Yevgeniy Timoshenko on his WCOOP Main Event triumph, his other big wins and the life of a young poker superstar!

PokerPlayer exclusive interview with WCOOP Main Event champion Yevgeniy Timoshenko

At the age of just 21 Yevgeniy ‘Jovial Gent’ Timoshenko already has over $3.2m in live tournament winnings and almost as much from online tourneys. He has been as succesful as any player in 2009, winning the Pokerstars WCOOP Main Event and the WPT World Championship in in the same year. PokerPlayer sat down with the Seattle-based Ukrainian to find out how he got so good and whether he is the world’s best tournament player right now… 

Is your background predominantly online?

Yes, I honed my skills and built my bankroll online. I have since branched out to live play, but I still prefer and feel most comfortable playing online.

How many years have you been playing and what do you think the main reasons are that you’ve achieved so much while only being 21?

I have been playing 6 years. I’ve achieved as much success as I have through hard work. I spent a lot of time studying and playing the game.

Do you think your young age helps you on the table in that you may be more fearless and reckless than more veteran players?

Yes, I think my youth is an advantage in poker. When you’re young, you’re a lot more risk tolerant. You’re also in your prime in terms of learning ability and memory.

Have you always been a tournament player rather than cash games? If so, what is it about tournaments that you really enjoy?

I have played everything in my career. I enjoy tournaments the most because I really like the competition and the thrill of winning a tournament is a lot more satisfying than winning big in a cash game to me.

Before your huge wins in 2009 what were the biggest moments of your poker career?

Winning the Pokerstars Sunday Million in 2006 for $250k and winning the APT Macau Main Event for 500k.

Was there ever a specfic point where you ‘got’ the game and knew that you could be one of the best in the world?

I think I’ve understood the game on a high level since 2006 and always knew I could be one of the best. In fact, my edge in tournaments was probably biggest in 2006 when tournaments were a lot softer and when there were many more new players playing than there are now.

Do you now consider yourself to be the world’s best tournament player?

I don’t know if I’m the world’s best tournament player, but I have considered myself one of the best tournament players for quite some time now.

Are you more comfortable online or live? Which is your strongest game?

I am more comfortable online. I think I miss more information live than I do online.

Do you see there as being a big difference in the quality of your competition.

Sometimes. For the most part though, I think big buy-in live tournaments are typically tougher than online tournaments.

Winning the $25K WPT and now the WCOOP ME indicates that you play very well against high-quality opponents. What is it about your game that suits this?

I have a very balanced game and I play just as well against weak players as I do against strong players. Some tournament players are only good at playing against weak players – I feel comfortable playing pots against
anyone in tournaments.

Do you prefer tournaments with stronger, thinking playes rather than weak players?

I definitely prefer playing tournaments with weaker players/ Weaker players make a lot more mistakes than strong players.

Which victory meant more to you; the WPT win or WCOOP win?

They’re both very special to me. I can’t say one means more to me than the other.

What’s the story about you winning a tourney on Full Tilt at the same time as you were playing the WCOOP ME?

A couple hours into Day 2 of the WCOOP ME, I had a healthy stack so I decided to play the FTP 1K since playing one extra table would help me stay focused. After I won the WCOOP ME, I was still in the FTP 1K and ended up winning that one as well.

What were the main tactics that you employed through the later stages of
the WCOOP? How important is using position and 3-betting preflop to your

Position is important in all forms of poker. Three-betting is a very strong play in tournaments, but it can be detrimental to your tournament success if you don’t know when and who to three-bet against.

Were you wary of any players on the WCOOP final table? How much respect do you have for djk123’s game?

Yes, there were some strong players at the final table that I was wary of. I have a lot of respect for djk123’s game and I definitely wasn’t happy that he had immediate position on me at the final table.

What goals do you have in the future? Do you want to become a key player in the $500/$1000 cash games for example or will you be happy concentrating on tournaments?

Playing the nosebleed games isn’t a matter of bankroll for me, it’s more a matter of game selection. I think the nosebleed games have been very tough lately so I have been staying away. I’d rather not have to deal with the stress of the huge swings. I was playing a lot of nosebleeds in late 2008 when the games were softer.

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