Yuri Dzivielevski Enjoying Success, Freedom With Nothing Left To Prove

Yuri Dzivielevski
Brazil’s #1-ranked Yuri Dzivielevski is headed to the 2021 World Series of Poker. (photo: PokerPro)

It’s a rare day for Yuri Dzivielevski, one in which he isn’t making his presence felt deep in an online high roller. Here, in late September, as the live 2021 World Series of Poker approaches, the #1-ranked online player in the world is taking a few days off from his grind to adjust to his temporary accommodations in Costa Rica where he will be spending the next two weeks before making his way to Las Vegas for a series-long gold bracelet grind.

“I have to stay quarantined fourteen days in a country authorized by the USA,” Dzivielevski said just days into his stay. “This makes things very difficult, as my family does not have the option to come and go whenever they want so they’ll have to spend 70 days traveling with me. I know this will not be easy for them, so I will do my best to honor that effort.”

What Dzivielevski means is that he is planning on furthering his fantastic 2021 campaign, a standout year that has come in the midst of a career renaissance that can be traced back to the 2019 WSOP. It was during that series that Dzivielevski randomly found himself in the poker spotlight. As he entered the Amazon Room and took his seat in the Main Event, he discovered that he would be sitting at the ESPN Main Event featured table with none other than Daniel Negreanu. And while Negreanu may have been the intended target of the broadcast, it was Dzivielevski’s play and charisma that shined the brightest as he drew the attention of the poker world for his tough, smart style of play.

“I was randomly chosen to play at that table and it was really good, really fun. I managed to dominate the game well and still have fun with those tablemates. It was a good time and I also had the benefit of getting used to that environment and then making the deep run in a place I was familiar with.”

The Brazilian ended up spending hours on the featured table as the Main Event field thinned out. He eventually finished in 28th for more than $261,000. A great experience that only added to the headlines he made earlier in the summer when he captured his first career gold bracelet in the $2,500 Mixed Omaha Hi/Lo 8 or Better event for over $213,000.

But the truth is, for online poker fans, Dzivielevski was already a known crusher. In 2014, Dzivielevski took his first turn at the top of the online poker rankings, spending three weeks at #1. Two months later, he did it again, upending then #1-ranked Fedor Holz to claim the crown for another five weeks. It was January 2015 when fellow countryman Joao Simao took the top spot for himself. After that, Dzivielevski wouldn’t see the top of the rankings again for the better part of six years. However during that time, he never let go of the idea of being number one again.

“I always wanted and want to be on top. What happened is that for a long period in my career I moved away from MTTs to play PLO cash games and Mixed Games. Because of that, I couldn’t be at the top of the MTTs. After a while, I was invited to be a coach and partner at bitBBrazil, which made me study tournaments again and automatically want to play them again. Since then, I have given my best and had the best years of my career.”

Dzivielevski’s resume speaks for itself. More specifically, his results in 2021 point to the longtime grinder enjoying the peak of his career. Of his top-20 lifetime online scores, 15 have taken place this year. This includes a win in the GGPoker Super MILLION$ for more than $408,000, a WSOP Circuit ring on Natural8 for over $179,000, a win in PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker for $107,949 (one of two WCOOP wins in the same week), and a runner-up finish in the $8M GTD Venom on ACR for nearly $850,000. Dzivielevski has soared up the All-Time Online Money list amassing more than $14 million in earnings where he sits at 16th all-time.

All of those results have been in service to Dzivielevski scaling back up the online rankings and earning the #1 spot again, six years after his last reign. Only this time, no one has been able to catch him so quickly. He’s held #1 for 26 straight weeks and counting, the fifth-longest single stint since the rankings began in 2005. It’s something he credits to the confidence one gets when their dedication to studying the game leads to success.

“I’m really happy to be ranked #1 for so long. I believe there was a big change in my mentality after winning some titles. I started to play with more freedom, not wanting to prove anything to anyone. At the same time, I evolved a lot technically with my study group. I don’t think I’ve evolved this much in any time of my career and I’ve never been so happy playing poker. The combination of this, and other things, helped me get there.”

One of those “other things” is the fervent poker community that continues to emerge from Brazil. It’s been undeniable that Brazilian online pros have excelled in some of the biggest online series this year. Names like Bruno Volkmann, Bruno Botteon, Renan Carlos Bruschi, Pedro Padilha, and Dalton Hobold have made headlines for taking home major titles during SCOOP, WCOOP, GGSF, and the international WSOP Online. Of the top 100 ranked players in the world 37 hail from Brazil, and for over half a year it’s been Dzivielevski who has led them all.

“Brazilians are very passionate about poker and very competitive. I believe that the combination of these two things makes us work hard. Poker also gives us the opportunity to have a good life, with comfort and freedom,” he said. “This is what makes young Brazilians fall in love with the game and work hard to be good. We cannot forget that we are a huge country, so we have more players than any other country probably.”

But with so many players emerging from Brazil, one might think that the community is tight-knit, with top pros sharing information with up-and-comers as is thought to be the case in the past with top-tier German pros and the elite online community in Sweden. But Dzivielevski says that the competitive nature of Brazilians makes it so that’s not always the case.

“Brazilians generally have small study groups and do not pass information on to people outside of those groups. Outside of the tables, we are friends. I know almost all of the high-stakes regs and like them, but at the table things are different…”

With two weeks to wait before he and his family can complete their journey to Las Vegas, the newly signed Team partypoker ambassador will be back grinding online soon enough. He’ll be adding to his totals, vying for titles, and preparing to see what this autumn at the WSOP will have in store. However, during that time at the Rio, the current #1 will likely see his grip on the rankings slip. With no ability to play in the worldwide market, those that would look to have their turn at the top may find their window of opportunity open.

But for Dzivielevski, that will just motivate him more. After over a decade in the game, he still finds excitement in the grind and challenge.

“I never loved playing tournaments as much as I do these days. Nowadays, I just play for performance, thinking about making the best decisions on every street and dominating my stakes as much as possible. I like to go further and take my opponents out of their comfort zone…because I’m a competitive person, that’s very exciting. If I feel like I’m not dominating my stake, I study hard until I can do it again,” he said.

“This quest is endless and I love it. I don’t see myself doing anything else.”

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