertainty there as whether or not I could succeed and not much stability, as you weren't really guaranteed a pay check unless you performed well.
2. Before you got rich playing poker, how did you pay your bills?
Throughout my time in school I worked in three or four different medical supply offices where I was doing billing and collections for them from insurance companies. After I graduated from NYU, I found poker and started a day trading job. My days in the beginning were basically a 9-4 in the office, and then play poker either with friends or for really small stakes online. I remember I really enjoyed day trading, though I didn't really know what I was doing at the time and wasn't making any money. I lost small amounts for a while until a found a specific niche for a certain stock which worked consistently and that gave me the confidence that there are certainly real opportunities in the stock market and that if I work hard, I would be able to take advantage of them. This was a lot of fun, but still I wasn't making any real money that I could survive on and poker was really beginning to help.
3. So, talk about your beginnings in poker.
I became interested in playing poker during the summer of 2003 when I just graduated from NYU. Me and a couple of my friends were kind of bored one day and one of them mentioned that poker was a fun game and a past time that we could enjoy together. We tried it out and immediately fell in love with it and started to get together and play a couple of times a week.
4. Who were some of your early influences?
Early on I would just watch the World Poker Tour on TV in awe of the players that played there and how much money there was on the line every tournament. A few years into my career as a poker player, I met Nick Schulman, who would later become one of my closest friends. He was probably the biggest influence that I had in regards to my poker game as he was playing bigger and better when we first met. We played and talked about the game quite a bit and really fine-tuned each other's games which really seemed to work.
Besides that, I also remember observing a lot of the high stakes action online and trying to figure out what made these guys good at these stakes and if there's anything I could learn from them. Even though I couldn't see anyone's hole cards most of the time, the few times that cards were exposed, I would look at the hand history and try to follow along the thinking process of these players and see if I could learn anything from them.
5. What games are you happiest to play?
When I first started to play poker, I played exclusively no-limit hold'em tournaments and cash games. Shortly after I started, I began to experiment in fixed-limit hold'em, as well. A couple of years after that, with Nick's help I began to play Omaha 8/better and then all of the mixed games as well. Today when playing online, I generally play the highest stakes mixed games available and some of the bigger tournaments that take place during SCOOP and WCOOP. When playing live, I will generally play the big tournaments. In regards to cash games, either a mixed game or a high stakes NL hold'em cash game.
6. What does being a member of Team PokerStars Pro mean to you?
It means being a part of what I believe to be a great team of players and a very professional and serious poker site that opens up many opportunities to its players and Pros. I also have a sense of achievement since I am given the opportunity to represent the largest and most successful poker site around. This also gives me the opportunity to grow even further as a world-wide player.
7. What do you hope to achieve during your time as a member of Team PokerStars Pro?
I hope I can grow further as a recognized poker player and be able to successfully promote a site that I have always admired and would be proud to be a part of. I would also like to continue doing well in tournaments and possibly help PokerStars bring more of the kinds of games and tournaments that people like to play.
8. If you're not playing poker, what are you doing with your time?
I love traveling, staying in shape, and trying all kinds of different foods in the many places that I visit. I'm also a news junkie and always checking what's going on around the world every few hours. In addition, I still invest in the stock market, albeit with a much longer term strategy and am interested in anything technology/finance-based.