Eugene Katchalov Pledges WSOP Winnings to Help Ukraine After Fleeing Warzone

10 months ago
Eugene Katchalov Pledges WSOP Winnings to Help Ukraine After Fleeing Warzone
27 May

Former poker pro Eugene Katchalov, who fled Ukraine when Russia invaded, will return to the felt at this summer’s WSOP with a pledge to donate a share of his winnings to charities aiding his war-stricken homeland.

Katchalov, Ukraine’s winningest player with more than $9.2million in live tournament career earnings, tweeted his entire escape from the advancing Russian army – he and his wife part of a convoy fleeing the warzone.

The cat-and-mouse game of avoiding enemy military offensives and clearing security checkpoints ended with his arrival in Hungary.

Now the 41-year-old is Vegas bound, planning to test his poker skills once again, with a portion of whatever he picks up at the World Series of Poker going to help those still stuck in his homeland.

A US citizen since 1991, Katchalov retired from the game in 2018, his interest moving to the eSports arena and QIash, the eSports media company he helped found with fellow former poker pro Luca Pagano.

His return to the felt will see him play the Main Event as well as a number of other events, mostly focusing on mixed games. Katchalov told Pocket Fives’ Paul Seaton:

“I still feel like my NLHE edge is good, but in terms of mixed games, the game hasn’t advanced as much.”

With a plan to play “mostly limit games”, he will also have a go at the $10k Main Event – “a special event,” says Katchalov, which he thinks “could reach record numbers” this year.

The charity aspect came after he and business partner Pagano did something similar through Qlash, Katchalov revealing:

“At this point, we’ve raised over $200,000 which is quite amazing. I just want to keep that going.” 

He explained to Seaton:

“Money can go through many different hands, so a big portion of my effort has been trying to help people I know who are on the ground. I’ve been working with different kitchens who are cooking food for soldiers and people. There’s a lot of money pouring in, but its stuck and food and clothes aren’t coming in – it’s about logistics. My plan is to donate at least 10% to Ukrainian charities and PokerMatch will be donating their full share to the same charity. I feel like my poker game is up there and I’m ready for any result.”
Katchalov also plans to sell action on Pocket Fives allowing his fans and those looking to have a sweat with a good cause at the end of it to join in.

“I’ve never sold pieces in public before,” he explained, adding: “ I’m looking forward to it and, hopefully, I can make lots of people some money.”
With the start of the WSOP just days away, there will be many hoping Eugene Katchalov goes on an equally incredible, though much safer run this summer.

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Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more


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