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Igor Kurganov is a Russian poker player and a founding member of Raising for Effective Giving.
Igor Kurganov was born in 1988 and has quickly risen to the top of the high roller world. Not much is known about his early life, although he says that his family moved to Germany when he was a child. Like many Russian and German pros, he seemingly came out of nowhere to take the poker world by storm. Despite his meteoric rise, he has been described as well-mannered, calm, and extremely intellectual. To make him even more mysterious, he plays high roller events almost exclusively, leaving behind the smaller buy in tournaments that many pros play in their everyday life.
He didn’t start out that way, even if his rise was relatively quick compared to most others of his generation. His first recorded tournament cash was in Macau at the 2009 $32k high roller on the Asian Poker Tour, where he took home just $13k. It wasn’t until 2011 that he captured a six figure cash. At EPT Madrid he came in second to Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier for a cash of $182k. Since then, it has been normal for him to make large cashes and has several seven figures to his resume. In 2012 he won the high roller event at EPT Monte Carlo and pocketed $1.4 million, his first million dollar cash. 2013 brought several large paychecks, including two at the Aussie Millions alone, where he took home $290k and $527k in two different $25k buy in tournaments.
He is first on Russia’s all time money list, due in large part to EPT events. In total, he has amassed nearly $10 million in tournament earnings, in addition to being a feared cash game opponent.
A large proponent of charitable giving, Kurganov is one of the founders of REG, or Raising for Effective Giving, a charity that partners with poker players to pledge a percentage of their income to finding efficient ways of helping solve global problems. He had a public disagreement with Dan Coleman in 2014 after Coleman refused to give interviews for the Big One For One Drop because of his perceived harmful effects of poker. Dan Coleman said he did not want to do anything that would promote the game of poker to people who might not otherwise have been playing. Kurganov argued that it is their poker playing that allows them to help other people, even though there are some people who become addicted. To him, the good that they do outweighs the chances that someone’s life will be harmed by poker.
He lives in London and can frequently be seen playing in the European Poker Tour alongside his long time girlfriend Liv Boeree, who is also a feared tournament player and a member of REG. He is also a fan of the Burning Man festival, and takes part in a camp that features many other high rolling pros.
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