The year 2008 was a turning point in the history of the World Series of Poker, as it was the first in which the final table of the Main Event was delayed until November. The winner of that year’s WSOP Main Event was Peter Eastgate, who nabbed a first prize of over $9 million. The runner-up in a fantastic heads-up match was Russia’s Ivan Demidov (pictured), who despite likely being disappointed that he came up one spot short of the bracelet, received a consolation prize of $5.8 million.
Or did he?
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According to an interview with All In Magazine, Demidov never received his windfall. It does not appear that it was the fault of Caesars or the World Series of Poker, though, but rather a raw deal with a backer.
Demidov did not give any details as to the situation, simply saying, “That second place has changed my life completely, but not because of the money I won, as I haven’t received any. That’s a long and dark story, but basically my backer did not pay me and I ended up not getting any prize money.”
He mentioned the problems in an article in Poker Player Magazine in August 2009, but again did not say exactly what the conflict was with his backer. He did give some insight into the staking arrangement, though.
As he was climbing the online poker ranks in 2007, he impressed a high-stakes Russian poker player who offered to back Demidov. In the deal,the backer would pay for all expenses and receive an 80% cut of Demidov’s winnings in return. Not the best deal for Demidov, by any means, but as he said, “It’s probably worse than average, but in Russia you either take this deal or have no deal at all. I always dreamed of going to Las Vegas to play in those big events. so I said yes straight away.”
In his first trip to Las Vegas in 2007, he lost $150,000 of his sponsor’s money and proceeded to take a break from poker for several months. He figured that was the end of the staking deal, but when he was ready to play again, the unnamed benefactor called him up and told him to get ready to play in the 2008 WSOP.
Demidov still didn’t do well at the WSOP, winning only $40,000 in the events leading up to the Main Event, but of course his fortunes turned dramatically in the big one. In the article, he again said that he was having problems with his backer, but at that point, he probably didn’t expect the issues to last as long as they had.
Demidov was the man of the end of 2008, as he also finished third in the WSOP Europe Main Event, cashing for over $600,000. Of course, he was probably in that same staking arrangement, since the WSOP Europe took place before the November Nine.
Fast-forward to today and despite not having seen any of his winnings from the 2008 WSOP Main Event, Demidov appears happy. “I was contracted by PokerStarsand was able to open a popular website in Russia, all that thanks to my second place finish,” he told All In. “That gave me the bankroll and freedom to play what I want and to do what I want. And that’s what I always dreamed of.”