History of Poker in the Ukraine
While poker was virtually unknown under communist rule in the Ukraine during the Soviet Union era, once the Iron Curtain fell, and Western culture pervaded, the Ukrainian people it wasn’t long before the game of poker caught on in the Ukraine.
It didn’t take long for Ukrainian poker players to start leaving their mark on the poker world, and with one of the top players in the game at the current time, Eugene Katchalov, flying the Ukrainian flag it’s likely that a whole generation of youngsters in the Ukraine will be dreaming of becoming the next Ukrainian poker star!
Even though the country has recently taken steps to prohibit poker, the game is still thriving throughout the Ukraine, with a number of poker tournaments making stops in the country every year, and a new generation of young Ukrainians taking to the online poker tables.
Famous Ukrainian Poker Players
In addition to Katchalov, the Ukraine can boast a whole bevy of top young poker talent, which is why it came as no surprise when the Ukrainians dominated the 2011 World Series of poker winning four WSOP bracelets along the way –one by Katchalov, one by former chess champion Arkidy Tsinis, one by Leonard Martin, and one by Oleksii Kovalchuk.
The Ukraine also can lay claim to one of the 2011 WSOP November Nine, as Anton Makiievsky became the first Ukrainian poker player to reach the WSOP Main Event final table.
Here is a look at some of the most well known poker players from Australia and their career accomplishments:
[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″] Eugene Katchalov
- Member of Team PokerStars Pro
- Top cash game and tournament player
- Nearly $6.5 million in career tournament earnings
- 2011 WSOP Bracelet winner
- 2007 WPT Champion
- Winner of the $100k Super-High-Roller at the 2011 PCA
[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″] Yevgeniy Timoshenko
- 2009 WPT $25k Champion
- 3 WSOP final tables
- 2008 APT Macau Main Event Champion
- 2007 Paddy Power Irish Open Champion
- Over $4 million in career tournament earnings
[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″] Alexandr Dovzhenko
- 2010 Mediterranean Poker Cup Champion
- Runner-up in the 2009 EPT Kiev Main Event
- 8 WSOP cashes in 2010 & 2011
- Over $1 million in career tournament earnings
[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″] Anton Makiievskyi
- 2011 WSOP Main Event final table member
- Youngest player at the 2011 WSOP final table at only 21 years old
[sws_grey_box box_size=”510″] Arkady Tsinis
- 2011 WSOP Bracelet winner
- 10 WSOP cashes in the past three years
- Now resides in Las Vegas, Nevada
- Over 4800k in career tournament earnings
- Cash game specialist
Online Poker in the Ukraine
Currently the Ukraine has not passed any law legalizing or strictly forbidding online poker.
Online Poker in the Ukraine falls into the legal gray area that hampers the industry in numerous locales around the world. Although restrictions have increased since the 2010 decision by the Ukrainian Justice Ministry to remove poker from the list of “Sports”, online poker sites continue to thrive in the country.
The Ukraine does prohibit online poker rooms from setting up shop in the country, so Ukrainians must play on foreign sites (like many other countries such as Australia and the US) that are operating against the wishes of the Ukrainian government.
Here is a look at the Top 3 online poker sites in the Ukraine:
[sws_blue_box box_size=”560″] PokerStars
- Largest online poker site in the world
- Team PokerStars Ukraine: Eugene Katchalov
- Sponsor of the EPT Kiev tournament including satellites
- Over 10,000 players online at any given time
- 2nd largest online poker room in the world
- Caters to European players, including the Ukraine
- One of the most heavily trafficked European poker rooms
- Very accessible for Ukraine residents, including numerous deposit options
- €1,000 Euro deposit bonus for Ukrainian players
Where to play poker in the Ukraine
As noted above, in 2010 the Justice Ministry removed poker from the list of sports in the country which effectively banned live poker across the Ukraine –tournament poker was exempted from this ruling, which was one small victory for Ukrainian poker players. While many of the country’s top players were able to move abroad, the remainder of the poker community in the Ukraine has been forced to focus on online poker or make the switch from cash-games to tournaments.
While this hasn’t stopped the overall growth of the game in the Ukraine, it has caused the poker movement to slow in the country, as card-rooms were shut-down and only tournaments allowed to be played in live settings –which may explain why the Ukraine won four WSOP bracelets in 2011 as well as having a representative in the November Nine!
Poker laws in the Ukraine
Most of the laws covering online and live poker have been covered above, so in this section I will focus on the laws governing private poker games in the Ukraine.
While poker is basically illegal in the Ukraine the authorities do not put a lot of effort into breaking up small home games, especially if no house fee or other charge is taken. Basically, like virtually every country in the world, you are playing poker at your own risk in the Ukraine, although the risk is small as is the penalty if you happen to be one of the super-unlucky who gets busted.
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