2009 PCA: Final table player profiles
The eight players at the final table come from all over the poker spectrum.
The poker veterans and newcomers are all fighting for one of the biggest prizes in poker. The top three players in this event will walk away with more than one million bucks. The winner will pull in $3 million.
Here's a look at each of the final table players.
Seat 1: Tony Gregg (Maryland, USA)
Entry: PokerStars FPP Direct-Buy-In
Tony has been playing poker full-time since he was 18. He mainly plays online cash games and is a very well-respected mid-stakes cash game player who goes by the screen name "wwwBTHEREcom". Tony bought in to the PCA using FPPs - 800,000 of them to be exact. His best live result to date came last summer in the $5k NLHE Championship Event in Borgata where he finished 33rd for $8,625; online he came 3rd in the Sunday Million in August 2007 for $70k. Tony's father emailed EPTLive yesterday to check the start time of tomorrow's final table tomorrow as he plans to fly down to support his son. Tony is also being cheered on by his girlfriend Jasmine.
Seat 2: Alexandre Gomes (Curitiba, Brazil)
Entry: Team PokerStars Pro
Only two years ago, Alex was fully set on a career as a lawyer. He played poker at home with friends but was committed to his career and already a partner in a corporate law firm. However once he started playing online poker, he was soon winning big money, including first place in the Wednesday Hundred Fifty Grand for $65,333. Eventually Alex had to make a choice and turned pro - a decision which brought rapid rewards. First he took down the $2k NLHE event at the 2008 WSOP for $770,540; then he joined Team PokerStars Pro and only weeks later came 4th at LAPT Season 1 tournament in Punta del Este in Uruguay for $68,100. Alexandre is a keen sportsman and plays soccer regularly as well as supporting his local team, Curitiba FC. He plays online as 'Allingomes'.
Seat 3: Pieter Tielen (Boxtel, Holland)
Entry: PokerStars qualifier
A 36-year-old purchasing consultant from Boxtel, near Amsterdam in Holland, Pieter Tielen is treading the well-worn path from tiny PokerStars online satellite to major live tournament success. Tielen is a Bronze Star player on PokerStars who won a $3 satellite to the $30 rebuy PCA qualifier. Although he took the add-on in that tournament, his total outlay in getting to the PCA is $33. He now stands to win at least $234,000 in what is his first major live tournament. "It was a good investment, wasn't it," he understated after booking his seat around the final table. Tielen took up the game about four years ago during a six-month stay in Boston where he watched poker on the television. He soon graduated to the online card rooms and, well, the rest is history.
Seat 4: Dan Heimiller (Las Vegas, USA)
Dan Heimiller is a veteran of the live poker scene and has a string of results going back literally decades. However it's in the last six months that Dan has started hitting the really big money with a 3rd place finish in the WSOP 2008 $1,500 NLHE event in June for $ 275,695 and then 3rd again in the WPT Borgata $9,600 NLHE tournament for a further $ 387,500. According to the Hendon Mob, Dan is a "Solid all-around tournament player overdue for a shot at the big prize" Dan won Best All Around Player at the Commerce Casino in 1999 and in one two-year period, he won nine tournaments and had 33 final tables. He is rated 37th in all-time cashes at the World Series of Poker including one WSOP bracelet for the $ $2k ½ Hold'em - ½ 7 Card Stud event and 11 final tables. He also won the 2003 WCOOP $300 PLO High-Low event. Known online as "Lenny," Heimiller currently holds the record for most PokerStars World Championship of Online Poker final tables and is currently in sixth place for all-time WCOOP cashes.
Seat 5: Benny Spindler (Darmstadt, Germany)
Benny Spindler has been playing poker since summer 2006 and began in the micro limits. But he had a very focused attitude from Day 1 and grinded his way right up to the high stakes cash games. His biggest online cash in a tournament was around $65.000. Benny is primarily a high stakes, online cash game player but for the last five months has taken part in a lot of live events including EPT Barcelona, the WSOP-E and EPT London. This is his best live result to date.
Seat 6: Kevin Saul
Entry: PokerStars qualifier
Known as "BeL0WaB0Ve" online, Saul came to attention outside the online poker community in 2007 when he defeated Mike Matusow to win the WPT Bellagio Championship for $1.3 million. Saul is a guest instructor, along with other online professionals such as Eric Lynch, at PokerXFactor.com, an online poker training centre. As of 2008, his total live tournament winnings exceed $1.7 million.
Seat 7: Dustin Dirksen (Iowa City, USA)
Entry: Supernova Elite
Known as 'JohnSmiley1' online, Dirksen is a force in online, high-stakes cash games, regularly pitting his skills against some of the best players in the world. Dirksen studied law at the University of Iowa but spent most of his time there playing poker. He said: "When we first started using laptops in class, I used to play during the lectures. One time I was in a $200/$400 PLO cash game during a class on Constitutional Law. The lecturer asked me a question and I had no idea what he was talking about, but I ended up winning $150,000." Dustin rarely plays live tournaments but is planning to come to the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo. He is being supported at the PCA by girlfriend Lindsey and the couple have a 10-month-old son, Madison, who is also here in the Bahamas. As a Supernova Elite reward, Dustin was bought into the PCA by PokerStars.
Seat 8: Poorya Nazari (Toronto, Canada)
Entry: PokerStars qualifier
Nazari qualified for the PCA through a $33 rebuy turbo tournament on PokerStars,and it represented his first online satellite success after narrowly missing out on qualification to this tournament last year. He is a recent graduate in Biochemistry from McMaster University, outside Toronto, but has been playing poker as his main income for several years - initially predominantly as a live player, but more recently online. Although he has put together a decent string of tournament results, this is by far his largest score. He has had a roller coaster ride to the final table, pushing past 300,000 when the average was only 150,000, but coming into today with only 15 big blinds. "I doubled up a bunch of times," he explained with a chuckle.