Max Zelensky Wins the Button!

 Eugune Zelensky, Max Zelensky, and Jason Somerville

Eugune Zelensky, Max Zelensky, and Jason Somerville

$125 NLH Win the Button
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Max Zelensky has taken down the $125 NLH Win the Button event! It was the fourth live tournament he has ever played in his life, the first being a few days ago here at Run it Up Reno. Zelensky takes home $3,000, the trophy and the $600 Main Event seat. 

Jon Honeycutt was our runner-up ($1,950) after losing a massive pot that left him with just two big blinds. On a board reading [7h5d4c], both players got their money in the middle with straight draws. Zelensky held [6c9h] and Honeycutt tabled [3h2h]. Honeycutt had the bigger stack by 80,000, so Zelensky was the player at risk. The turn was the [4d] and the river was the [td], sending the pot to Zelenksy with nine-high. Honeycutt doubled up once, but he eventually lost with eight-seven to Zelensky's pocket tens. 

The final table began with nine players and ended with Zelensky hoisting his trophy up. Brian Nickelson was the first to go, taking home $280 for ninth place. Ryan Leonis, runner-up in the Kickoff event, was booted in eighth after losing a flip against Honeycutt. Leonis held ace-jack of clubs while Honeycutt had two black sevens. The board ran out dry and he earned $350 for his finish. 

The next few eliminations were quick, with Justin Chan (7th place - $435), Brett Gordon (6th place - $525) and Andy Joros (5th place - $650) getting their short stacks in but unable to get anything going. 

Michael Wood held on for a while, grinding his stack up and down. He eventually got it in with king-three suited but ran into Zelensky's pocket kings. He intended on coming to Reno for one day to gamble but discovered Run it Up and stayed for four days! He said he was down to his last $100 in his gambling budget and whipped it up into $875 for his fourth place finish.

Rian Mullins was our third place finisher after chip-leading for a little while. He initially got his stack in the middle with queens against Zelensky's threes, but the river was a three and he was crippled, only to bust shortly after. 

 Max and Eugene Zelensky

Max and Eugene Zelensky

We sat down with Zelensky and his father, Eugene Zelensky, because their story is amazing and unique. The father-son duo came together at RIU Reno and decided to make this their meeting place, as Max lives in Germany and Eugene lives in Moscow, Russia.

Eugene actually came in second place in the first PokerStars RIU satellite, but because the first-place finisher couldn't make it, they gave him the package. The funny part about this, is Eugene wasn't notified about this until he was deep in the second satellite. Even better, Eugene ended up winning the second one, so he gave the package to Deborah 'QueenBee902' Vanneste, who was the runner-up. Didn't think this story could get any better? Well, it can! Vanneste has already won an event, and told us she was only able to come because she won the package. If you can believe it, Max was only able to come to Run it Up Reno because his dad won the satellite. The story is incredible, and is the reason RIU has brought so many new players to play the beautiful game of poker.

We talked to the dynamic duo about how they got into poker. Max started out by playing on Full Tilt Poker with play money. He then branched out to PokerStars and played with friends in University. His father thought, "I'm smart. If Max can do it, so can I." Max laughed and said, "Of course he's smarter than me!" Eugene played micro stakes limit cash on PokerStars and found himself losing, so he stopped playing. A couple of years later he was watching video games on Twitch and noticed 10,000 people were watching poker. He became curious and saw Jason Somerville streaming - it was all downhill from there. He began watching the streams quite often and began to learn the game more and more. He admitted he only recently, since RIU in October, began winning at the game. 

Max is currently studying to get his Masters degree in Business Administration, and taking Latin dance lessons on the side, while Eugene works in the banking industry and is preparing for an 'Escape From Alcatraz' swimming competition. They decided to meet in Reno, of all places, and share their love of poker to spend some time together. So far, it's definitely been heartwarming to witness and is a story that makes the game we all love so great. 

Congratulations to everyone on their deep runs! There is plenty of more poker to be played, so have a look at the schedule and structure for the rest of the week on

Here is a look at the final results for this event:

1st place: Max Zelensky - $3,000 + $600 Main Event Seat
2nd place: Jon Honeycutt - $1,950
3rd place: Rian Mullins - $1,245
4th place: Michael Wood - $875
5th place: Andy Joros - $650
6th place: Brett Gordon - $525
7th place: Justin Chan - $435
8th place: Ryan Leonis - $350
9th place: Brian Nickelson - $280
10th place: Adam Dawson - $280
11th place: Stephen McAdams - $280
12th place: Brent Taylor - $280
13th place: Vanessa Kade - $225
14th place: Deborah Vanneste - $225
15th place: Ryan Meyer - $225
16th place: Kevin Hess - $225
17th place: Brooke Brewer - $175
18th place: David Lander - $175
19th place: Jake Irvin - $175