Interview with Igor Kuganov

By Robbie Strazynski
August 31, 2018


Hey everybody, Robbie Strazynski here for I am with Igor Kurganov, PokerStars ambassador. How’re you doing?

Hey. Doing good, thank you.

Nice to meet you. Thanks for coming. So, a couple months ago—or was it a month ago, about?—you and your girlfriend, Liv Boeree, you announced that you’re going to be running a special promotion to give away not one, but two Platinum Passes, right? And it has nothing really directly to do with poker. You don’t have to be amazing at poker to do it, you just have to use your brain.

That’s right.

So you want to explain a little bit about it?

Yeah. The idea was that poker teaches you a lot of things that are applicable to daily life, especially like dealing with probabilities and just dealing with uncertainty in general, which applies to all sorts of things. And poker is doing it better than I think pretty much anything else, because you’re experiencing a 3%-er 3% of the time, so you have an internal feeling of it. So the idea was that people basically who play poker are getting good at these type of skills, but there are also people who already have these skills but don’t necessarily play poker. So we’re looking for people who are quite rational, would solve a bunch of logic puzzles well, and the assumption is that they would probably also do well in poker. So we’re sifting through a bunch of people and are going to find two out of over 2,000 who are the best at solving these riddles.

And basically it’s through these quizzes that you put together. It’s four different rounds of quizzes. How long do you spend crafting the questions together with Liv?

It takes hours. We get inspired by other questions, and then sometimes we change things around around them, some questions we have kind of come up with ourselves to a degree. And it takes a while though, because it needs to be hard but solvable in that amount of time.

They are hard! They are very, very hard! I have taken the quizzes and they are hard! They make me feel like an idiot. They’re really, really hard questions.

Well, you should know, out of the 21 questions that have been given so far, only five people out of 2,000 have answered every question correctly.

I’m not one of them. I guarantee I’m not one of them. Wow.

So basically, there’s not going to—the ten finalists will not have answered everything correctly.

By design, right?

So you have a chance–Yes. It’s just not going to happen.


Some people get lucky in it, as well. From the five, someone will have guessed.

From the multiple choice answers, I hear you. Well, you know what, though, I’m tired of being made to feel stupid with these questions. I think it’s time to turn the tables on Igor a little bit. We’re going to give you a little bit of a quiz that we put together. Very difficult questions. Are you ready?


Alright, and if you win, of course, you’re going to get a Platinum Pass, right?

Oh, man. Cardplayer Lifestyle is doing well!

That’s a great quote! Alright, so we’re going to start off with the easy questions. And anyone who’s taken these quizzes, you’ll get the inside jokes here. We’re going to start with the easy question first. We’re here at EPT Barcelona in Spain. So, in Spain, in Spanish, what do the names “Boeree” and “Kurganov” mean?

It’s not multiple choice, or do I have to just guess?

That is correct.

In Spanish?


Sí. I guess “Boeree y Kurganov”?

“Beauty and the Beast.” Nice try, though. Number two. Maybe you’ll have better at a multiple choice question.

So far it’s hard.

It’s the easy ones first, though. And they get progressively more difficult. Multiple choice here. A physical Platinum Pass is made out of: A) platinum, B) silver-plated gold, C) plastic, or D) bronzed strands of hair collected from all of the PokerStars ambassadors.

I can attest that it’s fortunately not D.

Not D, OK.

It would have been 320 Platinum Passes that are being given out. It actually would have required all of my hair and all of Liv’s hair. A lot of passes. I think if it was purely out of platinum it would nearly be worth more than the pass, maybe. So therefore it is plastic.

I think it’s plastic. I actually don’t know; I haven’t ever seen one. Plastic, there you go. You’ve got one right! There you go, so far so good.

I’m performing as well as a monkey so far, pretty much, I think.

Continuing with the multiple choice questions. REG Charity, REG, very important charity, right? R-E-G. REG Charity stands for: A) Rhythmic Electric Guitar, B) Robbie’s Essentially Guessing, C) Rapid Electricity Generator, or D) Raising for Effective Giving.

I’m happy that the correct answer was in there after all.

Yes, which is?

We got it in there with D, Raising for Effective Giving.

That’s true. You want to take a minute and explain exactly what that is?

The name is a very simple, almost a pun on words. I mean, we’re raising for effective giving. But the idea is that we’re just spreading the idea between poker players that, we’ve done often well, and even if we have only like some means, we can often help significantly when we give, especially if we look at the impact and select for the most effective charities. So we’re giving the idea that hey, we should use a scientific approach to determining what charities we give to first. Because if we had infinite resources, sure, let’s help everyone, but since we only have some, I first want to give it there where we help five people instead of one with the same amount of money. So it’s looking for the biggest bang for your buck.

And it’s a meta-charity, also. You look for the charities.

Yeah. So, we are recommending charities, we’re not raising for ourselves. We are ponying up the money for running it, or people can donate to that as well. But we’re recommending charities or organizations that we partner with.

So that’s good and a perfect explanation, but you’re using all of your quiz time, Igor. So we’re going to move on to question number four. If Liv can paint a house in eight hours, and Igor can paint a house in two hours, together they can paint a house in: A) it depends on the size of the house, B) it depends on the size of the paintbrushes, C) just because they can paint it doesn’t mean they would, or D) five hours.

It’s C, just because they could doesn’t mean they would. I think you haven’t fully committed us yet. Just because I did it in two hours, you don’t know what the pay for that was.

Well, you’re definitely on the right track. The answer’s actually E) they would outsource it and pay someone else to do the paint job.

Yeah, so money is involved. That’s what wasn’t determined so far.

And here’s one for people who have taken one of the quizzes already, and you’re going to like this one. If six Daniel Negreanus have planted six vegetable gardens in six hours, how many Daniel Negreanus would it take to create six Twitter polls about six dogs, six politicians, and six vegan athletes?

It’s one. He would like to tweet about it at every single opportunity. Yes, that’s usually what goes in hand with being favorable of these type of antics.

That is the correct answer, Igor, you’re doing very well. Second-to-last question here, number six. If Igor’s VPIP is 27, and Liv’s PFR is 82, what is the level of SPF sunscreen they should be using on the Barcelona beaches?

It’s the maximum, still. You see, we have fairly light skin. I was born in Russia, only like 33% Ashkenazi, so not enough sun protection on my skin. Same for Liv, so we’re going for 50+.

50+! That is the correct answer; it says 50+, wear sunscreen, just like the song says. And final question. This quiz has gone on: A) long enough, B) too long, C) the answer is always C, or D) all of the above.

The answer is always C. C, the answer is always C.

Well, I think technically—C, the answer is always C. I think that is the correct answer.

It must be the correct answer.

Not bad, Igor, you did very well on the quiz.

I will remember the Beauty and the Beast thing. Which is “La bella y el monstro,” or something like that?

Ah, sí.

Ah, muy bien.

Yo soy Roberto Strazynski, y es Cardplayer Lifestyle. Nosotros están en Barcelona por el EPT dos mille… uhh… how do you say it? 2018?

Dos mille y… dieciocho.

Dieciocho, exactly. And this has been Igor. Thanks for being a good sport.

Thanks, Robbie. This was fun.

Thanks, I appreciate it.



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Written By.

Robbie Strazynski

Robbie founded in 2009. A veteran member of the poker media corps, in addition to writing and video presenting, Robbie has hosted multiple poker podcasts over the years, including Top Pair, the Red Chip Poker Podcast, The Orbit, and the CardsChat Podcast. In 2019, Robbie translated the autobiography of Poker Hall of Famer Eli […]


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