Seat 1: Oliver Price, 23, London, UK – 1,735,000 chips
By making the final table in the EPT10 Deauville Main Event, Oliver Price looks to add another career highlight to his deep run in last summer’s World Series of Poker Main Event where he made it to Day 6 before falling in 49th place. His $151,063 cash for that finish was nearly ten times his career live winnings to that point after collecting various small scores in Las Vegas and the UK. Meanwhile Price has had significant success online, including chopping the Sunday Million early last year for an even bigger prize of $184,688. After first learning poker in his early teens, the southeast Londoner prefers cash games (both online and live) to tournaments. This marks only his second EPT after playing the London stop last autumn.
Seat 2: Harry Law, 27, London, UK – 3,130,000 chips
Chun Ho “Harry” Law is a live cash game player who touts his talent at the £2-£5 and £5-£10 cash tables in casinos around London. Law, who says that he’s not a tournament player, has only notched up a few small cashes before, yet is on the verge of claiming one of poker’s most prestigious titles. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider that specialisation.
Seat 3: Carlo De Benedittis, 35, Campobasso, Italy – 685,000 chips
Carlo De Benedittis won his package to EPT Deauville on PokerStars.fr for a total investment of €20. Winning the package was already his biggest result ever so making it to the final is, in his words, astonishing. He said: “Honestly, when I won the package, I looked at it and it said, ‘Hotel for eight nights’ and I was thinking to myself: ‘What on earth am I doing to do for eight nights?'”. The 35-year-old is from the town of Campobasso in southern Italy but now lives in Paris where he’s a purchaser for the Smurfit Kappe paper company. He’s been playing poker in home games with friends since he was 15 and online for around ten years.
Seat 4: Eugene Katchalov, 32, Ukraine, Team PokerStars Pro – 3,280,000 chips
Born in Kiev, Ukraine, Eugene Katchalov spent much of his childhood in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated in Finance and International Business and was then a stock market trader before becoming a poker pro in 2003. He has already come close to an EPT title before – third at EPT8 Barcelona for $453,812 – and is thrilled to make another final. His live tournament record is one of the most impressive of any player in recent years, with huge cash finishes at most of the world’s biggest tournaments. He already has a WPT victory and WSOP bracelet so an EPT victory would award him the coveted Triple Crown. His total live earnings already total more than $7 million and in 2011 he was Bluff Player of the Year. Katchalov also has two WCOOP titles – the Heads-Up event in 2009 for $170,000 and Stud Hi/Lo in 2012 for $24,588.
Seat 5: Anthony Lerust, 24, Amiens, France – 1,295,000 chips
Anthony ‘Laplume’ Lerust was born in the north of France but moved to the south to “live my dreams and share my passion for rap music, hip hop and poker with my friends there”. Living in Albi, he became a member of the ‘Skarkuteur’ team of players, also including the French pro Anthony Cierco. Success eluded him however so last September he moved with his best friend Pierre Morin to the Algarve in Portugal. Lerust plays regularly on PokerStars.com and PokerStars.fr, enjoying deep runs in lots of the regular tournaments. He recently final-tabled a €1K FCOOP side event and finished fourth in the PokerStars Quarter Million. In November 2013, Lerust finished 45th in the FPS Paris Main Event for €2,800 but today’s final table at EPT Deauville is his best result so far. His agent and a couple of friends from the Toulouse area have come to Deauville to play the FPS and will be railing at the final. He said: “I’m very happy to be in Normandy. Deauville is a stunning little town and the atmosphere is fantastic. With this prize money, you will definitely see me again, as I intend to play all EPTs in 2014.”
Seat 6: Eli Heath, 25, Banbury, UK — 2,475,000 chips
A graduate in business and finance from Cardiff University, Eli Heath has never actually had a job other than poker. He has been a pro for five years. Heath mainly plays online but has been travelling the EPT circuit for a couple of years and won his first title in Deauville earlier this week in the €800 “Random Bounties” tournament. He has already recorded in-the-money finishes across the globe, from Australia to Las Vegas and back to Europe, but is now guaranteed the biggest live cash of his career at the final table of an EPT stop he has rechristened Dough-ville.
Seat 7: Rustem Muratov, 41, Kazan, Russia – 1,070,000 chips
Rustem Muratov qualified for EPT Deauville on PokerStars for €82 and is already in massive profit after winning Skrill’s Last Longer contest, which awards his €5,300 buy-in back to his Skrill account. Now the 41-year-old from Kazan in Tatarstan, Russia, is headed for the biggest live cash of his life. Muratov works as a distributor for the electrical equipment company Schneider and is playing his first ever EPT event, only his fourth live tournament and the biggest buy-in event he’s competed in. He has only two recorded live cashes to date, the biggest being $2,356 for 18th place at a tourney in Cyprus. He said: “I’m already very happy. My best result before now was winning the seat for this event.” Muratov and his wife Svetlana are soon to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary and have two older daughters and a nine-month old son.
Seat 8: Sotirios Koutoupas, 31, Thessaloniki, Greece – 6,400,000
Sotirios Koutoupas, 31, already has nearly $750,000 in lifetime tournament winnings – a large chunk of which he earned with his €510,000 runner-up finish to Ramzi Jelassi at EPT Prague in Season 9. Koutoupas, currently ranked third on the Greece all time money list, is one of a troop of Greek players who are clocking up big cashes on the tour: Georgios Karakousis was runner-up at EPT London in October and and George Manousos Sotiropoulos snagged €700,000 for his runner-up finish at EPT Prague. Koutoupas is not a pro or a full-time player – he helps run his family’s wholesale business – but has started picking up results and stacks that some tour pros would be pretty jealous of, including 56th at EPT9 Berlin for €15,000 and 25th at the recent EPT Prague for €24,900.