Rachid "SkaiWalkurrr" Ben Cherif
Dutch online poker pro Rachid Ben Cherif nearly skipped the 2013 Main Event but is now one of the chip leaders with less than 150 players left.
The 22-year-old Cherif, who plays on PokerStars as SkaiWalkurrr, is one of the most feared online players in the world and has won hundreds of thousands playing high-stakes.
Despite his online prowess, Cherif is still relatively new to the live tournament scene with a few minor cashes. He'd only played one WSOP event prior to this summer.
“This year I played the $111k buy-in One Drop and the $25k 6-Max at the WSOP,” he said.
“I was annoyed because I played really bad in the $25k. I thought about not playing the Main Event. At the last second I decided to late reg, like four hours in or something. It’s pretty fortunate.”
It’s very fortunate considering this year’s 2013 Main Event will pay $8.3 million and Cherif has been one of the elite contenders through Day 4 and 5.
The unassuming Dutch pro is keeping his expectations under control, however.
“It’s pretty fun but I’m not really that excited yet," he said.
Cherif got into poker when he saw it on TV in the Netherlands.
“I was immediately really intrigued,” he said. “I spent about one year reading everything I could about the game.”
After that Cherif begged his parents to allow him to deposit $50 on an online poker site. They finally agreed and it wasn’t long before Cherif was playing some of the biggest stakes in the world.
In 2010 Cherif battled RaiseOnce, rumored to be Phil Ivey, in the final heads-up match of the $25,000 NLHE HU WCOOP. Cherif eventually busted to Ivey but still picked up $194k for his efforts.
He could potentially make a lot more than that if he keeps his momentum going in the 2013 WSOP Main Event.
You can follow Cherif’s progress in our 2013 Main Event live updates.