The number of live poker tournaments that take two weeks to play out in a given year can be counted on one hand. The most famous is, of course, the World Series of Poker Main Event, which takes two weeks to play out, give or take a day or two depending on the year. But even the marathon that is the most famous poker tournament in the world has off days early in the proceedings, and another before the final table begins.
Now imagine playing 11 straight days of poker in a row, all day, across multiple sessions. On a few occasions, even playing multiple concurrent sessions at the same time, bouncing between tables to try to build up two stacks at once. And then, after all of those hours of grinding, playing two more full days of poker, all the way through to the final table.
That’s exactly the kind of run that David Uvaydov finished on Tuesday. He played every one of the starting days offered in the Mega Millions XXIV event at the Parkwest Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles, in almost all of the 33 starting flights, moved onto Day 2, and then played into Day 3, the finale.
So after playing 13 grueling days of tournament poker, how was Uvaydov feeling by the end?
“I was a little tired,” Uvaydov admitted.
It’s easy to wonder what might motivate someone to play the same tournament so many times. Well, the first time bagging chips was enough to earn a min-cash of $600, plus a shot at was would become a $351,875 first-place prize. Every subsequent bag was worth $3,500 cash. Uvaydov cooked up an idea in his head to go full throttle, and Bike Tournament Director Mo Fathipour upped the ante, promising Uvaydov a seat to the fall $1,700 buy-in WSOP Circuit main event at The Bike if he played 32 out of 33 sessions.
“I live in LA and I played these corners before a lot,” said Uvaydov. “And I just thought it’d be interesting to try to play all of them, because I thought that the tournament field could be pretty soft. I was just talking to somebody, asking, ‘Would it be possible to play all of them and bag, you know, five or six times. At the beginning, I thought I could just like scoop like $15K or $20K and actually will be relatively not so hard. I was in a little bit over my head, though.”
Uvaydov entered Mega Millions XXIV three times each on the first two days, and on his second day he managed to find his first bag, locking up a spot on Day 2. But from there, the path got rocky. Over the next three days, Uvaydov managed a single min-cash over 11 entries.
But days 6, 7 and 8 were when Uvaydov hit his stride. He added three more bags, worth $10,500, and bumped up his biggest stack for Day 2 (the one that would go forward) to a much higher level.
By the time the 11th and final day of “Day 1” ended, Uvaydov had booked a small loss – albeit one with tremendous potential, considering he still had a stack to play for Day 2.
Upon reflection, one of the most challenging parts of Uvaydov’s challenge was having to multi-table concurrent flights at once.
“I was multi-tabling for two or three of the days, for maybe three or four hours – physically running back and forth,” Uvaydov said. “And that was really interesting, because I’d never done that. Along the way, I kind of came up with a couple strategies to make it super efficient. Like, for example, if you’re multi-tabling, one of the most important things is never to miss your big blind, if at all possible.”
With all of the chaos behind him, Uvaydov still had a tournament to play. He kept building his stack and laddering up, all the way through Day 2 and Day 3 and onto the final table. In what might come as a surprise to those observing his run, Uvaydov believes one of the primary reasons he was able to make it to the final table was because of how much he played in this tournament over the previous two weeks.
“I just learned a lot of things,” said Uvaydov. “I’m happy I did it, because I don’t think I would have run this deep if I didn’t play all those days. I was just learning a lot of exploits and the way people were playing in this tournament. I made like some folds and calls on Day 2 and Day 3 that I probably would not have made otherwise if I didn’t play along with this field specifically.”
Uvaydov had one of the bigger stacks with eight players left, but a runner-runner straight and a coinflip gone wrong ended his run in eighth place. The $35,885 payout, plus the $11,700 he previously cashed for, gave him a total of $47,585, for a profit of $34,825 when all was said and done.
It was the biggest final table of Uvaydov’s poker career to date, and his second-best career live cash. He’s made runs in several major events, including a cash in the 2022 WSOP Main Event, a cash in the 2023 EPT Paris main event, and a 68th place finish in the 2022 WPT Legends of Poker Main Tour stop. His intention is to continue to try his hand in major events, including upcoming WPT stops at the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown and Choctaw.
And even though he was only 24 hours out from his seemingly endless poker session, Uvaydov didn’t dismiss the possibility of running it back next year.
“If I were to do this in another quantum tournament or next year for the Mega Millions, I would probably just do a side bet on the total number of bags I can get, because I think I can pretty confident get over five now. Knowing what I know now, I think I can make $5-10k, which I think is pretty good for 11 days. But I think I would just not multi-table unless I’m really short in one session.”
Uvaydov was also rolling a potential suggestion for Fathipour to raise the stakes for next year’s Mega Millions.
“Why not give the person that bags the most times an extra bonus, maybe $10K or $25K, because that would just make people fire so many more times. I didn’t talk to him about it yet, but I think he might like that a lot.”