Welcome to the single most pointless post ever to appear on PokerStars Blog--and there's some pretty stiff competition. Here's the official introductions to the eight players around the Grand Final final table, all of whom need no introduction.
Seat 1: Jake Cody, 24, Rochdale, UK - Team PokerStars Pro - 1,633,000 chips
Jake Cody is one of the UK's most successful poker players. He learned to play poker at home games with friends, turning pro in his late teens, and has achieved a phenomenal set of results since arriving on the circuit in 2009. He now has live career earnings of more than $3 million, plus hundreds of thousands of dollars more online. In January 2010, Cody won EPT Deauville for $1,213,194, kick-starting a run of major title wins including WPT London for $425,492 and a $2,100 NL SCOOP event for $234,738. In May 2011, Cody won his first World Series bracelet for $851,192, a victory that secured him the triple crown of EPT, WPT and World Series titles. Cody also won the inaugural UKIPT Series event last month in the PokerStars LIVE at the Hippodrome Casino.
Seat 2: Jason Mercier, 26, Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Team PokerStars Pro - 824,000 chips
Even given the stellar line-up of this season's final table, Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier stands out. The 26-year-old from Florida already has 14 major tournament titles to his name and has earned more than $8 million in live tournament winnings. Mercier first came to attention in 2008 when he topped a field of 701 players to win EPT Sanremo and €869,000. Six months later, he nearly won a second EPT title when he made the final of EPT Barcelona. Days later he came eighth in the WSOP-E £5,000 PLO event in London, followed a month later by victory in the £20,000 EPT London High Roller for £516,000.
This kind of phenomenal run has become a familiar story with Mercier. At the 2009 World Series, he had four cashes and won his first bracelet - in the $1,500 PLO event for $237,462. In 2010 he took down the PokerStars NAPT Mohegan Sun $25,000 Bounty Shootout before winning his first WCOOP bracelet for $435,862. He won the Mohegan Sun Bounty Shootout event again the following year, before closing out EPT Season 7 by winning the EPT Champion of Champions event. His second World Series bracelet came in 2011 in a $5,000 PLO Omaha event for $619,575 and he snagged his second WCOOP title last year when he won the $10,300 8-Game High Roller event for $253,425. Mercier is currently at #31 in the all time money list.
Seat 3: Andrew Pantling, 30, Canada - 4,180,000 chips
Canadian born Andrew Pantling is the CEO of a sports betting website, but for many years made most of his money as a professional online poker player. Pantling, currently living in London, is known online as ClockWyze where he mostly plays No Limit Hold'em Short Handed $25-$50 cap games. Over the years Pantling has also had his share of live tournament results: in 2009 he finished third in the Irish Open Main Event for €205,000, followed by a runner-up finish in the £2,500 Six Max No Limit Hold'em WSOPE event for £105,506. His only tournament victory came in 2010 when he won the €5,000 No Limit Hold'em Heads Up event at the EPT Grand Final. In 2012 he also managed to cash the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino EPT Grand Final when he finished in 26th place. Pantling took up poker while in his early 20s. He was based in Malta at the time so was easily able to travel to live events around Europe. Although not as familiar as some of the faces at this season's EPT Grand Final, Pantling is well-respected by his peers.
Seat 4: Grant Levy, 33, Australia - 786,000 chips
Grant Levy enters the final table short on chips but has plenty of experience. In 2007, he shipped the inaugural Asia Pacific Poker Tour Grand Final Main Event, becoming the first Australian to earn A$1,000,000 ($875,542) on home soil. In 2011, he also won an Australia New Zealand Poker Tour Main Event after beating 219 players in Perth to bank $130,175. Levy's third-largest career cash come in 2007, when he finished third in the PokerNews Cup at Crown Casino, earning $117,284. In January, at the tenth anniversary PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, Levy made two final tables, finishing fifth in a $5,000 side event, earning $56,710, and won a separated $5,000 side event, pocketing $78,940. His lifetime live tournament winnings weigh in at $1.8 million.
Seat 5: Steve O'Dwyer, 31, Ireland - PokerStars qualifier - 4,452,000 chips
Steve O'Dwyer is a familiar face on the European Poker Tour, having made four main event final tables, including this one. It is actually his second in two months, following EPT London when he was also chip leader at the start of the final. He ended up finishing fifth for £146,000 bringing his live tournament winnings to more than $3.2 million. O'Dwyer's first big score was in 2009 when he came sixth in the Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic for more than $213,796, but it was 2011 when the communications graduate had his breakthrough year. O'Dwyer won nearly $1.5 million that year and snagged a further $880,000 in 2012, tearing through EPT Season 8 with a fifth place in the EPT Barcelona €10,000 High Roller, a runner-up finish at EPT London for £465,000, and seventh at EPT Copenhagen for DKr 290,000. O'Dwyer originally hails from the United States but also holds an Irish passport and now lives in Dublin where he plays poker online. He could become the first Irish EPT champion.
Seat 6: Daniel Negreanu, 38, Las Vegas, Nevada - Team PokerStars Pro - 1,581,000 chips
Daniel Negreanu is arguably the best-known player in the world game. He originally had aspirations to become a professional snooker player but after moving from his native Canada to Las Vegas, he instead became a professional poker player. Negreanu has one of the greatest live results records and is currently ranked sixth in the all-time money list with tournament winnings totalling more than $17.4 million. In 1998, aged 23, Negreanu became the youngest ever player (at the time) to win a World Series of Poker bracelet, after taking down the $2,000 Pot Limit Hold'em event. That was the start of an incredible run that shows little sign of stopping. The Team PokerStars Pro started 2013 with a bang, wining the inaugural WSOP Asia Pacific Main Event for $1,087,160. This is his second EPT final table appearance (his first was fourth place at EPT Vienna in season eight) but with five WSOP bracelets and two WPT wins under his belt, a win here in Monaco would complete his triple crown.
Seat 7: Noah Schwartz, 29, Miami Beach, Florida - 1,068,000 chips
Noah Schwartz has racked up $2,996,562 in live tournament winnings since 2006, highlights of which include a sixth place €166,000 finish in the EPT Grand Final High Roller last season. Schwartz had the best year of his career in 2012 with two WPT final tables, one of which he converted to a $402,972 win. A top four finish for Schwartz will give the 29-year-old American his largest ever cash.
Seat 8: Johnny Lodden, 27, Oslo, Norway - Team PokerStars Pro - 1,402,000 chips
Johnny Lodden took up cards playing Uno with his family before progressing to playing poker for money at school with his friends. By the time he was 20, Johnny had started crushing the cash games on PokerStars, moving up the levels to the highest stakes available. He won his first live tournament at the 2004 St Maarten Open, cashing for $26,430 in the $500 event. His first EPT cash was in 2006, the first in a run of EPT successes that would help him become one of the best rated players on tour. Since then, he has cashed 13 times in EPT main events including eighth in Budapest on season five and 13th at EPT Prague in December.
Lodden's biggest cashes have come in World Series events: 11th in the 2008 WSOP-E Main Event in London for £54,300 and 27th in the 2010 WSOP Main Event in Vegas for $317,161. Away from poker Johnny is an avid sports fan, especially soccer.
A quick note on how to follow our coverage of the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final. Head to the main EPT Monaco page, where you will find hand-by-hand coverage in the panel at the top of the page, which also includes current chip counts and payouts so far.
There is also hand-by-hand coverage of the €25,000 High Roller event on the High Roller page.