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Friend of PokerStars Maria Konnikova Wins PCA Nat'l Championship

Friend of PokerStars Maria Konnikova Wins PCA Nat'l Championship 0001
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  • Psychology PhD & author Maria Konnikova's PCA win comes after a year of tutelage under the great @Erik_Seidel

One of the premier events at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure 2018 has drawn to a close and it was Maria Konnikova capturing the title in the $1,650 PCA National. Konnikova battled her way through three long and grueling days to take home her first ever title and $84,600.

Konnikova entered heads-up play against Alexander Ziskin with a three-to-one chip lead and it didn't take long for her to finish things off. After a few quick hands of Konnikova raising and taking down the blinds, she got her opponent all in on the turn and drawing to just nine outs. Ziskin was unable to connect with the river and Konnikova raised her arms in victory.

An interesting story follows the Russian-American female that has captured the hearts of the poker community. Konnikova moved to the United States from Russia and earned degrees from Havard and Columbia, including a Ph.D. in psychology. She became a writer for publications like the New York Times, The Atlantic, Scientific American, and the list goes on. About a year ago at the PokerStars Festival in Monte Carlo, Konnikova decided to learn the game of poker and asked the infamous, Erik Seidel to help mentor/coach her. Her goal in all of this was to play poker for a year, to learn the game, and then write a book about it.

Since the poker career began, Konnikova has gathered a few second-place finishes, adding up to around $30,000 in tournament earnings. She never expected to come this far in this short period of time. Winning a prestigious event at the PCA? "It feels amazing. I started poker from scratch a year ago. I have the best coach in the world, Erik Seidel, so I've been very lucky. I've been working really hard and it's so validating to achieve this."

Final Table Results

PositionPlayerCountryPrize (USD)
1Maria KonnikovaUnited States$84,600
2Alexander ZiskinUnited States$56,250
3Kevin MacDonaldCanada$41,140
4Loek van WelyNedtherlands$33,210
5Harrison GimbelUnited States$26,040
6Ryan SmithCanada$19,710
7Marcos Carneiro AntunesBrazil$14,480
8Chris MoormanUnited Kingdom$10,640

This three-day tournament began with a total of 290 entries and was dwindled down to just 62 players after 14 hours of play on Day 1. Many notables took to the felt including PokerStars Team Pros Barry Greenstein and Jake Cody, Mike Leah, Kevin MacPhee, and Joseph Cheong who all packed their bags early. When Day 2 arrived, the money bubble approached quickly with 39 places getting paid. Some notables to reach the money included Sylvain Loosli (38th Place - $2,900), Katie Lindsay (32nd Place - $2,900), Simon Deadman (23rd Place - $4,140), Dylan Wilkerson (20th Place - $4,560), and Rex Clinkscales (13th Place - $6,460).

The unofficial final table was reached late on Day 2 when Thomas Taylor was eliminated in 10th place for $7,380. The final nine players gathered at one table and would play down to the final eight. It was Sharman Olshan, who showed great poise throughout the tournament, that busted in 9th place when she was unable to win a flip against Ryan Smith. With that, the players bagged and tagged and headed off to get some much-needed rest.

Final Table Summary

When the final table assembled on Day 3, there were still a few familiar faces remaining. Chris Moorman, a WSOP bracelet holder and online crusher from the UK, was the first to fall. Not long after, Brazilian, Marcos Carneiro Antunes hit the rail and they were down to six players. Nearly two hours later without an elimination, short-stacked Ryan Smith ran into a red-hot Konnikova with each of them flopping a set, Konnikova's being the larger one.

With five players left, chips were passed around the table with each player taking their share of the chip lead. Harrison Gimbel was the most recognized player left in the field, but unfortunately, the blinds caught up with him and he hit the rail in fifth place. Four-handed play lasted another two hours, before a couple quick eliminations of Loek van Wely and Kevin MacDonald resulted in heads-up play.

That wraps up our coverage for the 2018 PCA National, but stay locked in as the PokerNews live reporting team will bring you up-to-date action throughout the remaining events here in the Bahamas.

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