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Custom built

I haven't been traveling much the last few months. Normally I play every EPT and every Russian Poker Series event, in addition to the WSOP and the PCA. I play a lot of tournaments. But the Russian Poker Series went on hiatus recently for various reasons, and there are fewer EPT events this season. So I stay home more now. I've been in Moscow for two months straight.

Most of my time has been split between two activities. First is a PokerStars TV show I am in. It was a very interesting experience, a big game with Russian celebrities in a grand studio, not a tournament broadcast or a standard interview. It was much more fun. Second is putting the finishing touches on my new apartment that I've been building for the past year and a half on the northeast side of the city.

I had this apartment built to my own specifications because I don't like a lot of things about apartments in Moscow. Having traveled a lot, I've found that I really liked the way they design apartments in the U.S. In Moscow you could never rent an apartment like that. It's either too expensive, maybe $10,000 a month, or it just doesn't exist. The things I wanted (for example, a big shower stall like in a hotel; a room for playing online poker) I couldn't have without buying a place and building them myself.

When I bought the apartment, it was just the outer walls. There was nothing inside. I had to have everything designed. I hired an architect, a builder, contractors, everyone. In the beginning I tried to take an active part in the building process but then I realized that I don't understand anything about how to build an apartment. So I just went with my poker abilities, my ability to read people, and tried to hire people that I thought I could trust. I asked people that were good at building and renovating apartments and then tried to read them to see if they were hiding anything. Luckily I didn't have any problems (apart from the usual, where contractors try to over-charge you for things).

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The first night I moved into the apartment, in late October, I was exhausted. I was very excited about the new apartment a few months prior, when it was close to being finished but wasn't there yet. But that first night I didn't feel anything, and I still don't. Probably I'm just burnt out from all the stuff I had to do in the last month.

I had the same feeling after the WSOP Main Event table, when I got 2nd place. I was supposed to feel something. It was a huge success, a lot of money. I became a famous player. But actually I felt nothing. I was so burned out. I spent so much mental energy on the final table, playing my best, that I had no emotions when we actually finished. It was the same thing with the apartment.

And the thing is, building your own apartment costs a ton of money in Russia. I had to spend a lot more than I expected. It probably wasn't the best choice poker-wise and bankroll-wise. I have mixed feelings about it.

But it's done now, and I've moved in. Now that I'm finished, I think I will travel more. For the past one and a half years, this apartment was a burden on my shoulders. I always thought about it. I spent a lot of time on it. Now I'm free.

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