The final table of the EPT Main Event begins in a few hours. Eight players are about to battle for the first place prize of €400,000. The fact that most of them aren't used to play final tables where so much money is up for grabs might be something that can affect the quality of the game. However, I'm sure it will be an extremely interesting and thrilling final table to watch no matter what. No doubts about that! May the best poker player win!
Here are the 8 finalists and some info (taken from EPT's website) on each one of them
Seat 1: Konstantin Bilyauer, 22, Moscow, Russia - 2,498,000
Student Bilyauer is playing only his second major live tournament. His first was in Egypt at the Red Sea Poker Cup in March where he bubbled the Main Event. He said he is feeling nervous about the final but has held his own so far. He busted Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier on the first day and eliminated Russian Team PokerStars Pro Ivan Demidov early on Day 4. Bilyauer, who is currently studying for his Masters in International Relations at Moscow State University, is being cheered on in Tallinn by his friends Leo Khinchuk and Andrey Osipov.
Seat 2: Steven 'SvZff' van Zadelhoff, 31, Netherlands - 805,000
Dutch pro Van Zadelhoff first gained headlines when he won the PokerStars Sunday Million in April 2007 for over $160,000. Originally from Holland, van Zadelhoff and his girlfriend moved to Malta at the beginning of 2010 to avoid Holland's punitive taxes on poker winnings. The change has already reaped rich rewards. Van Zadelhoff said: "I stopped smoking two years ago and now I've lost 30 kg. I'm physically fit and also I have mental stability. I don't have the IRS taxing half my winnings. It's definitely helped my game. I feel free now. It's been a very good half year." Van Zadelhoff, who has already earned more than a million dollars in live tournaments and is currently tenth in the Netherlands All Time Money list, has min-cashed three times at EPTs but this is by far his best EPT result to date. He started Day 4 as a short stack but has steadily built up and now has 805,000.
Seat 3: Kevin Stani, 27, Stavanger, Norway - PokerStars qualifier - 2,586,000
Stani has been playing poker for seven years after taking up the game while studying Business Management in Dakota. Once he graduated in 2003, he turned pro and has been playing full time ever since. He started off only playing tournaments but now splits his time 50/50 between tournaments and cash games. He has enjoyed good online results: fifth in last year's $10,000 High Roller WCOOP for around $130,000 and he also won the PokerStars Sunday 500 about a year ago for approx. $100,000. His best live result to date was 127th place in the WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas last month for $57,102. He also came 127th in a WSOP $2,000 side event.. but he has gone well past 127th at EPT Tallinn and could well be heading for a career-best live cash. Stani was one of the last players to qualifier for EPT Tallinn, winning his seat in a $530 qualifier on PokerStars just a few days before the event began. This is his third EPT - he cashed in San Remo and was close to the money at last season's Grand Final.
Seat 4: Nicolo Calia, 57, Rome, Italy - 637,000 chips
Retired software developer and nuclear engineer Calia first took up poker three years ago when his nephew opened a card room in Rome and invited him along. It was there that he won a seat to EPT4 San Remo in 2008 and he hasn't looked back since. He cashed in both the San Remo main event and a side event and is now a familiar face on the EPT circuit. His biggest cash so far was when he was runner-up in the £1,500 EPT London NLHE side event for $96,275 and he also cashed in two WPT Championships (Venice and Barcelona) as well as this year's WSOP Main Event, finishing 170th for $57,102. The married father-of-two has a total of seven EPT cashes to his name but this is his first EPT Main Event final table. He said: "Poker has been my big passion for two years. I have often made it to the last three tables, but never the final. I am very proud and excited to play my first EPT final table".
Seat 5: Bassam "Bissobentley" Elnajjar, 50, Beirut, Lebanon - 744,000 chips
Elnajjar has been playing poker for years but only took up Texas Hold'em about three years ago. Online he has had a few small cashes but he often competes in - and wins - the twice-weekly tournaments held at Lebanon's only casino, the Casino du Liban. The Lebanese poker community is very close and and Elnajjar is being cheered on here in Tallin his friend and countryman Nicolas Chouity, the EPT6 Grand Final winner. This is Elnajjar's first EPT.
Seat 6: Dmitry Vitkind, Moscow, Russia - PokerStars qualifier - 502,000 chips
Vitkind, who won his seat to EPT Tallinn in a $22 Rebuy satellite on PokerStars, has cashed three times on the EPT including 73rd at the EPT6 Grand Final in May for €25,000. He also came tenth in a PCA side event in January. His best live result though was third place in the $5,000 Bellagio Cup in Las Vegas in July for $97,000. He also came third at PokerStars Russian Poker Series side event in Riga last week for €7,000. He won his trip to Riga on PokerStars.
Seat 7: Arnaud Mattern, 30, Paris, France - Team PokerStars Pro - 3,720,000 chips
Before taking up poker in 2004, Arnaud was a well-known backgammon player. His poker career started online with both cash games and tournaments, Limit and No Limit. By 2006, he was also enjoying success at live events including wins in London and Italy. He first came to international attention when he took down the inaugural EPT Prague event in Season 4 for €708,400. He came close to winning a second title the next season when he came fifth at EPT Warsaw. He has cashed at several EPTs since then and went deep in last year's WSOP-E in London. In May this year he made the final of the WPT in Paris, finishing seventh for €82,000. He is known for his mathematical approach to the game and has been described as "disciplined, cold and calculating".
Seat 8: Mikko Jaatinen, 31, Espoo, Finland - 1,166,000 chips
Jaatinen has been playing poker for six years but just as a hobby. This is by far his biggest result to date so far. He is a post-graduate student studying for a PhD in Economics. Mikko was competing in Tallinn alongside his better-known brother Jussi who is a very successful player in his own right and will be able to offer more than ample support for the final. His studies are the main priority in his life right now so even if he manages to win EPT Tallinn, he says he will still be selective in how many EPTs he plays in the future.1