The players are gathering, the cameras are flashing, the EPT trophy shines and the television stage is ready. Eight players remain in the EPT Dortmund and all that stands between them and an EPT title are seven others intent on ruining each other’s day. This should make for a thrilling final with records to be broken and €917,000 up for grabs, and you can watch every hand on eptlive, with coverage about to get started.

Let’s meet the players…

Seat 1: Holger Kanisch, 26, Koblenz, Germany – 661,000

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Holger Kanisch is an economic science student at the University of Wuppertal but admits to spending much of his time playing online poker, $50 to $200 sit and goes, under the username ‘Tonding’. He has also played a number of major live tournaments, including the 2007 WSOP main event and the APPT Macau, for which he qualified on PokerStars. Kanisch has no special plans for the final table except to finish as deep as possible, noting that the player he fears most is William Thorson. “He has position on me and is a very good and aggressive player.”

Seat 2: William Thorson, 25, Gothenberg, Sweden – Team PokerStars Pro – 829,000

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Thorson is one of the most popular players on the EPT. With his fearless attitude, he can terrify everyone at the table while still wearing a huge grin on his face. Thorson has had some major EPT achievements. Eliminated in sixth place at last year’s EPT San Remo, he was the final table bubble boy at last year’s PCA and finished third at EPT3 Dublin. Thorson career highlights also include his memorable 13th place finish in the 2006 WSOP for $907,000, and in 2007 he made the final table in the $5k limit hold’em event, winning $136,493. Online Thorson plays under the name ‘William’, focusing on Omaha cash games, but prefers tournaments when playing live.

Seat 3: Cengizcan Ulusu, 38, Erfurt, Germany – 537,000

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Cengizcan Ulusu has been professional poker player for more than 20 years. However, he only started playing Texas Hold’em a year or so ago. Ulusu, who bought himself into the event, says EPT Dortmund is certainly his biggest tournament result to date.

Seat 4: Johan Storakers, 37, Stockholm, Sweden – 1,615,000

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Johan Storakers is something of a veteran on the international poker circuit with a tournament resume dating back to 1996. The “Swedish Striker” has had more than a dozen final table appearances in World Series, WPT and other big buy-in events but, despite many appearances, has yet to go deep at an EPT main event, although he did come third in a €300 side event at EPT4 Barcelona. Storakers’s biggest came in the 2008 Aruba Classic where he earned $486,000 for second place and took his live tournament winnings to over $2.5 million.

Seat 5: Mike McDonald, 19, Waterloo, Canada – 746,000

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McDonald makes his second EPT final table today, having won this tournament last season, earning €933,600, and becoming, at 18-years-old, the youngest-ever EPT champion. Should McDonald win today he will become the tour’s first double winner.
That success was his fifth major cash in a five-week period and the biggest of his career. The former maths student – known as ‘Timex’ online – also finished 14th at EPT4 Prague for €20,200.

Seat 6: Sandra Naujoks, 27, Dessau, East Germany – ShootingStar – 586,000

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Naujoks initially studied German and history to become a high school teacher before pursuing careers as a graphic designer and model. She first started playing poker with friends in a home game before going on to try online no-limit hold ’em tournaments playing as “The Black Mamba”. She began playing major live tournaments in 2008 and recorded an immediate success when she won the European Championship at the Casinos Austria Poker Tour, beating the Team PokerStars Pro Alexander Kravchenko heads up. Naujoks has been a member of the prestigious PokerStars.de ShootingStar team since the PCA in January but the Dortmund final table is her first EPT success.

Seat 7: Luca Pagano, 31, Treviso, Italy – Team PokerStars Pro – 1,115,000

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Already the record-holder for the most EPT cashes, Pagano added his tenth in-the-money finish here in Germany, bringing his total EPT earnings to more that €500,000. His most recent major EPT result was the Grand Final in Monte Carlo last year where he came sixth, earning €337,000. The former computer programming student began his poker career using play money on PokerStars but soon progressed to real money and turned a modest deposit into a monster online bankroll. He is also hugely successful in live events and was voted EPT Player of the Year last September.

Seat 8: Marc Gork, 21, Chemnitz, Germany – 540,000

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Gork is a German language and literature student who has been playing poker for four years, claiming, however, that he is “not even half a pro”. This festival in Dortmund has now hosted the best two results of his career: firstly, the final table in the main event and previously the €300 satellite to win his seat. Prior to arriving here his biggest achievement was 14th place in a PokerStars Sunday second chance tournament. He said: “This is my first EPT and getting this far is really like a dream. But it’s definitely made me want to play more events so I hope to come to San Remo as well.”

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