Mike "NYC P.I.M.P" Shklover vanquishes huge field in Event #20

It took two days for Mike "NYC P.I.M.P" Shklover to navigate the massive 3,467-player field in Event #20 of the 2008 World Championship of Online Poker, but when the dust settled, the 28-year-old New Yorker took down the bracelet and $257,953 for first place. We caught up with the young pro after he had a little time to process his victory.

Shklover entered Event #20 ($1,050 No Limit Hold'em) on a whim after his good friend, who plays on PokerStars under the screen name Harrington10 alerted him to the good structure, and transferred him a little cash for the entry fee. "I really like the bigger tournaments better on [PokerStars] especially when the blind structure is set up for allowing more play in the later rounds."

The former Wall Street broker has played on PokerStars seriously for about 3 ½ years, focusing on tournament play in the beginning of his career and moving towards cash games as he gained experience. "I am mostly a cash player, and I like heads up NL the most but I do like to play Omaha as well, I am learning from in my opinion the best online short handed Omaha player - Harrington10. I play a lot of live poker as well, and was out at the World Series for the month this year, I did not have any cashes this year, but I only played 5 events, I bubbled a few of them and decided to stick to playing cash. I would say the WSOP is my favorite events just because of the atmosphere and all the players across the world come to prove their skills."

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The field in Event #20 was stacked, especially on Day 2 with Team PokerStars Pro players Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier and Humberto Brenes still in the 43-person field. Shklover recalled one particular hand against Grospellier that propelled him to the final table. "[W]hen I won the hand with AJ against ElkY, I knew I was going to the final table. ElkY raised from the button he had been very aggressive the whole time at the table, raising probably 60% of hands, the orbit before he raised on the button, and I re-raised him with 2-6, and he folded. And next orbit he raised on the button again, and I had A-J suited. I re-raised again and this time he went all in. I did not have a lot of time left in my bank but I knew his range of shoving hands is pretty big here against the small blind re-raise so I decided to gamble. I knew I would have about [1 million chips] left if I lost, so I would not be out. I was in bad shape when I saw his hand A-Q, but I got lucky and hit a Jack, that's when I knew I could win this tournament."

Shklover credits his experience playing Heads-Up No Limit cash games with his eventual victory, even though he was a chip underdog going into heads-up play. "I knew I had a good chance to actually win the bracelet when it got HU, I play a lot of heads up cash, and even though Quasi had 2-1 in chips I felt very confident that I could win the tourney. Winning the whole tournament was very gratifying, everyone close to me like my girlfriend Olya and my parents Gene and Alla and my Uncle Max who is my biggest supporter were happier to see me win than I was."

Not coming from a card-playing family, Shklover cites his Uncle Max as a big influence in his success, discussing strategy with him and supporting him. Living in New York City, Shklover gets plenty of opportunity to play, joining in some of the private games around the city. His next goal is to win a major live tournament, improving on his biggest win prior to the WCOOP, a final table at the Borgata in 2006. We have no doubt that great things are in store for Mike "NYC P.I.M.P." Shklover as he continues on his career!

John
@PokerStars in WCOOP