EPT Deauville: Final table player profiles
A field of 891 players arrived in Deauville last Monday and now, six days later, just eight of them remain. At stake today is a first prize of €880,000 and an EPT title that comes with a seat to the season 7 Grand Final. So who are the last eight? We're glad you asked...
Seat 1: Anthony Hnatow, 22, Ozoir-La-Ferriere, France - 1,644,000 chips
Anthony is a student in Computer Engineering who's been playing Texas hold'em poker for three years, preferring to perfect this variation before trying others. He prefers playing cash games, mainly online under the nickname "nartoof", and he recently began playing in Paris cardrooms.
Since the French online gaming market was regulated in June 2010, Anthony has started playing more tournaments because, he explains, the fields on French websites are a bit easier to navigate. He played his first live tournament last December during the Forges-Les-Eaux stop of the PokerStars France Poker Series. That's when he decided he would play EPT Deauville. If Hnatow wins today, he plans to buy a house and turn it into a night-club, complete with entry fee and all.
Seat 2: Julien Claudepierre, 24, France - 3,244 chips
Claudepierre discovered poker in 2006, watching the movie Rounders. He started by playing micro-stakes cash-games online and then moved up in stakes. He is now a regular at the €5/€10 tables under the username "Garrincho". He mainly plays no-limit hold'em but recently began playing pot-limit Omaha.
After completing his engineering studies 18 months ago, Claudepierre decided to make the leap towards professional poker. His best results to date are victory in an online €100,000 guaranteed tournament, and an 11th place finish at the Spanish Poker Tour's final stop in 2010.
During Day 5 of EPT Deauville, Claudepierre knocked out his good friend Fabrice Soulier. Apart from poker, Claudepierre loves football, especially Zinedine Zidane and the French team 'AS Nancy'.
Seat 3: Martin Jacobson, 25, Sweden, PokerStars qualifier - 7,280,000 chips
PokerStars qualifier Jacobson goes into the final as chip leader today. He already has big results to his name, including his most recent and biggest cash when he finished runner-up at EPT Vilamoura in Portugal last September, earning €297,985.
Other deep runs include third place at EPT Budapest in Season 5 for €197,904, runner-up at WPT Venice last year for €238,840 and a fourth place finish in a World Series $1,500 event last summer for $183,345. His live tournament winnings now amount to more than $1.3 million.
Jacobson won his seat to Deauville via the EPT Steps satellites on New Year's Day.
Seat 4: Ruslan Prydryk, 38, Lugansk , Ukraine - 1,154 chips
Prydryk has been playing EPTs for several years, first coming to people's notice when he reached the final of EPT Warsaw in Season 6, where he finished fifth, earning $105,760 - his biggest career cash.
He has also enjoyed some good EPT finishes including a 48th place at EPT Prague just before Christmas, and 91st place at EPT Berlin last season. Prydryk has also won a local event in Yalta, Ukraine, last May, earning €67,000.
Prydryk, a former lawyer, has been playing poker for more than four years now and considers himself a pro. He is being supported in France by his wife Oksana while their 13-year-old daughter Irisa is at home. Prydryk's biggest poker success was winning the 2009 Gary Bowman Cup, becoming the poker champion of Ukraine. Outside of poker, he enjoys watching and playing football.
Seat 5 : Kaspars Renga, 44, Riga, Latvia - 470,000 chips
Renga doesn't describe himself as a professional player. He plays a lot but his day job is running a hunting magazine. This is Renga's fourth EPT cash from only seven tries. The 44-year-old has already made the money twice in Barcelona (Season 6 and 7) and in Prague just a month ago.
In addition Renga has a string of final tables and deep runs in smaller tournaments in Lithuania, Estonia and his native Latvia. His most lucrative cash before now was runner-up in a €1,000 Pot-Limit Omaha side event ("my favorite game", he says) during EPT Berlin, worth €29,700.
Renga is being supported by his wife and two children who are following his progress from home.
Seat 6: Alex Wice, 22, Toronto, Canada - PokerStars qualifier - 6,248 chips
Wice has been playing poker with friends since before he went to high school and carried on playing part-time while at Waterloo University studying Mathematics. Wice dropped out to play full-time in August 2008, after winning the PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up for $135,000.
Wice is a regular online high stakes tournament player and has also been playing live for the past two years. He cashed at EPT London in season six but his big breakthrough in live events came at last summer's World Series where he came third for $102,314 in the $2,500 World Championship Mixed Events 8 game.
His focus, since he turned pro, has been on improving his game, spending a lot of time researching and analysing hands on his computer. He credits a lot of his success with deep stack tournament play friends who have been helping him over the past few months.
Seat 7: Kenny "SpaceyFCB" Hallaert, 29, Namur, Belgium - 3,599 chips
Hallaert is a semi-professional player who lives in Namur, and runs tournaments at the local casino. He also does marketing for the casino, catering for non-French speakers. Hallaert has played numerous European Poker tour events, qualifying for most of them.
His biggest live result came in Holland, where he finished sixth at the Master Classics in Amsterdam, in 2009, earning €86,184. Then last season he came 37th at the EPT Grand Final, earning €35,000. He also won the PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up in January 2009 and was top of the PokerStars TLB in the same month.
He is now wants to become the first ever Belgian EPT champion.
Seat 8: Lucien Cohen, 47, Paris, France - 3,085,000 chips
Lucien Cohen is an amateur player who predominantly enjoys playing Pot Limit Omaha cash games. Cohen has been playing poker for 20 years having started, like many in France, with five card draw.
Since this event began, Lucien has been repeatedly seen showing table mates and spectators a plastic rat which he was often "kissed" while all-in. This lucky charm is actually the official mascot of the pest control company Cohen owns in Paris.
Cohen is being supported in Deauville by his wife, younger sister and various friends. He's very excited about playing an EPT final table and plans to play more live tournaments in the future.
The finalists (left to right): Martin Jacobson, Anthony Hnatow, Ruslan Prydryk, Julien Claudepierre, Kaspars Renga, Kenny Hallaert, Lucien Cohen and Alex Wice