WCOOP profile: Kroko-dill wins one for his daughter

wcoop2009-thumb.jpgKroko-dill is a mean-sounding name, and it's designed that way. It's Russian for crocodile. Even the thought of a Russian crocodile is scary.

But, here's the thing, Kroko-dill (aka Andrey Zaichenko) only picked the name because his nickname "Zaya" wasn't available. And what does "zaya" mean? Well, he tells us that it translates to "hare." As in, a rabbit. As in, a cute little bunny.

So, maybe, just maybe Kroko-dill isn't quite as mean as it sounds. Read further, and you'll be convinced of the fact.

See, Zaichenko is a pro player. He has been since 2006. It's how he supports his family. He's not bad. At the EPT Grand Final in 2008 he took second in a side event for more than $130,000. Later in 2008, he made a WSOP final table and finished seventh for around $112,000. This is his job. It is what he does.


There is, though, something else in his life that drives him, something that takes up a lot of his time, something that touches his heart every day. See, Zaichenko's daughter, Alice, is seriously ill and in a Moscow hospital. Her parents stay with her there on a regular basis--sometimes together, sometimes apart. That is, sometimes Zaichenko has to leave to do his job and make money to support his family.

On a night not too many days ago, Zaichenko left the hospital and got home with one minute remaining in the late registration period of WCOOP Event #13, $200 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Low 6-Max one rebuy and one add-on. So, he entered. And he won, pocketing $63,080.

"It is really tough to play all the tournaments under these circumstances, but it's my job," Zaichenko explained.

At 32 years old with a wife and four and half year-old daughter, Zaichenko has a lot of responsibilities. A graduate of Moscow University, he once worked as a sales director for a software company. That's before he discovered he has a certain talent for poker.

With more than half a million dollars in live tournament cashes (not to mention untold online winnings) Zaichenko has made a fine living for his family. Still, a bad 2010 WSOP combined with his family needs means the WCOOP victory came at the right time.

More than that, though, Zaichenko feels like there was something special about this event. His PokerStar avatar is a picture of his daughter. As of right now, he's second on the 2010 WCOOP leaderboard. He is fairly certain there is a connection.

"She helped me to win despite her illness," he said.

And so now, with his daughter's fighting spirt pushing him on, the Russian is playing as many WCOOP events as possible, trying to win Player of the Series, and dedicating it all to his daughter.

We wish him the best of luck, and Alice the speediest of recoveries.

For more: Kroko-dill chomps down on Event #13 PLO8 bracelet

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in WCOOP