After three days of intense action on the poker felt of the Shangri La Mactan Resort and Spa in Cebu in the Philippines, our field of 236 have been reduced to the final nine in the PokerStars.net APPT Cebu Main Event. It’s a diverse mix of players with seven different countries represented and an average age that is a little older (or shall we say ‘wiser’) than many of the final tables we’ve seen in recent times.
Here’s a closer look at the APPT Cebu final table players:
Seat 1: Richard En (Canada) – PokerStars Qualifier – 198,000 chips
33-year old Richard En has been playing poker for ten years. He’s primarily a cash game player, preferring to play $1-$2 Pot-Limit Omaha. He’s cashed twice at the World Series of Poker but this is his first APPT final table. He credits Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond as his biggest influence in poker and enjoys MMA when he’s not at the poker table. His work is cut out for him — he brings just 16 big blinds to the final table.
Seat 2: Jukka Juvonen (Hameenlinma, Finland) – PokerStars Qualifier – 583,000 chips
Jukka Juvonen is a 59-year old Civil Engineer from Finland but is a regular support of poker tournaments throughout the Asian region. Juvonen got started in the game thanks to his father when he was just a child, and has built an impressive career that features results throughout Europe, Asia and America where he picked up two WSOP cash results.
Juvonen stormed into the chip lead on Day 3 when he turned a flush against Alexander Beeckx’s pocket aces and from there, he cruised to the final table where he sits comfortably in the middle of the pack.
Seat 3: Kim Gap Young (Seoul, Korea) – 1,193,000
Seoul native Kim Gap Young has been the story of this tournament since early on Day 2. He has seemingly been in cruise control, never dipping below a medium-sized stack. That’s probably not a surprise to anyone who knows that Kim learned at the feet of one of the greatest tournament players of the Internet generation, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier. Kim was first exposed to poker by ElkY when both were elite Korean Starcraft players.
Kim’s biggest highlight in his five-year poker career so far was shipping a heads-up tournament online for $200,000. He considers himself part of the first generation of Korean poker players and is hoping to add to his accolades with a win here in Cebu. Starting with 26% of the chips in play will certainly give him a leg up on the field.
Seat 4: Raymond Lapitan (Sydney, Australia) – PokerStars Qualifier – 158,000 chips
A 27-year old IT Analyst from Sydney, Raymond Lapitan has flown under the radar for much of the tournament as he reaches the final table on the short stack. Lapitan has been playing poker for nine years after first watching the game on television.
Lapitan won’t be overawed at this final table, with experience playing at a WPT event against the world’s best – a moment that he credits as the highlight of his career. Lapitan finished 14th at the 2008 APPT Sydney Grand Final which was his previous biggest result before this final table.
Seat 5: Fabiano Michael (Australia) – 231,000 chips
Fabiano Michael, 31, is one of six players at this final table who are over 30 years old. That may not seem very old to most people but in the last five years, poker has become a young man’s game. Michael considers himself foremost a limousine driver and only a part-time poker player. You can find him on the football pitch when he’s not slinging the chips.
He wants all his friends to know that he’s “very quiet”. He’ll have to make some noise if he wants to win the tournament as his 231,000 in chips lumps him in with the short stacks.
Seat 6: Daren Yoon (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 677,000 chips
This 33-year old Australian expat now resides in Malaysia where he spends his days crushing the Pot-Limit Omaha tables. Yoon has been playing poker for most of his adult life but credits his friends and his girlfriend for inspiring him in the game.
Yoon’s tournament progress has been fascinating to watch. He entered Day 2 as the second shortest stack in the room but managed to claw his way back into contention. His defining moment came when his pocket kings managed to spike a set against Alexander Beeckx’s pocket aces and from there Yoon has taken full advantage of his second life to reach the final table in good shape as the second largest chip stack.
Seat 7: Mikael Rosen (Sweden) – 670,000 chips
By making the final table of this tournament, 33-year-old Mikael Rosen has notched his first APPT cash outside of Macau. Rosen previously took fourth in the APPT Macau Main Event in 2008 and also notched three cashes at this year’s APPT Macau poker festival. He calls himself “Bubble King” because he’s finished on or close to the bubble in several APPT events. He’s been playing poker “forever” and curses his brother for getting him hooked on the game. He’ll start the final table 3rd in chips, just behind Daren Yoon.
Seat 8: Young-shin Im (Korea) – PokerStars Qualifer – 639,000 chips
This final table marks Young-shin Im’s fifth cash in the last one and a half years – a remarkable feat considering she’s only been playing poker for two years. She came close to making the final table of the 2009 APPT Macau Main Event, bowing out in 15th place, and considers that a career highlight. Im acknowledges that she had to get a bit lucky to get this far. She ran pocket queens into pocket aces in a battle of the blinds but caught a queen on the flop to stick around. She comes into the final table in 4th chip position.
Seat 9: Basilios Diakokomninos (Baltimore, MD, USA) – PokerStars Qualifier – 177,000 chips
Basilios Diakokomninos is a 23-year old business manager who has come all the way from the United States for this event after qualifying online on PokerStars. Diakokomninos has been playing poker for around five years but this final table is his career highlight.
For most of the tournament, Diakokomninos’ surname has been larger than his chip stack, but somehow he’s managed to squeak his way into the final nine. His key moment was when he made a flush with K♦8♦ against an opponent’s pocket jacks to stay alive and reach this final table. However he has some work ahead of him, as he enters with the second shortest chip stack.
APPT Cebu reporting comes courtesy of bloggers Heath “TassieDevil” Chick and Dave “F-Train” Behr, with photography thanks to Luis Cruz and his team.