June 19, 2017 (Las Vegas, NV) - Vladimir Shchemelev won his second bracelet in the early hours of Monday morning. Nobody seemed to be more excited about his accomplishment, however, than Mike Matusow, who was at the final table of the $10,000 2-7 Triple Draw Championship in a nearby section of the room.
The 44-year-old banker from St. Petersburg, Russia won his second career bracelet at his 10th World Series of Poker final table in the $1,500 Mixed Omaha Hi-Lo event. He bested a field of 688 players and won $193,484 for his efforts.
"Shchemelev?" yelled Matusow from about 20 feet away, while Shchemelev was getting his photo taken. "Is that Shchemelev? I knew it. I picked him on my fantasy team. I got him for a dollar. He's good and he wins tournaments."
Shchemelev and his rail yelled back, telling Matusow to come get in the picture with them. Matusow ran over to the final table area, celebrating more than Shchemelev was.
Having a bracelet win under his belt already, Shchemelev was much more comfortable at this final table than in years past when he was still searching for his first WSOP title.
"[I was] very calm," said Shchemelev through a translator after his win. "Not so much pressure as the first time. The first bracelet was tough. It took me like nine final tables before I won my first bracelet. It was important for me to win my first bracelet, so I was kind of nervous. Today, I was very calm."
Shchemelev seemingly came out of nowhere and made a name for himself at the 2010 WSOP. He finished runner-up to Michael Mizrachi in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. He continued his dominance that entire summer, making four final tables, three of which coming in $10,000 Championship events.
Over the next several years, he continued to come out to Vegas every summer and continued to put up results in all of the different poker variants available. His first bracelet win came in 2013, when he won the $3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo event.
Four years later, he proved he hadn't lost his touch in Omaha Hi-Lo. The event consisted of three different forms of Omaha Hi-Lo. The limit version, the pot-limit version, and Big O, which is a pot-limit version with five hole cards.
When asked about which of the three types of Omaha Hi-Lo he preferred, his response drew hearty laughs from his friends.
"I hate them all," he said through his translator. "I am kidding. I'm very comfortable with all of the games."
The final table featured an international flare. The lone American at the final table, Erle Mankin, was the first player to bust from the final table, finishing in seventh. Mankin never actually got to sit at the official final table of seven. He was eliminated in a double knockout with Jason Simonelli at the unofficial table of eight. Since Mankin had the bigger of the two stacks, he is credited with a final table and seventh place finish.
The final six players switched tables and there wasn't a single American left in the bunch. Shchemelev and British derivatives trader Howard Smith held the chip lead for the entire final table.
High-stakes mixed games regular Yueqi Zhu, a native of China, finished in sixth. He was eliminated by Shchemelev in limit Omaha Hi-Lo, leaving three Russians and two British players five-handed.
Usman Siddique also was eliminated by the eventual champion. He hit the rail in fifth for $39,565 in pot-limit Omaha Hi-Lo. They both got it all in on the turn with the nut straight, but Shchemelev also had the nut flush draw with it. When the spade came on the river, Siddique was eliminated.
Igor Sharaskin was the first Russian player to bust, falling in fourth for $56,187. Smith took care of Sharaskin in Big O. They got all in preflop with Smith showing against Sharaskin's . The flop gave Sharaskin Broadway, but Smith made a full house on the river.
Nikolai Yakovenko finished in third, a native of Russia living in Brooklyn, leaving Shchemelev heads-up with Smith. Smith held the chip lead at the outset of heads-up play, but Shchemelev dominated heads-up play and quickly took the chip lead away from the former derivatives trader.
Shchemelev was too much for Smith and eventually put him away during a round of Big O. Smith took home his first six-figure score at the WSOP, but Shchemelev left the Rio with a second title.
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Final Table Results:
1st: Vladimir Shchemelev - $193,484
2nd: Howard Smith - $119,524
3rd: Nikolai Yakovenko - $81,232
4th: Igor Sharaskin - $56,187
5th: Usman Siddique - $39,565
6th: Yueqi Zhu - $28,375
7th: Erle Mankin - $20,730