Seat 1: Sam Williams (New Zealand) – 633,000 chips
Sam Williams is a 27-year old Philosophy Student who has been playing poker for almost ten years. He got started in the game during his high school days but credits Paul Hockin and Carl Knox as his biggest poker influences.
Williams has a previous cash result in the ANZPT Queenstown Main Event, but his biggest result came online when he won a $55 rebuy event for $20,000.
Away from poker, Williams enjoys rock climbing, so clearly he’s a man who enjoys a challenge. He’ll enter the final table second in chips but has a mountain to climb to catch runaway chip leader Minh Nguyen.
Seat 2: Ben Rendall (New Zealand) – 545,000 chips
Ben Rendall is a 23-year old Trainee Intern Doctor with four years experience dabbling in the world of poker. Rendall enjoys a variety of games but can usually be found grinding live No Limit Holdem cash games up to $5/5 and some mid-stakes Pot Limit Omaha online.
In his spare time, Rendall enjoys Basketball and he says that he’s really enjoyed the friendliness of most of the staff during this event.
Seat 3: Michael Guzzardi (Australia) – 296,000 chips
Michael Guzzardi is a 30-year old from Melbourne and one of the country’s finest poker talents, amassing an impressive resume in live and online tournaments over several years. His largest live score came in 2012 when he finished 3rd in the ANZPT Melbourne for $112,000. Guzzardi also plays cash games and can usually be found grinding Pot Limit Omaha.
Guzzardi says that winning the Sunday Warm-Up is the biggest highlight of his career, while outside of poker he enjoys playing Basketball.
After several near misses over the years, Guzzardi will be hoping this will be the major title that has so far eluded him.
Seat 4: Dean Blatt (Australia) – 142,000 chips
26 year-old Dean Blatt has already had a huge year and has continued his fine form by making the final table of APPT Auckland. Blatt has posted more than $300,000 in results in 2014 alone, with his biggest score coming when he finished runner-up at ANZPT Perth for $77,710. A finish of third or better in this event will see Blatt take second place in the ANZ Player of the Year award for 2014.
Blatt says that “meeting WSOP bracelet winner Rory Young” is the biggest highlight of his career and he also credits Young with being his biggest influence in the game. To be more specific, Blatt says that Rory Young taught him how to play 6-2 offsuit from under the gun. Blatt has the second shortest stack at the final table, so he might need to use some of those lessons to win this one.
Outside of poker, Blatt simply says that he refreshes Twitter to see if Rory Young has tweeted.
Seat 5: Thomas Ward (New Zealand) – 404,000 chips
Thomas Ward is a 24-year old poker pro with six years experience in the game. Although this is Ward’s first major cash in his home country, he’s regularly seen on the Asian poker scene, particularly in Macau where he has recorded the majority of his tournament results to date, including a fifth place finish in the August Macau Poker Cup.
Ward says that the highlight of his poker career was the opportunity to play in the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event where he made a deep run before cashing in 313th place for $33,734 in prize money.
Seat 6: Jesse McKenzie (Australia) – 477,500 chips
Known as “On The Mac”, Jesse McKenzie is one of Australia’s most consistent online poker players. He’s one of regular PokerStars online qualifiers to the APPT and ANZPT, and has the honour of being a previous winner of the Sunday Million – the largest weekly online tournament in the world.
McKenzie also has a fine live record with a runner-up result at the 2011 ANZPT Adelaide and a 3rd place finish in the 2011 ANZ Player of the Year.
McKenzie fought back from just 4,800 in chips late on day one after picking up pocket aces on consecutive hands to double up twice, before inflicting a double KO on the final table bubble saw him jump right into contention for his first major live title.
Seat 7: Stephen Thompson (New Zealand) – 32,500 chips
Stephen Thompson is an Operations Manager from Rotorua with five years of experience in poker after some friends for him started in the game.
Those friends have been on the rail cheering him on over the last few days and he’ll need their support as he enters the final table extremely short stacked. Regardless of what happens from here, this will be Thompson’s best tournament result.
Away from poker, Thompson enjoys the unique pastime of pig hunting.
Seat 8: William Rogers (United Kingdom) – 238,000 chips
William Rogers is a 33-year old Paramedic Student. He’s been playing poker for ten years after getting started in an underground poker club in Japan.
Rogers is a regular in the MTTs on PokerStars where he has recorded a largest cash result of $60,000.
Rogers qualified for this event at SKYCITY after turning just $60 into a $550 satellite seat which he then converted into a Main Event seat!
Some of Rogers’ hobbies include running, reading and enjoying Japanese cuisine.
Seat 9: Minh Nguyen (Australia) – 1,605,500 chips
Minh Nguyen is a 26-year old professional poker player from Brisbane. He’s well known as one of the best players in the region, an honour he shares with brother and recent ANZPT Melbourne champion, Edison Nguyen.
Nguyen has been playing poker for seven years and credits his brother with being the biggest influence on his game. Apart from tournaments, Nguyen plays “medium to high stakes” Pot Limit Omaha. Nguyen has a huge chip lead going into the APPT Auckland final table and will be hoping to make this his breakthrough major tournament victory.
Nguyen has enjoyed the friendliness of the people in Auckland this week and outside of poker, Nguyen enjoys hitting the gym and playing tennis.
Heath “TassieDevil” Chick is a Freelance Contributor for the PokerStars Blog.