In our latest instalment of our “A to Z of Gambling”, we take a look at the career of a highly respected poker professional, as well as the popular casino game “Keno” and the term “Kicker”, found in card games.

K is for… Katchalov

Eugene Katchalov is a professional poker player, born in Kiev, Ukraine on February 21st 1981 and raised in Brooklyn, New York from the age of ten.

Katchalov turned professional in 2003 and in 2011 became a part of Team PokerStars, where he plays as “E.Katchalov”. Before this, he played online under the name “MyRabbiFoo”.

Eugene Katchalov shot to prominence in 2007 when landing the Bellagio Cup in Las Vegas, before winning the $15,000 buy in WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic later in the year, where he collected a massive $2,482,605 for his efforts.

In 2011 though, Katchalov has really stepped his poker game up to a new level. At the time of writing, only three people in the world have earned more money from live poker tournaments than the Ukrainian pro, who has earned over $2.5 million so far, including his first ever World Series of Poker bracelet.

The year got off to an impressive start, when Katchalov managed to fend off a stacked field at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Super High Roller Event, picking up $1.5 million in prize money from the $100,000 buy in tournament back in January 2011. He would then finish as runner up in the PCA Six Max High Roller tournament, a $10,000 buy in tournament.

The summer’s World Series of Poker brought Katchalov his first taste of WSOP glory, as well as his 21st WSOP cash, which pushed his WSOP earnings to over $1.1 million.

With the formation of the new Epic Poker League, Katchalov was granted a three year ticket to the competition and at the time of writing, is currently ranked third in the Global Poker Index, the new league table of poker players.

The only thing left for the 30 year old Ukrainian to achieve is success on the European Poker Tour. In August 2011, Katchalov came as close as he has ever done in his career to landing an EPT title, after finishing third at the EPT Barcelona Main Event for prize money of €315,000. That performance may have been his only EPT final table to date, but that statistic is certain to change before Eugene Katchalov calls time on his poker career.

K is for… Keno

Keno is a bingo style game played in the casino, usually with 80 numbered balls in a drawing machine, of which 20 will be randomly chosen. The player must choose how many numbers to try and predict – usually between one and fifteen – and then place a wager of their choice.

Players mark off the numbers on their card as they are drawn and any winnings are based on how many numbers the player opted to predict, plus the size of their wager. Typically, the greater the number of selections by the player, the larger the potential pay off, though it is not uncommon to see players being rewarded for hitting no numbers at all as a consolation prize.

Each casino will have its own Keno payout tables and no two tables will be identical. The house edge can range from 3% to as large as 35%.

The game of Keno is thought to have its roots in China, where legend has it that the Great Wall of China was built in part by funds raised from the game. The name “Keno” almost certainly originated in the West, however; probably from the French or Latin words for “five numbers” or “five each”

The first ever Keno game in a casino came in 1936, courtesy of casino owner Warren Nelson who invented a drawing machine in the form of a rotating cage. With the development of technology, many land based casinos now use random number generators to run their Keno draws, in much the same way as online casinos.

K is for… Kicker

A Kicker is a side card found in a poker hand, that plays no role in determining the hand’s rank, but that can be used to break a tie.

In a game of Texas Hold’em for example, a player holding A – Q on a board of A – J – 5 – 4 -2 has a pair of aces, with a queen kicker. If his opponent holds A – K on the same board, then the opponent would win with a pair of aces, with a king kicker; the first hand has been “out kicked”.

The term “top pair, top kicker” is used in poker games with community cards, when the highest card on the board pairs with one hole card and the other hole card acts as the highest possible kicker. For example, a Texas Hold’em hand of A – J on a board of J – 9 – 7 – 5 – 2 would be top pair (Jacks), top kicker (Ace).

In a poker game like Seven Card Stud, multiple kickers can be used to determine the outcome of the hand. If a player is holding K – K – J – 9 – 8 against a hand of K – K – J – 8 – 7, the first hand would win due to the second kicker being used to break the tie.

Until the next instalment of our A to Z of Gambling, we wish you the very best of luck with all of your gambling!