The other day, PabloMoses posted his picks for the strongest online cash regs in the 2+2 high stakes thread.
“I have little idea what I'm talking about,” he warned, “but with Smarthand data at hand, it's always interesting to speculate on this topic.''
1. Markus Leikkonen/makeboifin
2. Linus Loeliger/LLinusLLove
3. Sergey Nikiforov/MunEZ_StaRR/Burundos254
4. Viktor Malinovsky/Limitless
5. Kevin Paquet/TaxHere
6. Taisto Yanter/SyrW_Helmets
7. Barak Wiesboard
8. Roberto Perez/DavyJones922/Cwestmoreland /LemonHouse
9. Tobias Datweiler/dudd1
10. Marius Gierse/DEX888
11. Ignacio Moron/Nacho124441/TIKITAKA11
12. Alexei Borovkov/avr0ra
13. Ivan Galinets/ja.sam.gale/vesnapisarovic
14. Darrell Goh/FourSixFour
15. Wouter Bemers /MMAsherdog
Worthy of mention:
* Stefan Burakov / Stefan11222: disappeared lately, seems to have had a serious downswing before that
* Artem Shaganov / oSpiel888: probably one of the biggest winners in history at 25/50 and 50/100, but hasn't been sitting down lately for tables more than 50/100.
For comments on this rating, we turned to Alexei Borovkov, who has played thousands of hands.
– In our long interview, you said that such ratings do not make much sense, since it is difficult to gain volume at high stakes and everything depends too much on the current form. But at the same time, he noted that Red_Baron was top by some margin during his peak. Were there similar players after him?
Alexey Borovkov told Alexander Yelensky about his smooth ascent from freerolls to the highest stakes and remembered the regwars with the best regulars of our time.
– The Baron really dominated, and he was unanimously considered the best. After him, probably, this can only be said about Linus at his peak. Now there are questions about it. There is no single name for the undisputed leader anymore. At the time of the Red Army, Katya, Forkh and Fish stood out, but it's hard to say who was strongest of that group.
– Maybe Haxton, when he was still actively playing online? Kanu?
– The peak of Kanu coincided with the heyday of the "Red Army", but then the Baron dealt with him rather harshly. They battled for a very long time, Kanu lost a lot, and then he left poker altogether. Of course, Kanu is also an elite player, but he fell under the Baron's ice rink and was never once the undisputed best.
And Haxton was from simpler times, then he played under the name philivey269, it was before the contract with Stars. I don't remember anything about those years. Then he played a couple of thousand hands a year, you can’t draw conclusions from such a small volume. He played actively with Phua, but it is difficult for me to assess who was the best in those matches. In my opinion, it was the Red Army that dominated – Forkh, Truteller , Fish2013 , Muha and Katya. They played the most and won a lot too. Although then there was still ragen70, who also immediately disappeared after this period. It seems that he was the top winner of those matches.
– Did Trueteller manage to enter the top 6-max in deep stacks? Or did he almost immediately move to the lower limits after the caps?
– Not certain about that. After the caps, he moved into the deep stack cash games and was very active for about a year. At the end of this year, of course, he was among the strongest. Trueteller has a very high poker intelligence. In this he is similar to the Baron. Timofey didn't have such an in depth knowledge of 100bb, but he pulled up using logic. I followed the matches against Phua, and I remember that he played very well. As far as I understand, Paul also remembered him, and they began to communicate a lot in real life. Not just because Timofey is now on all the posters of Triton.
– On the 2 + 2 list there are 17 nicknames, how complete is this list of modern top regs?
– Definitely, you can add a few people. There were strong players in America, the same Meek Bill. He played a little on GG, but because he lives in the USA, his main rooms are ACR and Bovada. A strong player, and as far as I know, a very young one. He seems to be about 22 years old, because not so long ago there was a story that he could not get into the casino, although he was already playing high stakes. There is definitely a place for him at the top.
Some have not played much, Matthew Bergman from Canada has been actively playing lately. Few people understand who he is, but he plays very strong. Cole Swannack is TopKat on Stars, he is also actively playing and is now in very good shape.
There are still many players who play lower, but are not much inferior in terms of skill. About 20 people regularly play high stakes, and 17 of them made it to the Pablo list. But you also need to mention the player with the nickname RiverKing3642 on ACR. At one time he was a very strong player, then he took a break, and now he is back.
– And how big is the difference in skill within this list? The player who is in 20th place today, could they become the first tomorrow?
– There is a very controversial alignment of forces in this rating. I repeat that no one has enough volume for high stakes, it depends very much on what cards are dealt in a particular session. But I'm sure a lot of people will argue with makeboifin's first place. DavyJones, for example, has him in 8th place, and I think that in 3-max + he is now the best. From the technical side he is very good. To get some kind of objective assessment, you need to interview the players themselves from this list and see who will be in the top half more often.
Would a lot of peoples lists look the same?
– The lists will be different, but there will definitely be players who will be put on top more often than others. Almost everyone will have the same Linus in the top, and MMAsherdog, most likely, will be at the bottom. Whoever plays less often will be in the second half more often.
– And yet, if we present an objective rating of the strongest regulars, the 15th person from this list will be much weaker than the first?
– The difference will be quite noticeable. It is difficult to reason, because we do not know who this 15th is. For example, in my opinion, Sergey Nikiforov plays much better than Nacho and SyrW_Helmets. The difference between them is huge. Surely someone will argue with this. And I can't even imagine how to compare Kevin Paquet and ja.sam.gale, it's completely incomprehensible which of them is better.
– Are there newcomers in the ranking who have appeared on the high stakes recently?
– All these players have been in the top for at least two years. Someone during this time began to play stronger, but absolutely new faces did not appear in it. In my opinion, Nacho has shown incredible progress over the past year. We played a lot of hands with him, a year ago he played much worse. Now he is the top 1 in terms of the number of hands and this was not in vain. Recently, in Cyprus, we met in person, it turned out that he is a very young guy. For some reason, I thought that he was already over 30. A year ago, I would not have included him in my top 20 at all, but now I will confidently take him and, most likely, put him even somewhere in the top.
Barak can be called a conditional newcomer. He had never played at Stars and a couple of years ago nothing was known about him at all. He started playing online right away on GG, and before that he played a lot live. Relative to the rest, he can be called a beginner.
– Did he immediately go to high limits online or did he go through medium limits?
– We also talked a little with him at the last Triton. He has risen in live games in Cyprus and Israel. There are quite a few expensive games out there. I won a lot of money and went to play online. He has his own small team of Israeli players that he trains. They also play mostly live, but sometimes go online.
– Let's go down the list from the top.
Makeboifin. There were great articles about him on the GipsyTeam, where the story of his rise is described in detail.
Finnish regular makeboifin started his ascent from the micros in 2014 and today plays at the most expensive tables. We talk about the beginning of his career, which was far from easy.
In the second half of the blog, makeboifin talks about huge downswings, shots at NL5k and above, record profits, hatred of MTTs and the most expensive pot of his life against Kota_Spartak.
I can only add that at one time he had an interesting approach to the game. At first he grinded a lot, but at some point he suddenly stopped opening so many tables. At maximum concentration, I played two tables of Regwars at NL2k and left after a couple of hours. This went on long enough. I suspect that at that time he was in the mood for learning and worked a lot off the tables. At first, his results were not very good, but then the game changed noticeably, and he began to win a lot. The peak of his career came in the summer-autumn of 2020, when a big game was just starting at GG. They ran him there, and at first he played under a nickname, and not under his real name. Showed great results right away.
These games gave a strong impetus to his career, he got in shape, got a good bankroll, in general, everything worked out right away. Then he played with BERRI SWEET. It seems that I didn’t even lose so much or even finished in a small plus, but I finished on my own initiative. He said that there is a complete madness, and it is very difficult. I think now he plays almost everything from himself and shows good results. Although in the winter of 2021 there were a lot of games at NL40k with ImagineKing, and there he performed averagely. Perhaps there was a lack of motivation.
And the results were average, but I'm more talking about the level of the game, which raised questions. But then he played a lot of heads-up, apparently, it was hard to switch. Now he almost does not play, so he can not be put in the first place. Sometimes he gets hooked on super high stakes tables where you can play 1,000 hands in a month. But in fact he mostly isn't playing, he plays 20-30 hours a month.
Everyone knows about Linus too.
He also took breaks in the game, but now I see him almost every day in the lobby. He plays live, and short tables, and heads-up challenges – everything in a row. Last month and the month before last, I played very well 3-max and heads-up with Stefan. They even had an agreement on the challenge, but something did not work out. Maybe we'll see again. Now Linus is in good shape, actively playing, I think many will include him in the top 5. He is a generally recognized as the top, but the peak of his career was earlier and came at the end of 2018 and 2019. Then hardly anyone would argue that he is the strongest. Now he plays much less, apparently, also a lack of motivation. But he is still great in heads-up, 3-max and full tables, he does everything at the highest level, he is ready to play with anyone. He definitely enters the top 5 in terms of the level of the game, but for the top 1 it is not enough to not play.
– Is he the main old-timer on this list?
– Of course not. Munez, MMAsherdog and I have been playing longer. It's just that he is a very bright character, recognized by everyone as the strongest, so his name is on everyone's lips. Linus has been in bad shape and has had big slumps. But the image always works for him, even in bad periods, his weak results are attributed to bad luck.
MunEZ_StaRR – there have been many articles about him lately. Your interview, then a three-hour podcast in English.
One of the best players in the world spent 2.5 hours answering questions from the hosts of the Poker Ambition podcast. He told why it's never boring with Stefan, how thanks to OtB_RedBaron he got a foothold in NL2k, and Jayser1337 helped him get to NL20k.
In my opinion, Seryoga is one of the strongest in 3-max+. I would take him even in those years when everyone definitely took Linus. He is not so media present, which is why he was always underestimated. To some extent, this is still the case. A couple of years ago, Stars hosted famous regwars where Limitless, Katya and Munez played. Reviews with votes were released on YouTube. Everyone called Katya or Limitless the favorites, and I sincerely believe that at that time Sergey played better than both of them. Everyone thought that they were playing better than him, which, of course, was not so. In 3-max+ he is incredibly good. His game is very different from the rest, it may seem too accurate to some, but this is a deceptive impression.
He has some problems with heads-up play, you can even say with tilt. He always wants to beat someone in heads-up, and his results there are not very good. But at full tables and regwars, I would still take him against anyone on this list. If you see a 3-max with Sergey, you can safely answer for him. I am sure that this is true, although I could be wrong.
– The other day they played 3-max at NL100k with Kevin Paquet and Linus, which then turned into heads-up with Linus. Was it some kind of spontaneous match?
– Partly yes, but 3-max did not last long. There was a slight nuance. Before that, they played NL40k, and that's where I would definitely take Sergey against both Kevin and Linus. But at NL100k, the game already had an ante, and this adds questions. It would seem that in 3-max the ante has little effect, but the math changes, the SPR becomes different, and this can make adjustments to the alignment of forces.
Limitless is well known to everyone, we discussed part of his career in our interview.
Here TaxHere is an interesting character. He is not very well known to the Russian-speaking audience, although everyone abroad knows him very well. I would call him a typical "son of my mother's friend." In some ways, his story is similar to Limitless. Victor came to poker from handball, while Kevin played for the Feyenoord youth teams and was one foot in the game. I don’t understand football at all, but they explained to me that in terms of level it’s about the same as NL5k. As with Victor, his sports career was also interrupted due to injury, and he switched to poker. He studied at MMAsherdog's school, played for a percentage of profit for a long time, and then quickly reached the highest limits. He was a little knocked down by a year-long ban on Stars, it seems, for mining. But then the games on GG started, it gave him new motivation, and over the past 3 years he has gone from the NL2k reg to a super-elite player and won a lot . In his case, it could not be otherwise. He is incredibly strong, would also include him in my top 5. But lately he has become less active.
Next comes SyrW_Helmets. I don't really like the technical side of his game. But he has such good results that perhaps I don’t understand something. He plays a lot, open sits tables, everything is good with him. I have crossed paths with him for a long time, since the days of NL600 at Stars. He had a very unfortunate period when he lost a lot, but then he got away and in 2018-19 he became a top winner at his stakes. Here he is just on the high stakes not so long ago, he started playing NL5k about two years ago.
I have already mentioned Barak. He played all the high stakes tournaments at the last Triton, constantly plays big cash games offline, and on GG, if I'm not mistaken, he has been top 1 in terms of profit all the time. He did incredibly well at NL100k+, collected from all the VIPs there. Definitely in the top 20, maybe in the top 10. But there is still not much to play online, the same Linus surpasses him in all respects.
– Is his nickname unknown on Stars?
I'm not even sure he has it. Israel was banned there many years ago, it appeared after that.
DavyJones – I didn't even know his real name. On GG, he still plays under the nickname, his results there are not very good. But in other rooms, he won so much that it more than covers everything. Appeared not so long ago. Born in Spain, then for a long time he played on Stars under the flag of Great Britain. I first met him in 2018, as far as I remember, he also came from zoom. For some reason, he was marked as a heads-up specialist for a long time. They often came to play high stakes and for some specific moments in the game it seemed to me that he was also one of them. But it turned out that this is not the case at all. He played zoom for a long time, then switched to NL1-2k at Stars, where he did very well. Gradually he started to shot take 5k and from the end of 2019 to 2021 showed the best win rate there. Phenomenal 8bb, mostly in regwars. Since the time of the Baron, no one has crushed the Regwars so much. Technically very strong, and when he is in the lobby, he is ready to play with anyone. Friends with Nacho. Now DavyJones is focused on NL5-10k, not going to super high stakes. Perhaps this is for the best. You will never get many hands in there, but he is doing well anyway. In 3-max+, he can even fight for the top 1, and unlike Sergey, he doesn't play heads-ups at all. For a long time, practically no one has given him action – only the very best, but he still beats everyone.
Dudd1 – I don't remember if he is German or Austrian. He has his own huge school, a very famous coach, many of his students play NL500-1k. He got to the high stakes fairly quickly. At first he played a little and with tight selection, but he got into a strong streak and got dirty. A heater appeared, he began to actively play on Stars and undid all the losses. Then he went to high-limits on GG, and he did it so successfully that he got banned for too big a win rate. There were big topics on 2+2 and GipsyTeam. Then he was unbanned, but the money, it seems, was never returned. Now he does not play so much, and by all accounts plays quite small, but it is clear that he is well versed in theory.
DEX888 is another Austrian. At first he played cash games, then completely switched to tournaments and returned to cash again. He won a lot from me when we were actively playing at the end of 2021. I was happy to play with him, it seemed that I saw mistakes. But he was good from the very beginning, he got into good shape, and, as often happens, the hunted became the hunter. During that period on Stars, he simply took out everyone, even Linus. Then he won some big tournament and successfully performed at GG in games with ImagineKing. In such games, some regs are banned, but nothing happened to him, he showed a very high level. After that, he didn’t play at all for 8 months, but only now he began to return and is gradually gaining momentum.
– Many of the regs on this list take breaks. Then they immediately return to the highest stakes?
– Most people prefer to go straight back to working stakes, except that at first they try to regwar less, select opponents more carefully and play fewer tables. Everyone is different. Players with big egos make minimal adjustments and jump right into the action as they go. It seems to me that big breaks are typical for players who are a little bored, who have already had a very successful period in their careers, and they can afford it. Players who came to the high stakes relatively recently – Nacho, DavyJones – are playing very actively. In my first years at high stakes, I also never had breaks for more than two weeks. This is an unaffordable luxury when you actively play.
I have already said about Nacho. He had a bad image in our community because several strong players spoke negatively about his game. Maybe a year and a half ago it was true, but since then he has greatly improved and gained great momentum. If he beats 5k+ on all sites, he will be top 1 in terms of the number of hands by a wide margin. This has borne fruit. He enters the top 10 confidently, and, in my opinion, his place is even higher. He's also been playing offline lately.
I will not talk about myself. The next one is Ivan Galinets. A very famous and strong player, played NL2k with Baron. I came from zoom500 and at first was unsuccessful. There was even a famous 800bb hand against Red_Baron. At 2+2, everyone was laughing then: "That's what happens when regs from zoom500 come to the real top." In short, he made a very expensive bluffcatch facing a huge overbet and was wrong. Since 2017, ja.sam.gale has been actively playing NL2k+ on all venues, won a lot in regwars, and actively fought with Stefan. Now he plays less. About 4 years ago, when Stars was still the main room for everyone, he won $1 million on NL10k, at that time it was considered a very cool result. From this list, he is my least favorite player, I will say this, I do not always like his behavior.
– Stefan in his ranking two years ago generally put him in second place .
Then perhaps it was. I still like his game now, much more than the game of many players who ended up above him on this list. In my rating in terms of the level of the game, he would be very high, although I don’t want to admit it.
FourSixFour – old school reg. One of Linus's closest friends and another player on the list who has been playing longer than him. Grinded NL400-600 for a very long time.
A frequent guest on bitBCash podcasts , I don’t know what role he has in the group, but obviously some important one. He doesn’t play that much, he’s also not particularly motivated anymore. But he has a cool feature – he never plays sessions longer than 2-3 hours. Tries to play only his A-game.
MMAsherdog. Our audience knows him very well. There were a lot of interviews, podcasts, streams with him, a couple of years ago he actively blogged on 2 + 2.
ShowOfForce, a medium and high stakes cash regular, recently started a podcast, the first guest of which was his eminent friend and trainer, MMAsherdog. One of the most mysterious high rollers spoke about diligence, the right approach, the main mistakes of professionals and much more.
In an exclusive interview with GipsyTeam, one of the high stakes tops named the strongest Russian-speaking regulars, spoke about difficult periods in his career and discussed his approach to selects and regwars.
He does not play so actively, now he is more interested in the Bluffthespot training project. I would call him a player-coach. Plays with select to keep fit. I think, if desired, it will quickly return to service. Many do not like him either, but I have always had a very good attitude towards him. He is friendly with everyone, he has never been thought of as doing anything bad.
Separately, the list includes Stefan and Oshpil. Both are well known to the Russian-speaking audience, especially Stefan. Pablo wrote about Oxpil that he is one of the most profitable players in the history of 25/50 and 50/100. I suspect that this is indeed the case. He played NL1k back in the early days of PokerStrategy. By poker standards, he is already a very old player and has been a top winner throughout his career. In terms of profit on NL5k, he can compete with Forhayley, and there are only a few such players in the world.
– Does he not go to NL40k and higher for some reason?
– This is the kind of limit that you need to play with a backer, because enough volume will never be reached, and the monthly fluctuations are comparable to the annual expectation. And if you sell shares, then there will be no big difference from NL5k, and there Oshpil has an excellent expectation. In general, the sale of shares in cash is a bit of a strange subject. To be frank, it is almost never profitable for the player. There are exceptions, for example, backing with a rakeback and some other super-sweet conditions. But this is offered much less often than you might think. At NL20k+, no one will give such conditions, and there is not much point in honest backing. It's easier to play your own limits.