WCOOP 2013: Last year's champ looking for a job
"I wont million."
Nearly a year ago, those words reverberated through the online poker world, an instant catch phrase that defined a moment in World Championship of Online Poker history.
The words came from the fingers of Marat "maratik" Sharafutdinov, a Russian taxi driver who qualified for the 2012 WCOOP Main Event with 40 PokerStars Frequent Player Points.
While his English might not have been great, his playing was, and he pocketed the million he wanted. Within a day or so, his PokerStars account had $1,000,907 in it.
And now? Now Sharafutdinov is looking for a job.
Seriously. Not because because he needs one, but because he wants one.
In an interview this week, Sharafutdinov said that despite his million dollar win in last year's WCOOP, he can't stop working.
"I think a man should work regardless of the amount of money in his account, otherwise he will deteriorate as a person," Sharafutdinov said. "It's nice that I can afford to choose to work on things that interest me without thinking about my daily bread."
So, what does a man do with a million bucks and a year to kill? Sharafutdinov has spent that time playing chess and learning foreign languages with the hope of being a guide in foreign countries. It's not sexy, but it's what makes him happy. And, really, it doesn't take much to make him happy.
"Friends are always surprised that I can be content with little," he said. "Of course, I'm grateful that I now have the opportunity to learn what it is to have money, and had already established an identity as a grown man and known the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie."
What has made the better part of the last year amazing for Sharafutdinov might make him just the kind of champion the online regs don't like. Why? Sharafutdinov didn't move up in stakes. He didn't go crazy in the high limit games. He rarely plays anything with more than a $100 buy-in. He stakes some people. He invested the rest of the cash and lives modestly on the interest.
How modestly? Well, he says he might play the WCOOP Main Event...if he can satellite in or sell enough of himself to make it affordable. What's more, he has no interest in taking his money out on the live circuit.
"I tried to play live poker, and I did not like it," he said. "People often swear and there's lots of drunken players. In general, this situation is not for me."
Instead, he travels the world. He's been all over Southeast Asia and parts of the Middle East. Now he's got his sights set on chess tournaments in western Europe and a 2014 trip to South America for the World Cup.
So. now, as the 2013 WCOOP festivities prepare to kick off, we wait to see if the man called maratik will make it back to the Main Event and if he still wonts million.
Because this much is clear: he may have wonted million last year, but this year he doesn't need it anymore.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging