EPT8 Madrid: Who will be the next Madrid Champion?
Welcome back to the final day of the European Poker Tour main event in Madrid where we await the coronation of a new champion, a title worth €545,000.
So who are the eight players who will contest the final table, from a field that was 477 strong earlier in the week? Read about all the contenders below...
Seat 1: Ricardo Ibañez Rodriguez, 34, Leon, Spain - 3,216,000
Ibañez is a 34-year-old welder from Leon who decided to enter EPT Madrid on a whim. "I follow my heart, not my head," he said. He rarely plays online but does play live cash games and tournaments as a hobby. He has been playing poker for a few years and his biggest cash prior to this event was in a tournament in Salamanca, for around €3,000.
Seat 2: Frederik Jensen, 30, Copenhagen, Denmark - 2,144,000
Frederik Jensen is a regular face on the international poker circuit and marked himself out as one of the game's rising stars in 2010 with an EPT Vilamoura final table, a runner-up spot in the Aussie Millions and third place in a major EPT Grand Final side event, totalling $1.3m. Last year, however, was a somewhat less fruitful year for Jensen on the live circuit, with just $115,013 of cashes. Jensen is also an internet pro, playing as "Fred_Brink" and won the PokerStars Sunday Million in 2008, earning $204,000.
Seat 3: Fraser MacIntyre, 39, Ayr, Scotland - PokerStars qualifier - 2,473,000
Fraser MacIntyre is very much a veteran when it comes to poker. He's been playing it as a hobby for about 20 years but as semi-professional player for the past two. The rest of the time he runs a pub and nightclub in his home town of Ayr. He plays online cash games and satellites as well as live tournaments; his previous biggest cash was winning a WSOPE side event in Cannes last year for €16,900. MacIntyre qualified for Madrid through PokerStars' Step satellites and has also won a seat to LAPT Sao Paulo. He's been supported back home by his wife and four kids and here in Madrid by his friend, Mike Hill, a fellow player.
Seat 4: Bruno "Kool Shen" Lopes, 46, France - 1,452,000
Rap star Bruno "Kool Shen" Lopes is one of those rare people who seems to excel in everything they do. As a teenager he was an outstanding football player and nearly turned pro when he was offered the chance to play for the town of Lens. "I didn't do it," he said. "I went to New York instead." At the time Lopes was the National Break Dance Champion of France and for next three years he and his friends made a living busking as break-dancers and graffiti artists. In 1987 Lopes formed NTM - originally as a graffiti group then as a rap outfit. "Kool Shen" became a major star and the group went double-platinum. Lopes' hit "Un Ange dans Le Ciel" has had more than five million hits on YouTube.
Lopes first started playing poker (five-card draw) when he was 13. He then forgot all about poker for 25 years until he saw it on television in 2005. He began playing EPTs in Season 5 and min-cashed EPT San Remo. The following year, he cashed in San Remo again, and then had a deep run at the EPT6 Grand Final, finishing 42nd for €30,000. His biggest cash was in January when he beat a 108-strong field at the 2012 EFOP in Paris for €100,000. He was an overnight chip leader at EPT Deauville a few days later, eventually finishing 73rd for € 11,000. Last month he came seventh at WPT Mauritius. His live tournament winnings now total nearly $400,000 but he still earns his main living from music. This is his fifth EPT Main Event cash.
Seat 5: Andrei 'Andr31123' Stoenescu, 23 Bucharest, Romania - 1,974,000
High stakes cash game pro Andrei Stoenescu bust Mike 'Timex' McDonald to set the final table after winning a huge 1.9m flip with his big slick flopping Broadway against the Canadian's flopped set of tens. The board failed to pair and McDonald was sent to the rail.
Although this is only the second EPT he has ever played, Stoenescu is far from a poker novice. His daily online grind is at the $5/$10NL up to $50/$100NL tables and his best online tournament score was for $115,000 when he chopped a Sunday major heads up. He went on to win then. Here Stoenescu aims to become the first Romanian EPT winner.
Seat 6: Ilan Boujenah, 23, Jerusalem, Israel - 1,382,000
Boujenah got his start in poker playing in underground games in Israel, and then began playing online. Eventually, he became a mid-stakes Omaha player and dabbled in multi-table tournaments as well. Because poker is illegal in Israel, Boujenah began commuting to France to play in casinos. This season is the first that Boujenah has travelled the European Poker Tour circuit, and so far he's cashed in both the EPT Deauville main event in January, as well as the EPT Prague main event in December.
Seat 7: Jason Duval, 21, Quebec - PokerStars qualifier - 963,000
Duval's full-time job is studying for a Business degree at Université Laval, and he's just one session away from finishing. In his spare time he plays poker -- live cash and online MTTs. At the prodding of his friend Yann Dion, Duval bought into a direct entry satellite for this tournament on PokerStars, and a win there allowed him to secure his seat and join Dion here at EPT Madrid. Four days later, he's sitting at the final table with a real shot at the trophy and some serious bragging rights back home. He'll begin the final day with 963,000 chips. It's his first ever event on the EPT circuit and the largest live tournament he's played.
Seat 8: Nicolas Levi, 29, France - 709,000
This is Levi's second final table of Season 8, and third EPT final overall. Last December Levi finished third at EPT Prague for €270,000 and in Season 3 he made the final of EPT Dortmund, finishing in seventh place for € 85,700. Levi came across poker quite by accident seven years ago while he was studying computer science in the UK. On his laptop Levi discovered "a totally different game, a mix of psychology and mathematics. From the very first hand, I thought 'this is the game for me'. Beating chance seemed a very exciting challenge."
Since then, Levi has become a regular on the international poker scene. Outside of the EPT, Levi has achieved numerous other deep runs; his four WSOP finals include fifth in the 2010 WSOPE Main Event for £208,119 and sixth in the $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold'em Championship for $114.525. Levi been based in the UK since 2000 - and in London for the last four years.