PokerStars Festival London: Final table player profiles
Seat 1: Alexis Fleur, 27, France, 1,750,000
Alexis Fleur, a 27 year old amateur player from France (based in London) had to make use of the Re-entry Turbo Day 1d in the Main Event after busting Day 1b. However, he built a good stack in it - a key hand he notes being at the end of Day 2 when he eliminated Adam Harsanyi. Though Fleur specialises in live cash games, he also appreciates tournament poker, and has picked up as his best live result a 2nd place worth $57,884 in Marrakech last May.
Fleur mentioned fellow finalist Daniel Harwood as someone who's become his "favourite player during this tournament" due to his creative playing style, but friends or not, as second lowest in chips, Fleur will have to take the chip leader on at some point if he wants to win the trophy.
Seat 2: Clement Tripodi, 32, France, 2,965,000
The second Frenchman on the final table, Clement Tripodi, 32, is an online cash game pro now based in Malta. Tripodi says that Jérôme Brion inspired him to play poker, and today, he really plays tournaments for fun - although his best live result is a 23rd place finish in the 2013 WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas, worth $285,000. With one buy-in to the Main Event, Tripodi admits he was very lucky during Day 1a, hitting a one-outer to stay in the tournament of which he has now made the final table.
Seat 3: Yuriy Boyko, 28, Ireland, 4,850,000
Yuriy Boyko calls Dublin home but originally hails from Cork (and wants to say a big thank you to the Cork City Cutters for their support). He discovered poker in college, playing in €10 tournaments where a streak of three wins gave him what he calls "the bug." This bug became a career, and the 28-year-old now plays online for a living, describing himself as a cash game specialist with an emphasis on PLO.
Boyko considers this deep run in the PokerStars Festival Main Event as "preparation for Vegas," which trip he's had planned for some time. The preparation is going well; he came 4th in the 178-runner High Roller here for £26,500 on Tuesday.
Seat 4: Lam Van Trinh, 36, United Kingdom, 1,195,000
Lam Van Trinh, from London, has only just taken up poker again after a gap of five years developing his own businesses and on his second attempt he has made the final table of the largest event ever held at PokerStars LIVE at The Hippodrome Casino, on his first visit to the venue. Trinh, 36, played online around 10 years ago, and has had some notable results on PokerStars, including winning $100,000 via a Turbo Takedown which he'd entered with 5,000 FPP. Trinh has a prior cash in last year's Estrellas Main Event, but a win here would mark his best live performance.
Seat 5: Daniel Harwood, 27, Cheltenham, United Kingdom, CHIPS
This is not the first final table in a big PokerStars tournament at The Hippodrome Casino for 27-year-old Daniel Harwood. The Cheltenham resident finished fifth in the UKIPT Main Event here in April 2016, winning £22,540. Just a fortnight ago, he picked up a similar cash in a tournament in Nottingham and is in good form and full of confidence.
However, off the felt life is not so good. A day after his win in Nottingham, thieves broke into his house and stole £5,000. The theft has, however, given Harwood fire in his belly and should he finish sixth or higher he'll record his largest live cash to date. Harwood has been playing poker for five years and the former carpenter turned pro just over a year ago. Should he win the tournament today, the keen footballer says family would come first and he'd use the winnings to help out his Mum and younger brother.
Seat 6: Rehman Kassam, United Kingdom, 5,400,000
Rehman Kassam comes to the final table second in chips after bursting the final table bubble by eliminating Guillem Cusco Bach in 9th place (aces vs. jacks). Kassam's long string of live cashes are mostly from Nottingham, where he also picked up his biggest single cash of £35,000 back in 2014. Kassam will need to finish in 4th place or higher to best it.
Seat 7: Eric Cech, 25, Central Queensland, Australia, 1,080,000
When staff analysed the nationalities of the 744 players in this tournament, there was general surprise at the inclusion of a player from Australia. It's a long way to come for a £990 event, no matter how deep the love for poker. The truth, of course, is not quite so extreme: Eric Cech did not make the journey from home in Central Queensland to London just for this tournament. In fact, he came by bus.
The 25-year-old arrived to London about a month ago as he began touring and working in Europe. He is a P.E. teacher, who has already found work in London, and has settled in Elephant & Castle in south east London. It's a single bus ride from him home to the Hippodrome. There is no casino in Central Queensland, so his live poker experience before arriving to London was limited to home games. He played a lot online at PokerStars as well, and has honed his game in this casino since arriving. He qualified for the tournament via the first £170 satellite hosted at the Hippodrome.
This is his Cech's first major tournament score, and may earn him a new level of respect among the students at school. Currently they're most fascinated by his name, wondering if he is related to the Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech. "I tell them I am," Cech said. (He's not, but his father was born in Prague.)
Seat 8: Ludovic Geilich, 29, United Kingdom, 4,140,000
Ludovic Geilich, UKIPT4 Marbella winner, WCOOP PLO 6-Max High Roller champion and popular regular on the UKIPT has made yet another final table. Geilich finished runner-up in the last ever UKIPT Main Event in Birmingham last year, winning £23,600 to add to his over $1.3 million in live tournament earnings. From a background of near-professional snooker as a teenager, Geilich discovered poker in private clubs in Glasgow where he split his time playing and working as a dealer. He built and lost a bankroll many times over - as he says, "rinse and repeat" - until finally his bankroll management caught up with his talent and since his win in Spain has been travelling the globe.
Registering as alternate #90 in the sell-out Main Event, Geilich passed the time waiting for his seat to open by joining his friend for dinner and a movie, returning in time to claim his seat as the blinds rose to 400/800. Though he admits that there have been some tough, long days at the table, his stamina has been rewarded with another final in which he is well-stacked, lying in fourth overall.