Liv Boeree & Igor Kurganov talk team work

We catch-up with the $10,000 Tag Team Champions and Team PokerStars Pros about their joint first bracelet win at the start of the WSOP.

Igor Kurganov and Liv Boeree at the WSOP
Igor Kurganov and Liv Boeree

Congrats on both winning your first WSOP bracelets together. Was there any strategy that goes in to when you tag each other in or out? 

Liv Boeree: Not really for us - to be honest we generally let our schedules decide who played at what time! For example, I was free on day 1 and Igor wasn't, so I played that, then on day 2, I was playing the shootout at the beginning so Igor started that, then when I busted I took over for a bit. Once we were approaching the final table I let Igor play mostly from then on - he's just a better player so it made sense to let him play as much of the end-game as possible. I played a few hands on the final table whenever he needed a pee break!

So it was more about making sure the other was energised and at the table when they were in the Zone?

Liv Boeree: Exactly - once a player is zoned in and aware of the dynamics and playing styles of the players at the final table, it's unlikely to ever be a good strategy to disrupt that unless that player is having some kind of meltdown.

Igor Kurganov: And it's made harder to tap in, because you have to figure out stack sizes, dynamics within seconds, since you are instantly dealt a new hand. So when I was taking breaks Liv had to adjust very quickly from cheering on the final table to zoning and being sharp. She did that very well and never gave me fewer chips back than I left her with.

"It'd be fun to see more team poker"

Liv Boeree and Igor Kurganov
Representing REG Charity on the winner's podium

What was it like working in a team, when 99.99% of your poker career has been entirely individual? Or does both being part of Team PokerStars help foster a team ethos?

Liv Boeree: Well, our lives are so intertwined with our spending 340/365 days of the year together it's second nature to work as a team with Igor on most things, so this wasn't much of a stretch - I could imagine it being hard for a team that didn't know which player is better than the other.

Did knowing each other so well away from the table make it easier (or indeed harder)? Would you advise people team up with players who they know well?

Igor Kurganov: I'm pretty certain it's better to team up with people you know. You don't want to run into unforeseen problems during the tournament and having a good idea of what everyone's strengths and weaknesses as well as expectations are certainly helps. Most of the time more information is better.

Results aside, what are your thoughts on two person teams compared to three or four? Were there any strategic considerations about how big to make the team?

Igor Kurganov: We mainly just liked the idea of being the two of us together with REG Charity on the team. I'm biased after our win, but already before I thought that the format is a refreshing change. Team sports are very enjoyable and carry with them some aspects that one doesn't experience in individual competitions. Prior we had it in the GPL and it'd be fun to see more of that. I think two, three or four can all work well as long as one doesn't have four players all craving to get some hands in on the same team.

"I can't imagine a better first bracelet win"

Liv Boeree and Igor Kurganov's bracelets
"It feels like a fairy tale"

Obviously this result will have huge sentimental value for many reasons not least because it’s both your first bracelet. Do you think you both objectively would have preferred to win individual bracelets this year or was the team element the icing on the cake?

Liv Boeree: I can't have imagined a better story for my first bracelet win than this! It feels like a fairy tale - to win our first bracelets together at the same time is unbelievable. Definitely would not wish for anything else.

Igor Kurganov: Yeah, it really was about as good as it gets, maybe only behind both getting heads-up against each other in the Main Event, but that is still an option.

Finally, half your winnings went to REG Charity, what causes were specifically helped (or will be) from this win?

Liv Boeree: We haven't decided this yet - we tend to go with the advice of the managing team of REG when it comes to which specific charities our annual donations go to, and will do the same with this donation. They regularly analyse which causes are most in need of funding and I personally just want it to go where it'll achieve the maximum impact.

Igor Kurganov: Mostly, I want to donate to existential risk research organisations, but more than in my own thoughts I trust the staff at REG and the people they work with. I very much believe in their process and ability to find the most important organisations to donate our funds to.

Thanks, and good luck getting heads-up against each other in the Main Event

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