There were some major sweats at the Spielbank Casino in Berlin, but it’s official – Mike Gorodinsky is the 2015 WSOP Player of the Year. After holding off the likes of Brian Hastings and Ismael Bojang, as well as a late surge from Jonathan Duhamel, the 29-year-old joined the likes of George Danzer, Daniel Negreanu and former Main Event winner Greg Merson in winning the much coveted title.
We caught up with Mike shortly after the conclusion of the WSOPE to ask him how he felt to be finally named Player of the Year. “Good, obviously,” was his response. “It’s mostly a relief to have been able to hold onto the lead after a not particularly great performance during the WSOPE.”
Gorodinsky managed one cash in Berlin, finishing 42nd in the €1,100 Turbo for $2,716, but it was his work over the summer in Vegas that sowed the seeds for his success. A stunning seven cashes and one bracelet really laid the foundations for what turned out to be a stellar summer.
Despite his success, the 29-year-old said that he didn’t envision himself winning the Player of the Year, and that his goal for this year was just to play a high volume of tournaments, as a “fun change of pace” from his usual schedule.
“High stakes mixed cash games have dried up a bit in Vegas over the past few years – and that’s primarily what I play for a living these days – so I figured that the most value for me would be in tournaments for the summer.”
Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Gorodinsky says that he himself is from the ‘Moneymaker generation’ of poker players. “I got interested in poker after watching the main event coverage on ESPN and then started playing in basement poker games during high school. As time went on I progressed into online poker, and eventually turned online poker into a career. After Black Friday I transitioned into the live cash game sphere, and in the last five years I’ve turned into what people call a “mixed game” cash pro.”
It was this skill of mixed games which lead to Gorodinsky’s sole bracelet of 2015 (the second of his career following one in 2013. All eyes inevitably turn to the $50,000 Players Championship to see who will add their name to the Chip Reese trophy. And it was Gorodinsky who beat Jean-Robert Bellande heads-up to win the bracelet and score a payday of $1,270,086.
“[Winning that bracelet] was really an amazing feeling,” said Gorodinsky. “I hate to keep saying this in interviews because it’s such a corny cliché, but winning this particular tournament was a legitimate dream of mine. It was a hugely triumphant moment in my professional career”
Despite winning the Player of the Year, Gorodinsky praised his competitors in the race for the title. “Every single player that was in the top 10 for POY this year is a great player and it’s no fluke that they were in the running to win it. Shaun Deeb and Brian Hastings were the two closest competitors to me and the three of us have known each other for upwards of 10 years now. I’ve played against the both of them a lot and have significant respect for both of their poker games.”
Now that he has finally been named Player of the Year, his primary aim is to finally relax a little bit. “I’ll probably take most of November/December off in favor of spending quality time with the dog, girlfriend and friends, and take advantage of living in sunny San Diego and mostly just aim to get outdoors and enjoy life every day.”
And will he be in Vegas next year to defend his title? “I’ll probably get out to Vegas and play the first 5-10 events and see if I start out on a hot streak and put myself in contention for a repeat performance. But realistically, barring another hot start, I’ll settle into my typical schedule of 10-15 bigger buy-in tournaments and make finding good cash games my primary focus.”