Gracious in defeat, smiling and upbeat, Artem Metalidi bid farewell to the 2018 WSOP Main Event in eighth place. The Ukrainian pro collected $1,250,000 for his efforts, by far and away the biggest score of his poker career, and despite a few thoughts of ‘what if’ he looked back on what for many is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“It’s been an incredible experience and I couldn’t have dreamt of making the final table when I started this tournament.”

Metalidi lost most of his chips early on with set under set, and he found himself happy and content after sneaking into the money.

“It felt like I was freerolling this tournament, and I wasn’t even considering that I could be making a deep run. I’m really, really happy.”

After sitting on a large stack for most of Day 7, Metalidi slipped and started the final table with the second shortest stack. Last night, Metalidi expressed that it would only take one double up for him to feel as though he would be the favorite to win, but the big rush never came.

“After an hour of play I felt very comfortable today, but I don’t think I could’ve played any hands differently from how I would normally play them.”

Looking back on his deep run it might take a while for it all to settle in, but without regrets and with great memories Metalidi walked off stage into the Las Vegas night to celebrate this result with his friends that supported him at the final table.

“I was going to be happy with this score regardless of how the day went, and I had this mindset coming into today. I don’t think anyone in my spot can be unhappy. It’s been surreal, I don’t think I fully grasp it yet, and I think it will all hit me later.”

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2018 WSOP Main Event, 2018 World Series of Poker, Artem Metalidi