Eugene Katchalov Tweets His Entire Escape From Ukraine

07:50
02 Mar

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine progresses, the airways and internet have been swamped with heartbreaking accounts of tens of thousands, if not millions, of Ukrainians trying to survive. Retired poker player Eugene Katchalov is among them. Eugene Katchalov arrived in Hungary after fleeing Ukraine as Russian soldiers invaded the country. Katchalov, his wife, and a small group of friends decided to evacuate Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, creating a small multi-car caravan as they traveled west to another state.

Dangerous Journey

It took Katchalov’s squad two long days of driving to reach Hungary, despite the distance by flight from Kyiv to Ukraine’s western border being approximately 300 miles. To make matters more complicated, they had to navigate through tens of thousands of other refugees’ vehicles, winding roads through western Ukraine’s Carpathian Mountains, avoiding significant cities under Russian military offense, and having to pass through countless security checkpoints along the way. They also had to keep their vehicles as fully fueled as possible.

Here’s one of the Austria cars. Their group also stopped at some gas station in the middle of nowhere.
In general we try to fill up the gas tank as soon as we get down to around 75%. #Ukrainepic.twitter.com/lpJY5fWRLB

β€” Eugene Katchalov (@EugeneKatchalov) February 25, 2022

On Saturday morning, Katchalov and his entourage arrived in Hungary. He had been tweeting about how his group was progressing, and at the end of the tweet, he said he had crossed the border, passed through security, and entered Hungarian customs.

Just went through security. Now in customs πŸ™πŸ» #Ukrainepic.twitter.com/nIbbLKvHBC

β€” Eugene Katchalov (@EugeneKatchalov) February 26, 2022

He stated several times along his twisting trek westward that his group was changing plans and was heading to either Slovakia or Poland, which share a border with western Ukraine. Long border queues at the other alternative border crossings eventually led Katchalov’s team to proceed southwest to the Hungarian border, which was the group’s initial goal. At one point, he indicated he was about 300 meters from the Polish border, even though his caravan was in a mountainous Ukrainian national park and there were no highways to cross the border.

Hello Hungary πŸ™πŸ» pic.twitter.com/mOl8MsxGGb

β€” Eugene Katchalov (@EugeneKatchalov) February 26, 2022

Katchalov, 41 years old, was born in 1981 in what was then known as the Ukrainian Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union. He migrated to the United States when he was a kid and has been a citizen of the United States of America since 1991. During the Russian invasion, he was able to leave Ukraine because he had American citizenship. Currently, Ukraine doesn’t allow male citizens between 18 and 60 to go to different countries.

Stellar Poker Career

With $9.2 million in cash, Katchalov, who retired from professional poker in 2018, is Ukraine’s all-time winningest tournament player, followed by Yevgeniy Timoshenko, who has approximately $7.8 million.

Katchalov’s most notable victories include the 2007 Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Las Vegas, winning $2,482,605, and the Super High Roller event at the 2011 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, where he won $1.5 million. He also emerged victorious in the seven-card stud event at the 2011 World Series of Poker, his maiden and only bracelet title to date.

He is currently working in Qlash, an eSports media company he co-founded In early 2017 with Italian poker player Luca Pagano.

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