Before the 2011 WSOP, there had yet to be a Ukraine-born poker player win a bracelet. 39 events into this year’s WSOP, three Ukrainians have now added gold bracelets to their poker resume.
The three players who have won in the 2011 WSOP include former chess player and Las Vegas resident Arkadiy Tsinis, poker star Eugene Katchalov, and Oleksii Kovalchuk. Out of the three, Kovalchuk is the only player who still lives in the Ukraine, but all three are recognized as Ukrainians. Seeing as how three people from a country that had never won a bracelet before have now tasted success, one definitely has to wonder if a poker boom is coming in the country.
Now before we get started, it’s definitely worth mentioning that a poker boom experienced by this country would not be anywhere close to the magnitude of the American boom of 2003. After all, the US has nearly 300 million people, compared to 46 million in Ukraine, and the States offer average salaries of $37k per year, as opposed to $1,500-$2,000.
However, you can bet that plenty of new Ukrainians will be taking up the game with what money they have. And even if these players don’t have a ton of money to put into the game, the micro stakes can still offer Ukrainians a decent living when you consider their average salary.
You can bet that we’ll be watching this situation with interest over the next couple of years. But even if poker doesn’t explode in Ukraine as expected, it’s still pretty impressive that a country halfway around the world could take three of the 58 available WSOP bracelets in one year. There’s no doubt that this country will be taking more bracelets in the upcoming years too.