Some people play poker to make a living. They are enticed by the money and what it can buy them. Then there are guys like Alex Bilokur. The Russian businessman and part time poker player deals in big bucks, namely big buy-in events, but he isn't playing for six and seven figure paydays. He plays for the bracelets. And today he got his first one.
"It was my dream," Bilokur said following his big win. "It's been my dream for a long time."
Bilokur defeated Florida-based cash game player Matthew O'Donnell heads-up for the jewelry and the $398,567 payday in the $10,000 Pot Limit Hold'em Championship. Once play got heads-up, it looked as though O'Donnell, who held court during the majority of the final table, would put his chip lead to use and pull out the win, as he began the battle with a nearly 9-1 chip advantage, but Bilokur battled back, doubling up more than once to take the chip lead and, eventually, the title.
It is the first win and first final table for Bilokur, who has been playing the WSOP for the past three years, but maintaining his career as a businessman and keeping poker as a hobby. Even though he plays for fun and not to pay the bills, he nonetheless managed to best one of the stacked $10,000 Championship event fields with some of the toughest competition poker has to offer.
"This is the format I like most...High buy-in with the same line up, very strong competition. I've shown good results in these kinds of events." Even though Bilokur's career earnings come in at almost $3 million, he has never relied on the game to make a living. "I've never considered myself a professional poker player," he explained. "I just really love this game and I like tough competition."
Business may remain Bilokur's occupation and cards just a hobby, so he can continue to say he is not a professional poker player, but one thing is for certain--Bilokur can no longer say he is not a gold bracelet winner. He earned that title today, proving himself against some of the most elite competition in the world.
The final table featured two bracelet winners, Britain’s Barny Boatman (9th) and Todd Brunson (6th). It also featured a large number of players with previous final table experience. In fact, Alex Venovski final tabled this very event just two years ago, finishing fourth. He managed to improve upon that finish this year, but came up short of the bracelet in third place. Chino Rheem, who began the final table as the biggest stack, finished in fourth place. This is the first final table for Rheem since he was part of the inaugural November Nine during the 2008 WSOP Main Event.This year’s $10,000 Pot Limit Hold’em Championship drew 160 players, generating a prize of $1,504,000. The top 18 finishers made the money. Some of the notables who made the money but missed the final table included the reb-hot Humberto Brenes, who notched his seventh cash of the year with 14th here, bracelet winners Scott Seiver (12th) and Erik Seidel (11th), and Dan Shak, who bubbled the final table in tenth place.Here are the final table results for the $10,000 Pot Limit Hold’em event:1st: Alex Bilokur - $398,5672nd: Matthew O'Donnell - $246,3103rd: Alex Venovski - $178,4344th: Chino Rheem - $131,7055th: Ismael Bojang - $98,9786th: Todd Brunson - $75,6817th: Pratyush Buddiga - $58,8518th: Richard Lyndaker - $46,5339th: Barny Boatman - $37,389