The final table is set for the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo, with the following players sitting down today to play for the €2,300,000 first prize.
As ever, we’ll have full coverage of every hand played and every major pot here on PokerStars Blog, and you can see all the prizewinners to date over at the prizewinners page.
Here are your final table players:
Seat 1: Peter Traply, Hungary – – PokerStars qualifier – 4,365,000 chips
A recent graduate in communications, and one of a sizeable contingent of Hungarian players travelling to Monte Carlo for the Grand Final, Peter Traply has repeatedly proved his mettle in vast tournament fields. He finished 188th last year at the World Series Main Event, months after coming 26th at the 2008 EPT Grand Final. Traply yesterday completed an unlikely double in Monte Carlo: he was the chip leader at the bubble stage last April, and was in the same spot when Marcel Luske departed one off the money this time. Wary of complacency, Traply waited until the dinner break today, when he was also the tournament chip leader, to call home to Budapest to invite his parents and brother to come to Monaco. They arrive tomorrow to watch from the rail.
Seat 2: Mikhail Tulchinsky, 43, St. Petersburg, Russia – 3,220,000 chips
Mikhail Tulchinsky is an “old school” professional poker player from St Petersburg. He has been playing the game for around 12 years and specialises in high-stakes cash limit games, both live and online, where he has had numerous small cashes – his best before today’s final table being first place in an event at the Concord Club in Vienna in 2003 for €35,000. He is considered one of the best players in Russia at limit hold ’em, Omaha hi-low and stud hi-low games. He has a big crowd of supporters here in Monte Carlo, including the Team PokerStars Pro Alex Kravchenko, who believe he has what it takes to go all the way.
Seat 3: Eric Qu, 47, Paris, France – 2,880,000 chips
Eric Qu is an increasingly rare figure at European Poker Tour events – an accomplished professional poker player who only plays live. He describes himself as a cash game pro and is a regular at the Aviation Club de France in Paris where he mainly plays hold’em and Omaha from €5-€5 to €10-€20. Eric bought in direct to EPT Monte Carlo and this is his first big international tournament.
Seat 4: Pieter de Korver, 26, Leeuwarden, Holland – PokerStars player – 2,500,000 chips
In 2007, Pieter de Korver quit his job to become a professional poker player and in 2008 he won a PokerStars-sponsored television show in his native Holland, earning himself a place on the new Team PokerStars Holland team. The Grand Final this week in Monte Carlo is his third event on the tour, having played the EPT Barcelona and the PCA in season five. De Korver plays online under the screen name “Balls_NL”, where his biggest online cash prize was $53,000. He made a final table in a €200 rebuy tournament during the 2008 DOM Classics in Utrecht and also cashed in the €6,000 main event of the 2008 Master Classics in Amsterdam. If he wins the EPT Grand Final, he plans to invest the money in real estate and also help a friend to get his business started.
Seat 5: Alem Shah, 51, Hamburg, Germany – 1,490,000 chips
Alem Shah is a businessman from Hamburg who is a regular cash game player at Casino Schenefeld (close to Hamburg) and at tournaments in Germany, Austria and Las Vegas. A regular online tournament player, he has had several smaller cashes and qualified for the Grand Final through a $800 satellite. “Every poker player wishes to play an EPT final table and the dream has come true,” he said after the last hand of day four. Shah has no big expectations of the final table, saying: “I played the Grand Final last year too and you need to be lucky to win such a big tournament. So we will see what happens today.”
Seat 6: Daniel Zink, 24, Brochum, Germany – 1,865,000 chips
Daniel Zink and his twin brother Sebastian are familiar figures on the European circuit and regularly qualify for EPT events on PokerStars. This final table is Daniel’s first ever cash although Sebastian came 11th in Prague on season four, earning €27,800. Like many poker players, including Dario Minieri and Noah Boeken, the brothers took up the game after migrating from the popular strategy game Magic: The Gathering. Sebastian qualified for the Grand Final while Daniel had won a seat for the PLO tournament here in Monte Carlo, but after that event was cancelled, he converted his seat into a Grand Final entry. Sebastian said of his brother: “This is definitely his best result to date. I actually think Daniel is the better player out of the two of us. He is very focused and analytical and keeps his composure. I think he is making a really good impression here; he isn’t phased at all and he’s playing really well.”
Seat 7 : Matthew Woodward, 26, Waterboro, ME, United States – PokerStars qualifier – 4,560,000 chips
A professional poker player – specialising in limit hold ’em cash games – Matthew Woodward is currently enjoying his deepest ever tournament run, either live or online. He qualified for this tournament via a step six satellite on PokerStars, the same route he took to Budapest, Dortmund and San Remo on this season of the EPT, but has never made a final table. Indeed, he concedes that he has enjoyed the tournament immensely until these late stages, where he says he now feels like a novice. “I really have zero final table experience,” he said. Although he admits to having one eye on the money — “Each €30,000-€40,000 step is a lot to me” — he also pointed to his elimination of Grayson Physioc in 11th, calling all in with A-9, as proof that he will continue to back his reads and won’t shy away from a major encounter.
Seat 8: Dag Martin Mikkelsen, 22, Stavanger, Norway – 7,315,000 chips
Dag Martin Mikkelsen is an accomplished professional, who has been playing for five years, and most notably was the chip leader for much of the World Series Main Event in 2007, before eventually busting in 42nd, earning more than $200,000. His best online result was when he took down a $2 million guaranteed event online for $440,000. His best live result in Europe was 22nd place at the EPT main event in Barcelona in season four, winning €20,900. Mikkelson nearly didn’t play the Grand Final as he didn’t have enough cash on him, but the special arrangement enabling players to buy in from their PokerStars accounts meant he was able to play. He spent much of day four below average in chips but a good run gave him the chip lead late in the day and eventually he was responsible for the elimination of Chris Rossiter in ninth to complete the final table. “I’m feeling pretty good,” Mikkelsen said. “I’m one of the most experienced tournament players still in and, right now, I have the most chips – but anything can happen.”