Poker and history sometimes provide interesting comparisons.
Most of the poker players who entered the latest World Series of Poker tournament and were confronted by a relatively unknown Russian poker pro named Maxim Lykov had absolutely no idea who they were up against. But over the course of the four-day battle, a select few out of the initial army which started off in the thousands became increasingly aware of the type of adversary they faced.
A more elite battalion of players who made it all the way to the final table eventually discovered just how stacked the odds were against them. Those who survived the longest by overcoming 4,576 proverbial soldiers who began the campaign must have felt like Napoleon Bonaparte standing in the wintry streets of Moscow during the epic French invasion of Russia. In September 1812, Napoleon and his conquering troops looked around the deserted Russian capital which had been theirs for the taking. The Russians offered surprisingly little military resistance. The big trouble for Napoleon and his massive million-man army was -- they thought the battle was over. But in reality, the war was just beginning. By year’s end, not only would Napoleon be far removed from the center of Moscow; all French troops would be entirely erased from the Russian heartland. It was a stunning turnaround of epic proportions. That’s pretty much how things turned out for eight poker players named Dror Michaelo, Warren Woolridge, Ren Ho Zhang, Harald Olsen, Stanislav Alekhin, Douglas MacKinnon, Joshua Evans, and Sebastien Roy -- who ended up finishing in second- through ninth-place, respectively. These players made it all the way to the final table -- each a remarkable accomplishment. They came out on top of the largest WSOP tournament field of the entire year. But in end, victory was not just fleeting. Defeat seemed inevitable.The new Russian conqueror is Maxim Lykov. He is a 23-year-old professional poker player from Moscow. This marks the third year Lykov has attended the WSOP. His victory in the $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament (Event #54) was as close to a foregone conclusion as is possible in a poker tournament. During the final table, he was the chip leader from start to finish.Lykov defeated all challengers, ultimately winning a whopping $648,880 in prize money – not bad for an initial investment of only $1,000. He also received his first WSOP gold bracelet, the ultimate achievement in the game of poker. Lykov became the third Russian WSOP champion at this year’s WSOP. The previous winners were Viacheslav Zhukov and Arkadiy Tsinis.
Lykov took a businesslike approach to his conquest. Afterward, he stated the prize money would go into his bankroll -- nothing more, nothing less. To Lykov, victory was a foregone conclusion.
Some 199 years ago, the Napoleonic Wars ended. Some might say, the final result was predictable. The Russians won.
Indeed, history does have a way of repeating itself.
The official report from this tournament will be available shortly.