The $4million Crusher From Russia You May Never Have Heard Of

If you were to name some top Russian poker players, chances are you would think of Timofey trueteller Kuznetsov, or Liv Boerees other half Igor Kurganov, maybe Alexander joiso Kostritsyn – but there is another name that deserves to be on that list - Vladimir Shchemelev!

By: Andrew Burnett

Although the casino is supposed to play the part of the banker, St Petersburg pro Shchemelev is a real-life banker, and one who has pulled in more than $4million from his live and online exploits – roughly half from each as we will see.

The Rise and Fall of NEKOTYAN

As an online highstakes player, there are always two parts to a career, usually broken down into Full Tilt pre-Black Friday and PokerStars post-Black Friday.

NEKOTYAN was the Russian’s moniker on Full Tilt Poker and his brief stay at the highest stakes was a rise and fall of Everest proportions

Two years at the FT tables saw him plunge to $780k in the red, rise just as rapidly to $1.7million of profit, and then 8 months later find himself almost back where he started as Black Friday hit home.

Some heads-up PLO battles with Gus Hansen at $500/1k was a feature of those early months in 2011, and here’s a sample of a hand that went his way against poker’s Great Dane…

Shchemelev’s reincarnation as GVOZDIKA55

When Shchemelev moved over to PokerStars, he story was completely different, his GVOZDIKA55 (which translates to ‘carnation’ in Russian) account topping out at over $2million.

That re-incarnation saw him hit the $1million profit mark after one year and add another $1million over the next 24 months, taking on many of online poker’s biggest names along the way…

By the time he kicked off his PokerStars online run, he had already made his mark in the live arena, a 2010 WSOP runner-up spot in the $50k Players Championship behind Michael ‘the Grinder’ Mizrachi, worth very nearly $1million.

He came close to a gold bracelet that year and the following, but it was 2013 before he finally landed the most-coveted jewellery in poker, taking down the $3k PLO Hi/Lo Championship event for $279,094.

Another would follow in 2017, winning the $1500 championship version of the same event for $193,484 and cementing his place among the top layer of pros who had proved themselves both live and online.

Vladimir Shchemelev may no longer be a household name to those who came to the online game inside the last decade, but he fully deserves his place among the best of the Russian crushers!


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