PCA 2019: The Continuing Education of Dragos Trofimov

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Platinum Pass winner Dragos Trofimov's PCA journey extended well beyond just playing the $25K.

The remaining field in Day 2 of the 2019 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event is streaming out the door on a twenty minutes break while Platinum Pass winner Dragos Trofimov contemplates his current spot.

From the small blind and facing an all-in, he takes a moment – not too long – and reshoves all-in himself. Once the big blind gets out of the way, Trofimov flips over pocket kings having his opponent’s pocket jacks in serious trouble.

Seconds later, after his hand holds up, Trofimov is adding to his already healthy Main Event chip stack.

“That’s a nice way to go into the break,” Trofimov said.

But it’s not just his chip stack that he’s adding to. With every pot he plays, Trofimov is adding to his incredible 2019 PCA journey, one that has taken this 25-year old University student from studying pharmaceuticals to playing in some of the biggest live tournaments in the world in just under two years time.

“A year and a half ago I won a big satellite for the PCA Main last year [2018] and that kind of propelled me into giving poker more of a serious try,” he said.

He attended the 2018 PCA and that was when PokerStars announced the PokerStars NL Hold’em Players Championship.

“Straight after that, the Platinum Pass was announced and I looked into the whole schedule of live small tourneys to see where they would be up for grabs. Lucky enough in January there was a PokerStars London Festival and I went there with a couple friends. They took a piece of me just to make sure that I was able to play every event that awarded one of them.”

One of those events was a £2,200 High Roller which awarded both a Platinum Pass and £74,990 for first.

“I was lucky enough to win the £2K High Roller. I was very, very fortunate,” he said of his third recorded live cash. “That gave me a bit of leeway into bigger tournaments and into live tournaments.”

With some early success and a year to prepare for the PSPC, Trofimov took a short hiatus from school to prepare. He wanted to come back to the Bahamas as ready-to-go as possible. Trofimov took the time to test his skill in festivals near his home of Moldova. He posted results at EPT Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Prague before heading back to the PCA to chase his Platinum dream.

And when that time came…Trofimov did not cash.

But Trofimov’s time away from his pharmaceutical studies was spent learning the ins-and-outs of the poker world and he was prepared to keep playing at the PCA. Over that year, he made new friends in the game, was able to sell pieces and build himself a schedule beyond the PSPC. The next thing he knew – Dragos was making a deep run in the 2019 PCA National.

“The whole last three tables were very, very stacked. Lots of players I recognized, lots of big names,” Trofimov said referring to the likes of Chino Rheem, Leo Margets, Jack Sinclair and Conor Beresford. “The final table itself was jammed. I ran well. The start of the final table I got a super set-up against Ole Schemion with nines against eights. Top boat against second boat for infinite. That pretty much helped me navigate my way through three handed.”

Eventually, Trofimov ran into a spot against eventual winner Schemion that eliminated him in third place for over $63,000.

“It’s a very fortunate journey for me. I’ll be honest when I first gave it a try my goal just to play one or two $1Ks. That was my goal. I wanted to go to Barcelona and play the $1K National with 3,000 runners and hope for that bink. That was my end goal.

“It’s actually nice because the story is repeating. I am, again, having a very great start to the year as I did last year. So, hopefully, I’ll keep up the momentum. I have a good stack in the Main and I’ll try my best to make it to the money and see what happens,” he said.

Despite all his promising results over the past year, earning just over $245,000, Trofimov insists that all of this poker is just a little sidebar to what his future holds.

“I do plan to pursue my degree mostly because my family owns a pharmacy and it’s a good business. They worked hard for it and I don’t want to let them down. I want to inherit the business going forward and still, once I finish my degree, I’ll have a lot of free time to keep playing more as a part-time thing,” he said. “I’m still a student, I’m not a professional poker player.”