Yevgeniy Timoshenko, 21, has experienced tremendous online and live poker success from a very early age. Originally born in Ukraine, Kiev, but moved to the USA when he was 8, Yevgeniy has prospered playing tournaments online as Jovial Gent on PokerStars and bballer88 on Full Tilt. In 2009, he won the main event of the World Championship of Online Poker. He bested a 2,144-player field to win $1,715,200.00. The same night he also won the weekly Full Tilt Poker $1,000 No Limit Holdem event for an additional $75,000. Further to his online success, he has also won a staggering $3.2 million playing live tournaments. He has bested some of the toughest players in the most prestigious tournaments in the world, including the WPT Championship, APPT and Paddy Power Irish Open (side event). As recently as May, 2010 he won the Pokerstars $45K GTD for over $20,000.Tell us a little about yourself and how you became involved in poker?
I'm 22, I live in Seattle, WA. I was first exposed to poker after watching the 2003 WSOP. After that, I quickly fell in love with the game and started watching the WPT regularly and playing with friends. Soon after that, I found online poker. I started out with play money and eventually earned a couple dollars in freerolls. That started my poker bankroll and with that, I began my journey.You have had some phenomenal success both on and offline. Is there any one particularly poker success that means more to you than others
For online, my proudest accomplishment was winning the 2009 WCOOP ME. For live, it was obviously winning the WPT Championship.
Would you consider yourself more of a live or online player these days?
I consider myself more of an online player since that's where I honed my game.What advice would you offer to other young players looking to come up in the poker world? Were there any key a-ha moments in your poker career where suddenly everything began to click?
I think its important to understand that poker is just a game and will always be there, so put things like family friends and education first.
You have come out on top of some large fields filled with other world class players. What do you think it is about your game that helps you to play so well against better players?
I think I have solid poker fundamentals and I'm good at adapting to different players and strategies and because of that I think that I play just as well against professionals as I do against amateurs.In 2008 you played and won the Macau event of the Asian Poker Tour for a cool $500,000. Was this one of your first live tournaments? How did you feel playing live vs usually being online? I.e. were you able to apply a lot of the skills and plays you use online?
By the time I won the APT Macau, I had already been traveling the live 18+ tournament circuit for over a year, so I already felt pretty comfortable playing in a live setting.
2009 was a great year for me. For the most part, I played less poker that year than I did in previous years, so to win two of the biggest tournaments of the year was very fortunate.Do you continue to analyse your game and that of your opponents? What do you do to stay on top of the game?
Yes, I think in order to stay on top of your game it's very important to continue learning and striving to improve your game. The biggest advances I've had in my poker career have come from playing, going over hands and thinking about different situations and how to best tackle them.
What are your plans for the WSOP this summer? Can we expect to see Jovial Gent taking home some silverware?
Time will tell. I didn't make any bracelet bets on myself this year, so it may be difficult for me to play and focus on some of the smaller events.Can you tell us how you balance your life outside of poker? Do you think it is important to maintain such a balance or is there a lot to be said for dedicating yourself 110% to poker as you seek come up in the game... i.e. the concept that if you are not moving forwards then you are moving backwards.
Having a balanced life outside of poker is very important. Being a professional poker player, you're going to experience downswings and weeks or even months of bad runs, so its very important to have a life outside of poker that you can turn to, to get your mind away from the game. Having non poker friends and hobbies is very important to getting over bad runs that you may have playing poker.
If you had to give just one piece of advice to other players looking to have great poker success, what would it be?
The best poker advice I could give to an aspiring player is that to get to the next level you need to learn to think about poker for yourself and develop your own game instead of simply mimicking what you see the successful players do on TV or in training videos.