Summers in the Ukraine aren’t bad. They’re not great either. Highs of 80 degrees fahrenheit in July and August is comfortable, but it’s not exactly vacation-worthy. So when the World Series of Poker announced there would be 54 WSOP bracelets available to be won on GGPoker, Dmytro Bystrovzorov decided to take a working vacation to Mexico.
Bystrovzorov and his girlfriend made the nearly 7,000 mile trip from their native Gorlovka to Mexico in part because the weather is so nice, but also because it was an optimal choice to grind as many WSOP events as possible.
“I stayed in Mexico for about two weeks. I chose Mexico because of the best time zone for tournament players and the great climate,” Bystrovzorov said. “There are also many activities and attractions here. I enjoy traveling and discovering places and different people.”
The decision paid off handsomely for the 32 year old poker pro, and it has nothing to do with getting a great tan that could last well into the fall. Bystrovzorov won Event #65 ($600 NLHE Deepstack Championship) for $227,906 and the first gold bracelet of his poker career.
The trip didn’t start off great for the couple though. After their flight into Frankfurt arrived later than expected, the suddenly found themselves living in a Tom Hanks movie and it has nothing to do with a box of chocolates, a Shrimp boat business, or ping pong diplomacy.
“It turned out that our flight to Mexico was boarding at the far end of this huge airport. Plus we needed additional time for security checks. As a result, we missed our flight,” Bystrovzorov said. “The next flight to Mexico City was three days later. We could not leave the international area of the airport due to COVID restrictions. So we stayed at the airport for three days.”
During their time living out – and out of – The Terminal, Bystrovzorov did get in some time at the tables. That’s why the flag on his GGPoker avatar is German, not Ukrainian. Whether it’s from his house in the small eastern Ukrainian town he calls home, or the Mexican resort he won his bracelet from, Bystrovzorov has had quite a journey thanks to poker.
He was first dealt cards in 2008, playing the game with some friends, but it wasn’t until 2012 that he started to take the game seriously. He was making money playing low-mid-stakes MTTs online before finding a poker school in 2018 that changed everything for the better.
“The biggest boost in my poker skills came from the coaches at FunFarm poker school that I joined in 2018. Went from low to high stakes in a little over year and in 2020 I started to learn strategy in a group with high stakes regulars with coach Aleksei Vandyshev,” Bystrovzorov said. “In 2020, I started playing $500-$600 and some $1,000 buy-in tournaments.”
While the 2020 WSOP featured players winning the first bracelet for their homeland, Bystrovzorov was the eighth player from the Ukraine to take home poker’s most highly sought-after prize. He knows the Ukrainian poker scene is full of talented players and believes that a lack of good-paying jobs for young people is the reason why.
“Ukraine has a good level of education, but a low average level of salaries,” Bystrovzorov said. “This pushes young people to look for alternative sources of income, and many find themselves in poker. Poker gives an opportunity to earn money to anyone who puts in enough effort and time.”
The average salary in the Ukraine is a little less than $10,000. Winning almost 250 times that in a single poker tournament is bound to lead to some lifestyle changes, but Bystrovzorov, who says he loves fast cars, isn’t going to go on a spending spree anytime soon.
“I don’t plan to spend yet. The most common thing that kills poker players I overspending, so I like to keep expenses low in my daily life, but spend more on my hobbies several times a year,” Bystrovzorov said.
Whether he simply tucks the winnings away in a bank account, increases his bankroll so he is properly rolled for higher stakes tournaments, or spends some of the money on other trips around the world with his girlfriend, Bystrovzorov has one thing that will never go away: the bracelet.
“I play mostly online tournaments, there are not many opportunities to win real trophies. The WSOP gold bracelet is the most recognized trophy in poker and it stays with me forever as a memory of my years as a professional poker player,” Bystrovzorov said.