Russia has been a long-standing breeding ground for some of online poker’s most decorated grinders. World-class pros including Timofey ‘trueteller’ Kuznetsov, Artur marathur1′ Martirosyan, and Arsenii ‘hellohellohello’ Malinov may not have high-profile name recognition in the Western world, but they do have an immense amount of respect from online grinders around the globe.
That said, Moscow’s Anatoly Filatov enjoys it all. As one of the most popular players to ever emerge from Russia, Filatov has spent his career as a poker ambassador, currently representing GGPoker, and has amassed millions in tournament earnings – both live and online – making him one of the most all-around successful players in the game today.
Filatov’s career spans back nearly 13 years when he started grinding micro-stakes tournaments on PokerStars. By 2012 he was a regular in the mid-stakes and over the next couple of years, he progressed into playing some of online poker’s biggest buy-ins. Today he’s a PokerStars WCOOP, SCOOP, and Winter Series champion, a partypoker POWERFEST winner, and has taken down GGPoker WSOP Circuit High Rollers. But even with all of his prior success, this past year has been his most successful to date with the top three scores of his entire online career taking place in the past 12 months. Not only has it kept Filatov as a perennial member of the top 20 in the Online Poker Rankings, but it has also propelled him to more than $10 million in career online cashes.
His latest achievement was winning the June 1 edition of the GGPoker Super MILLION$, a tournament he’d been grinding for the better part of the year. Filatov bested a final table that included Bruno ‘brunovolks’ Volkmann, David Peters, Isaac Haxton, and two-time Super MILLION$ champ Joakim Andersson to take home the $325,957 first-place prize. It’s a tournament that he says he can get excited about.
“I just like big tournaments with sweet prize pools,” Filatov said about the Super MILLION$. “I made two final tables before, finishing in sixth and ninth place…on the first hand. I also had around three to four top sixteen’s, so I wasn’t satisfied at all. The win was great, it’s just one of the regular tournaments that I play so I keep working. But this win…it’s just the first step.”
According to Filatov, hard work is what it takes to remain competitive at the stakes he plays where he routinely battles against the best in the world. This year, that work has paid off and his results have proven that. In addition to his victory in the Super MILLION$, Filatov grabbed a third-place finish in the GGPoker High Roller Week Event #23 ($25,500 Super High Roller) for $303,699 and picked up a bronze finish n last year’s WSOP Online Event #48 ($1,500 Millionaire Maker) for his current career-high cash of $772,251. Those top three scores alone account for more than $1.4 million in earnings. Even though he’s enjoying some of the biggest results of his career, Filatov admits he can’t remain complacent if he wants to continue to compete.
“I have to work on my game, but I think it’s still not enough,” Filatov said. “Variance is so high at these limits and it’s difficult to define if you really beat the field or not. The streaks are big.”
Over the past year, he spent half his time in Estonia grinding while “isolated and tried to avoid unnecessary contacts”. Not an easy way to spend the year for a player known for his energy, enthusiasm, and style at the live tables. Now he’s back in Moscow, preparing for another run at an international online WSOP series, dreaming of what it would mean to earn his first bracelet. When talk turns to the live WSOP in Las Vegas, a trip he’s made since back in 2012, his enthusiasm for the series is held back by the challenges of getting there this year.
“I would love to [return to the WSOP]! I would love to go to Las Vegas, especially without July’s heat, but chances are low because my visa to the U.S. is expired.”
So, for now, Filatov will try to expand on his career-year continuing to grind online. He’s currently ranked #12 in the world and has, for the better part, been a part of the top 10, reaching as high as #9.
“I never really tried to achieve an online ranking,” he said. “And I don’t grind that much to be competitive with great players like Lena [Niklas Astedt], €uropean [Samuel Vousden], or Yuri [Yuri Martins Dzivielevski].”
While many elite players will use the online rankings as motivation, for Filatov the game (and rewards that come with it) is motivation enough.