ANZPT Sydney: Final table profiles
Seat 1: Lisa Walsh, Gold Coast, Qld, Australia (1,481,000 in chips): She might be making her first final table tournament appearance, but this 49-year-old mother of six (with her first grandchild on the way) brings plenty of big game experience to the table despite only three years' experience under her belt. The Gold Coast mortgage broker considers herself a cash-game specialist and she can regularly be found on the tables at casinos around the country. Her best tournament result came in the 2008 Victorian Championships Main Event, where she placed 19th.
Seat 2: Billy Argyros, Melbourne, Vic, Australia (789,000 in chips): The most experienced player at the final table, Billy "The Croc" - famous for the crocodile memorabilia he wears at the table - was among the first players inducted to the Australian Poker Hall of Fame in January. He's a multiple winner of events throughout Australia and New Zealand, including several preliminary titles at the Aussie Millions, but his biggest career tournament cash came at the 2008 WSOP where he placed fourth in the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha World Championship.
Seat 3: David Zhao, Melbourne, Vic, Australia (456,000 in chips): A 23-year-old professional poker player and a former commerce graduate from Melbourne, this shy and reserving character told us that he was "relieved" that he's managed to make it to the final table. He was one of the few players to buy into the ANZPT Sydney Main Event directly. Expect to see some aggression from Zhao early - he's the short stack on 456,000.
Seat 4: Joel Dodds, Sydney, NSW, Australia (483,000 in chips): One of the great characters of Aussie poker, the softly spoken Sydneysider combines tough-as-teak skills with a caustic wit at the poker table. The 25-year-old holds the amazing record of having placed 14th in both the 2007 and 2008 PokerStars.net APPT Macau main events. A student and aspiring poker pro, Dodds, known as strongplay due to his preference for only the best starting hands, is looking forward to playing a full schedule at the 2009 WSOP.
Seat 5: Chris Kittos, Sydney, NSW, Australia (1,287,000 in chips): A 41-year-old mechanical engineer from the Sydney suburb of San Souci, this father-of two honed his skills in the numerous pub poker venues that offer cash-entry tournaments around the New South Wales capital. His best finishes have been in the weekly PokerDome events, including victory in a $12k guaranteed event. He also final-tabled the $1100 NLHE event on the 2007 APPT Grand Final preliminary schedule, but is expecting bigger things here today.
Seat 6: Paren Arzoomanian, Sydney, NSW, Australia (2,065,000 in chips): Assured the lion's share of the crowd support, the chip leader is a 25-year-old student who is studying software engineering and finance, would like to turn his attention to poker full-time. A cash-game specialist, his best tournament cash is 24th in the 2007 PokerNews Cup, which earned him a modest AUD 10,000. He's already guaranteed a bigger payday than that here in Sydney, but is greedily eyeing the top spot on the podium.
Seat 7: John Caridad, Sydney, NSW, Australia (638,000 in chips): This 35-year-old Sydneysider has been playing poker for about five or six years. He's no freshman to live tournament poker, as he's already taken part in the APPT Grand Final here two years ago and plays quite a lot online. Caridad, a property developer by trade, qualified for this event on PokerStars and is the only online qualifier still contention. He enters the final table with 638,000 in chips.
Seat 8: James Newhan, Sydney, NSW, Australia (989,000 in chips): This 38-year-old hails from the suburb of Glebe, a stone's throw away from Star City. The self-confessed poker tragic is extremely excited to be here at the final table, though "he's had to put in a lot of hard work to get here." After managing to win his seat via a $200 satellite at Star City, he managed to survive the carnage to enter the final table with a respectable 989,000.
Seat 9: Majed Haddad, Sydney, NSW, Australia (1,689,000 in chips): Despite this being his first major cash tournament final table, the 31-year-old truck driver from Sydney is used to being in the spotlight after his runner-up finish in the Australian Poker League Wild Turkey Poker Classic at Crown in Melbourne. That result earned him a package to the 2009 WSOP Main Event. He's ideally placed to emulate if not surpass his second-place in the WTPC with the second biggest stack entering the final table.