Vindication: Pavel Plesuv Avenges WPT Runner-Up Finish to Win Rock ‘N’ Roll Championship

Nov 28, 2018

By Sean Chaffin 

Champion Pavel Plesuv

Pavel Plesuv may not have been a big name in the poker world when he entered the field at the Seminole Hard Rock for the WPT Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open. The Moldovan-born player now living in the Czech Republic had plenty of big scores and won almost $2.1 million this year alone. After his WPT win, there will be plenty of folks taking notice.

The championship is a bit of vindication for the 30-year-old poker pro. In Season XIV, he finished runner-up at WPT Prague for $130,524. Not adding his name to the Champions Cup always bothered Plesuv and he put that behind him on Wednesday in Florida.

“It feels pretty awesome,” he said. “It feels really awesome because I was heads-up three years ago at the WPT in Prague with a big lead and I lost it heads-up. So I’m pretty excited to come back and win.”

With his win of the Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open, Plesuv adds his name to the Champions Cup and now has an impressive record of cashes on the tour: one win and one runner-up. Plesuv takes home $504,820 and also earns an entry into the season-ending Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions at ARIA in June.

Plesuv made his way to South Florida not just for poker. He and his girlfriend like to compliment life on the poker road with some travel to places they haven’t visited, and they spent some time in Miami before he hit the tables.

The latest win caps an impressive two-year run. In 2016, he notched four EPT final table appearances for more than $500,000. That success continued in 2017 with a win and a runner-up finish at the PokerStars Championship in Monte Carlo for almost $600,000. This year, Plesuv finished second in the partypoker LIVE MILLIONS Germany in February for $924,841 and then won a Mid-States Poker Tour event in June at The Venetian for $640,062.

“This is the best year so far,” he said. “It started with a win in February and I’m finishing the year with a win here, and maybe I’ll win something in December. We’ll see, but this is awesome. I’ve been running pretty good.”

Earlier in the day, Jim Gilbert was able to take the lead briefly, but Plesuv was able to regain the lead soon after and continue to make use of his big stack throughout the final table. The two players were locked in an extended heads-up battle that lasted 68 hands before Plesuv was able to finish Gilbert off. The win moves Plesuv’s lifetime tournament winnings to more than $4 million.

For finishing runner-up, Gilbert takes home $326,565. He was at a distinct chip disadvantage heads-up, but made a game of it. Plesuv stayed patient and waited for the right time to make a big move.

“Heads-up play was pretty long and he was putting me to the test a lot, just jamming a lot from my limps,” Plesuv said. “So I was just waiting for a big hand and it wasn’t coming, so he was chipping up a little bit more and more. It wasn’t easy.”

A professional poker player for 10 years, Plesuv also has some skills on another felt as well. For four years, he was a semi-professional billiards player in small tournaments around Moldova. He still plays for fun and also enjoys computer games, sports, and lots of traveling.

Plesuv will be heading back to Europe to play in Prague next and then heading to the Bahamas for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January. He’s also considering a trip to WPT Russia in late January.

Overall, he loved his time at the Hard Rock and in South Florida.

“The tournament was great,” he said. “I really liked the structure, the field is big, and the WPT is great, so I really liked this stop.”

More travel and poker are in the works in the coming year. While he’s currently based out of the Czech Republic, he’s considering where he might want to live and plans to buy a house when he reaches his final decision. With so many big wins over the last two years, he’s got plenty of cash for the purchase.

Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.

Photography by Joe Giron /

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