PokerStars Championship Sochi: Final table player profiles

A little bit more information about our final six players. (Research by Jan Kores, Media Coordinator).

Seat 1: Seyed Ghavam, 35, Tehran, Iran


Seyed Ghavam is an amateur player, but is involved with gambling as a career: he runs a sports book. Ghavam, who will turn 36 next week, plays most of his poker on trips to Cyprus as there are legal restrictions on the game in his native Iran. He mostly plays cash games and occasionally enters tournaments. His documented live cashes come almost exclusively from Cyprus, with the biggest prize worth $27,075 for a runner-up finish in an $800 tournament. Ghavam's sole result outside of Cyprus was the 84th place finish in the EPT13 Prague Main Event for €13,830. He is now about to add the Russian flag to his profile, too.

Ghavam had accumulated more than $73,000 in tournament winnings before arriving for PokerStars Championship Sochi. He currently sits in 19th place on Iran's all-time money list but that's going to change soon. Ghavam could possibly move up to the top five, should he become the champion.

On paper, Ghavam's Main Event run has been pretty smooth: he finished every day within the top 10. However, he will remember that his tournament life was on the line on Day 4 when he ran pocket queens into the aces of Timur Bubnov. Ghavam spiked a queen to survive with a massive double up.

Seat 2: Vladimir "vovtroy" Troyanovskiy", 43, St. Petersburg, Russia


Vladimir Troyanovskiy, a 43-year-old high roller from St. Petersburg, is one of Russia's most recognisable poker exports. He has come a long way from the moment he first learned the game, at the age of 13, when his older brother introduced him to 5 Card Draw.

Now widely acknowledged as one of Russia's top poker pros, Troyanovskiy started collecting his live cashes in 2003 but he burst onto the world's biggest stage a decade later, with two big scores at PCA 2013. He first notched up seventh place in the PCA 2013 $100k Super High Roller, earning $257,580 and topped it a few days later when he finished second to Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Selbst in the $25k High Roller, securing himself a career-best $792,180 prize.

Since then, Troyanovskiy has been a regular fixture in the highest buy-in tournaments all over the globe. He has accrued $4.8 million in live earnings and currently ranks sixth in the Russian all-time money list. His résumé boasts 11 six-figure results including third in the EPT11 Barcelona €50k Super High Roller for €473,200 and two cashes from the EPT Grand Final €100k Super High Roller (third for €339,500 in 2013 and ninth in 2015 for €199,620). There are numerous other results on his resume.

Prolific on the live felt, Troyanovskiy is a beast on the online scene as well. He uses the screen-name "vovtroy" on PokerStars where he's notched up two six-figure results. His biggest online payday was $186,625 for a second place in the 2015 SCOOP-46-H: $1,050 NLH Wrap-Up Turbo. He has yet another big runner-up finish to his name, from the Sunday Million, worth $152,777. Troyanovskiy has more cashes from the SCOOP series than any other Russian player (closing in on 80). He won the SCOOP watch once. It was three years ago when he took down the SCOOP-12-H: $2,100 Stud for $36,060.

In this year's edition, Troyanovskiy's best result came in the SCOOP-41-H: $5,200 NLHE, [8-Max] where he departed in sixth place worth $51,800. He's yet to win a WCOOP bracelet, with his nearest miss coming two years ago in the WCOOP $320+R PL Omaha [6-Max] in which he picked up the $50,276 third-place prize.

Seat 3: Pavel "OMGinmarsat8" Shirshikov, 30, St. Petersburg, Russia


Russian professional player Pavel Shirshikov took a substantial chip lead at the end of Day 3 after knocking out Jason Wheeler in a massive four-bet pot to send the American star to the rail in 33rd place. Shirshikov maintained his lead through Day 4 and benefited from his field position on the following day, navigating his way to the final table.

The 30-year-old from St. Petersburg picked up poker 11 years ago during his military service. He turned pro after his duty in army was over. Shirshikov's bread and butter has always been cash game. He used to grind as "OMGinmarsat8" online on PokerStars, where he'd been involved in a lot of mixed games. However, he quit his online career last year and transitioned into live cash games.

Shirshikov spends most of his time in Russia playing here in Sochi, but he also travels a lot. After the PokerStars Championship wraps up, Shirshikov will be headed west. He plans to travel around Europe and play in various casinos.

Seat 4: Dmitry "veryking" Vitkind, 35, Moscow/Russia


Dmitry Vitkind was a regular player at the European Poker Tour stops and now he's starting his PokerStars Championship cash collection. There's a lot of work ahead of him if he plans to match his results from the legendary PokerStars sponsored tour. Vitkind cashed in nine EPT Main Events during his career, in eight different locations (Sanremo the only place where he made the money twice).

Vitkind's top result was €120,000 for fourth place in the EPT7 Tallinn Main Event, which still stands as his career-best payday. He also has a title from the EPT7 Deauville €1k Event under his belt, a victory worth €65,400.

Experienced on the European circuit, the 35-year-old from Moscow has made a name for himself even beyond the borders of the Old Continent, notching up two large cashes in Las Vegas. One of them was $159,8999 for an eighth place in the 2016 Goliath Phanous Poker Series and the other a $97,040 payday for a third place finish in the 2010 Bellagio Cup VI. In all, he's accrued $1.56 million in live tournaments, good for 26th place on the Russian all-time money list.

He uses the moniker "veryking" online on PokerStars. He received his online top-prize back in February 2014 when he finished third in a 7,748-strong Sunday Million, boosting his balance by $116,220.

Seat 5: Lavrentiy Ni, 28, Almaty, Kazakhstan


Only Jason Wheeler had a more impressive start to the PokerStars Championship Sochi Main Event than Lavrentiy Ni, a 28-year-old player from Almaty, Kazakhstan. Ni put his foot firmly on the pedal right from Day 1, bagging up the second biggest stack among all contenders.

Ni's has previously cased for just over $50,000 in live tournaments, more than half of which came thanks to a second place in the 2016 Merit Poker Retro Cup $730 NLH Warm-Up Event in Kyrenia, Cyprus. He banked $29,255 for his efforts back then.

Ni is guaranteed to more than double his lifetime earnings with his PokerStars Championship Main Event reward. Now sitting in 21st place, Ni will ladder to the Kazakhstan's top ten and would catapult himself into the pole position with a win here in Sochi.

Seat 6: Timur Bubnov, 38, Vladivostok/Russia, PokerStars Spin & Go qualifier


Russian recreational poker player Timur Bubnov was one of the dozens of players who secured their PokerStars Championship Sochi Main Event seats through a $10 Spin & Go online at PokerStars. He is the last remaining in the field.

While Bubnov didn't need to leave his country to get to Sochi, the tournament doesn't exactly take place in his backyard. The 38-year-old comes from Vladivostok, a city located in the far east of Russia, more than 7,000 kilometres away from Sochi.

Bubnov is married with two children and he was accompanied by his wife on the long trip to this event--and they will be going home happy. He has already guaranteed a payday of more than 6.5 million rubles.

Bubnov started playing poker nearly a decade ago, but the game is rather a hobby for him as he plays only occasionally. Bubnov has played at WSOP several times, trying to test his skills against the American players. He also competed in Macau in the Red Dragon series but his performance in the PokerStars Championship Main Event is by far his biggest achievement.

Bubnov said he was having a great time here in Sochi, enjoying his game and playing for his own pleasure. After reaching the money, all pressure left him and he says he is now totally relaxed.