Nov. 9: Russian a retiring sort of rounder

Ivan Demidov

This is the second in a nine-part series taking a look at the players set to battle at the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event final table in November. This time around Ivan Demidov, who'll be second in the chip count, is on tap, and the next installment will arrive on Saturday.

Take a bit of advice: always beware the Russian mathematician.

Although we're pretty sure he's not likely to win the Fields Medal any time soon, Alex Kravchenko, who finished fourth in last year's WSOP Main Event.

Kravchenko's was the best-ever finish for the growing contingent of Russian poker players at the WSOP Main Event. That record may not last long with the way Demidov is playing.

Also, there are huge numbers of people getting involved in the game in that country, which bodes well for the future of the sport there.

"[Poker] is booming here right now and it's not underground by any means," Demidov told Bluff Media. "Poker is now an official sport in Russia. There is a sport poker federation now. That's why I am only paying 13% tax on winnings, and not 27%. It's considered an income tax and not tax on winnings."

That could still work out to be about $1 million for the newly minted Russian star if he finishes on top of the 2008 WSOP Main Event final table.

Related Article: Nov. 9: Winston touts Phillips for deep run

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