PokerStars Championship Bahamas: Main Event final table player profiles

January 13, 2017

How they line up for the final day of the inaugural PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event:

Seat 1: Michael Vela, 50, Newburgh, New York, USA – 1,755,000 chips


New York’s Michael “MVP” Vela has been playing poker for more than a decade. He has earned nearly $2 million in live tournaments, with the vast majority of that coming from his big win in the 2007 WPT World Poker Finals at Foxwoods. On his way to that $1,704,986 payday, Vela outlasted a tough final table that included former WPT champs Nick Schulman and Nenad Medic, as well as a 21-year-old Tom Dwan, a nosebleed superstar in the making at the time. Vela, who is now 50 years old, has been active on the felt since then, but so far hasn’t come close to repeating that breakthrough success.

Vela’s Main Event run:

End of Day 2: 65,100 (129th of 361)
End of Day 3: 440,500 (3rd of 125)
End of Day 4: 676,000 (13th of 32)
End of Day 5: 1,811,000 (4th of 16)

Seat 2: Christian Harder, 29, Annapolis, Maryland, USA – 5,985,000 chips


Christian Harder is 29-year-old professional poker player from Annapolis, Maryland. As is the case for several others at the final table, Harder has had a string of live and online results. Playing at PokerStars as “charder30”, Harder has racked up more than $3.2 million in online winnings, and he’s added more than $3.7 million in live tournaments to bring his total career earnings to more than $7 million combined. He’s part of a young and talented Maryland poker community, ranking fourth on the state’s all-time money list behind his close friends Tony Gregg and Greg Merson.

Harder’s Main Event run:

End of Day 2: 46,000 191th of 361
End of Day 3: 232,000 31th of 125
End of Day 4: 856,000 8th of 32
End of Day 5: 1,305,000 8th of 16

Seat 3: Rasmus Glæsel, 33, born Copenhagen, lives in Oslo, Norway – 1,560,000 chips


Rasmus Glæsel was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, but has been living in Oslo, Norway, for 22 years. The 33-year-old former investment banker is a relative unknown on the live scene but has been regularly playing both tournaments and cash games online for several years. Glæsel recently decided to start traveling around the live circuit, and he chose the Bahamas as his first stop. On his way here, he stopped in Cuba for five days and will return there with a little extra spending money once this PokerStars Championship is complete. “We arrived with a bunch of Norwegian friends,” he said. “There was seven of us playing the Main Event, and four of us cashed.”

Glæsel’s Main Event run:

End of Day 2: 88,000 (70th of 361)
End of Day 3: 322,000 (12th of 125)
End of Day 4: 1,029,000 (4th of 32)
End of Day 5: 1,319,000 (7th of 16)

Seat 4: Aleksei Opalikhin, 28, St. Petersburg, Russia – 4,590,000 chips


Aleksei Opalikhin has made it to the first ever PokerStars Championship Main Event final table despite initially not even planning to compete in the tournament. The 28-year-old from St. Petersburg used to play billiards to a competitive level, and he considers poker to be a similar discipline in regards to its psychological demands, such as concentration and patience. Opalikhin was on a vacation, heading to a tour of Latin America, when he said he would play some of the smaller-buy-in events here at the Atlantis Resort, but ended up winning a seat to the Main Event in a $650 satellite.

Opalikhin’s Main Event run:

End of Day 2: 88,400 (69th of 361)
End of Day 3: 387,500 (8th of 125)
End of Day 4: 478,000 (21st of 32)
End of Day 5: 2,084,000 (2nd of 16)

Seat 5: Cliff Josephy, 51, Syosset, New York, USA – 1,240,000 chips


Often referred to by his online screen name, “JohnnyBax” is a 51-year-old pro who is perhaps best known for being one of the original heroes of online poker. He was first ranked No 1 on the online rankings in 2005. His live record received a big boost this past summer, too, when he charged to the WSOP Main Event final table. Josephy went on to finish in third place, earning a career-best score of nearly $3.5 million. He has just over $10 million in combined live and online earnings, and he’ll be formidable force to contend with at the final table.

Josephy’s Main Event run:

End of Day 2: 81,100 (94th of 361)
End of Day 3: 242,500 (30th of 125)
End of Day 4: 579,000 (20th of 32)
End of Day 5: 1,331,000 (6th of 16)

Seat 6: Michael Gentili, 24, Windsor, Ontario, Canada – 6,175,000 chips


Michael Gentili is a 24-year-old professional poker player from Windsor, Ontario. His breakthrough result came this past summer at the WSOP, where he finished as the runner-up in a $5,000 event for nearly a half-million dollars. He’s also the owner of a WSOP Circuit ring, having won a C$365 event in his home country a few months prior. In total, Gentili has one live victory and close to $700,000 in career earnings, and he’s put himself in a good position to increase both of those numbers this week in the Bahamas.

Gentili’s Main Event run:

End of Day 2: 40,200 (216th of 361)
End of Day 3: 190,000 (44th of 125)
End of Day 4: 688,000 (18th of 32)
End of Day 5: 3,708,000 (1st of 16)



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