While much of the coverage of the recent national elections in Russia focused on the return of Putin to the country’s top spot of power, a smaller story that provides an interesting counterpoint to Putin’s victory is also garnering some notice.
We’re talking about the surprise victory of self-described online poker professional Max Katz, who found himself the unanticipated victor of municipal council elections in Shchukino. While quite a bit removed from the presidency, the win nonetheless marked a small upset for Katz and the opposition party Yabloko that he represented in the election.
Katz, 27, told the Daily Telegraph that his campaign was funded primarily from his online poker winnings. While there’s no firm number regarding how much Katz spent running for the seat, Katz has made tens of thousands of dollars playing live and online poker.
An interesting footnote that suggests Katz might be quite comfortable with delegating responsibility and spotting potential in others: He was part of a team responsible for staking Pius Heinz in 2011 for the Main Event of the World Series of Poker, a decision that reportedly netted Katz and company nearly $3.5 million for their efforts.
Katz does have aspirations for higher office, telling various sources that he views his win as a stepping stone to a position such as mayor – perhaps even something national is in the cards for Mr. Katz.
There is the open question of how this new position will interplay with the poker and staking careers; while not a full-time position per se, it does seem likely that Katz will be highly eager to throw himself into the work, perhaps creating a full-time job out of a part time one. With modern poker so competitive, it does seem possible that politics will reduce what was once the primary profession for Katz into more of a hobby while he explores whether his political bug is a temporary diversion or a life-long fixation.