EPT Budapest: Introducing the final eight

After four days, 532 players, 23 levels and 524 eliminations it’s come to this, the final table of the first ever EPT Budapest. The success of the finalist is only matched by the success of this event in general.

No one knew what to expect when they arrived in Hungary but what they found when they got here were all the two principle ingredients for a great event - a big prize pool and a great location.

All EPT host cities have something picturesque about them but few can rival Budapest for the views from the front door of the casino, from which you can see the Royal Palace over the river and the Danube flowing to the horizon.

But it’s what goes on inside the casino that matters today; a final table featuring some of the game’s best and most exciting players. It all starts and finishes this afternoon when one man will be crowned the inaugural EPT Budapest champion – that’s a title worth €595,839.

The final table is set for the inaugural European Poker Tour event in Budapest. Play is scheduled to begin at 1pm central European time (7am ET). We will play to a winner.

These are the final table players:

Seat 1: Marino Serenelli, 60, San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy – 357,000 chips
Serenelli is a restauranteur from the beautiful seaside resort of San Benedetto del Tronto and is currently enjoying his biggest ever tournament poker success. Normally a cash game player, he has only played three live tournaments in his life – but made the money in all of them. His poker playing usually takes place while he’s holidaying on the Caribbean island of St Maarten.

Seat 2: Will Fry, 28, Nottingham, UK – PokerStars player – 572,000 chips

Fry first played poker aged six, in small five card draw games with his cousins. This early fascination with cards extended into magic and he still likes to practice card tricks with his friends. Fry mainly plays cash games online but mixes it up with some live play while travelling for a few months every year. He rarely plays tournaments and this is his biggest buy-in event. He plans to give a proportion of his winnings away to charities associated with third world poverty.

Seat 3: Ciprian Hrisca, 35, Bucharest, Romania - 1,038,000 chips

Hrisca decided to play the EPT Budapest because it was the closest event to his home town of Bucharest in Romania. The 35-year-old, who works in real estate, only began playing poker 18 months ago, first in cash games with friends before starting to play online on PokerStars. Now playing in his first live event, he thought EPT Budapest would make a “nice holiday” and now finds himself at the final table. Outside of poker, Hrisca enjoys playing football and is looking forward to the birth of his first child in April.

Seat 4: Gino "El Diablo" Alacqua, 47, Milan, Italy – 466,000
Alacqua first came to the attention of the international poker community when he was runner-up to Arnaud Mattern at the first EPT event held in Prague last season. Now he’s back at his second final table in a year – a double celebration because it is also his 47th birthday. The former antiques dealer had only been playing poker for 18 months when he competed in Prague but is now a regular on the EPT circuit and has quickly risen to sixth place on the all-time Italy money list with total live tournament winnings of more than $860,000.

Seat 5: Martin Jacobson, 21, Stockholm, Sweden – PokerStars qualifier – 306,000

Aged just 21, Jacobson has already been playing poker for three years. He is a trained chef but is currently playing poker full-time. Jacobson won his seat to this tournament in the last chance qualifying satellite on PokerStars last week. This is his second EPT - he played EPT London at the beginning of October but busted on the first day.

Seat 6: Albert Iversen, 21, Århus, Denmark – 1,059,000 chips

Iversen started playing poker at high school with friends before taking up the game online and playing low-stakes cash games. He swiftly built up his bankroll and now plays high stakes – $25-$50, $50-$100 and higher. He is currently taking a year off from university, where he is studying English and communications, to play live. Iversen bought himself into this tournament and it's his fourth EPT. This is the first time he has cashed.

Seat 7: Johnny Lodden, 23, Norway – PokerStars sponsored player - 500,000 chips
Already a star of the world game, Lodden has cashed at six EPTs but this is his first final table – and the first time he has been sponsored by PokerStars. Lodden, who came 11th at the World Series Europe Main Event last month for £54,300, started his poker life playing high-stakes cash games online. In fact, he was so feared that few players were willing to take him on at the highest levels. His great friend, the Team PokerStars Pro Wlliam Thorson, said: “I’ve known Johnny for many years and always known he’s a great player. But a lot of people who are great online don’t necessarily cut it in live tournaments. Johnny has worked hard though and I always knew he would be a great live tournament player as well.”

Seat 8: Zoltan Toth, 41, Hodmezovasarhely, Hungary – 1,059,000 chips

The local hero at the EPT Budapest, Toth has shown real character during the past few days. He advances to the final table with a slight chip lead, with more than 1,000,000 in chips. This is his greatest poker achievement to date, although he’s a tournament-only poker player usually at his local casino. After graduating from high-school, Toth started up his own businesses and now owns a pub and a clothing-import company. When asked about his hobbies and poker life, he merely replied: “During the summer I go fishing, winter time I play poker”.

And here they are with the video blog team:

Watch EPT Budapest 08: Final Table Introduction. on PokerStars.tv

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour