One of Poker's Most Talented Couples Earns First Bracelets, Donates Half to Charity
June 2, 2017 (Las Vegas, NV) - Winning a World Series of Poker bracelet is one of the most thrilling events a poker player can experience. For Igor Kurganov and Liv Boeree, they were able to share that experience together, as a couple on Friday night.
The two high stakes poker pros have been dating for several years and both already had an impressive resume on the felt, but a bracelet eluded them for quite some time. That changed when they won their first career bracelets in the $10,000 Tag Team No-Limit Hold'em event. They defeated a field of 102 teams to take home $273,964.
"My mind is blown right now," said Boeree after the win.
"This is genuinely an event where I'm happier about the two bracelets that we win from it," said Kurganov. "People always say that I want to win the bracelet, but here the ratio of bracelet to money is even better than usual."
"Yeah, we got max bracelet value," added Boeree.
Kurganov and Boereee split up the $273,964 between themselves, but they were playing for charity as well. They are donating half of their winnings to Raising for Effective Giving, known as REG in the poker world.
"The charity was basically our third and fourth player," said Kurganov.
The tag team structure was re-introduced to the WSOP last summer with a $1,000 buy-in. With a good turnout to the first installment of the event, the WSOP decided to bring it back again and add a $10,000 buy-in to the schedule as well.
The event featured teams of 2-4 players that would rotate in and out at any time. Every player on the team was forced to play at least one orbit of poker at some point in the tournament and pay the blinds at least once.
Kurganov played almost the entirety of the final table for the team, with Boeree sitting in when Kurganov needed a quick break from the table.
"I was the pee break girl," said Boeree with a laugh
"Pee and coffee breaks," said Kurganov. "And because I was drinking coffee, the peeing was happening more often, so she actually got some hands in."
Boeree played most of Day 1 and Kurganov played the majority of Day 2. Their choices of which team member played when came down mostly to their personal schedules.
"It was pre-planned that she was going to play Day 1," said Kurganov.
"[On] Day 2, I wanted to play the shootout," said Boeree.
"So, I started playing, and then there was the option of a big cash game, so then she would've taken over," said Kurganov. "But in the end, that didn't happen, so I could play and I played."
With the two newly crowned WSOP Champions having been dating for quite some time, working as a team and making decisions came easy for the pair.
"I couldn't imagine it being any easier," said Boeree about being partners with her significant other.
"Making agreements is easy," said Kurganov. "Dealing with who is doing what when. We are used to doing that all the time. People might rub on each other a little but, but we don't have that."
There was also a clear consensus between both of them as to who should be playing more often.
"Well, also, there is just a clear disparity in our standard of play," said Boeree. "I'm alright, but he's the best. He is the better player and like deeper, it makes sense for him to play, just more."
Kurganov defeated Ankush Mandavia heads-up to take down the tag team title. Mandavia was representing his team of himself and Joe Kuether. Mandavia played the entire final table for his team, but came into heads-up play with a significant chip disadvantage against Kurganov.
"Ankush is a heads-up player from the past," said Kurganov about his heads-up opponent. "Not in a negative, but he's a good player, who used to only play heads-up. He is just stuicky and it's a bit hard to play. It always is against a sticky player.
"So, it went well. I made quads once. I played well and he played well. I made quads. The quads didn't help that much, but in the end, the cards decided it. I started with a two-to-one advantage, so it went well from there."
After several hours of heads-up play, Kurganov made the nut straight to send Mandavia home with a runner-up finish for his team and $169,323.
Kurganov started heads-up play with that decisive chip lead because he knocked out Daniel Negreanu in third place. Kurganov and Negreanu got all in on the turn with Negreanu holding top pair and a straight draw, needing to improve against Kurganov's bottom two pair and a flush draw. Kurganov rivered a flush for good measure and took a nice chip lead into heads-up play.
Negreanu was representing his team of himself, Eric Wasserson, David Benyamine and Mark Gregorich. Negreanu fell just short of his seventh career bracelet, but earned $119,753 for his team.
Negreanu played the entire final table for his team as well. According to the winning team, the switching of players in and out lessened as teams got deeper into the tournament.
"It was weird. On like Day 1, I'd be sitting there and feel like I'm getting a read on people and then I'd turn around and I'd be like 'What? Who are you?' I thought you were a young Asian guy and now you are an old dude," joked Boeree. "So, building up reads, at least early on, is hard because they are changing out so much. But later on, the teams got more consistent."
Boeree and Kurganov started dating in January of 2014 after being friends for a couple years beforehand. After going a few months without seeing one another, they saw each other at a poker tournament and fell for one another.
"We just saw each other in Australia or the Bahamas and fell in love," said Boeree. "We've been inseparabel ever since."
"Really inseparable," added Kurganov. "We moved in together because we became a couple while we were on a trip. First a poker trip and then a vacation, so we stayed together anyway. That's the great thing about us being a couple in poker. We actually get to spend like 345 days out of 365 together."
"He's just my best friend," said Boeree.
The tournament reached a final table late on Day 2. After a few eliminations, the day finished with the final six teams still remaining. JC Tran, Nam Le, and Antonio Gutierrez were the last team eliminated on Day 2, finishing in seventh place. Connor Drinan and Michael Aron finished in eighth, while Moritz Dietrich, Jan Scwippert, and Dietrich Fast were the first team sent packing from the final table on Thursday night, finishing in ninth.
While Negreanu's team had the most combined bracelets because of Negreanu's six career WSOP wins, 2014 WSOP Main Event Champion Martin Jacobson teamed up with two-time bracelet winner Mark Radoja for three bracelets of their own. Jacobson and Radoja were the first team eliminated on Friday. They took home $47,271 for their sixth place finish.
The team of Lander Lijo and Javier Gomez hit the rail in fifth and Anthony Ajlouny, David Fong and Mike McClain finished in fourth. The top three teams battled it out before one of poker's power couples emerged victorious.
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Final Table Results*:
1st: Igor Kurganov/ Liv Boeree - $273,964
*Prize money is evenly distributed among the team
2nd: Ankush Mandavia/ Joe Kuether - $169,323
3rd: Daniel Negreanu/ Eric Wasserson/ David Benyamine/ Mark Gregorich - $119,753
4th: Anthony Ajlouny/ David Fong/ Mike McClain - $86,237
5th: Lander Lijo/ Javier Gomez - $63,253
6th: Martin Jacobson/ Mark Radoja - $47,271
7th: JC Tran/ Nam Le/ Antonio Gutierrez - $36,008
8th: Connor Drinan/ Michael Aron - $27,967
9th: Moritz Dietrich / Dietrich Fast/ Jan Scwippert - $22,156