Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Nikolay Evdakov (1964-2012)

Nikolay EvdakovSad news yesterday regarding the passing of the Russian poker pro Nikolay Evdakov who leaves us at the much-too-young age of 47.

Evdakov came on the radar for most poker players and those who follow poker back in 2008 when he set a new record for cashes at the World Series of Poker, making the money an astonishing 10 times. That was the first year I had the chance to report from the WSOP, and so became quite familiar with him early on as he always seemed to be sitting with chips once the cash bubble burst.

His highest finish in 2008 was 12th in the $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em Championship, his first cash of that year’s Series. He’d made the final two tables a couple more times, and the final three or four tables most of the other times he cashed in 2008.

In 2009 Evdakov followed up with six more cashes at the WSOP, again making it down to the last couple of tables most times before falling. He was a prominent figure at the WSOP over the last couple of years, too. He final tabled the $10K Seven-Card Stud Championship in 2010, finishing fourth. And last summer he made a deep run in the $25,000 NLH Heads-Up Championship where he made it to the quarterfinals before losing to Eric Froehlich.

Hendon Mob lists Evdakov as having amassed over $1.15 million worth of cashes in his career, with the earliest listed being 2006. They have him as 15th on the all-time money list for Russian players.

Evdakov always seemed to keep his seat and surviveAs I say, Evdakov was a player with whom I became familiar pretty quickly that first summer I reported from the WSOP for PokerNews. When I heard about his passing yesterday, I couldn’t help but think somewhat grimly about how the news jarred with the most prominent characteristic I could think to assign to him, namely his ability to survive in tournaments.

I remember the nickname “cockroach” starting to come up now and again to refer to Evdakov, a reference to his repeatedly continuing to last in events while others fell around him. I have no idea where the tag originated, but I’m pretty sure it started that summer of 2008. And when it was used -- by reporters and players alike -- it was certainly meant in a complimentary way. The guy just couldn’t be knocked out, if often seemed.

Besides being an accomplished tourney player who was adept at many different games, Evdakov was also well liked both by players and the media, particularly the Russian reporters. Indeed, I believe he started and/or helped run the CGM website (a poker news site and forum) where the announcement of his passing was first posted.

In fact, my only other significant memory of Evdakov relates to his friendliness and special relationship with poker media. I had the chance in 2009 to help cover the European Poker Tour Kyiv event, the only one ever held in the Ukraine, which unsurprisingly attracted a number of Russian players and media. Evdakov, I recall, participated in many of the tourneys in Kyiv, including the High Roller in which only three played and Shaun Deeb won.

At the EPT Kyiv media event, 2009I remember playing in the media tournament and at one point near the end of the event Evkdakov coming around with a video camera to shoot some footage. I think he was mainly shooting the Russian guys who normally reported on him all of the time, and there were a lot of grins and laughter during the entire time he was there.

We were down to six-handed. Simon Young of PokerStars was there playing, too, and I remember Evdakov aiming the camera at him at which point Simon took the opportunity to deliver a hilarious speech in which he explained how he’d paid €20,000 to enter our tourney (which I believe was the buy-in for the High Roller). And, said Simon, he was ready to challenge Evdakov next, which inspired a lot more laughter.

I never saw that video Evdakov shot. I remember looking for it, but struggling to decipher where to go on CGM or other Russian-language sites where I thought it might turn up. That whole experience was a special one for me, not least because I somehow managed to luckbox my way into winning the sucker. And Evdakov’s cameo just made it that much more entertaining and memorable.

I didn’t know Evdakov, but like I say my memories of him are all good ones. And from the messages players have been sharing regarding having competed with him it is clear he was a valued member of the poker community and will be missed.

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Blogger KenP said...

not least because I somehow managed to luckbox my way into winning

My goodness. You play poker too? Who knew. :)

2/08/2012 1:57 PM  

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