Ivan Demidov Poker


ALL IN’s WSOP “Where Are They Now?” series continues with the first November Nine runner-up

It may sound crazy, but the $5.8 million Ivan Demidov won for finishing as the runner-up the first year the Main Event used the “November Nine” format wasn’t his most significant score of that World Series of Poker. That’s because he met his future wife during the 2008 WSOP. (She was on the same “team” of players with the same financial backer Demidov had.) Their son is now five years old, and Demidov’s perspectives on life have shifted quite a bit since he lost his heads-up duel with Peter Eastgate.

“I always thought that family and kids is not for me, but I was totally wrong,” he tells ALL IN.

Demidov announced his arrival in a major way in ’08, when he final-tabled not only the WSOP Main Event but the WSOP-Europe Main Event in London as well, good for another $600,000 and change. Seven years later, he’s still betting and bluffing at the tables, but he’s also now tackling something even bigger: space.

The native of Moscow is involved in a startup tech company named Yaliny. According to its website, the company hopes to provide “global mobile service at about $10 a month, with unlimited data, no roaming, or other crappy charges and inconveniences. In order to provide it we’re working on a telecommunication infrastructure based on low cost and highly efficient LEO (low earth orbit) satellites designed by our company.”

The project has become a major focus for Demidov: “I am into space travel now. It is a space startup with very ambitious goals.”

“I am into space travel now. It is a space startup with very ambitious goals.”

While his business interests and family consume much of his time, Demidov remains involved in poker. He plays regularly as a Team PokerStars Pro, but not nearly as much as in the past. He battles it out a few days a week online or in Sunday tournaments on ’Stars, and also plays in big live tournaments every few months. This summer, Demidov will once again be in Las Vegas for some WSOP action, starting around June 20. Since getting into poker, he has played every WSOP. Some years he plays as many as 20-plus events; other years, Demidov plays just a handful. This year he plans to enter only a few to get ready for the Main Event.

Sadly, the year he scored big in the Main Event, Demidov didn’t exactly come away rich.

“That second place has changed my life completely, but not because of the money I won, as I haven’t received any. That’s a long and dark story, but basically my backer did not pay me and I ended up not getting any prize money.”

Looking back, however, Demidov is thankful for the near-win and awed at what the game has given him.

“I was contracted by PokerStars and was able to open a popular website in Russia, all that thanks to my second-place finish. That gave me the bankroll and freedom to play what I want and to do what I want. And that’s what I always dreamed of.”

Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer based in Crandall, Texas. Check out his book Raising the Stakes: True Tales of Gambling, Wagering & Poker Faces or follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.