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27-year-old poker professional Peter Vlasenko has been crowned Russia’s Poker Tsar after he won $84,000 in the inaugural St Petersburg Open in Russia last week. The event at the Golden Garden Casino in the famous city boasted the biggest prize pool in Russian poker history with over $500,000 up for grabs over four days.

Peter, who plays online under the name Peter_Russ was more Peter the Great as he swept aside the challenges from hard nosed pros from around the world and was delighted with his win. “I normally only play high stakes limit games online and this was my first tournament of this kind,â€? he said. “This is the biggest win I have had in a single day by far though I once won $30,000 in 24 hours online.â€? Runner-up was veteran Russian pro Mark Vronskiy, a 43 – year-old pro from Moscow whose pocket threes failed to beat Peter’s pair of eights, which he hit on the turn.

Peter is encouraged by the rise and rise of the Russians in the poker world, something that also impresses veteran pro and World Series of Poker bracelet holder Mel Judah, who was in attendance. He has played a lot in Russia and insists that in the future they could take the game by storm. “Poker has come on leaps and bounds. I can see the Russian players becoming a real threat in the future just like Scandinavia is now. At the moment a lot of the players don’t have the experience but that will come.â€?

There were plenty of foreign competitors in the tournament but the final table featured five Russians and British semi-professional David Rudling, a 39-year old IT consultant from Essex, England. David has been on the scene for a while and won £50,000 last year in London’s famous poker den in Leyton. Of 35 players who qualified online for the tournament through, the top finisher was Tom Strathoff, a 26-year old from The Hague in The Netherlands and Thomas Greaux, a 24 year old internet hotshot from Little Ferry, New Jersey in the US. Of the 35 online qualifiers 14 qualified for absolutely nothing through freerolls. Amongst them were players from the US, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Ukraine, Norway, Russia and the Netherlands.

Most of those who flew to St Petersburg all discussed the same issue. As Jon Pallis, an internet qualifier from The Hague in the Netherlands put it. “ A lot of the Russians played very aggressively but sometimes you just think that because they look like mean dudes around the table and you can’t understand what they are saying.â€? The tournament director for the event was the well respected Thomas Kremser. spokesman Warren Lush said: “We’re delighted to be involved with an event that boasted the biggest prize in Russian poker history and congratulate Peter on his win. For the first time in a long time none of the internet qualifiers made the final table. This alone suggests that Russia could be a poker superpower in the future.â€?

RESULT – St Petersburg Open Main Event, Golden Garden Casino – 16th/17th May 2006 (All Russia unless stated)

1st – Peter Vlasenko – Moscow – $84,000

2nd – Mark Vronskiy – St Petersburg – $46,000

3rd – Nikolay Losev – Moscow – $25,400

4th – David Rudling – Essex – UK – $20,300

5th – Sergey Feklisov – Moscow – $15,200

6th – Sergey Pevzner – St Petersburg – $12,700

There were 127 entries and a $254,000 prize pool that paid down to 18th place. For more information or pictures contact


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