Just over a week ago, Stoyan Madanzhiev made history as the winner of the 2020 WSOP Online Summer Series Main Event. Adding over $3.9 million to his bankroll as well as a coveted World Series of Poker bracelet to his trophy case, Madanzhiev emerged victorious from among 5,802 total entries, a field that created online poker’s largest ever prize pool.
Previously a relative unknown in the poker world, the native Bulgarian sat for a video interview on the YouTube channel of BetKings.eu, the GGPoker Network skin on which he competed in the online bracelet event. We’re sharing the interview with you below along with a transcript.
Additionally, a BetKings representative was kind enough to pass along some of my own questions as well, which Stoyan graciously also answered. These appear just below the transcript. I hope you enjoy the interview and getting to know poker’s newest champion a bit better.
Summarized Interview Transcript
Congratulations on this historic win! You are the first-ever WSOP online world champion. Do you even realize that you have just made history? How does it feel?
Thank you very much! Yes it´s a fact: I am the first one who won it online, I am humbled. It would feel just as great if it was live too! Winning this bracelet feels incredible! It´s even more than a dream.
How did you celebrate this historic win?
First I started screaming, then jumping around, and that was for like 15 minutes! I had a few drinks with friends. I still haven´t had the time for a proper party because there are many people who want to speak to me, do interviews, etc. Probably once I get the bracelet I will celebrate properly.
How did your WSOP journey start? Can you tell us a bit about your experiences on GGNetwork, the host of 2020 WSOP Online Summer Series?
I had a lot of fun playing at GG with all the stickers, and fun using the software. Also there was the feeling that you were participating in the WSOP, and it felt very special.
You qualified through Betkings. Anything that stands out as really positive on the site?
Betkings was amazing with me. Very good assistance any time I had questions. And they have great promotions. They really make me feel special.
When did you start playing poker?
I started playing when I was in school, so more than 12 years ago. When I found out how much strategy is involved in the game I fell in love with it, and I´m still studying it and trying to get better at it every day.
It was a lot different back in the day, as there was not as much information to help you out and, poker analysis programs were not so advanced back then. So everyone had their own point of view in terms of what was correct and what wasn’t.
But nowadays you can do so much if you want to be good, and that makes it easier to get better.
Who is the biggest supporter of your poker career?
Of course there were some friends and fellow students who helped me believe I deserve to win big, but to be honest I was my own biggest supporter and mostly believed in myself.
When did you decide to go pro, and at what age?
I started playing freerolls at first and built bankrolls from nothing on different sites. My plan was to earn enough money monthly to make a living with poker by the time I got into a university. But then when I actually started going to university, I was already earning more money playing poker than most jobs pay, so I decided to play poker full-time. This was at the age of about 19-20, so maybe since then.
Do you play every day? How many hours a week do you estimate?
I would say, I am a bit lazy with my play. In the past years I’ve been doing a lot of coaching and working with students I stake. So my time is split: one part is play, another part is working on improving my play, and the last part is coaching.
I can’t say an exact amount of time I spend playing. It depends on the weather and the city I am in 🙂 but it´s between 40-100 hours a month usually.
We know you as a talented poker player. But what do you like besides poker? How do you like to spend your days?
I like doing some outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, snowboarding, roller skating, riding motorcycles, playing sports. And then also meditation, yoga, meeting people. I’m still trying to explore life and try different things.
Tell us a bit more about the tournament. Who was the hardest opponent for you approaching the final table?
Well at the final table, being the chip leader, I did not meet much opposition, so I can’t really say someone gave me a hard time. At the start of the tournament Bryan Piccioli, directly on my left, had a bigger stack and that felt a bit uncomfortable.
Deal-making was disabled for WSOP events. Was there a moment that you thought: “Oh, I wish I could make a deal?”
No. I found out just today that it was not possible to make a deal. It crossed my mind before the final day if I would want to, but I never gave it to much thought. And once the action started I was so into the game that I decided to focus on playing and not to think about deals.
After the final hand, what went through your mind?
Uaaah! Ohhh! Omggg! WTF! Aaaaah! Something like that. 🙂
Many aspiring poker players will now look up to you and follow your footsteps. What kind of advice would you give them?
To never think they understand the game enough, and to always try to get better. And try to work on every aspect of it, both mental and technical.
Regarding the WSOP, are you going to strive for more champion titles in the future?
Not sure how easy it will be to win another bracelet considering the competition and field. But I will definitely try to win some more titles.
Now that you are WSOP world champion, what comes next for Stoyan?
I don’t know yet… For the short term I thought about making some videos analyzing my hands on the way to the win, which I recorded on my screen. It´s not something which I planned thoroughly, but you can follow my Instagram @stoyanpoker and maybe you can find out what’s next for me there.
Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview. We wish you the best of luck in the future!
Cardplayer Lifestyle’s Exclusive Q&A with Stoyan Madanzhiev
The term “life changing score” is often used when someone wins a big poker event, and this is no exception. In what way do you foresee your day-to-day life changing?
It is surely life changing for me. A score and title like this give you many opportunities but I still don’t have a plan. Surely I feel more calm and fulfilled.
You’ve been a professional poker player for a while. How does this big win change things for you as far as poker? Will you be grinding just as hard from now on, but at higher stakes?
I will probably continue working on my game, but start playing some higher stakes. But I don’t want to rush things too much, I will choose my games very carefully.
Will you perhaps consider retiring with your almost $4 million in the bank?
There are some thoughts like that. But for now I will continue to play poker. I might make some investments, but with time I will have more clarity on how my life/path will continue.
Traditionally, the winner of the WSOP Main Event each year in Las Vegas de facto becomes sort of a poker ambassador for the year. Do you now consider yourself to have any sort of ambassadorial responsibilities to the game of poker, or at least perhaps promote the game more in your home country of Bulgaria?
Yes it feels like that. Many people tell me how my win motivated them and how they feel inspired. So I will try to present the game of poker in a good way but also not hide the downsides of it. I might be posting more on my instagram profile @stoyanpoker.