ZHUKOV INVADES 2012 WSOP AND CONQUERS PLO HIGH-LOW CHAMPIONSHIP

July 06, 2012 - 11:12:32 PM EST  | 

ZHUKOV INVADES 2012 WSOP AND CONQUERS PLO HIGH-LOW CHAMPIONSHIP
Viacheslav Zhukov Wins $3,000 Buy-In Pot-Limit Omaha High-Low Split (Event #58)

Russian Wins Second WSOP Gold Bracelet Following First Victory Last Year

 
Las Vegas, NV (July 6, 2012) – The Russians are not only coming, they are now winning -- and, winning big.

One of the most star-studded fields of the year turned up for the latest World Series of Poker tournament, which was the $3,000 Buy-In Pot-Limit Omaha High-Low Split Championship.  The high-caliber four-day competition finally concluded today with the crowning of a new gold bracelet champion.

The winner was Viacheslav Zhukov, from Stary Oskol, Russia.  He is a 23-year-old professional poker player.

Prior to taking up the game full-time last year, Zhukov graduated from Moscow Mining University where he earned his degree in geology.  Zhukov must have learned something at the mining school.  He appears to be using his formal education to maximum benefit.  He returned to this year's WSOP following a breakout victory at last year ‘s WSOP.  This time, he was seeking to mine even more cash and gold.  He ultimately ended up uncovering another treasure chest.
 
But this time, the dig was harder and it was deeper.  He overcame a granite-tough field and a brutally-competitive final table lineup, which included no less than six former gold bracelet winners – Chris Bell (3rd), David “ODB” Baker (4th), Randy Ohel (5th), and former world champion Scotty Nguyen (8th).  But the biggest test of all was from Roch Cousineau, who finished as the runner up.  No question, the Zhukov Cousineau heads-up finale was one of the best battles of the year.

If Zhukov’s name sounds familiar, you are either a student of 20th Century history or a big fan of poker.  

Reminiscent of his military namesake, Marshal Georgy Zhukov, who commanded Russian forces during “The Great Patriotic War,” this modern-day Zhukov displayed a similar fortitude of skills, becoming only the second Russian to ever win multiple WSOP gold bracelets.  Vitaly Lunkin is the other Russian duel champ.

Zhukov’s first victory was in last year’s $10,000 buy-in Omaha High-Low Split event.  At the time, he was only the fourth Russian in history to win a gold bracelet.  But two other Russians won last year, bringing the total number to six.  Now, he is in even more elite territory.

In fact, 2011, was Zhukov’s first year to attend the WSOP.  That victory was also his very first WSOP cash.
 
This was the 58th event (of 61) on this year’s WSOP schedule.  The tournament attracted 526 entries.  The total prize pool amounted to $1,435,980.  The top 54 finishers collected prize money.  Aside from the stellar final table lineup, among those who cashed were former WSOP gold bracelet winners – Mickey Appleman (18th), Brent Carter (38th), Erick Lindgren (49th), and Dario Alioto (50th).
 
Indeed, this was huge day for Russian poker players.  Just as Zhukov was earning his second gold bracelet victory, across the room comrade Konstantin Puchkov cashed for the 11th time at this year's WSOP.  That broke the all-rime record for most cashes in a single year at the WSOP.  Fittingly, the old record (at ten) was held by Nikolay Evdakov, another Russian.
 
 
EVENT #58 CHAMPION – VIACHESLAV ZHUKOV
 
The 2012 World Series of Poker $3,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha High-Low Split World Champion is Viacheslav.
 
Zhukov, from Stary Oskol, Russia.
 
Zhukov was also born in Stary Oskol, which is located about 400 miles south of Moscow on the Oskol River.
 
Zhukov is a 23-year-old professional poker player. His name is spelled differently in some poker records – most notably as VYACHESLAV ZHUKOV.
 
In addition to his native Russian, Zhukov speaks English well. He is close to fluency.
 
The newest poker champion shares a name with Georgy Zhukov, who is the most decorated military commander in Russian history. Zhukov commanded the Red Army during World War II and was largely responsible for commanding forces that successfully defended Leningrad, Moscow, and Stalingrad.
 
Zhukov graduated from Moscow Mining University. He holds a degree in geology.
 
Zhukov is single.
 
Zhukov started playing poker about six years ago.
 
Last year was the first time Zhukov attended the WSOP.  So, he has gold bracelet victories in each of his two trips to Las Vegas.
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Zhukov is one of many Russian poker players who are becoming a formidable force in WSOP tournaments.  Skill games have always been entwined deeply in Russian culture, which has been manifested in dominating competitions such as chess for centuries.
 
Following his victory last year, Zhukov suggested that many young Russians are now turning to poker rather than chess (or are adding poker to their repertoire of skills). This is largely motivated by the lucrative prize structures of major tournaments, such as the WSOP.
 
Zhukov collected a $330,277 for first place. He was also awarded his second WSOP gold bracelet.
 
Zhukov is one of only six players from Russia in history to win a WSOP gold bracelet.
 
Zhukov is to be regarded as a poker pro, since he has been playing full-time for about two years.

 
-- by Nolan Dalla

 
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Nolan Dalla – WSOP.com Senior Writer


About the author: Nolan Dalla's work is found all over WSOP.com, as he is the Senior Writer for poker's longest-running poker series and has contributed to the site since 2005.

He is also the longtime Media Director of the World Series of Poker. He's become the lone link from poker's modern age back to the old days when the WSOP was played at Binion's Horseshoe – where Dalla served as the casino's Director of Public Relations.
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