Not many people paid much regard to Russian Alexander Kostritsyn when he entered the final table of the 2008 Aussie Millions. First and foremost there was Erik Seidel, along with five home-country Australians that the media was focused on. It turned out that virtually no one was more dangerous than the aggressive Kostritsyn.
Kostritsyn's shrewd, aggressive play proved to be almost unstoppable at the final table. In the end Kostritsyn went head-to-head with the one player no one wanted to see in heads-up - Erik Seidel. Kostritsyn proved his mettle by going countless rounds with the Full Tilt legend and eventually pulling off the big upset.
PokerListings chatted with the out-of-breath Russian player just after his momentous victory.
How are you feeling right now, Alex?
I'm really tired after five days of battle; I just want some rest and then I will be very happy [laughs].
What were you thinking heading into the final table today?
Actually I felt quite comfortable. I was pretty sure in myself and my six-handed game. Six-handed is my game so I was very sure I was one of the best players left in the field. I felt really good at the final table because most of the players had very even stacks, with the exception of the chip leader. My plan in the beginning wasn't to play against him but against the shorter stacks.
Once I got some more chips I decided to start playing against him more.
Were there any players you were particularly worried about at the final table?
I knew Erik Seidel and that was pretty much it. He is a very good player.
What did you think about Erik after playing him heads-up?
Well, I am pretty sure in my heads-up play. I play heads-up all the time. I did lose control in one hand but I felt that was because of the extremely long battle that was this tournament. If we weren't playing for four days before the final table I think I would have been more skillful.
I'm still happy I won the tournament though.
How long have you been playing poker? Do you usually play tournaments or cash?
I've been playing poker for three years now and I've just recently started to play tournaments. I'm usually a cash game player. I've played probably five big tournaments now.
You've just won $1.6 million; what do you plan to do next? Are you going to hit the tournament poker circuit?
I'm probably going to play in the EPT next. I will probably rest a lot and play my usual cash games in between.
Will you be back in Melbourne to play the 2009 Aussie Millions?
Yeah sure. I was planning on playing it anyways - win or lose. I enjoy the casino, the tournament and the country. It's a very nice place.
Congratulations on your big win, Alex.
Who would have pegged the 21-year-old Russian kid as the 2008 Aussie Millions Champion? Probably not many. With the recent Moscow Millions tournament and players like 2007 WSOP Main Event final table finisher Alexander Kravchenko it appears there is a poker hotbed in Russia. More skill can only be good for the game so as someone once said, "Send more Russians."