ANZPT Sydney: Final table profiles
Seat 1: Michael O'Grady (Sydney, NSW) PokerStars Qualifier; 2,314,000 in chips: The dominant chip leader heading into the final table, this 35-year-old resource trainer from Sydney's outer west won seats into this event via both satellites at Star City and on PokerStars. This father-of-two has three years of poker experience (mostly online), and has set a lofty goal in his first major final table appearance. "It doesn't mean anything if I don't win from here," he said. With more than 25 per cent of the chips in play, his confidence is well placed.
Seat 2: John Maklouf (Sydney, NSW) PokerStars Qualifier; 577,000 in chips: A 31-year-old manager with six years of online and live experience, this Star City regular qualified for the ANZPT Sydney Main Event via a PokerStars satellite. He's tested the water in some big tournaments, but set a lofty target for 2010. "It was a personal goal of mine to make a final table of a major tournament his year, and I've achieved that," he said. Quietly spoken, looks for this affable local to let his cards do the talking today.
Seat 3: Mike Ivin (Blue Mountains, NSW) 1,027,000 in chips: By far the most experienced player at this final table, this 57-year-old has been a mainstay of the local poker scene since the earliest days of tournament poker. The father-of-three played his first hand of poker in his teens, and has won events in most of Australia's major series, including the $1000 Pot Limit Hold'em at the 2004 Australasian Championships. He also won the €1000 NLHE Shootout at the Paris Open of Poker in 2006. His best recent results have ominously come in major tournaments at Star City.
Seat 4: Tri Nguyen (Sydney, NSW) 466,000 in chips: Not to be mistaken for his namesake, a well-known poker player and author from the US, "Aussie" Tri Nguyen has been playing poker for just two years but has made quite an impact. Twelve months ago to the day, he won an ANZAC Day tournament here at Star City - could lightning strike twice? This Sydney mortician was chip leader early on day three and despite bringing one of the shorter stacks to the final table, he promises to bring plenty of life to proceedings.
Seat 5: Cale MacLean (Newcastle, NSW) 824,000 in chips: A 28-year-old police officer from Newcastle, he earned his seat form ANZPT Sydney via a live satellite in his hometown. He brings four years of poker experience (live and online) down the F1 to Star City, and wasn't surprised to reach the final table. "I honestly through I was going to win or finish fifth in this event as far back as day one," he said. Having already outlasted 437 players, he's already done the lion's share of the work required!
Seat 6: Ka Ming Fang (Sydney, NSW) 288,000 in chips: The winner of a Big Game Wednesday tournament here at Star City as recently as February, this impressive youngster also final-tabled the $1100 Grant Levy Bounty Event at last year's Sydney Poker Championships. He rode the proverbial roller coaster on day three, climbing to the top of the chip count early before being crunched back to near the bottom of the chip count for much of the day. But with the outright short stack heading into his first ANZPT final table, his aggressive game demands respect.
Seat 7: Angelo "Arsen" Hanataj (Melbourne, Victoria) 1,987,000 in chips: If this ANZPT Sydney Main Event final table was being televised, we suspect this 20-year-old livewire would be an instant star. His exuberant celebrations and entertaining style of play have made him an instant hit in the Star City Poker Room over the past four days. Born in Albania where he first started playing poker 13 years ago, this 29-year-old concreter who makes his home in Melbourne has plenty of cash game experience but is making his first major tournament final table appearance today.
Seat 8: Bernard Gabriel (Sydney, NSW) 726,000 in chips: Another player with a well known poker namesake (no, he's not the UK-based poker pro), this father-of-three is a well known Star City player with a respectable list of results in major Star City events, including victory in a regular Wednesday tournament and a deep run in the ANZAC Day event here last year. This 39-year-old builder favours tournaments over cash games, which accounts for his steady but highly impressive run to his first ANZPT final table. No better time or place to break his duck.
Seat 9: Omer Silajdzija (Gold Coast, Queensland) 627,000 in chips: Talk about slipping under the radar - this 41-year-old builder from the Gold Coast has already shown he can match it with the best players in the region after finishing runner-up in the $1000 No Limit Hold'em event at the 2010 Aussie Millions, worth almost $40,000. The father-of-three has been playing poker for his entire adult life, much of which has been spent in Australia after he emigrated from Croatia in 1992. He looms as a real dark horse at today's final table.