Maxim Lykov, Poker Player
by Jennifer Newell
Maxim Lykov was born in Russia and raised to value education. Though he always had a competitive streak, much of his youth consisted of completing his schooling, which culminated with attendance at a Moscow university where he studied engineering. It was during his stint at college that he became acquainted with poker and started playing with friends and online. Known for being a quick study, he picked up the game and knew that strategy and analysis were the keys to winning. That year - 2005 - was the beginning of a new career for him, as he switched his focus from engineering to poker.
Lykov's poker career began with two $40 deposits into his online poker accounts. He was able to take those small investments and casual play and ultimately create a bankroll that put him on a must-watch list of online players and into a range that involved five and eventually six figures. By 2006, he was doing very well in cash games and tournaments and making a substantial living from his online play.
It wasn't until 2009 that Lykov decided to begin playing the live poker tournament circuit. Being of age to patronize most casinos at that point, the young online pro was prepared to put his poker skills to work on the green felt. And it didn't take him long to find his first score, which happened to come as the PokerStars-sponsored Russian Poker Tour traveled to Moscow. He played several events and finished in 11th place in the six-handed no-limit hold'em event. Less than two weeks later, he attended the Red Sea Poker Cup series in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt and placed 16th in the €1,000 buy-in NLHE Main Event. But two days later, in the same Red Sea Poker Cup, he played the €3,000 buy-in NLHE VIP event and won it, which brought him his inaugural poker title and €50,000 in cash.
Feeling solid about his ability to transition to live poker, Lykov headed to Las Vegas, Nevada in the summer of 2009 to play some World Series of Poker events, and it was there that he made the final table of the $5,000 no-limit hold'em shootout tournament, ultimately finishing in third place for $145,062. A broader audience was taking notice of the young Russian pro.
Less than two months later and back on his home turf, Lykov was happy to see the European Poker Tour make its first foray into the Ukraine with a stop in Kiev. He played the €4,700 buy-in NLHE Main Event there and not only made the final table but went on to win the entire 296-player tournament, becoming the first Russian player to become an EPT champion in the more than five years the series had been in existence in Europe. And for the victory, he won a whopping €330,000. In a post-win interview, he noted, "I'm already thinking of my second title," and it is with that confidence and fervor that he continued on the live circuit.
Lykov finished 2009 with a ninth place finish at an EPT Prague side event, and he then began 2010 with a trip to the Bahamas for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. He scored another major victory there when he won the $1,000 buy-in NLHE event for a clean $100,000. And in March, he made another deep run at an EPT event, that time in Hinterglemm, Austria at the Snowfest tournament, finishing 13th in the €3,500 buy-in Main Event for €15,800. The following month, he attended the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo and made the final table of the €5,000 NLHE heads-up tournament, taking home €17,600 for a fifth place finish.
His summer was filled with more WSOP events in Las Vegas, and he had three cashes - in the NLHE shootout, NLHE short-handed, and NLHE heads-up championship. He also managed a cash at the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza and two cashes at the Bellagio Cup while he was in Las Vegas. From there, he headed to Vilamoura, Portugal for the EPT stop there and made the final table of a NLHE turbo side event to finish fifth, and he also traveled to Cannes on the southern coast of France for the September Partouche Poker Tour, where he won the €780 short-handed NLHE tournament for €40,314.
The young pro has noted in interviews that he plans to be the best poker player to ever hail from Russia, and he is well on his way to accomplishing that goal, as he is already in the top ten of all Russian players to compete on the live circuit. Lykov has also been recognized by PokerStars and recently became one of the latest additions to Team PokerStars Pro, which allows him to represent the site around the world and online at the tables, playing under his full name.Read Maxim Lykov's Profile for more information including his tournament results and total winnings.
Jennifer Newell is a freelance writer, originally from St. Louis but now living in Los Angeles. She fell in love with poker while working at WPT and began writing about it in 2005.