The EPT Prague Main Event final table gets started at noon. Here’s some more information about the final five. (Compiled by Media Co-ordinators Jan Kores and Jen Mason.)
Seat 1: Mikalai Pobal, 35, Belarus – 4.74 million
PokerStars qualifier Mikalai Pobal is one of three Belarusian players who have lifted an EPT Main Event trophy. The former International Economic Relations student won his title in 2012 at EPT9 Barcelona, topping a field of 1,082 players and winning €1,007,550. Since then, Pobal hasn’t been as active on the live scene as online, although he did cash in two consecutive EPT Barcelona Main Events following his triumph. Pobal says that he’s now “just enjoying the game,” and originally planned this trip to Prague to be a family holiday, after he won a Sunday package to the EPT on PokerStars. Having spent six days at the felt instead, he says he feels comfortable at the final. “My experience in Barcelona helps,” he said, “I am much calmer.” More than seven years after his victory, Pobal now has a shot at becoming only the second player to win two EPT titles. That would be an incredible legacy for the 35-year-old from Minsk who is set to claim only his 16th live cash tomorrow (five of them won in EPT Main Events).
Mikalai Pobal’s Main Event run:
Start Day 2 – 192,600 chips; 22nd of 415
Day 3 – 162,000; 93rd of 141
Day 4 – 1,394,000; 8th of 41
Day 5 – 2,780,000; 8th of 12
Day 6 – 4,740,000; 4th of 5
Seat 2: Ricardo Da Rocha, 26, Brazil – 7.925 million
Ricardo Da Rocha has previously played at a few PokerStars BSOP stops, but this is his first poker trip to Europe. He’s made his mark while on the adventure, having turned his EPT debut into a final table appearance and a career-high achievement. The 26-year-old from Rio Pardo, a small town in the south of Brazil, is a professional poker player. Da Rocha mainly competes in the online realm, and is a member of the NeT Team led by Renan Carlos “internett93o” Bruschi. While Da Rocha is now guaranteed his breakthrough result, he said he is keeping his feet on the ground. “I’ll aim for the maximum,” he said. Although he added that he doesn’t have any particular plans for the next year, he admitted that a potential first-place prize would provide him with a strong incentive to play the gigantic PSPC event in Barcelona. When away from poker tables, Da Rocha enjoys football, “Like every Brazilian does.” He supports Gremio Porto Alegrense.
Ricardo Da Rocha’s Main Event run:
Start Day 2 – 110,700 chips; 108th of 415
Day 3 – 120,000; 104th of 141
Day 4 – 735,000; 19th of 41
Day 5 – 2,830,000; 7th of 12
Day 6 – 7,925,000; 2nd of 5
Seat 3: Tomas Paiva, 28, Portugal – 3.38 million
He may have only seven reported live cashes to his name, but 28-year-old Tomas Paiva is a very prolific poker player with a strong online background. Paiva is one of the top sharks from Portugal who has proved his abilities in some of the world’s toughest online tournaments. He has a multitude of PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) and Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) final tables to his name. Unlike many of his countrymen, Paiva has not featured too prominently in live events. However, he has already claimed a six-figure payout here in Prague; a sixth place in last year’s €10k High Roller secured him €117,340. It has been more than 10 years since the EPT celebrated a Portuguese champion (Antonio Matias at EPT6 Vilamoura). Luis Medina, Rui Sousa, and Giovani Torre navigated to final tables in Monaco and Barcelona, while Carlos Branco finished fifth here last year, but none could bring the trophy home. Paiva now follows in their footsteps, hoping to make it all the way to the top.
Tomas Paiva’s Main Event run:
Start Day 2 – 71,400 chips; 212th of 415
Day 3 – 237,000; 62 of 141
Day 4 – 767,000; 7th of 41
Day 5 – 4,405,000; 2nd of 12
Day 6 – 3,380,000; 5th of 5
Seat 4: Norbert Szecsi, 28, Hungary – 7.35 million
The Budapest-based Norbert Szecsi has been collecting live cashes since 2010. While the first half of the decade saw him claim his first bracelet in Las Vegas, it’s been mainly his performance over the last two years that has propelled him among the top-earning players from Hungary. The soon-to-be 29-year-old – Szecsi will celebrate his birthday later this week – is currently the only Hungarian with two WSOP titles under his belt.
But it’s not only Vegas where he thrives. Szecsi’s highest payday, €626,357, came last year at EPT Barcelona where he chopped the €10k High Roller with Max Silver and Joris Ruijs. Last month, he topped another $10k event in the Bahamas, adding $400,000 to his resume. That result helped Szecsi cross the $3 million mark in recorded cashes, vaulting him to third place on his nation’s money list. A top two finish in the Main Event would catapult him into the lead, which is currently in the hands of two-time EPT runner up Marton Czuczor.
Norbert Szecsi’s Main Event run:
Start Day 2 – 165,000 chips; 36th of 415
Day 3 – 190,000; 82nd of 141
Day 4 – 1,978,000; 3rd of 41
Day 5 – 6,715,000; 1st of 12
Day 6 – 7,350,000; 3rd of 5
Seat 5: Gaby Livshitz, 34, Israel – 11.205 million
Gaby Livshitz is a familiar face not only on the poker but also the chess circuit. Livshitz is an International Master with a current FIDE rating of 2,452. At the poker tables, Livshitz has amassed more than $420,000 in live cashes, although his performance here has already guaranteed him his biggest ever prize. He has previously only once earned six figures, in a Merit event in Cyprus. Livshitz regularly comes to EPT Prague, but this year marks his first deep run outside of side events. Livshitz has one previous Main Event cash to his name, a modest 81st place from 2014. Sitting outside the top 30 on the Israeli all-time money list, Livshitz is set to climb at least 10 spots higher with a top-five payout already in the bag.
Gaby Livshitz’ Main Event run:
Start Day 2 – 117,000; 96th of 415
Day 3 – 301,000; 44th of 141
Day 4 – 2,053,000; 2nd of 41
Day 5 – 3,925,000; 4th of 12
Day 6 – 11,205,000; 1st of 5