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In early 2019, having become one of the most respected heads-up No Limit Hold’em players in the world across a decade of high stakes online crushing, Kevin Rabichow decided to switch gears and commit his time and energy to live tournaments. Six months later, he finished second in the partypoker Millions Montreal $10K for $484,460. “It was kind of surreal,” Rabichow said from his home in Toronto. “The speed at which I went from being lukewarm on travelling for tournaments to having my phone blowing up with 200 friends all railing me, it was cool. And it was totally foreign to me.” Prior to that score, Rabichow - who is more than a million in profit over two million online hands - was used to a solitary grind and had only experienced the “miserable side” of live tournaments. “I’d reluctantly go to an event, brick everything, then have a drink with other guys who also bricked everything and talk about variance,” he said. But now he’d experienced the amazing side. Now he understood why people loved them and why they were worth dedicating his time to. To date, he’s cashed for more than $2 million in live and online events under the screen names 'KRab42' and 'Barewire'. He had a big year of tournament travel planned for 2020. Then the world shut down. ---- You might be familiar with Rabichow from his work as an Elite Pro at Run It Once. While building his bankroll and earning the respect of his peers in high stakes heads-up no limit, Rabichow was also building a reputation as one of the most sought-after coaches in poker. “I definitely had an influx of coaching work [during lockdown],” he said. “Part of that was natural because of the circumstances and part of that was a deliberate effort to shift more of my attention to coaching.” Like all of us, lockdown presented some challenges within his personal life (“I used to strongly prioritise getting out of the house and seeing people and playing sports”). But he’d made connections on his live poker excursions and with people stuck at home, his phone kept ringing. “A lot of people reached out to me pretty early saying this is a good time for them to work on their strategy and get coaching. By late summer, I had comfortably committed myself to the quality of work with my students rather than my own play.” Coaching comes naturally to Rabichow, who has been doing it on a private basis as far back as 2009. With a competitive schooling background (he went to a top high school before studying Economics at the University of Chicago) he has always been theoretically minded. “Strategy discussion and the theoretical side of things has always been a natural draw for me,” he said. “I think that would have been my place in whatever community I joined. It just happened to be poker.” Rabichow was first exposed to poker in high school after a friend latched on to play money games as a hobby. “We’d meet at my house and play at the weekends,” he told me. “Sometimes we’d meet up to study for school for a few hours then play poker the rest of the night.” Right away he immersed himself in strategy and got caught up in the nuance of how to play well. “I didn’t just play for the sake of fun.” Always methodical, Rabichow remembers a blog post he wrote on a now-defunct platform tracking his results in his $2 home games. “I was taking it so seriously. In retrospect, it’s kind of funny.” When he went to university and roomed with his high school friend, they began playing online poker immediately. If he wasn’t taking care of schoolwork, he was interacting on Two Plus Two and swapping strategies in MSN chat groups. “Back in 2010, if you had a good network, you could move up the heads-up no limit stakes once a month,” Rabichow told me. “The acceleration was so fast, but strategically speaking, we were probably getting better very slowly.” By 2011 he was playing $10/$20 heads up cash on Full Tilt, PokerStars and Absolute Poker, “the three worst sites to be playing on in 2011.” He graduated that year and was moments away from signing a lease on a Chicago apartment that would become his grind station. “I wasn't really looking into jobs or anything at this point. I was so involved in the community and felt pretty good about my strategy and results.” Then Black Friday happened. “I was just about to turn pro when I got a call telling me the sky was falling,” he said. He didn’t sign the lease. He had to reconsider everything. Three months later Rabichow headed to Canada and set up shop in Toronto with friends, their only plan being to play as much online poker as they could. Things really took off. “I took a big financial hit from Black Friday but now I was in a position where I felt I was going to be successful,” he said. “It was like an incubator for accelerating my growth rate. We were exchanging ideas all the time. We played 12-14 hours a day for two years straight. By 2013, I had really hit my stride as a professional player.” He took life strides too. Not content with life behind a desk, Rabichow really made Toronto his home, finding new friendships, falling in love, and forging a new passion in the local Ultimate Frisbee community. All the while he was making heads-up no limit training videos. “When I started playing, lots of people were making heads-up content [Rabichow lists Jay Rosenkrantz and Emil 'Whitelime' Patel as the creators he watched the most], but by 2014 I was pretty much the only one.” A friend suggested he send his videos to Phil Galfond’s training site, Run It Once, who subsequently signed him as an Elite Pro. “They were really supportive of whatever I wanted to make. They're great to work with.” But with so many hours of work required to become successful in poker, burn out is fairly common. When Rabichow felt exhausted, he’d throw himself into ultimate frisbee or daydream about training as a chef. “80% of my YouTube subscriptions are cooking channels,” he said. For a while, tournaments had totally eclipsed cash games in terms of popularity. The format Rabichow had dedicated his career had begun to feel stale to him. “Lobbies were full of people sitting and waiting for a live one,” he said. “When a live one sat down, you’d just clean them out. The edges were massive. They basically had no hope of winning. It became a nasty environment.” Rabichow had never approached heads up from the angle that he wanted to play all of the best players in the world and thus be recognised as the best. “I just wanted to be very proficient and make money,” he said. “But at some point, it stopped being exciting and fulfilling.” Instead, Rabichow wanted to focus on tournaments. That is until 2020 became the year of high profile, stay-at home, heads-up duels. ---- When Rabichow first became known in the heads-up world, one-on-one grudge matches were a weekly occurrence. “It was so common because it was so hard to tell who was better than one another,” he told me. “There was no standard for good play.” These days, the matches are so widely seen thanks to Twitch and YouTube, and so closely scrutinised by viewers, that it creates a sports-like environment, something Rabichow enjoys. “I think heads-up battles with streams and side betting are here to stay. I'm pretty excited about that.” When Doug Polk began training for his match against Daniel Negreanu, Rabichow was one of the players Polk played a session against. The two talked afterwards and Rabichow gave Polk an honest assessment of his play. Rabichow followed the match closely (like much of the poker world, he had wagers on it) and enjoyed the spectacle of it all. “Neither of them has released much content yet, but I was hoping we’d see more around their preparation and the day-to-day work,” he said. “That’s the stuff I’m interested in. How did they prepare? What did they prioritise? What techniques did they use to go from scratch to a top-tier heads-up player? These are extra layers I’d love to see highlighted in future matches like that.” Don’t expect to see Rabichow take part in any grudge matches though. He’ll continue to coach others in heads up, taking on new clients through his website, but his focus will remain firmly on live tournaments when the tours resume safely. “I have no intention of leaving tournaments behind just because of a hiccup in the schedule and availability,” he said. “Everything that was promising about tournaments in 2019 is going to be twice as promising in 2022. Any time I’m not spending on coaching I’m spending on tournament preparation. I just want to be as prepared as possible.” With the majority of the world still on pause, Rabichow has had time to reflect on his incredible career and goals for the future. “I’d like to have a positive impact on the poker industry,” he told me. “I feel compelled to be a voice reason, to be fair, to promote the good things we could be doing.” One of those being Run It Once Poker, the poker room extension of Galfond’s training site. In February 2020, the company announced that Rabichow was to become their first Team Pro. He’s been locked down ever since, but Rabichow seems thrilled with his life in Toronto, the city he’s called home since moving there in his early twenties. His coaching services have never been so in demand. He’s built a great life with his girlfriend. He cooks and imitates YouTube chefs daily, posting the results to his Instagram. He practises Ultimate Frisbee and even coaches others. He only plays poker when he feels like it. “It's not lost on me that I'm ridiculously lucky to live my day-to-day life how I do and actually have an income,” he told me. “In other careers, I might struggle because of my attachment and intense focus. But in poker, it’s perfect.”
After 23 prior attempts, high-stakes cash game pro Alexandros Kolonias finally broke through this week and made the final table of the weekly $10,300 buy-in GGPoker Super MILLION$. A hard-fought battle through a swingy and tough final table helped Kolonias erase all his prior Super MILLION$ frustrations by taking down the tournament and walking away with the $438,733 first-place prize. Although Kolonias entered the final table as the chip leader, his path to victory was anything but straight forward. Week-in and week-out, the Super MILLION$ final table features some of online poker’s strongest players and this week was no different. Samuel ‘€urop€an’ Vousden, Kevin Rabichow, and Michael Addamo all had a seat, and Kolonias’ aggressive style had him losing and re-taking the chip lead multiple times before all was said and done. Vousden who started the day as one of the three shortest stacks, and early in the final table found himself with under five big blinds and in need to double-up. From under the gun, Rabichow put in a raise with [poker card="ad"][poker card="th"] only to be three-bet by Gleb Tremzin in the big blind with [poker card="5s"][poker card="5h"]. Vousden then called off all-in holding [poker card="ks"][poker card="qd"]. After Rabichow folded, the pair watched as the board ran out [poker card="8c"][poker card="3c"][poker card="6h"][poker card="4d"][poker card="td"], shipping the pot to Tremzin’s pocket fives. Vousden’s day ended in ninth place for $54,842. Chips flew for well over an hour before the next elimination. Now with fewer than four big blinds himself, Tremzin opened with [poker card="8s"][poker card="8d"], leaving himself less than a small blind behind. In the small blind, ‘Pluto The Doggo’ called with [poker card="ac"][poker card="2s"] and ‘imjuniar’ came along holding [poker card="jd"][poker card="7c"] in the big blind. The flop came [poker card="kh"][poker card="7h"][poker card="7d"] and ‘Pluto The Doggo’ and ‘imjuniar’ checked it to Tremzin who put in the rest of his stack which was roughly 1/30th of the pot. ‘Pluto The Doggo’ made the call and, having flopped trips, ‘imjuniar’ called as well. The turn was the [poker card="5c"] and when checked to, ‘imjuniar’ put in a small bet which got him heads up against Tremzin. The river was the [poker card="5d"] sending Tremzin out in eighth place for $71,121. The very next hand, Carlos Villamarin raised in early position with [poker card="qc"][poker card="qh"]. It folded to ‘Pluto The Doggo’ on the button who shipped his final 16 big blinds holding [poker card="ad"][poker card="2d"]. It folded back to Villamarin who quickly called. ‘Pluto The Doggo’ flopped a gutshot straight draw to go with his overcard on the [poker card="5c"][poker card="7h"][poker card="4c"] flop but the [poker card="td"] turn and [poker card="9d"] river was of no help and ‘Pluto The Doggo’ hit the rail in seventh place for $92,323. After an early position raise from Addamo with [poker card="as"][poker card="kc"] the action folded to ‘imjuniar’ in the big blind holding [poker card="9d"][poker card="9h"] with fewer than 10 big blinds. ‘imjuniar’ shipped his stack, Addamo snap-called, and the pair watched as the board ran out [poker card="kh"][poker card="6d"][poker card="5c"][poker card="qh"][poker card="8d"]. Addamo took down the pot with his pair of kings and ‘imjuniar’ laddered to sixth place which was good for $119,610. With five left, Rabichow put in a nearly 10 big blind big raise under the gun with [poker card="ac"][poker card="jd"], leaving himself with roughly five bigs behind. EPT Barcelona High Roller champion Juan Pardo Dominguez made the call on the button with [poker card="8c"][poker card="8s"], also leaving himself just a few big blinds behind. The action went check-check on the [poker card="ah"][poker card="3h"][poker card="kc"] flop. The turn was the [poker card="2c"] and Rabichow moved all-in with top pair. Dominguez took some time but eventually made the call with his dominated pocket eights. Down to two outs, Dominguez saw his tournament end in fifth place when the [poker card="7d"] fell on the river. Pardo collected $155,116 for the deep run. Addamo started the day as the short stack, but through a series of hands was able to rise up the leaderboard throughout the day. With four players left, it looked like he found another spot to put himself in position to make another run at a Super MILLION$ title. Folded to Kolonias in the small blind, the chip leader open-shoved with [poker card="ad"][poker card="6h"]. It was a quick call by Addamo in the big blind who had Kolonias dominated with his [poker card="ah"][poker card="tc"]. The [poker card="qc"][poker card="7d"][poker card="4c"] flop kept Addamo in the lead, but everything changed when the [poker card="6c"] hit the turn. Addamo’s day concluded when the [poker card="7h"] came on the river. While Addamo didn’t win another Super MILLION$ this week, his $201,160 fourth-place prize put him back top the Super MILLION$ Top Earners list. For a decent stretch of the tournament, Rabichow had been in the lower half of the chip counts. But with three left, the chip stacks evened out and he found himself back in the thick of it. After Kolonias put in a raise on the button, Rabichow defended his [poker card="5h"][poker card="4h"] in the big blind. The flop came [poker card="6h"][poker card="kh"][poker card="ks"] giving Rabichow a flush draw. Unfortunately for him, Kolonias was sitting on [poker card="kd"][poker card="kc"] for flopped quads. Rabichow checked and Kolonias min-bet the quads. Rabichow check-raised and Kolonias just called. The turn was the [poker card="7s"] adding a worthless open-ended straight draw to go with Rabichow's perceived flush outs. Rabichow checked, Kolonias put in a bet and Rabichow thought about it and decided to shove all-in. Kolonias made the quick call with Rabichow drawing dead. Rabichow earned $260,872 for third place plus a little needle on the way out as the meaningless [poker card="ah"] hit the river. Heads-up play between Kolonias and Villamarin had the pair passing the chip lead back and forth. When the final hand of the tournament was dealt the pair had virtually even chip stacks with Kolonias holding just a slim advantage. Villamarin called on the button with [poker card="jc"][poker card="td"] and Kolonias put in a raise from the big blind with [poker card="jh"][poker card="js"]. Villamarin made the call and the flop came [poker card="ts"][poker card="5h"][poker card="3s"]. Kolonias bet out and, with no time bank left, Villamarin moved all-in with top pair. Kolonias called with the overpair which held through the [poker card="kh"] turn and [poker card="ac"] river. Villamarin collected $338,310 as the runner-up and in his 24th appearance in the GGPoker Super MILLION$, Kolonias took home the title and $438,733 for first. Super MILLION$ Final Table Results (1/12) 1. Alexandros Kolonias - $438,733 2. Carlos Villamarin - $338,310 3. Kevin Rabichow - $260,872 4. Michael Addamo - $201,160 5. Juan Pardo Dominguez - $155,116 6. ‘imjuniar’ - $119,610 7. ‘Pluto The Doggo’ - $92,232 8. Gleb Tremzin - $71,121 9. Samuel Vousden - $54,842
Francois Billard has had a lot of success at the Playground Poker Club in Montreal over the course of his career, but Sunday night the Canadian poker pro put an exclamation point on all of them by winning the partypoker MILLIONS North America Main Event for a career-best $715,414 score. It took just 14 hands for Kevin Rabichow, who started the day as the chip leader, to pick off one of the shorter stacks. With blinds of 800,000/1,600,000, Rabichow opened from UTG for 3,200,000 and Danick Landriault defended his big blind. After a flop of [poker card="qs"][poker card="8c"][poker card="5c"], Landriault check-called Rabichow's bet of 2,400,000. The [poker card="2h"] turn saw Landriault check again before Rabichow moved all in. Landriault called and showed [poker card="ac"][poker card="8s"] which put him behind Rabichow's [poker card="qd"][poker card="jc"]. The [poker card="3c"] river was no help for Landriault and he was out in sixth. It took almost six hours before the next player was sent out. Action folded to Billard on the button and he moved all in. Alexandros Kolonias folded his small blind but Paul Fontan called all in from the big blind. Billard turned over [poker card="jc"][poker card="4c"] and Fontan showed [poker card="qh"][poker card="7h"]. The [poker card="js"][poker card="9c"][poker card="6h"] flop gave Billard the lead and neither the [poker card="td"][ turn or [poker card="2c"] river were able to save Fontan from a fifth place result. Two hours later, Rabichow found another victim. From UTG, Rabichow raised to 7,000,000 and Kolonias called from the big blind. The flop [poker card="tc"][poker card="9d"][poker card="4h"] flop got both players to check. Kolonias checked again after the [poker card="ts"] flop, but Rabichow bet 5,500,000 and Kolonias called. The river was the [poker card="qc"] and Kolonias checked again. Rabichow shoved all in and Kolinias called and showed [poker card="9s"][poker card="6c"] but lost to Rabichow's [poker card="ac"][poker card="qh"] for a fourth place finish. The final three players played for a while before coming to an agreement on an ICM chop. Francois Billard - $557,278 Joni Jouhkimainen - $434,063 Kevin Rabichow - $430,848 The players agree to leave $158,003 on the table for the eventual champion. Despite the deal, the final three players played for three hours before the next elimination. After Rabichow folded his button, Jouhkimainen moved all in from the small blind and Billard called from the big blind. Jouhkimainen tabled [poker card="qc"][poker card="6c"] while Billard showed [poker card="ad"][poker card="jc"]. The board ran out [poker card="8c"][poker card="3d"][poker card="2h"][poker card="4c"][poker card="7d"] to send Jouhkimainen's day in third position. Heads-up play started with Billard holding a 2.7-1 lead over Rabichow and it took just over an hour for Billard to finish him off. On the final hand, Rabichow raised to 12,000,0000 and Billard clicked back for 42,000,000. Rabichow called to see a flop of [poker card="kd"][poker card="9c"][poker card="8s"]. Billard bet 26,000,000 and Rabichow called. The [poker card="th"] turn was good enough to get Billard to move all in and Rabichow called. Billard showed [poker card="ts"][poker card="9d"] for a turned two pair while Rabichow tabled [poker card="jh"][poker card="td"] for second pair and an open-ender. The river was the [poker card="6d"] and Billard eliminated Rabichow to win the partypoker MILLIONS Main Event. Final Table Payouts Francois Billard - $715,414 Kevin Rabichow - $430,848 Joni Jouhkimainen - $434,063 Alexandros Kolonias - $275,331 Paul Fontan - $223,241 Danick Landriault - $186,035 Ben Heath - $148,828 Ruben Perceval - $111,621
The final table of the World Poker Tour Rolling Thunder stop was not hurting for storylines before play began on Tuesday afternoon. Defending champion Erkut Yilmaz had a shot at going back-to-back. Jake Schwartz had another shot at his first WPT title at his sixth final table. Robert Heidorn, who bubbled the 2019 WSOP Main Event final table, was hoping for a small piece of redemption. Tony Tran was hoping to win his second WPT title in just over 18 months. One of those came true, but it came with a twist that M. Night Shyamalan would have been proud of. [ptable zone=“888poker”][ptable zone=“Party Poker NJ”][ptable zone=“Global Poker Article Ad”] When Tran won his first WPT title at the bestbet Bounty Scramble in October 2018, he finished it off by beating Schwartz heads-up. Tuesday night he got heads-up with Schwartz again and once again he beat him. It was the first time in WPT history that the final two players in an event had already battled heads-up in another tournament. Tran started the final table with the shortest stack, but Shankar Pillai was right there with him. Neither player was able to gain much traction until the two players clashed in an all-in preflop pot. Tran opened from the hijack to 65,000 and Yilmaz called from the cutoff. Down to just 19 big blinds, Pillai moved all-in for 565,000 before Tran moved all-in for 655,000 forcing Yilmaz to fold. Pillai turned over [poker card="7c"][poker card="7s"] which put him well behind Tran's [poker card="kc"][poker card="ks"]. The board ran out [poker card="9d"][poker card="4s"][poker card="3c"][poker card="qs"][poker card="9s"] to send Pillai out in sixth place and nearly double Tran's stack. Tran continued to build and doubled through Yilmaz. Another 19 hands after that, Tran sent the defending champion to the rail. Action folded to Tran in the small blind and he moved all in with [poker card="8d"][poker card="7d"] before Yilmaz called off his last nine big blinds with [poker card="9c"][poker card="5c"]. The board ran out [poker card="6h"][poker card="6s"][poker card="3s"][poker card="7s"][poker card="kd"] to give Tran a pair of sevens to eliminate Yilmaz in fifth. Four-handed play continued for 51 hands without an elimination before Tran found yet another victim. Kevin Rabichow moved all-in from the button for 1,175,000 and Tran called from the big blind. Rabichow showed [poker card="kc"][poker card="4c"] before Tran turned over [poker card="ac"][poker card="jc"]. The [poker card="qd"][poker card="qh"][poker card="jh"] flop cut Rabichow's chances down even further. The [poker card="9c"] turn gave him an extra out but the [poker card="jd"] river finished him off for good in fourth. Just a few moments later, Tran once again ended another player's run. Heirdon moved all-in for 1,625,000 and Tran called from the big blind. Heirdon showed [poker card="2d"][poker card="2h"] but was behind Tran's [poker card="td"][poker card="ts"]. Heirdon found no help through the [poker card="ad"][poker card="8d"][poker card="8s"][poker card="3h"][poker card="4d"] runout and was eliminated in third. Thanks to his work eliminating the other four opponentns, Tran began heads-up play with a nearly 4-1 chip lead over Schwartz. It took 30 hands for Tran to finish Schwartz off to win his second WPT title. On the final hand, Tran raised to 250,000 before Schwartz moved all-in for 1,350,000 and Tran called. Schwartz showed [poker card="jh"][poker card="th"] but found himself dominated by Tran's [poker card="qc"][poker card="ts"]. Tran made gin on the [poker card="jd"][poker card="9d"][poker card="8c"] flop and Schwartz was unable to catch any of the three remaining queens to stay alive and was eliminated, giving Tran another WPT title and $279,270 including a seat in the WPT Tournament of Champions in late May. WPT Rolling Thunder Final Table Payouts Tony Tran - $279,270 Jake Schwartz - $177,680 Robert Heidorn - $122,105 Kevin Rabichow - $85,800 Erkut Yilmaz - $61,685 Shankar Pillai - $45,390