Even Daniel Negreanu couldn’t stop poker power couple Igor Kurganov and Liv Boeree from claiming their first bracelets ever in the WSOP $10k tag-team event Friday night.
Kurganov busted Negreanu in third-place in the unique team-based event and then went on to beat dynamic heads-up pro Ankush Mandavia.
Boeree, who played most of Day 1 of the tournament, jumped the rail and jumped into Kurganov’s arms after landed the knockout blow on Mandavia.
“We waited this long so that we could win two at the same time,” joked Kurganov immediately after winning.
Neither Boeree or Kurganov had ever won a WSOP bracelet despite a combined $15m+ in live tournament earnings. They also each received a $136,982 first-place payout.
“My mind is blown right now,” said Boeree. "We got max bracelet value."
It turned out everyone did as the pair decided before the event to donate 50% of their winnings from the event to REG charity.
Boeree, Kurganov Share the Glory
Thanks to the unique tag-in format of the tournament both Boeree and Kurganov, who have been dating since 2014, took time at the table. Every player on each team had to play at least one orbit each day.
Igor Kurganov powered the team through heads-up.
Boeree played most of Day 1, a few hands of Day 2 and then let Kurganov take over for the final table.
“Obviously he is the better player and the deeper we were the more sense it made to have him play,” said Boeree. “I’m alright but he’s the best.”
Kurganov didn’t write of Boeree’s abilities, however.
“One thing we figured out was she played UTG and UTG+1 better because she has the right ranges there and I’m playing a little bit too much like I’m late position,” said Kurganov.
I helped you dial it back a bit,” added Liv.
“Together we were one very reasonable player, I thought,” said Kurganov.
Kurganov nearly ditched the tournament on Day 2 to play an extremely high-stakes cash game but the game never happened and Kurganov posted a very strong Day 2 instead.
Near Miss for Daniel Negreanu
Daniel Negreanu was playing on a squad that included friends Eric Wasserson, David Benyamine and Mark Gregorich. They received $29,939 each for finishing in third place. If Negreanu had pulled it off it would have been his seventh WSOP bracelet. Negreanu is gunning for three bracelets this summer so an early win would have helped considerably.
Meanwhile Ankush Mandavia and Joe Kuether each got $84k for finishing runner-up.
It was fitting that Kurganov, who originally hails from St. Petersburg, Russia, and Boeree, of Kent, UK, each won their first WSOP bracelet in the same event considering they’ve been inseparable since getting to get over three and a half years ago.
“The great thing about us being a couple in poker is that we actually get to spend like 345 days out of 365 together,” said Kurganov. “We have a very similar schedule.”
It could be argued that no one knew each other better in the entire tournament than Boeree. It ended up paying off in spades.
“It’s just so easy, he’s like my best friend,” said Boeree.
One unique aspect of the tournament is that there were no breaks. Players could simply swap in when their partner wanted to go to the bathroom. That helped increase the overall speed of the tournament.
Kurganov is even hopeful that next they might expand it to 16 hours each day so players would literally have to work in shifts.
“It would make it even more of a team-based event,” said Kurganov.