Here are the details of the eight players who will today go looking for the title of EPT Grand Final champion. Here’s a review of how they got here. Their chip-counts, payouts so far and hand-by-hand coverage is on the main Main Event page and you can follow along on EPTLive.
Seat 1: Kenny Hicks, 26, West Virginia, USA – PokerStars qualifier – 1,875,000
Kenny Hicks is an online professional player with a string of sizeable MTT results, including victory in the PokerStars Super Tuesday. He has also been a habitual qualifier for EPT events since Season 4, competing at dozens of tournaments and amassing numerous small cashes–but until now has never picked up more than $30,000 at any one time. “My largest live cash anywhere was actually the first one I played at EPT Dublin in 2007 so that’s a pretty bad streak,” he said. “I feel amazing about making the final tomorrow.” Hicks is originally from West Virginia, in the United States, but relocated to Vancouver to continue playing online. He won his seat for this season’s finale in a €320 qualifier two weeks ago.
Seat 2: Jack Salter, 27, London, UK – PokerStars qualifier – 5,170,000 chips
Jack Salter used to be almost exclusively an online sit and go player until he won a live tournament at London’s Palm Beach casino in November 2011 and used the £30,000 prize to build a bankroll to play more frequently and at incrementally higher stakes. He has already accrued more than €450,000 in live tournament winnings, cashing in countries across the globe including the United States, Malta, Spain, Macau, the Netherlands, Ireland and Australia. His largest cash to date came in February when he won a side event at the Aussie Millions for A$114,000 and he also came third in the £1,100 UKIPT London Main Event in October. He won his seat to this season’s EPT Grand Final in a €215 re-buy qualifier at the end of March and also competed in the FPS Monaco Main Event here after winning a seat for that in a €10 rebuy satellite. Before the Grand Final, he tweeted: “Off to play the EPT Grand Final for the first time. Feel I am one of those lucky guys that will somehow bink it.” Salter travels the international poker circuit with his younger brother Louis, who also competed in the Main Event. He started Day 4 of the Main Event 40 of 41 with only ten big blinds and is now chip leader going in to tomorrow’s final.
Seat 3: Sebastian Bredthauer, 23, Hanover, Germany – PokerStars qualifier – 755,000 chips
Of all the finalists Sebastian Bredthauer has perhaps the most remarkable back story. The 23-year-old student of Media and Communications Management in Hamburg qualified for the EPT Grand Final with 100 Frequent Player Points (FPPs) on PokerStars. His plan had been to simply spin these up and claim some low value treat from the VIP store. Instead, after several stages, and a few nervous moments, he found himself on his way to Monaco to play in his first live poker tournament. Typically a low stakes tournament player online, Bredthauer has managed the transition to the high stakes game seamlessly, admitting to having had only a hastily arranged home game with friends for practice. He has had some other help along the way — he found aces six times on Day 3, including on the last hand of the day. Since then he has matched the professionals at every step.
Seat 4: Mayu Roca, 27, Bogotá, Columbia – PokerStars qualifier – 4,625,000
Mayu “Marroca5” Roca is already top of Colombia’s all-time money list for live tournament winnings, and his score here in Monaco will extend that lead significantly. Not only is Roca Colombia’s only WCOOP champion, having won a $530 Stud hi-lo event in 2011 for $25,545, but the 27-year-old has registered more than $3.1m in online tournaments cashes. “I definitely believe that I can win,” Roca said. “I look at that first prize and daydream about it, but I just concentrate on the tournament.”
Seat 5: Magnus Karlsson, 33, Linkoping, Sweden – PokerStars qualifier – 2,595,000 chips
Karlsson has been playing poker for 19 years, starting with 5 card draw home games with friends “for pennies”. He’s been a pro since 2005, describing himself as an online grinder, mainly playing heads-up and six max cash games. Karlsson has now competed in four PokerStars events – APPT Cebu, the PCA, UKIPT Dublin and now here in Monaco – and cashed each time. He hails from the city of Linkoping, which was once the hottest poker city in the world, and home also to well-known Swedish pros Erik Sagstrom and Bengt Sonnert among others.
Seat 6: Malte Moennig, 27, Cologne, Germany – PokerStars qualifier – 1,150,000 chips
Malte Moennig, from Cologne, Germany, mainly plays tournaments online where his biggest score was a $40,000 win on PokerStars. He qualified for the EPT Grand Final in a 25,000 FPP VIP Bash. Moennig’s previous tournament cashes were 15th at UKIPT Bristol for £3,155 and 65th at the EPT Season 8 Grand Final for €20,000. No matter what happens on the final table, this will be his biggest live cash.
Seat 7: Antonio Buonanno, 47, Marzano Appio, Italy – 2,065,000
Antonio Buonanno, who is an EPT regular, was born in Naples but now splits his time between his homes in Marzano Appio in the province of Caserta, and Valletta, the capital of Malta. He used to own several clothing stores but is now a full time poker professional. He’s been an IPT and EPT regular for the past three to four years and prefers playing live to online. His lifetime tournament winnings amount to $390,848, more than half of that from a fourth place in a $5,000 no limit event at the World Series last summer for $231,147.
Seat 8: Sebastian von Toperczer, 25, Lohmar (near Bonn), Germany – PokerStars qualifier – 1,240,000
Sebastian von Toperczer is an economics student originally from Germany but who spent two semesters studying in Norway. He’s a PokerStars qualifier and won his seat in a €215 satellite at the end of February. He’s been playing on the EPT since Sanremo in Season 9 and is now a regular on the tour with two cashes in Main Events (Barcelona and Sanremo) plus five side events. He goes in to tomorrow’s final as one of the shorter stacks but is guaranteed at least €128,800 which close to doubles his lifetime tournament winnings of €76,000.