The 2015 World Series of Poker is now officially underway and, with thoughts of the Main Event already entering the community’s psyche, a number of stories from the past have come to the fore.
One such story that has hung around in poker folklore since 2009 is the curious case of 2008 WSOP Main Event runner-up Ivan Demidov and his $5.8 million prize.
Soon after losing out to Peter Eastgate heads-up, rumors began to surface that Demidov’s backer hadn’t paid him.
Until recently, however, this story was still something of a mystery; that is until the Russian pro spoke to All In Magazine.
Although less of a public figure now than he was back then, Demidov was featured in the magazine’s “Where Are They Now?” series of interviews and discussed what happened after his 2008 runner-up finish.
Explaining that he needed a backer at the time of the 2008 event, Demidov accepted a deal that essentially gave him an all expenses paid trip to the WSOP, but left him with only 20 percent of any money he won.
Even at the time Demidov knew this wasn’t a particularly favorable deal; however, he was desperate to play in the WSOP and explained that, in Russia, if you get offered a deal you either accept the backer’s terms, or there is no deal.
“It’s probably worse than average, but in Russia you either take this deal or have no deal at all. I always dreamed of going to Las Vegas to play in those big events. So I said yes straight away.”
However, agreeing to terms with the backer, Demidov told All In Magazine that he’s never been given any of the cash he’s entitled to.
As news of the non-payment has spread through the community, many Twitter users have been questioning how Demidov’s backer was able to get the money before he did.
According to the WSOP’s rules, only the player who cashes in a tournament is allowed to receive the funds. If this is the case, then how the mystery backer got the cash is unclear.
Although he was pressed on the issue, Demidov wasn’t willing to say any more about the situation.
However, he did say that thanks to his second place finish in the WSOP Main Event, he was able to secure a contract with PokerStars and open a popular website in Russia.
Those two deals provided him with enough capital to continue playing poker, but this time without the help of a backer.