Nikolay ‘NikolasDLP’ Prokhorskiy: A Hearthstone Legend


Online poker pro Nikolay ‘NikolasDLP’ Prokhorskiy has obtained Legend status in Hearthstone.

“I’ll never stop enjoying it and learning new things about it.” Those were Daniel Negreanu’s comments to ESPN about an online card game called Hearthstone, one that several high-profile poker pros have begun playing.

Hearthstone has only been around for just over two years, yet has captured the hearts and minds of many in the poker industry, including Nikolay ‘NikolasDLP’ Prokhorskiy. On top of a burgeoning poker career and a love for Hearthstone, he also must find time for a daughter and a wife.

“It took more than a year for me to learn Hearthstone to a point where I was good enough,” he said. “In February, I had a hot run in Hearthstone. I moved from Rank 6 to Legend in two days. I’m not a professional player at Hearthstone by any means, so I’m very happy about this achievement.”

He said his 48-hour heater in Hearthstone was due to a combination of a run of cards, learning a few new tricks about his decks, and an improvement in his overall skill level. That probably sounds quite familiar to poker players everywhere.

Prokhorskiy, who calls Russia home, won the PartyPoker High Roller on March 6 for $32,000, defeating a field of 347 entrants in the $530 buy-in tournament. It was his fifth largest online score to date and came a year-and-a-half after he won his second WCOOP bracelet in a $700 No Limit Hold’em event for over $350,000. Still, games like Hearthstone are fresh and uncharted, allowing him to experience their ups and downs for the first time like a kid in a candy store.

“It’s funny,” the Russian said. “Getting Legend in Hearthstone was a more joyful moment than winning the High Roller on PartyPoker. I think it’s because in poker I have already proven everything to myself, unlike in Hearthstone.”

In poker, he’s up to $1.6 million in career online tournament winnings and is the #1 ranked player in the Russian oblast of Tambovskaya.

A person’s Hearthstone status is reset every month, so just because someone reaches Legend one month doesn’t mean he’ll have the same fate one month later.

“That’s why professional players and amateurs have to compete every month if they want to reach Legend,” he said. “This game is more addictive than poker, so I encourage anyone out there who hasn’t tried it to do so.”

If you’re reading this article and are thinking to yourself, “I want to drop poker immediately and play Hearthstone,” think again. Sure, players like Prokhorskiy, Negreanu, and Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier have had success in it, and there’s a Hearthstone Championship Tour that awards a $1 million prize pool, but that doesn’t mean there are heaps of money to be had… yet.

“You don’t get any real benefits for being Legend, unless you’re a top 10 legend player,” the Russian player said. “If you are, you have a chance to get into a freeroll with good prizes.”

When he logged into Hearthstone’s EU server, there were between 8,000 and 9,000 Legend players out of 20 million accounts.

Prokhorskiy got involved in poker through fellow Russian ‘prz68‘, who invited him to a low-stakes cash game where he got cleaned out – for $25.

“After that, I started to learn a lot about poker, read books, and look at articles on the internet,” he said. “The same friend told me about Hearthstone. He said it would be a new game from Blizzard like Magic: The Gathering and I got interested and started playing it.”

In the same ESPN interview, Negreanu said poker concepts like bluffing and psychology are applicable to Hearthstone. In fact, ‘Kid Poker’ found out about the game from poker players at EPT Monte Carlo.

Similarly, Prokhorskiy seemed to have a leg up on the competition in Hearthstone from the get-go due to his background in poker.

“Hearthstone is a game with incomplete information, like poker, so these games have much in common,” he said. “For example, after you play poker, the variance in Hearthstone does not seem as harsh as it would be for other people who aren’t as prepared as poker players are.”

For the time being, Hearthstone is simply a hobby, a diversion from the daily routine of playing poker and managing a family. His wife, his wife’s parents, and his parents all help with child care, so he generally has enough time to play poker as needed.

“My ego doesn’t allow me to play low levels,” he said. “That’s why I prefer to play high-stakes in Hearthstone instead of playing a hyper-turbo heads-up poker game for $1,000. Besides, Hearthstone is good exercise for your brain.”