Ivan Demidov Discusses Russian Poker Ban

Ivan Demidov Discusses Russian Poker Ban

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Russia’s most famous export since vodka and the AK-47 talks to Bluff Europe about the recent rulings against poker in his home country. Ladies and gentlemen, presenting WSOP 2008 runner-up Ivan Demidov…

Ivan Demidov burst onto the scene in the poker world in much the same way that an elephant would run into your living room – people noticed. Not only did he display sound poker skills on his way to the inaugural November Nine in 2008 (where he eventually finished runner-up) but he then made the final table of the £10,000 Main Event at the 2008 World Series of Poker Europe.

That was when people thought he might be a bit good. It was a great sign for poker – Russia was a massive, untapped market of potential fish and a breakthrough there could cancel out the devastating effects of the UIGEA.

However, it was not to be. In a move that shocked everyone, the Russian government suddenly downgraded poker’s status from a sport. This made it subject to anti-gambling laws there and suddenly, bye-bye poker.

“I am obviously strongly against it [the poker ban],” Demidov told us. “Especially when there is no real reasoning for doing so. It was a personal decision of one or two people, not a worked out and logical one. It’s funny how all the officials tried making up good reasons and totally failed at it. It was obvious it was not their decision; they just had to follow orders from the top.

“More than 50,000 people lost their jobs in a day,” he continues. “If they wanted to ban poker, they could have at least given notice and done it in a civilised way, like they did with casinos.

“It won’t affect me as a player that much but it’s going to have a huge effect on beginning and mid-level players. When poker was a sport I knew how to pay taxes, how to handle my visa applications and everything. Now I don’t know what is going to happen.

“Beginning and mid-level players will suffer, especially live professionals and semi-professionals. Now it’s not possible to play EPT and RPT events, they will have to spend much more in order to play in a live tournament with good structure. Beginners won’t have any easy access to poker-related media: be it TV shows, magazines or even books. Basically it’s gonna be the same as in any country where live poker is banned. People are gonna switch online, go underground or quit.”

Thinking, he adds: “Knowing Russian people I’d say it’s mostly going to be underground,” which gives us thoughts of Teddy KGB and makes us smile.

Tags: Poker News, Ivan, Demidov, Discusses, Russian, Poker, Ban