EPT London: The contenders
The final table was set late last night and here's how they line up, in search of the £1 million first prize at the Victoria Casino today.
A reminder that prizewinners to date can be found on the prizewinners page.
Seat one: Eric Liu, 23, San Francisco, USA – 1,308,000 chips
Eric Liu cashed at the PCA in January of this year in his first live tournament, then followed up with 17th at the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo. But he still wasn't happy with his game so went to Vegas in the summer to play a lot of the smaller World Series buy-in tournaments and the main event, hoping to bring his live game up to the standards he reaches online, where he plays high-stakes cash. "Players like Daniel Negreanu can read a lot off me, so I'm trying to get some more experience playing live," he said. He picked up a couple of cashes in Vegas and is thinking of moving there soon, from his most recent base in San Francisco. Liu took up poker after watching a televised poker tournament and, after just a few months, turned a $200 deposit into $34,000.
Seat two: Johannes Strassmann, 23, Bonn, Germany – PokerStars.de Shooting Star – 434,000 chips
One of the PokerStars.de ShootingStars team of sponsored players, Strassmann had an extremely precarious day three – he was close to busting several times and very nearly bubbled the final table – which would have been the third time he had gone out of an EPT in ninth place. He has had four EPT cashes so far – his biggest win being €152,000 for sixth place at EPT4 Dortmund. Now living in Berlin, Strassmann mainly plays heads-up cash games but also plays limit and no-limit hold 'em or pot-limit Omaha. As well as poker, he also enjoys basketball, running and strength training in the gym. He has been playing poker since 2006.
Seat three: Philippe D'Auteuil, 21, Quebec, Canada – 478,000 chips
D'Auteuil is playing in only his second live event but is an experienced online player specialising in high stakes cash games. His other live event was EPT Barcelona in season four but he busted on day one. He took up poker four years ago after watching the game on television. He studied statistics at college but dropped out after two years to devote himself to poker. Asked who he thinks the best players at the final table are, he replied: "Eric Liu – and me."
Seat four: Antony Lellouche, 28, Paris, France – 1,021,000 chips
This is the professional French player's third EPT final table in a year. At EPT London last season he came sixth for €140,081 and was runner-up at EPT4 San Remo for €505,000. Based in Paris, Lellouche mainly plays live poker in high stakes cash games around the world. He is popular among his peers and mentors, including the godfathers of French poker Claude Cohen and Jan Boubli. Lellouche turned professional nine years ago, honing his skills at the smallest limit games at the Aviation Club. Fearless and intuitive, Lellouche has also made two World Series final tables and gone deep in two EPT Grand Finals - 12th in 2005 and 21st in 2007.
Seat five: Michael Tureniec, 23, Stockholm, Sweden - PokerStars qualifier – 1,331,000 chips
Tureniec has played four EPT tournaments so far but busted early in all of them before this week. Aside from military service, Tureniec has only had one job in his life – working as a supermarket cashier – a job he abandoned to become a professional poker player four years ago. His best live results to date have been 400th in the WSOP main event in 2007, second in a £500 side event in London last year and third in the SKr 5,000 event at the 2008 Nordic Masters of Poker in March. He won his seat to EPT London in the $800 last chance qualifier on PokerStars - only three days before the tournament started.
Seat six: Alan Smurfit, 66, Dublin, Ireland – 396,000 chips
A regular on the European Poker Tour, Smurfit has cashed twice including 16th at EPT4 London for $32,641 but this is his first final table. He retired from work five years ago after selling the family business, the Smurfit Group - which at the time was the second biggest packaging company in the world. Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Smurfit has been based in the United States for 20 years and is now about to move to Las Vegas. He says he plays poker for a hobby but has had a string of great results in recent years including winning a World Series event for more that $450,000 in 2007. His all-time poker earnings amount to $ 1,088,219 and he is ranked sixth on the all time money list from Ireland.
Seat seven: Marcin Horecki, 31, Poland – Team PokerStars Pro – 309,000 chips
Born in Poland, Horecki is a former member of the national alpine skiing team but was forced to quit the sport because of injury. Horecki studied for BA and MA degrees and then worked in corporate finance. In 2006, he came close to making the final table of the €1,000 NLHE event at the Barcelona Open and this gave him the confidence he needed to turn pro. In January 2007, he cashed at EPT3 Copenhagen and he final tabled at the Asian Poker Classic in Goa for $29,000 three months later. That year he also took down the €500 NLHE rebuy event for $28,637 in the Austrian Masters in Vienna. Already one of the highest earning Polish poker players of all time, Horecki joined Team PokerStars Pro during the WSOP in July.
Seat eight: Michael Martin, 24, Washing Crossing, PA - 728,000 chips
Martin has been playing poker for five years and turned pro in January 2007 after graduating in English from Penn State. Originally an athlete – he played college hockey for two years – he took up poker at the end of a hockey season and never looked back. Between November 2007 and April 2008 he won more than $1,000,000 – after coming second at the Master Classics of Poker in Amsterdam in November 2007 and then making fifth place at the EPT4 Grand Final in Monte Carlo. Martin's mother has flown over specially to rail her son at today's final table and has always supported his decision to become a poker pro. Michael said: "When I started, my dad wasn't keen at all but my Mum was an enabler. She lent me my first $100 to play online with and when I made my first $1,000, I asked her if i should cash out and she said no!" Michael's girlfriend Jen is also flying in to London to give her support.