WCOOP profile: Kostritsyn brings Russia a bracelet
In its many years as online poker's premier online poker series, the World Championship of Online Poker had lacked one surprising thing: a Russian bracelet winner.
Indeed, despite the Russians' obvious grasp of the game and oft-displayed talent for winning, none of them had won a WCOOP bracelet until this year. It came as little surprise to anyone which Russian did it.
Alexander "joiso" Kostritsyn is a Russian Godzilla. He travels the world destroying poker cities like it was a pre-born mandate. Even when he was getting started, he set out a goal for himself: "Make Russia look strong at the European and worldwide scene."
His live career started in 2006 when he won a few four-figure sums in live events. Then came the big one. In 2008, he took down the Aussie Millions for $1,252,911. At that point, hed only been playing poker for three years.
Since then he's amassed more than a million dollars in additional wins around the world, a sum that doesn't include the $269,284 he won in WCOOP Event #9, a two-day no-limit hold'em marathon.
Coming out with a win meant more than just another quarter-million bucks in Kostritsyn's pocket. It was yet another step toward that goal of making his country a poker force.
"I'm glad I brought the first WCOOP bracelet to Russia," he said. "My friend kroko-dill won another one the very next day, so I've opened the doors."
Now just 23 years old, Kostritsyn has proven his country's place in the game with major wins both live and online. He has little left to prove, so now he is looking a different direction: inside.
Like many young men, Kostritsyn has a philosophical side to him. He still thinks poker is probably the most interesting thing about his life. Regardless, he's still searching. He travels, writes, and studies music.
Nonetheless, poker takes up so much of his time, he has a hard tim focusing on anything else.
"The last five years I almost lost my time for hobbies," he said,
He's focused on his priorities now, which include studying poker in a productive way and looking to improve relationships with the people he loves.
"Almost every minute you have few things which are important right now," he explained. "Make sure you choose the right order in the long run. Not only do what you want better, but do what's better for improving as a son, husband, father, friend or poker player."
Like all journeys, Kostritsyn's is a long one without a clear map. He sees a lot changing in the next year and promises to reveal it after he wins another bracelet next year. He wouldn't call it his "second" bracelet, however.
"Because this WCOOP is not over," he said.
Read more about the first Russian WCOOP bracelet here: Just two days and joiso wins the Event #9 NLHE marathon