Top 2010 Poker Player Stores – #12 Vladimir Schemelev
The last few years at the World Series of Poker, there seems to have been a breakout by a player from Russia. In 2008, it was Ivan Demidov who finished runner up in the Main Event in Las Vegas, and also final tabled the WSOP-Europe Main Event, finishing in 3rd. In 2009, Vitaly Lunkin began the WSOP winning the $40k No Limit Hold’em event, and then finding 2 more final tables at the WSOP with a 2nd place finish in the $10k Pot Limit Omaha and a 4th place finish in the $50k H.O.R.S.E Championship, booking well over $2.7 Million between all of his cashes at the WSOP events. But this year, it was an unknown cash specialist that took the WSOP by surprise named Vladimir Schemelev.
The first time that I saw Schemelev was at the $50k Players Championship event at the World Series of Poker and I (like virtually everyone else there) had no clue who he was. Day after day he showed up wearing a white warm-up sweater and beige slacks and a growing number of chips. I wish that I could tell you some hands that he was involved in during the event at the early days, but the fact is that he was really unremarkable. He just played solid, steady poker for 5 days, and when the final table began, he had a solid amount of chips. When Schemelev eliminated Full Tilt Poker Pro John Juanda in 4th place with pocket tens against Juanda’s Kd-9d, Schemelev found himself 2nd in chips with 5 million. David Oppenheim was the runaway chip leader with 9.8 million, and Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi held onto the short stack with 2.6 million.
For the next few hours, the trio passed chips around in smallish pots, but it was Mizrachi who was getting the better of Oppenheim, and Schemelev who was getting the better of Mizrachi. The result, Mizrachi was stuck in neutral with about 2.3 million, and Oppenheim saw his once large chip lead go down to just 100k, as he held 7.6 million to Schemelev’s 7.5 million. But for the next hour, it was Mizrachi who caught fire, taking pots from both of his opponents and the trio found themselves in a dead heat in chip sizes, with Schemelev holding 5.9 million, Oppenheim with 5.8 million, and Mizrachi with 5.5 million.
And then, a big pot finally happened and it was Oppenheim 4-bet shoving his 8-8 into Mizrachi who called him up with K-Q. The race was on, and Oppenheim survived the 9-6-4 flop and the 7 turn. But the river was the Qd paring Mizrachi and eliminating David Oppenheim in 3rd place. Mizrachi now held a 10.6 million chip stack to Schemelev’s 6.7 million, and the two battled heads up for a few more hours.
In the early stages of the heads up battle, it was all Schemelev as the Russian player wearing a PokerStars patch was taking pot after pot. Mizrachi was being thoroughly dominated as Schemelev bled him down, taking a nearly 3 to 1 chip lead in the heads up battle. Mizrachi was limping buttons, and making min raises hoping to just stop the madness, and finally, the big hand happened. Mizrachi opened the button and Schemelev 3-bet to 750k. Mizrachi thought for a minute before moving all in and Schemelev insta-called with Ad-Jd, and was worlds ahead of Mizrachi’s Ac-7c. But the poker gods were in “The Grinder’s” corner along with virtually every seat in the Amazon room cheering for him, as the flop produced a flush draw with a Kc-9c-Td. The turn card came the Qh and it gave Schemelev a bigger handle on the pot as he turned a broadway straight, meaning that Grinder could only win with a club, and tie with a jack. And then, WHAM…the 5c on the river hit Mizrachi and completed his flush, and the chip stacks were even again. Schemelev was a single card away from becoming the Players Champion, but he’d have to rebound now as Mizrachi was healthy with 8.8 million chips to Schemelev’s 8.6 million.
That hand titled Schemelev something awful as from that moment on it was all Mizrachi, who elected to either play small pots where he won showdowns, or make large raises that would take down pot after pot. Schemelev’s stack dwindled all the way down to 575k to Mizrachi’s 16.8 million, and finally they got it in, and again Schemelev had the best of it with Q-8 to Mizrachi’s Q-5. But Mizrachi again used some help as he turned a 5 and won the event. The runner up finish gave the Russian a $963,375 pay day and jumpstarted a great run in the WSOP. Schemelev went on to final table another 3 events, finishing in 7th in the $10k Seven Card Stud Championship, 7th in the $10k Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo Championship, and 4th in the $2,500 Razz event. In all, Schemelev walked away with more than $1.1 million in earnings from the Las Vegas series, but he will be remembered as the breakout performer of the 2010 WSOP, and one of the best stories of the year.