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During the poker boom, there seemed to be more Russian-speaking poker players in the overall mix. Alex Kravchenko, Vitaly Lunkin, and Ivan Demidov were just a few of the names of winning players. But since many markets have clamped down on Internet poker or segregated their players, there seem to be fewer well-known competitors from Russia.

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Anatoly Filatov wants to change that. In fact, he’s ready and excited to do that via his participation in the Global Poker League. He was pegged to manage the Moscow Wolverines, and his enthusiasm for everything about the GPL is certainly infectious.

The young poker pro has been active in live tournaments since 2012, listing numerous final tables and big finishes in Russia and across Europe among his accomplishments. In 2014, he took second in the EPT Vienna High Roller event for a big score, and he won the PartyPoker WPT Merit Classic North High Roller later that year. He is no stranger to the online poker world, either.

Filatov has a deep passion for the game. It shows in every interview and social media post, and it especially took center stage on GPL Draft Day. He chose an all-Russian team to comprise the Wolverines, starting with the young phenom Dzmitry Urganovich. He then added Vladimir Troyanovskiy, Andrey Pateychuk, and Sergey Lebedev to round out his team.

He gave PokerUpdate some further insight into his decisions and his GPL plans moving forward.

PokerUpdate: What was your plan going into GPL Draft Day?

Anatoly: Actually, I felt pretty comfortable with the draft. My team is rather local, so I decided to pick only Russian-speaking players. It allows us to communicate efficiently.

PokerUpdate: Did your selection process go smoothly or did you hit a stumbling block along the way?

Anatoly: I selected exactly the same players that I predicted I would choose before the draft. I considered that other managers could pick only Dzmitry Urbanovich in the first two rounds, so I decided to pick him first. My second pick was Troyanovskiy, who is a top-ranked and legendary Russian player. The next two picks were made as I planned before the draft.

PokerUpdate: What are your team’s greatest strengths?

Anatoly: We are absolutely fearless. That’s why everyone considers that Russians are crazy.

PokerUpdate: Have you already chosen your wild cards? Or are you still considering options? (Any hints about your choices are welcome. Ha.)

Anatoly: I had a few candidates in mind even before the draft, so I will pick one of those guys. He is number one in his country this year and showed great results online and offline in poker this year.

Looking for wild card in the Hollywood! @gpl @mskwolverines #travelling #universalstudio

A photo posted by Anatoly Filatov (@nl_profit) on

PokerUpdate: How do you feel about being a team manager?

Anatoly: I am proud to be a team manager and represent my country. I really enjoy this experience. I like all of the media stuff I do, and, at the same time, I feel responsible for our team and the results we are going to show.

PokerUpdate: What are your goals as the team’s manager?

Anatoly: My goals are to create a great team, promote the Russian style of poker and its players, show everyone that we are talented, and ship the final!

PokerUpdate: Do you feel prepared for the GPL to begin? What are you looking forward to the most?

Anatoly: A lot of the things are new, so I feel excited about how it will go. The first step for us it to choose the right strategy and get to the semi-finals. Then we will see what is next.

PokerUpdate: What are your hopes for the GPL?

Anatoly: I hope that we are creating something innovative and new in the industry and will promote this sport to a new level. Feel free to follow me on social networks and support the Moscow Wolverines! (NL_profit on Twitter and Instagram, MSKWolverines on Twitter, and Anatoly.Filatov on Facebook)

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Jennifer Newell

Jennifer has been a freelance writer in the poker industry for a decade. She left a full-time job with the World Poker Tour to tell the stories of poker. She now lives in St. Louis, writes about poker while pursuing other varied interests, and speaks her mind on Twitter… a lot.