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Giorgiy Skhulukhiya became only the third Russian-speaking player to become a partypoker LIVE MILLIONS champion when he triumphed in the recent MILLIONS North Cyprus Main Event for $683,285, joining Anatoly Filatov and Alexander Gofman.

Anyone who tuned into our Twitch channel saw Skhulukhiya seemed to run over the final table as he bulldozed his way to an impressive victory. Some of his choices of starting hands raised a few eyebrows, but Skhulukhiya explained he had no choice other than opening wide.

“My opponents let me play, so I played,” explained Skhulukhiya to the partypoker blog, “If I were in their place, I would play how they did. Some people asked how I could open seven-deuce and three-deuce, but they don’t understand I had to do it. It is clear I was opening the bottom of my range, but I saw everyone folding, so I opened a lot of pots.”

Before the final table, Skhulukhiya was involved in a major pot that lasted 11-minutes and showed that Skhulukhiya is a wily character. In the hand, Skhulukhiya opened on the button and Harpreet Gill called from the big blind. Gill check-called a 675,000 bet on the flop before check-calling another 675,000 on the turn. Gill checked again on the river, prompting an over-bet of 4,375,000 from Skhulukhiya. Gill went into the tank for 11-minutes before calling. Skhulukhiya showed for a full house, and Gill mucked face up.

“I saw that he was about to throw his hand away, so I called the clock on him and he paid right away. I trembled the entire hand and tried to show him some false tells; it was purely acting. I even did it so my fingers were shaking a little, and it turned out cool; it was one of the key hands of the tournament.”

Another key hand cropped up at the final table, one that resulted in Austria’s Fabian Bernhauser busting in fifth-place. Vytautas Semaska opened to 2,000,000 with 3,125,000 chips behind. Skhulukhiya three-bet to 3,500,000, and Bernhauser four-bet shoved for 10,100,000. Semaska folded, but Skhulukhiya called. It was for Skhulukhiya and for Bernhauser. A queen on the flopwon the pot for Skhulukhiya, pushing his stack to 64 million.

“I can’t understand if he pushed there correctly or not. Probably, ICM is still so-so because I am never folding. He beats a lot of hands, ace-jack is there but ace-ten probably not. Plus he block ace-jack. He will not have been happy shoving; I couldn’t decide how I would have played the hand. It would be much clearer with queens. He obviously did not make a happy push.”

Skhulukhiya was very observant at the final table, picking up on a possible tell from Robert Heidorn that allowed him to pick off a bluff. Skhulukhiya’s observation allowed him to open more than his fair share of pots, and win them uncontested.

Gleb Tremzin said on the Russian stream that there was no need to open seven-deuce etc, but if they only put me all-in once out of ten hands and I have to fold then I take the remaining nine and will be in the black anyway. Several times at the final table I did not even look at my hand, only pretended to look!”

A Lucky T-Shirt and a Happy Hunting Ground

Skhulukhiya wore a special T-shirt at the final table, one his daughter drew for him. Perhaps that brought him luck? His daughter wanted to give him something to take on the road with him, so grabbed some fabric paint and painted her dad a T-shirt.

Cyprus is a happy hunting ground for Skhulukhiya; he has won four out of five tournaments he’s played there recently! he won a $10,000 buy-in event for $225,000 in September 2019, finished third for $11,440 in a $2,200 bounty event in January 2020 and two days later won a $5,000 buy-in tournament for $220,643. Of course, he won the $5,300 MILLIONS North Cyprus Main Event, too. he just loves the Merit Crystal Cove Hotel.

“It’s nice when you already know almost all the players. The local players greet me kindly. but in general, it is a very comfortable place to place, everything is top-class, and you don’t need to spend money anywhere.”

Skhulukhiya is now heading to Las Vegas where he plans to play most of the events at the Wynn before playing the latter part of the World Series of Poker; he has his eye on the $10,000 Main Event.

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