APPT Melbourne: Final Table Player Profiles
After three days of slogging it out on the tables of Melbourne's Crown Casino, our APPT Melbourne field of 257 have been reduced to the final table of nine.
Throughout the entire tournament, we've been amazed by the quality of this field, and our final table certainly reflects that with some of the best players in the country left to fight it out for the APPT Melbourne title and the AU$326,125 first place prize.
Here's a little more about our APPT Melbourne final table line up:
Seat 1: Wayne Bentley, Manchester, England (610,000 chips)
Representing the Internationals on this final table is 31-year old Englishman Wayne Bentley. Sitting behind several large towers of chips throughout most of the past two days, his unorthodox play and fierce stare has had the better of the local brigade so far.
Wayne is a taxi driver with one result on his poker resume and that came with a 16th place finish the 2010 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure worth US$100,000.
It's Wayne's first time to Australia and he's looking to take the APPT Melbourne title away from home soil for the first time. Wayne enters the final table nicely placed in the middle of the pack.
Seat 2: Brendon Rubie, Sydney, New South Wales (1,002,000 chips)
One of the most talented young players in the country, 22-year old Brendon Rubie rose to prominence at the 2010 Melbourne Championships with a breakthrough victory. From there, Brendon has gone on to secure an Aussie Millions title and three WSOP cashes, including a runner-up result in WSOP Event #28 this year worth US$242,458.
Brendon also has a formidable online record with US$2.3 million in online winnings under the handle "Brendooor".
Brendon's hot year continues in this event as his third APPT cash, and first APPT final table, could potentially bring his third six-figure score of the calendar year. After being with the chip leaders at the end of every day of play so far, Brendon will enter the final table in fourth chip position.
Seat 3: Kristian Lunardi, Melbourne, Victoria (352,000 chips)
Kristian Lunardi is 25-year old cash game player often found on the tables of his home town casino at Crown. Kristian got started playing online and credits his friends for the improvements in his game over the years with the 2010 Aussie Millions Six-Handed title his career highlight among US$250,000 in live tournament earnings.
Kristian has been forced to battle on the short stack for large portions of this tournament, but says his defining moment was calling down Tom Grigg with just ace-high which helped him gain momentum to reach this final table. Kristian may be a little biased when he wrote on his bio sheet that Melbourne is the "best city in the world", but hey, he's probably right!
Seat 4: James Bills, Adelaide, South Australia (322,000 chips)
James Bills is a 25-year old student from Adelaide who qualified for this event on PokerStars. He has been playing for seven years and started after seeing poker on television. He ranks fellow Adelaide local and 2010 APPT Sydney Champion Jonathan Karamalikis as the biggest influence to his game.
James can usually be found playing mid to high stakes tournaments online under the username "BizBills". He has amassed over US$1.3 million in winnings and is currently the #1 ranked online player in Australia.
James describes his most defining moment of the tournament as being at the table with Tom Grigg and managing to avoid falling victim to Grigg's aggressive play. But he'll have some work ahead of him as the second shortest stack of this final table.
Seat 5: Nigel Andrews, Melbourne, Victoria (138,000 chips)
Nigel Andrews is a 44-year old teacher and family man from Melbourne. He has been playing poker for five years and was introduced to the game by his mates. He rates this as one of his biggest highlights in poker along with playing the Aussie Millions.
The defining moment for Nigel this week occurred when his pair of queens were up against pocket kings and the case queen fell on the board to keep him in the tournament. Nigel loves the chance to play against the best Australian poker talent and he feels that this is just what has happened during this tournament. Nigel is the short stack of the final table and will need some luck to get back into contention.
Seat 6: Tom Grigg, Melbourne, Victoria (2,271,000 chips)
One of the most feared players in the country, Tom Grigg has set a new record on the APPT as the first player to reach four APPT final tables after Sydney 2009 (5th), Auckland 2010 (2nd) and Queenstown 2011 (6th) left him short of that elusive victory.
Tom started out winning low stakes sit and gos some five years ago and has turned that start into well over US$2 million in online winnings under the online handle "tollgate". He's currently ranked the #2 online player in Australia.
Tom enjoys golf and skiing away from the tables, and will be looking for a big win in his home town casino at Crown. Tom enters the final table as the clear chip leader as the only player over two million in chips.
Seat 7: Gary Benson, Sydney, New South Wales (631,000 chips)
Gary Benson is one of the most decorated poker players in Australia. One of the pioneers of the game in this country, Gary was part of the first Australian poker tournament in Adelaide in 1987 and has attended almost every major tournament series since.
With ten WSOP cashes to his name, Gary was credited as being the first Australian to win a WSOP bracelet when he was successful in the $1,500 Seven-Card Stud event back in 1996. Those achievements saw Gary inducted as an inaugural member of the Australian Poker Hall of Fame.
Incredibly, this is Gary's first cash on the APPT, with his defining moment in this tournament coming following a triple up holding pocket kings with 13 players remaining. Away from the poker tables, Gary enjoys travelling, chess and Genealogy.
Seat 8: Sam Razavi, Brighton, England (1,318,000 chips)
The second Brit on this final table is 31-year old poker professional Sam "KODDZILLA" Razavi. With a poker resume a mile long, Sam has results all over the world including the UKIPT, EPT, APT and four cashes this year at the WSOP. Besides his win at the 2011 UKIPT Cork Main Event, Sam is well known in these parts for his 6th place in the 2011 Aussie Millions Main Event for an impressive AU$225,000 score.
Sam almost didn't make it here to Melbourne. After taking part in a recent event in Mauritius, the flight down under was overbooked and it looked like Sam was going to have to miss the event entirely. But he was able to board at the last minute, and made it on time, although he did miss three hours of play on Day 1 after suffering from jetlag! He seems to have shaken that off and will pose a real threat as the second biggest stack entering the final table.
Seat 9: Keith Walker, Newcastle, New South Wales - 1,048,000 chips
Keith Walker is known in his home town as "The Dentist". At 60 years of age and semi-retired, it is not clear whether this refers to his profession or is a reference to his ability to extract information from his opponents! He began playing in a pub poker league up in Newcastle and the players there are his greatest poker influence.
His biggest moment of the tournament happened toward the end of today's play. In a three-way all-in with Wayne Bentley and Vineet Jindal, Keith's pair of eights were dominated until an eight fell on the turn. He was able to double up and now finds himself in a good position to challenge for the title.