Simeon Naydenov became only the second World Series of Poker gold bracelet winner from the nation of Bulgaria, winning the $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold'em Shootout last night in Vegas.

Two years following a win by fellow countryman Nick Jivkov (who now resides in Chicago), Naydenov enjoyed his own victory dance, draped in the red, white, and green colors of his national flag.

Naydenov topped a field of 1,194 players.  It took him three full days to demolish his opponents, ultimately winning $326,440 in prize money for the quest.  Remarkably, Naydenov final tabled the $3,000 Shootout event earlier this summer, finishing in tenth place.

This marks the third straight year Naydenov has attended the WSOP in Las Vegas.  He's posted a phenomenal track record, now with eight cashes.  His best showings now include a 1st, a 3rd, and a 10th.  With this victory, he's up to $478,358 in career WSOP earnings at the tender age of 25.

Naydenov was born in Sofia, which is Bulgaria's capital city, where he still resides.  He lost his parents a few years ago and was forced to make it on his own.  Naydenon enrolled in a university and obtained a degree in international finance.  That field of study would prove to be ironic, given what he's accomplished in poker during the three years he's been playing since graduation.

Naydenov noted that his hom country is struggling economically.  He discovered that by playing poker, both at the local casino in Sofia and online, he could earn more money than working a regular job.  Naydenov has been doing exactly that and appears headed for a bright future ahead.

Aside from playing poker full time and traveling the tournament Circuit in Europe, Naydenov also co-owns an online marketing company which he hopes will expand and do well.

“I have a wonderful life,” Naydenov said after his win.  “I have great friends.  I am having a great time.”


Name:  Simeon Naydenov
Current Residence:  Sofia (Bulgaria)
Birthplace:  Sofia (Bulgaria)
Age:  25
Marital Status:  Single
Children:  None
Occupation:  Professional Poker Player
Previous Occupation:  College Student (graduated)
WSOP Cashes (including this event):  8
First WSOP Cash (year):  2011
WSOP Final Table Appearances:  3
WSOP Wins (with this victory):  1


WSOP:  How does it feel to win your first WSOP gold bracelet?
Naydenov:  I had a feeling the whole tournament, I was going to win.  It's the greatest thing.  I cannot really explain it.

WSOP:  This was your second straight event to run deep in a Shootout.  What is it about these events that are special for you?
Naydenov:  Maybe back home they will start calling me “Simeon the Shootout.”  Actually, I like the Shootout, the way they are formatted.  But I play many events at the series.  I think it just happened.  Sit and Gos are not really my specialty.  It's a good tournament if you know how to switch gears....I also had to do better this time.

WSOP:  Hoe did you become a poker pro and what made you decide to do that?
Naydenov:  A few years ago, I started to win.  I was playing and decided to spend more time on it, learning.  I got better and better and started winning even more.  I finished my university with good results....I had to make some decisions but I decided to stick with poker because I was doing good at it.  I had no other opportunity at the moment, and I was also winning more money than I would get working a regular job.  Besides poker, I also have a Facebook marketing company that I cam developing with my partner.

WSOP:  Are you a sponsored pro at one of the big poker sites?
Naydenov:  I have a contract that gives me a sponsorship.  I get play in a few events, but I am not like some of the (bigger names). 

WSOP:  Bulgaria was once one of the East Bloc's most repressive countries.  Now, it's producing WSOP winners.  Talk about the changed in your home country.
Naydenov:  Socialism and Communism had a big affect on our country for sure.  All the young people do not like that.  We are getting better and better now, actually.

WSOP:  Give us a short history of yourself in the Bulgarian poker scene.
Naydenov:  I made most of by bankroll playing in cash games in Bulgaria, but after 2008 and the economic crisis, the people got poorer, so, the live games suffered.  If you want to play now, it's tougher because the people do not have that much money.  There is a very big difference between the cash games here and the cash games there.  You cannot play high games there.  There's only one casino now.

WSOP:  Any last words about your victory?
Naydenov:  I feel just great.  It's the biggest acheievement for my career.


Erik Seidel cashed.  This marked the 77th in-the-money finish of his career, which ranks third on the all-time WSOP cashes list.