2008 PCA: Final table player profiles
The final table of the 2008 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure is scheduled to begin soon. You can follow the action here or at EPT Live. In the meantime, here's a look at the people who will be fighing for the $2 million first prize.
Seat 1: Kris Kuykendall, 25 - PokerStars qualifier - 2,150,000 chips
Kris, who turned 25 yesterday (January 9), graduated with a business degree from the University of Cincinatti and coaches wrestling in his spare time. He has only been playing poker for two years and turned pro after six months. He specialises in online cash games – 2/4 and 5/10 No Limit – and when he won his seat to the PCA, it was the first satellite he had ever played. The PCA is also his first ever live tournament but he says he found the transition from online to live pretty easy. This is his biggest result to date. He added: “I’ve had an up and down tournament so far. “
Seat 2: Christian Harder, 20, USA – PokerStars qualifier - 905,000 chips
Christian Harder, a student from Annapolis, Maryland, is playing in his first live big buy-in event. After studying business last semester at Salisbury University, he decided to take this semester off to play poker. He’s getting off to a pretty good start after qualifying on PokerStars in a $650 multi-table satellite. Known as “charder30” online, Harder is no stranger to tournament poker. He spends most of his time playing the biggest buy-in tournaments online with $8ok in a $1k event his biggest win to date. Although the shortest stack at the table, Harder still feels confident going into final table play.
Seat 3: David Pham, 41, USA - PokerStars qualifier - 7,390,000 chips
David 'The Dragon' Pham enjoyed having odds on his side at an early age, when the 17-year-old was one of only 46 (out of 145) people to survive a boat journey fleeing his native Vietnam for the United States. He joined the cleaning business of his cousin Men 'The Master' Nguyen, who had registered some success at the Las Vegas poker tables. He studied the game under his cousin and learned well from the master, as he was soon wiping the floor with his opponents at the table. His breakthrough year was 2000, when his consistent performances saw him named Cardplayer's Player of the Year. The following year saw him claim his first WSOP bracelet on the $2,000 SHOE event, and he would add his second in a NL Hold'Em shootout event in 2006. He’s had five WPT final tables in all and two WSOP bracelets. Pham is considered one of the most aggressive pros in the game and lies 23rd on the all-time money list - with $5.4 million in career earnings.
Seat 4: Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, 26, France- Team PokerStars Pro - 3,060,000 chips
ElkY was a famous professional gamer until a friend suggested he try his luck at poker seven years ago. He quickly proved his skills by qualifying for the WSOP two years running. He joined Team PokerStars in 2006. Rarely without his trademark sunglasses, poker has proved a profitable career switch for the young Frenchman. In EPT Season 3, he cashed three times including his second-place finish in Copenhagen for €309,000. ElkY is a prolific online player and said: "With gaming, I could practice 12 hours a day, but if I lost the game, the value would be zero. However, in poker every hour has some benefit”.
Seat 5: Joseph Elpayaa, 19, USA – PokerStars qualifier - 2,755,000 chips
Joespeh “bigegypt” Elpayaa, 19, from Chicago, has played a few big live events in Europe - including last year’s EPT Grand Final and the Irish Open - but this is his first big cash. Online, he has had a lot of success and says he has won “several “ $100k prizes in various events. Joseph was in the top 1% of those who took the ACT college exams last year but he only attended for a week before deciding to focus on poker. He learned poker in home games with his brother Adam and friends. His preference is cash games but he says “being deep in a tournament beats anything else.”
Seat 6: Craig Hopkins, 33, UK – PokerStars qualifier - 1,770,000 chips
Craig, a professional sports bettor from Chesterfield in the UK, has been playing poker for years with friends but only four years online. He played in last season’s EPT Grand Final but didn’t cash. He also qualified with PokerStars for last summer’s WSOP but couldn’t go because it clashed with his honeymoon. He said: “My wife Lindsey is here supporting me. She’s been brilliant. I got made redundant from work two years ago and decided to take up sports betting full-time. A lot of girlfriends wouldn’t be happy about that but she has been really supportive.” Craig has also had tons of support from friends and family back home – some friends even had champagne delivered to him at the Atlantis. His friends now call him “The Apple” after a picture of him eating fruit appeared on blondepoker on the first day of the PCA.
Seat 7: Richard Fohrenbach, 20, USA – PokerStars qualifier - 1,855,000 chips
College student Richard, from Milford, Connecticut, says he played around 20 Double Shoot Out satellites for the PCA before finally winning a seat in October. “I came second in one, and then won one later the same day.” He said he doesn’t consider himself a pro but is taking some time off from studying at Boston College to focus on the game. “This is by far my biggest win to date. I’ve only ever cashed once in a live tournament before this, and that was for £2,000.” Richard has already bought in to EPT Dortmund at the end of January, as well as the Season 4 EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo.
Seat 8: Hafiz Khan, 33, USA – PokerStars qualifier - 2,560,000 chips
Former software analyst Hafiz Khan, from Stockton, Northern California, has been playing poker for four years and turned pro two years ago. Hafiz normally plays online. He said: “I’ve been enjoying the PCA. It’s been long and gruelling, but fun. I expected to do well. This is my best result so far.”
All photos © Neil Stoddart