WSOP 2017: A tag team talk with bracelet winners Liv and Igor
Among the Team PokerStars Pros joining the fray today are the two who have this year claimed bracelets among the group. You might have heard something about it earlier this summer -- and how they did it in the same event!
Liv Boeree and Igor Kurganov began their summer vacation in Las Vegas in memorable fashion, winning the $10,000 Tag Team No-Limit Hold'em Championship. The $273,934 first prize they divided, but both got to take away gold -- first WSOP bracelets for each.
The couple are now looking for a similarly successful conclusion to the series, with both entering today's Day 1B of the Main Event. Boeree took her seat earlier in the afternoon, while Kurganov came to start his tournament a little later, just before the dinner break.
The PokerStars Blog took the opportunity to chat with both of them, getting them to "tag team" on a discussion about their big win.
Much as happened in the tournament, the pair complemented each other well. And complimented each other, too.
First we asked Boeree to talk about Kurganov, asking specifically what in particular Igor brought to the team to make it better.
"What did he bring?" Boeree began. "Brilliance. He's just so good at poker, so it was fantastic to have one of the best tournament players in the world on my team."
"She made it possible for us to play the event," Igor tagged in to say, responding to the same question. He explained how he'd been playing a different event elsewhere on Day 1.
"I played my two hands that I had to play out of the big blind and small blind on Day 1, then Liv played the rest of the day... and she provided me with two-and-a-half times the starting stack to start Day 2. Which was fantastic, because Day 1 sometimes gives me trouble -- most of the time -- and she is good at that."
Boeree tagged back in -- to the tournament, and to the conversation.
"On Day 2 I wanted to to play the shootout," she explained. "So I played that early on, and he played solid through Day 2."
Kurganov did well that second day, with Boeree only tagging in occasionally when Kurganov needed a break. They had a big stack to start the third and final day where Daniel Negreanu's team that eventually finished third was among their competitors. That's where Kurganov mostly was the one playing the hands.
"By that point, he'd been playing and had a dynamic going, and he's obviously just the better player, so I let him play as much as possible.... I played a few hands at the final table, but not that many."
Tagging back in, Kurganov expounded on Boeree's point, saying how much as she was the better of the two to have playing the early levels, his background made it suitable for him to play more during the endgame.
"I am a bit more experienced with final tables, because I play more smaller field events in which it's more likely to get to the final table," he said. "And I play sit-n-gos online a lot as well on PokerStars."
But Boeree was involved, too, and while she had been modest about her contribution at the final table, Kurganov was not.
"She played a few hands where nothing happened," he said. "Then with four or five left at the final table a guy tried to bluff her. It was great -- she called him down with ace-high, after playing only a few hands!"
That hand was a big help, giving the team more chips with which Kurganov was able to finish with the win.
Asked about the need in such an event for team members to communicate well with one another, both agreed it was important and not unrelated to their success.
Boeree tagged in.
"It must be difficult [to play such an event] if you have lots of big egos," she said, saying that if everyone thinks he or she is the best player, "then that's where you're going to have conflict."
Back to Kurganov, who noted how some teams might have had trouble at the end deciding how to divide prize money won, and how he'd heard of some struggling a bit deciding who would play when.
"There's a lot of ego in poker," he added. "Poker really teaches you to think that when you're winning you're the best, and when you're losing you're unlucky."
Both responses perhaps explain how it could potentially be hard to pry a teammate from the table. That obviously wasn't a problem for team Boeree-Kurganov.
"He's more experienced at short-handed tables," Boeree said. "It was just easy."
"Yeah, I'm happy we were able to avoid all of that," said Kurganov.
Much as she did in the Tag Team event, Boeree has gotten off to a good start today to build up to around 70,000. Meanwhile perhaps it isn't surprising Kurganov wasn't in a huge hurry to take his seat.
Each knows his or her own strengths -- and those of the other, too. Makes for a good team.
WSOP photos by PokerPhotoArchive.com.