Sergey Rybachenko cuts an intimidating figure at the poker table, but when you talk to him seems like a gentle giant. One thing I have noticed about Rybachenko is his lack of fear when it comes to putting those chips across the line. The man is fearless in that respect. All that matters to Rybachenko is winning money. He is one of a multitude of Russian players that have competed at the bwin sponsored WPT Merit Cyprus Classic, and there are a lot of them who now ply their trade in the higher echelons of tournament and cash game poker.
“Poker in Russia is growing very fast. Unfortunately, it is illegal in Russia, which is a shame because if it weren’t I think Russia would be the second best country in the world, behind the United States of course. Here in Cyprus it is the most popular place to come for Russian players. Each month we have 60-70 Russians that come to Cyprus mainly because it’s so close.” Said Rybachenko.
But who does Rybachenko believe are some of the very best poker players in Russia?
“Me of course…no seriously that’s a very difficult question to answer. If you are talking tournament poker then I would say Ivan Demidov is the best because he has the best results. Cash games is much tougher to answer because there are so many excellent players who play high stakes online cash games. Players I know are Russian but don’t know their names.”
Rybachenko is a man who loves his cards. He got into this game because he ‘needed to win money badly’ and he seems to be doing a pretty good job. Not only does he have over one million dollars in live tournament earnings, but also he has been sitting down at the Chinese poker tables where he has been winning in some pretty big games.
“I don’t play a lot of tournaments anymore because I love Chinese poker. I don’t like playing the smaller tournaments, but I am going to EPT Barcelona to play the main event. I can’t play Chinese poker there as they don’t have any games, so I am going to have to play in the lobby with my friends and take the opportunity to have a vacation.”
Rybachenko could be heading to EPT Barcelona as a WPT Champions Club member, as he has made it to the final table of the bwin sponsored WPT Merit Cyprus Classic where he will start fifth in chips.