EPT Barcelona: A Kyiv reunion

September 05, 2009

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If you can imagine the European Poker Tour as a huge magnet — stick with it, stick with it — then our recent trip through Kyiv, Ukraine, found an army of players dressed in metal suits. Everyone knew that once the CIS countries got the taste for poker, we would end up seeing a vast number of hugely talented players clamped to the EPT’s wending path. So it proved, with a marked increase in Russian and Ukrainian players appearing in Barcelona this week.

Our esteemed colleague Mad Harper’s instantly deleted always fascinating nationality breakdown email shows 29 Russians and six Ukranians in this tournament field, including the Team PokerStars Pro duo of Alex Kravchenko and Ivan Demidov, as well as the latter’s girlfriend Lika Gerasimova. Even more notable, perhaps, is the neat reunion in today’s field of Max Lykov, Alexander Dovzhenko and Vitaly Tolokonnikov, the players finishing in gold, silver and bronze in Kyiv.

Lykov was instantly recognisable through the entire Kyiv tournament, partly because of the ever-increasing chip stack in front of him, but secondly because of what was clearly his lucky pink T-shirt. He was wearing it on every single day of that event, including in the winner’s photos when he had wrung every last drop of luck out of it.

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Max Lykov


That was Lykov’s first EPT, so he’s not actually been knocked out of one of these events yet, reason enough to be back with the pink T-shirt here.

Dovzhenko was the big home hope in Kyiv and he very, very nearly brought home the bacon. Some of his hero calling, particularly against the hyper-aggressive Lykov, was truly the stuff of Marvel comics. The young Russian took it down eventually that day, but the supporters wrapped in the blue and yellow of Ukraine knew that their man too would be back.

Although that final table will principally be remembered for the personal duel between Lykov and Dovzhenko, Tolokonnikov came by far the closest to upsetting both of their days. Another Russian, Tolokonnikov first came to our attention at the end of day two, when his was the dominant stack. He shepherded it all the way to the final table, another terrific performance from another player whose name we’ll be battling to spell for many years to come.

All three of those remain in the field as the players return from their dinner break to play the last two levels of the day. At last count, Lykov had about 38,000, Dovzhenko slightly more than 40,000 and Tolokonnikov past 50,000.

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