Final table decided for race to APPT crown

Filed by Sean Callander

The nine players for tomorrow’s APPT Manila final table have been decided after a marathon second day in the opening event of the new PokerStars-sponsored tour.

Chip leader is Australian Van Marcus, best known for his third place in the $1500 Pot Limit Omaha w/ rebuys event at this year’s World Series of Poker, is the chip leader on 738,000.

Malaysian-based Swede Roger Spets, in his first live poker tournament, started the day as chip leader and despite riding the roller coaster, finished second in the chip count.

Reflecting the huge number of countries represented in this tournament, the final table participants hail from7 different nations.

Action kicks-off again tomorrow at 2pm local time, with players chasing a first prize of $179,755 and the honour of being crowned the first APPT champion.

The APPT is not only the first televised poker tournament in Asia, it’s also a first tournament experience for almost half of the final table players. First-timers at the final table include; Roger Spets, (Malaysia), Ira Blumenthal (Thailand), Maor Feldinger (Israel), and Bas van Liere (The Netherlands).

Final Table Summary:

  • Seat 1: Derrick Hernandez (Philipines) - 287,000
  • Seat 2: Nicholas Bamman (USA)- 240,000
  • Seat 3: Roger Spets (Malaysia) - 413,000
  • Seat 4: Brett Parise (USA) - 173,000
  • Seat 5: Ira Blumenthal (Thailand) - 184,000
  • Seat 6: Maor Feldinger (Israel) - 199,000
  • Seat 7: Bas ver Liere (Netherlands)- 207,000
  • Seat 8: Kazuhiro Sato (Japan)- 109,000
  • Seat 9: Van Marcus (Australia)- 738,000

Final table profiles

Seat 1: Derick Hernandez (Manila, Philippines – chip count 287,000): Born and raised in the host city for the first event in Asia Pacific Poker Tour history, Derick Hernandez is the only Filipino still in the running to win the title. The 35-year-old studied business administration at the Far Eastern University in Manila and now runs a cabinet-making business. Primarily an online player over the past seven years, Hernandez won a PokerStars weekly tournament (the precursor to the Sunday Million) in 2004. Earlier in this event, Hernandez survived a three-way all-in in which world pool champ Alex Paguluyan was eliminated and day one chip leader David Saab was crippled. One thing’s for sure, Hernandez can be assured plenty of support at the final table from the hometown fans.

Seat 2: Nicholas Bamman (Princeton, New Jersey USA – chip count 240,000): Home to one of the most famous educational institutions in the United States, Princeton is also home to the chip leader of the USA citizens left at table 9. Bamman didn’t really get serious about his poker until he finished his political science course at Northwestern University in Chicago. He’s since applied to attend law school at Fordham University in New York City. Earlier this year, the 23-year-old chalked up an impressive second placing in the weekly $1000 tournament at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, earning him $16,250. He bought-in to the APPT Manila tournament for the full $2500, but is on the cusp of a handy return on that investment.

Seat 3: Roger Spets (Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia – chip count 413,000): Imagine turning up to Wimbledon or Augusta and winning your first professional tennis or golf tournament. Virtually impossible, but Roger Spets is within reach of achieving such a feat. Spets, a 40-year-old originally from Sweden but a resident of Malaysia for the past 10 years, is playing in his first live poker tournament. The owner of a wealth management company, Spets has been playing poker for only two and a half years, starting out in home games before turning his focus to cash games and sit ‘n’ goes on PokerStars. Despite being home to one of the highest ratios of online players in the world, Sweden has turned out surprisingly few champions on the world tournament poker stage (Martin de Knijff a rare exception), but Spets could soon write a new chapter in Swedish poker history).

Seat 4: Brett Parise (USA – chip count 173,000): After staging a remarkable recovery at the end of day two (he doubled up twice in the last 15 minutes), 22-year-old Brett Parise has little to lose in his first final table experience. However, the college student (he’s studying political science and business economics in California) had a taste of the limelight when he started in the Mixed Hold’em event at this year’s World Series of Poker. With four years of poker experience under his belt, the Indiana native battled through a massive field in a PokerStars freeroll to win his seat to the APPT in Manila, which marks just the second time he’s trekked outside the United States.

Seat 5: Ira Blumenthal (Bangkok, Thailand – chip count 184,000): They’ll be breaking out the champagne in the offices of law firm Blumenthal, Richter & Sumet in Bangkok on Monday should senior partner Ira Blumenthal triumph at the final table of the APPT Manila tournament. The father of two manages a staff of 60 but still finds time to enjoy a regular game of poker after getting his first taste of poker 10 years ago. Like the majority of the final table qualifiers, Blumenthal has no big-time tournament poker experience but remains confident of prevailing over the equally inexperienced field.

Seat 6: Maor Feldinger (Ashadod, Israel – chip count 199,000): Plans for a relaxing trip to the Philippines after qualifying online for the APPT Manila event have taken a dramatic turn for this 25-year-old from Ashadod, a small town to the north of the Israeli capital Tel Aviv. Maor Feldinger has played online at PokerStars for about three years (as live poker is not available in Israel) and like Roger Spets, is playing in his first live tournament. “Wow” is how Feldinger described reaching a final table at his first attempt. A computer science student, Feldinger is hoping to emulate the feats of famed Israeli player Eli Elezra, who won the $3000 Seven-card Stud Hi/Lo (eight-or-better) title at the 2007 World Series of Poker.

Seat 7: Bas van Liere (The Hague, Netherlands – chip count 207,000): This Dutchman was planning a trip to the Philippines before he won a satellite seat to the APPT Manila event on PokerStars. Suddenly, the 30-year-old from The Hague had his trip paid for and, after making the final table, will have plenty of pocket money to spend on his travels throughout South-East Asia. After studying systems engineering and working in the IT industry, van Liere started his own online business, which sells designer furniture. Like other final table participants, he’s a relative newcomer to poker having taken up the game less than a year ago.

Seat 8: Kazuhiro Sato (Japan – chip count 109,000): The sole Japanese contender for the first APPT title in Manila, Sato faces an uphill battle as the short stack entering the final table. However, the 45-year-old is delighted to have made it so deep into his major poker tournament (his previous biggest buy-in event being a $200 daily tournament at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas). A resident of Tokyo, Sato’s presence reflects the growing popularity of poker in Japan, which was represented by a strong contingent of eight players.

Seat 9: Van Marcus (Melbourne, Australia – chip count 738,000): A regular in the Crown Casino poker room in his hometown (the largest poker room in the southern hemisphere), Van Marcus enters the final table as not only the best credentialed player, but also the form player. He made two final tables at the Aussie Millions earlier this year finishing fourth in both the $1500 No Limit Hold’em Feature Event and the $3000 Pot Limit Omaha tournament. However, his best tournament performance came just two months ago at the 2007 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas where he finished third in the $1500 Pot Limit Omaha w/ rebuys event behind Irishman Alan Smurfit. Marcus won more than $190,000 for this performance, which will stand him in good stead for the battle at today’s final table.

Players who’ve cashed in the event are:

  • 10th Steve Junhee Yea (South Korea) $8390
  • 11th Carlo Gosselin (Thailand) $8390
  • 12th D’amor Nario (Philippines) $8390
  • 13th Alexander Fitzgerald (USA) $5993
  • 14th Carlos Lascano (Philippines) $5993
  • 15th Ronald Javier (Philippines) $5993
  • 16th Se Jin Lee (South Korea) $5993
  • 17th Eric Sia (Philipines) $4794
  • 18th Nicolas Chouity (Lebanon) $4794
  • 19th Steven Djingga (Indonesia) $4794
  • 20th Kelly Flynn (USA) $4794
  • 21st Seung Soo Jeon (South Korea) $4794
  • 22nd Ronald Singson $4794
  • 23rd Jean-Marc Hauducoeur (France) $4794
  • 24th Dan Idema (Canada) $4794

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in