Seat 1: Lei He, Sydney, Australia (oshapimasian on PokerStars, 2,623,000 in chips): Born in China but now living in Sydney’s northern suburbs, this 19-year-old is so serious about his poker that he considers it a full-time occupation. He’s been a keen poker aficionado for the past three years and won his seat to the PokerStars.net APPT Grand Final via a live satellite at Star City Casino. Mainly a cash-game player, he enjoys playing poker with his friends. He enters the final table as chip leader
Seat 2: Grant Levy, Sydney, Australia (1,052,000 in chips): A teacher from Sydney’s outer-west (Penrith), this 28-year-old father of two became a teacher after graduating with a Bachelor of Heath Science and a Diploma of Education (some of his students have been keenly following his progress through the tournament on the PokerStars Blog). He’s also coached rugby league at state schoolboys level. He burst onto the poker scene earlier this year when he finished third at the PokerNews Cup in Melbourne, outlasting a field of 428 players to finish third (winning $131,800).
Seat 3: Larry Wright, Montgomery, Alabama, USA (ldw1971 on PokerStars, 376,000 in chips): This roof contractor qualified for his once-in-a-lifetime APPT Grand Final trip via a $22 direct qualifying satellite on PokerStars. He initially had little interest in poker until a friend (who happened to be a professional poker player) moved in with 36-year-old and shared the secrets of the gamed with him. Work does not allow him much time to play, but he keeps a toe in the water playing small and medium buy-in tournaments online.
Seat 4: Jeremiah ‘John’ Vinsant, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, USA (Believer82 on PokerStars, 1,649,000 in chips): He may not have made much of a splash on the live scene (he placed 482nd in the 2005 WSOP main event), but he’s an emerging star online with more than $600,000 in winnings to his name. The 25-year-old has been playing professionally for two years (and five years in total) and is ranked in the world’s top 35 online players by PocketFives. His online CV includes victory in the 25k Guaranteed event on PokerStars.
Seat 5: Vijayan Nagarajan, Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia (the_rotter77 on PokerStars, 641,000 in chips): One of the more polished players at the final table, this 44-year-old will be representing Asia at the final table of the PokerStars.net APPT Grand Final. The sales manager for a software company from the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpar has cashed in some of the world’s biggest tournaments. He was 22nd in the 2007 PokerStars EPT European Poker Championships in London and cashed in five events (including three final tables) at the 2006 Festa Al Lago V at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. He also final-tabled in the $1000 No Limit Hold’em event at the 2006 WSOP, finishing ninth.
Seat 6: John Matwey, New York, New York, USA (wymat on PokerStars, 498,000 in chips): A former risk manager in the finance industry, this 45-year-old qualified for the PokerStars.net APPT Grand Final just last week. He flew in directly from the Doyle Brunson Five-Diamond Classic where he’d picked up a 10th in the $2000 No Limit Hold’em event. His tournament record also includes a sixth in the $500 No Limit Hold’em tournament at the 2007 Borgata Poker Open, and he cashed (268th) in the 2007 WSOP main event.
Seat 7: Jai Kemp, Sydney, Australia (Sydney St@r on PokerStars, 461,000 in chips): What a dream debut for this business owner from Sydney’s south, who set up his own importing company seven years ago. The father of four (who first started watching poker on TV two years ago) is playing in his first poker tournament and will be one of the three Australian players hoping to become the first to win a $1 million tournament poker prize on home soil. Kemp is assured plenty of support from his family, especially his 11-year-old son who is a massive poker fan and can’t get enough of the pics being sent from the Star City poker room via dad’s mobile phone.
Seat 8: Sol Bergren, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (shahmat on PokerStars, 2,601,000 in chips): This 27-year-old, who runs a web-based business (he formerly taught computer science), has cashed in two World Series of Poker main events – 252nd in 2005 and 562nd in 2006. He also placed 25th in the $6000 No Limit Hold’em event at the Caribbean Poker Classic in St Kitts last month. A poker player for the past four years, he’s planning to spend the next six months travelling around Australia, and has earmarked surf lessons in Byron Bay as his first stop. He qualified via Steps tournaments on PokerStars.
Seat X: Barry Kohlhoff, Wisconsin, USA (coolbear on PokerStars, 647,000 in chips): The man who claimed the scalp of Team PokerStars Pro Joe Hachem midway through day 2 of the PokerStars.net APPT Grand Final is having a great time on his first visit to Sydney. The married father of one has worked in the flooring business for 16 years and has run his own business for the past five years. He’s been a serious poker player for about four years, and plays about 20-30 hours online. A huge NFL fan, he earned a seat to Sydney via an $11 rebuy event on PokerStars and said a top-three finish would make a big difference to life at his home in the northern US state of Wisconsin.
PokerStars video Blog:
Ali interviews PokerStars Pro Lee Nelson and Scotty Nguyen
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PS blogs APPT Sydney Archive