Vitaliy Lunkin

A former Backgammon and Renju professional, Vitaly Lunkin made his way into poker in 2003.

A former Backgammon and Renju professional, Vitaly Lunkin made his way into poker in 2003, when he made his first poker score in a Pot Limit Omaha event at the Moscow Open. As a youngster, Vitaly was an avid games player, and for many years played the Japanese game of Ranju (similar to Go) at the highest levels, even participating in the World Championship. After 2003, the Moscow resident participated in many poker tournaments, but mostly at the local level, playing for relatively small amounts of money, but still big compared to his Backgammon and Ranju careers. It took three years for Vitaly Lunkin to make his first WSOP cash, when he came 829th at the WSOP main event in 2006. The next year Vitaly would cash a $10k Main Event at the Moscow Millions, but it was not until 2008 WSOP that he made a lasting impact on the poker scene. It was at this series that Lunkin won his first WSOP gold bracelet, together with $629,417 prize money, finishing first in the $1,500 Limit Hold'em event. The next year was even bigger for the Russian national. He would first win a Russian Poker Tour Main Event in Moscow, for over $400,000, and would then proceed to win his second bracelet the same summer. The bracelet came as a result of besting a star-studded final table of a $40,000 buyin event, organized for WSOP 40th anniversary, which included the likes of Isaac Haxton, Greg Raymer and Justin Bonomo. Vitaly came out on top and won the $1.89 million prize and his second WSOP bracelet. He then went on to make the final tables of two additional tournaments at the 2009 WSOP, coming 2nd and 4th in PLO and H.O.R.S.E. events. The next several years were relatively quiet in his career, but he still managed to final table several events including the 2011 $1.5k WSOP Shootout event and a 2010 €1k EPT Prague side event. In 2013 Vitaly won the EPT Barcelona Super High Roller event for over $1 million, once again proving that he can battle the world's best, as this final table was packed with great young poker talents, as well as poker legend and hall of fame inductee Erik Seidel. With over $5.5 million in winnings, the 38 year old currently stands as the third best all time tournament winner from Russia, just behind Ivan Demidov and Igor Kurganov. He also ranks an impressive 19th in the European All Time Money List. His outstanding poker results still don't prevent Vitaly Lunkin from spending a considerable amount of time in his native Moscow, with his wife and two children. Prior to 2009 he also worked as a poker coach in Moscow, but since the Russian government made poker illegal in the country, that line of work was taken from him.
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