Ukrainian Newcomer Vladyslav Shovkovyi Outlasts a Field of 3,989 to Win His First Trophy and $299,715

2023 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Hollywood, Florida
Event 21
$600 Deep Stack No-Limit Hold’em (Re-Entry)
$1,000,000 Guaranteed
Entries:  3,989
Prize Pool:  $2,074,280
April 20-24, 2023

Event 21 Champion Vladyslav Shovkovyi
Event 21 Champion Vladyslav Shovkovyi

“I think I still don’t understand what happened,” said Event 21 champion Vladyslav Shovkovyi, “but I am happy and grateful.”

Sometimes things just go your way, like they did for Shovkovyi the past few days. He entered the sixth and final starting flight for Event 21 on Saturday evening, and he had a really good day, bagging up the chip lead for that flight, and the second largest stack overall.

Day 2 wasn’t as kind to Shovkovyi, at least at first.

“At one point I was down to only 13 big blinds,” said Shovkovyi about his Day 2. “I was struggling, waiting for some hands. But then I doubled up a few times.”

The key moment for Shovkovyi seemed to come shortly before midnight on Day 2 with 31 players remaining. Shovkovyi got into a preflop raising war with chipleader Bin Weng, eventually six-betting all in for 83 big blinds. Weng folded, giving Shovkovyi the chip lead with 123 big blinds. (Click here for more details.)

Neither player showed their cards, though Shovkovyi said something in his winner’s interview that implies he might have made an aggressive play there with ace-queen.

“I think ace-queen was my hand of the tournament,” said Shovkovyi, “because I made a few good moves with that hand and I won a lot of chips.”

Nobody knew it at the time, but after that hand, Shovkovyi would be at or near the chip lead for the rest of the tournament.

Shovkovyi had the lead when the nine-handed final table started, and after Charlemagne Benjamin was eliminated in ninth place, Shovkovyi scored the next six knockouts in a row (including two in one hand) to get heads-up against David Trager with a 5-to-1 chip lead.

Trager put up a strong fight, and over the next half hour or so, he doubled up and continued building his stack until he had nearly evened up the stacks — 87 big blinds for Shovkovyi and 73 big blinds for Trager. That’s when they took a scheduled break, and agreed to an ICM deal to end the tournament and split the remaining prizepool.

As chipleader, Shovkovyi was declared the winner, earning the title, the trophy, and $299,715.

“Getting first and the trophy in such a big field is awesome,” said Shovkovyi. “I had a few good runs this year, but I took second, third, and a few more final tables, but not first.”

Shovkovyi battled some tough competition for this title, particularly Darryll Fish (who finished fourth) and Ari Engel (who finished fifth). With their cashes in this event, Fish has just shy of $5 million in live tournament earnings, and Engel has just crossed the $8 million mark.

“The level of some players here is very good,” said Shovkovyi. “The guys on the final table had millions in winnings, and I’m only just starting. So it was awesome to play with good players, and to put pressure on them.”

While his career in poker tournaments is relatively young, and this is by far his biggest live score, based on his performance this weekend, this victory won’t be his last.

Final Table Results:

PlaceFirst NameLast NamePrize Amount