Nice Katchalov: The 2007 DBFDWPC is over!

The Champ!
Eugene Katchalov wins the 2007 Five Diamond World Poker Classic

Beginning with Phil Ivey's fall from the top on Day 3 and continuing with Daniel Negreanu suffering a similar fate yesterday, the 2007 Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic has been all about big swings.

In the end though it was Eugene Katchalov who was able to go the distance and take down first place honors.

Heading into the home stretch of Day 5, yesterday, Katchalov's name couldn't even be found on the leaderboard. Short-stacked and reduced to playing only all-in hands, Katchalov began a run that would eventually end in victory.

After dispatching Ted Kearly, his heads-up opponent, Eugene took a few minutes to speak with

Eugene, yesterday it was looking pretty grim for you but you managed to get back on your feet and go into the final table as the chip leader. There was one really big pot yesterday when you doubled through Jordan Rich with a set of eights. Give us your thoughts on that hand.

Jordan Rich
Jordan Rich

It started when I doubled-up on a lucky hand, A-5 against pocket jacks, and after that I had some chips, close to $3 million. Then that hand [with Rich] came up; I think the blinds were $40,000/$80,000. It was folded around and the cut-off limped.

Jordan made it $300,000 from the small blind and I had pocket eights and I called in position because I thought I might flop a set. The cut-off folded and of course the flop came 8-4-3 which was perfect for me. He bet and I raised, hoping he had a pocket pair, and then we got it in. That was the big turning point for me.

Were you surprised that he was willing to play that big a pot with pocket tens?

I think it's tough for him to get away from it. I pretty much have to have a set there to have him beat. I could be testing him with just a pair of eights or maybe pocket nines. He was running really hot at the time, knocking a lot of players out, so it's hard to get away from it then. He was unlucky that I caught the set and that there were no overcards to his tens.

Eugene Katchalov
Katch(alov) me if you can.

You knocked him out of the chip leader position with that hand and then you went on to eliminate him today. Was there something you had picked up on that made you more comfortable playing big pots with him?

I actually just had hands against him. I did feel comfortable playing in position against him but I do respect his game a lot. But really I just had hands against him. That big pot that I won at the beginning of today I flopped a set of jacks against him, I don't really know what he had. And when I eliminated him, pocket aces against pocket jacks, there's not much you can do about that five-handed. He was just running bad and I was running good.

When it got down to three-handed you had a huge chip lead and your two opponents were pretty short. It's obviously a great thing to have a big stack but how do you feel in that situation and what kind of pressure does a big stack put on you?

Of course I feel pressure playing a big stack. First of all you have all this pressure like you're supposed to win and it's very disappointing not to win so you're trying to play your best game. You're trying to play your hands right and not double-up your opponents because in that situation if they double-up they're going to be in pretty good shape. So I was trying to play carefully and play small pots because I think they were both trying hard to get to second place.

David 'Devilfish' Ulliott
The Main Geezer.

This is a two-part question. When Dave Ulliott was eliminated in third were you relieved to be facing Ted Kearly rather than the alternative and were you surprised at Ted's play, particularly the last hand?

Of course I was happy that Dave was knocked out in third because I feel like he was the more experienced player over Ted. I don't have any experience with either player but based on what I know I would choose to play heads-up against Ted. Heads-up my plan was to just try to win small pots and get it in good. On the final hand when the flop came ten-high I didn't know what he had.

Did you think your J-T was good there?

I really wasn't sure. It was like 50-50. I wasn't really sure that I was good but I knew that I wanted to check-raise him and with the stack sizes I wasn't going to be able to get away from it so I would have to gamble no matter what he had. But I was very lucky that he had K-J and was drawing to just a king.

One last question. Give us a bit of an idea how you got to this point in poker and what this win will allow you to do going forward.

Well I've been playing poker for four or five years, the usual story; I started playing with my friends. I played a bit online and was able to make enough to support myself on a daily basis and then I came to Vegas. I got pretty lucky and took fifth in a $3,000 buy-in tournament for like $40,000 and that kind of catapulted my bankroll [up].

Toasting the Champion!
The champagne toast.

After that I wasn't really winning tournaments but I had some good finishes. But lately I've been changing my game a bit and this summer I won a preliminary event and I actually won a Sunday tournament on FullTilt. This win is obviously a huge boost to my bankroll but it's also a huge boost to my confidence. I'm just going to keep playing more poker.

Thanks Eugene and congratulations again.

It's easy to see how $2,482,605 could do a little something for a player's confidence. Modest in victory, Eugene Katchalov may have caught a few cards on his way to this victory but he didn't make many mistakes either. With Eugene having beat one of the toughest fields ever assembled to take down what is by far his biggest win to date, it's a given that we'll be seeing plenty more of him in tournaments to come.

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