Dominant Display Makes Maksim Sekretarev WPT Russia Champion

Some might not have thought it possible, but the WPT crowned a new champion in 2021 and, against the odds, it happened in a live setting.

Maksim Sekretarev WPT win

Maksim Sekretarev is the WPT Russia Main Event champion after a dominant display at Casino Sochi. (Image: WPT/Oleg ParaMon)

Despite many parts of Europe being under lockdown restrictions, Russia’s Casino Sochi was open for business last week.

Masks were on display throughout the WPT Russia Main Event, but when the final chip fell, winner Maksim Sekretarev was able to lower his and raise a smile.

Locals turn out in force for live WPT main event

There was a distinctly local vibe in the ₽245,000/$3,328 main event. Due to travel restrictions across Europe, the 251 entrants were mainly from Russia and nearby countries like Serbia.

While COVID-19 issues meant WPT Russia wasn’t as popular as it could have been, hosting a live event in the current climate is a feat in itself.

Unlike in Australia, where a WPT League event recently went down without any restrictions, Russia still has some safety precautions in place. That didn’t dampen the spirits of those who anted up at Casino Sochi, however.

Sekretarev seized his opportunity to become a WPT champion under trying conditions on a fast-paced final day. He’d dominated the action leading up to Sunday’s finale, and didn’t let off.

Within four hours of play, he’d torn through the final six and clinched his first live title.

The fact that Sekretarev eliminated each finalist is impressive. The fact he built a dominant a stack with three left made his demolition job all the more remarkable.

Sekretarev flip flops to victory

Sekretarev’s fall and subsequent resurgence hinged on a classic coin flip. He moved all-in with A♥ Q♦ over the top of Ravil Khamatgareev’s raise.

Khamatgareev put his stack on the line with pocket jacks and probably wished he hadn’t after the flop ran out Q♥ 3♣ 2♠. Things didn’t get any better on the turn and river as the 9♣ and 8♣ brought the hand to an end.

That pot gave Sekretarev a commanding lead over Andrey Volkov. The deficit at the start of heads-up play was almost 4:1, and it took Sekretarev just four hands to get things done.

The final hand saw everyone miss the board, but Sekretarev’s K♥ Q♣ scooped the pot over Volkov’s 10♦ 8♦.

WPT Russia Main Event Result

  1. Maksim Sekretarev – $160,694
  2. Andrey Volkov – $107,135
  3. Ravil Khamatgareev – $78,232
  4. Vladimir Bozinovic – $57,942
  5. Vanush Mnatsakanyan – $43,530
  6. Sergey Bobrik – $33,183

With the final hand played and everyone cleared from the tournament area, Sekretarev was allowed to drop his mask and pose for pictures.

The win is one he’ll remember for a long time to come. However, it also symbolizes the gradual return of live poker tournaments in Europe. Although parts of the US and Australia are getting back to business, countries such as the UK are still on national lockdown orders.

However, with more winners popping up around the world, it’s a sign that things are gradually getting back to normal.

Written by
Daniel Smyth
Dan Smyth is a poker media journeyman who politely reminds CardsChat readers that poker is played all around the world, not just America.

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