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How a Single River Card May Have Changed Ark Onikul's Life Forever

Ark Onikul

Arkadi Onikul, who more often goes by Ark, was "out the door" on Day 7 of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event. One lucky card later and he's now one of the top contenders to become the 2021 World Champion.

Timing is Everything in Poker

With 22 players remaining in the middle of Monday's session, the 35-year-old Las Vegas resident who hails from California ran into what appeared to be a nightmare situation. He had pocket kings and a stack of just north of 15 million at 200,000/400,000/400,000 blinds.

The local poker player faced a three-bet to 1.8 million from Mitchell Halverson, and then a four-bet to 4 million from Andreas Kniep, who was holding pocket aces.

When the action returned to Onikul, he saw an opportunity to either more than double up or to take down an already inflated pot as he hoped to build a massive stack heading into the dinner break. So, he decided to jam, and then after Halverson folded, he learned the bad news that he was up against the rockets.

The flop of {2-Hearts}{q-Diamonds}{8-Hearts} was of no help to Onikul, and neither was the {6-Diamonds} on the turn.

"I was out the door," Onikul later told PokerNews of the situation he found himself in at the time.

But the miracle two-outer, the {k-Clubs} came on the river and Onikul went from out in 22nd place to chip leader at 32 million. The difference between 22nd place and world champion is around $7.75 million.

So, one two-outer may have literally changed his life forever. Even if he doesn't go on to win the Main Event on Wednesday, that lucky card will impact his bankroll significantly in a positive way. And he already has some interesting plans for what he'll do with the $8 million if he ships the bracelet.

Long-Time Poker Player

Onikul is no fish, and although he hit a lucky two-outer to stay alive, he's been a successful poker player for quite some time. Entering the Main Event, he had over $380,000 in live tournament cashes according to The Hendon Mob.

"I've been playing since Moneymaker, just mostly cash and a little bit of tourneys," Onikoul said. "During the pandemic, I played a lot of tourneys."

Although he's played poker for many years, this whole experience is new to him. When asked on dinner break to assess his play, he said, "overall, I've been playing well," and complimented the other players at his side feature table.

"I was having fun since the start of the tournament," he told PokerGO's Remko Rinkema. "[Fedor Holz] was at my first table, so I just joked around with him. I figured he was probably a fun guy, and he was. But then every single table has been social. We're all tired of the pandemic, we're all tired of online poker, and we just wanna look the man in the eye and say call or fold."

Onikul's already won more money in the Main Event than he ever has playing poker, and he now has an opportunity to win enough to set him up financially for life, all because of one lucky river card (and some impressive play along the way).

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