By Todd Lamansky
Chances are you haven’t heard of Yuval Bronshtein, but all of that is about to change. He earned the respect of the online poker world in 2008 when he took down two FTOPS events simultaneously under his handle: Yuvee04.
The 28-year-old pro hails from Israel but his parents moved to Atlanta when he was 5. Like many professionals his age, Bronshtein started playing Texas Hold’em in college.
“It was basically tournament-style,” he said. “It would be a $10 buy-in and you could rebuy as many times as you wanted. The game was over when one person had all the chips. After about two weeks, I started winning every time we played, for about three months straight.”
That motivated him to open a Bodog account, where he began grinding $30-$60 limit hold’em. Two years later, “I had no money in my account so I used my player points to buy in to a satellite for the main event. I won first place and went to the World Series that year and just played the main event because I was broke. I was actually in debt (because) I had borrowed money from my family for the trip. So I played the main event, I didn’t cash in it, I was still broke and it came down to it being the last night of the trip. My brother was with me and we were supposed to be leaving the next day and I had $200 in my pocket. We were at Bellagio and I decided to sit in a $2-$5 NLHE game with it, and instead of leaving the next day, we ended up staying for three more days because I ran the $200 up to $5,000. Then we went home, I paid back the money I borrowed from my family and put $500 into my Full Tilt account and the rest is basically history.”
In no time at all, Yuval had turned that $500 into $10,000 playing “razz cash games, mostly. … I went to the World Series the next year and . . . I had maybe a $40K or $50K bankroll so I just decided to go to the World Series and play a few events. I ended up getting third place in one of the tournaments that year (Event 37, $2K pot-limit hold’em) and that was a big bankroll boost.” The $109,018 he won remained the largest live score of his career until this summer (when he received $294,601 for finishing 23rd in the main event).
His success at the 2007 WSOP inspired Yuval to take a year off from school to focus on poker. He soon found himself in London for the first WSOP Europe. “The first event was H.O.R.S.E., which is historically my best tournament game. It was a really expensive trip and the buy-in for the tournament was like 2,500 pounds, which at the time was, like, maybe four or five grand, and I spent probably $3,000 in expenses on the trip, but I ended up making the final table,” along with bracelet-holders Jennifer Harman and Chris Ferguson. “That kind of put my name on the map a little more.” Shortly thereafter, he won his first FTOPS. title in stud/8.
He returned to school in 2008 after winning his two FTOPS titles and completed his junior year, continuing to play poker on the side. That summer, he notched two more WSOP cashes followed by three final tables (H.O.R.S.E., Omaha/8 and stud/8) at the Gold Strike World Poker Open in Tunica, Miss., then dropped out of school a week into his senior year after winning $50K on Full Tilt. That October, at the EPT London, Yuval finished third a PLO/8 event and won the PLO Shootout. He shipped the $335 H.O.R.S.E. tournament at the L.A. Poker Open in November and finished second in the $5K PLO championships at the PCA in early 2010.
Yuval’s results further illustrate his well-roundedness as a player who is as comfortable in a cash game as he is in a tournament, in both the live and online arenas. He’s amassed more than $700K in online earnings and, after the 2012 WSOP, is just shy of the $1-million mark live.
The 2012 WSOP was the best of his career, with six cashes (bringing his total to 19), including two final tables and a deep run in the main event, for $426,603. Though, “as weird as this sounds, my WSOP was disappointing this year.” Bronshtein had an allergic reaction to some antibiotics he was taking and failed to make a Day 2 in his first eight tournaments.
“I wasn’t myself and wasn’t playing well. … On the other hand, I had the best summer of my career. Cashing in the main event was like getting a monkey off my back.”
The fact that Eugene Katchalov selected Yuval in Daniel Negreanu’s annual $25K WSOP fantasy league speaks volumes about the respect he’s earned from the poker community. Yuval’s deep run in the main event is bound to give him screen time during the EPSN broadcasts throughout October. You can’t miss him; he’s the guy with the mohawk and a sweet ’stache.