The first thing Aliaksandr Shylko thought about after he won the PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) 2023 in February 2023 wasn’t the money ($3.12 million), the prestige, or how he was going to celebrate that night.
It was what he was going to do next on the poker table.
“The first thought I had after winning was that I wanted to prove to myself that it was not a random win,” Shylko tells PokerStars Blog. “Not for other people, I don’t care about that. Just for myself. Because I work hard and I’m really hungry to win more.”
The 27-year-old from Minsk, Belarus was already an accomplished poker pro prior to this year’s Bahamas trip. A pro of six years, Shylko had multiple big scores under his belt including a EUREKA Rozvadov High Roller win in 2022 for €75,332 (his winner photo from that event remains his Hendon Mob profile pic).
But his victory at the PSPC catapulted him into the poker spotlight, and into a bankroll most players will never acquire.
We caught up with Shylko at the European Poker Tour (EPT) stop in Monte Carlo to find out what the past few months have been like for him.
STICKING TO THE PLAN
You can deny it all you want, but we’ve all dedicated far too much time imagining what we’d do if we ever won a jackpot on the lottery. The charities we’d give money to. The countries we’d visit. Whether we’d retire early or keep on trucking.
We’d never say winning a tournament like the PSPC is akin to buying a lottery ticket (Aliaksandr Shylko battled hard for five days to get that title). But the odds of winning such an incredible and infrequent poker tournament are undeniably slim.
So what’s life like after you’ve won millions at the PSPC?
We got a taste earlier this year when we spoke to 2023 runner-up Max Menzel less than two weeks after he’d turned a free Platinum Pass into $2.85 million. He was already back at work.
“I think I got back to normal life rather quickly,” Menzel told us on a Skype call from a hotel room in Bangkok, where he was stationed for a work trip. “Life is normal with my wife and kids and I’ve kept the result quiet.”
Shylko got straight back to work too.
“The PSPC was a big event in my life but it hasn’t changed my plans a lot,” he says as he scans the floor of the Salle des Etoiles. “I always planned to keep on grinding.”
Shylko played a full EPT Paris schedule in February without much to write home about, then reached the final table of the €1K EUREKA Rozvadov Main Event in March, earning €39,700 for his seventh-place finish.
(Fun side note: It was Shylko’s 27th birthday during the Rozvadov trip and the King’s Casino presented him with a special PSPC cake.)
Shylko ran deep in yet another Main Event here at EPT Monte Carlo. He entered Day 4 short-stacked and ultimately busted in 36th place for €19,850. Still, he’s happy with the way he’s playing.
“Right now I am very comfortable with my decisions and what I choose to play,” he says.
“I JUST NEED THINGS TO SETTLE DOWN”
As many lottery jackpot winners can probably attest, not everything after a big win is a bed of roses. “It’s a bit stressful,” Aliaksandr Shylko says of his current situation. “I think it will be fine in a year or so though.”
Stressful because of the attention he’s receiving? Or having to manage such a windfall?
“All of it,” he says, frankly. “Tension. Bankroll management. I just need things to settle down a little bit.”
No one would think less of Shylko had he started playing high stakes exclusively following his PSPC win. He’d earned that right, and more importantly, he’d earned the cash required.
But Shylko isn’t interested in all that. He probably wants to get there one day, but when the time is right.
“Honestly, I’m not thinking about it,” he says. “I just try to play hand for hand, day after day. Just to play the best I can and improve my thought process, and my preparation.”
More about EPT Monte Carlo
- Main EPT site
- EPT Monte Carlo coverage hub
- The complete guide to Monte Carlo
- PokerStars Travel
- All Monte Carlo Blog coverage