GDAM: Final table player profiles

Here are the details of the final eight players contesting a prize pool of more than HKD $119,000,000 at the GuangDong Ltd Asia Millions presented by PokerStars. Full details of the payouts are at the bottom of the page.

Seat 1: Igor Kurganov, 25 - London, UK - 18,400,000 chips


Over the past couple of years, Igor Kurganov has become one of the most familiar faces on the European Poker Tour and beyond, usually going deep in the high roller events that have become his speciality. He recorded the biggest win of his career to date by beating Daniel Negreanu heads up in the €25,000 event at the EPT Grand Final in April 2012, a result worth more than a million euros. He had previously finished second to his friend Philipp Gruissem in a High Roller event in London and was the stand-out player at the Aussie Millions in Melbourne at the beginning of this year, finishing fourth, second and first in the A$250,000, A$100,000 and A$25,000 buy in tournaments respectively, for a combined US $1.5M week. He has joint Russian and German citizenship but currently lives in London, UK.

Seat 2: Pratyush Buddiga, 24 - Colorado Springs, USA - 13,075,000 chips


Pratyush Buddiga is the former Spelling Bee champion turned rising poker star, who has built on a sensational introduction to this game last year to find himself on the final table of one of the biggest events in the world. After winning the prestigious Scripps National Spelling Bee contest in 2002, two years before his younger brother took down the same title, he made four World Series cashes in 2011 before starting to appear on the EPT during season eight. He made the final table in Berlin then had two deep runs in Monaco, either side of another successful trip to the World Series. Buddiga turned poker pro a year after graduating from Duke University where he studied economics. He also used to receive coaching from Mike McDonald, who was eliminated on day two of this tournament.

Seat 3: Jeff Rossiter, 23 - Melbourne, Australia - 12,825,000 chips


Jeff Rossiter burst onto the live tournament scene in 2011 with a third place finish at the Aussie Millions Main Event, winning A$700,000). Since then, the 23-year-old pro has been traveling the global tournament circuit, building an impressive resume that boasts more than US $1.69 million in lifetime tournament winnings. The young Australian is no stranger to the Asian poker scene; in between tour stops, Jeff spends a lot of his time in Macau, playing in some of the biggest cash games around. Notably, Rossiter had a monstrous week in Macau in November 2012, winning the Asia Championship of Poker (ACOP) Warm-Up Event (HK $1,777,000) and finishing runner-up to Jonathan Karamalikis in the ACOP High Roller Event (HK $2,224,000).

Seat 4: Anson Tsang, 30 - Hong Kong - 5,750,000 chips


Having learned the game only five years ago, Anson Tsang is now a professional poker player. With an amazingly quick learning curve Tsang has become a regular in the Macau high stakes cash games. Even if he is first eliminated from the final table today, the HK $6 million would already represent his biggest tournament result to date. Tsang said that his defining moment in the tournament so far was when his pocket threes held up against Ike Hatxon's overcards in an all-in coin flip during the money bubble.

Seat 5: Sorel Mizzi, 27 - Toronto, Canada - 28,300,000 chips


Sorel Mizzi has amassed an enormous number of huge tournament successes over the past seven years, both on the online tables and in the live environment. He has made final tables on the World Poker Tour, the European Poker Tour, the World Series and the Aussie Millions and has also won two FTOPS events on Full Tilt and a SCOOP bracelet on PokerStars. He has won close to US $6m in live tournaments alone, including the biggest result of his career to date last month in Monaco, when he finished third in the €100,000 Super High Roller at the EPT Grand Final for €680,000.

Seat 6: Niklas Heinecker, 28 - Hamburg, Germany - 15,275,000 chips


Niklas Heinecker has been playing poker for seven years, quickly becoming one of the most respected cash game players both online and off. He is best known by his screen name "ragen70", but also came to prominence during the huge cash game in Monaco last month at the EPT Grand Final. His largest single tournament score came when he finished 80th in the 2007 WSOP Main Event, for which he collected US $106,382. Heinecker also finished fourth for a US $89,734 score in the A$25,000 Challenge at the recent WSOP APAC. Regardless of where Heinecker finishes here in the GDAM Main Event, this will be his largest tournament result.

Seat 7: Isaac Haxton, 27 - Syracuse, NY, USA - Team PokerStars Online - 7,075,000 chips


You'd be hard-pressed to find a player in world poker hotter than Team Online's Isaac Haxton. "Ike" finished runner-up to Nick Wong earlier this week in the GDAM Warm-Up event, earning more than US $330,000. In May, Haxton dominated the enormous cash game at the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino EPT Grand Final, winning more than €1,000,000 in a single night. Showing no signs of slowing down, a victory for the Ivy League grad at today's final table would more than double his career live tournament earnings.

Seat 8: Zheng Tang, 46 - Shanghai, China - 24,300,000 chips


Zheng Tang learned how to play poker only four years ago after a friend in Europe taught him. That friend would surely be proud of the 46-year old real estate businessman who now plays in Macau's biggest cash games. Tang finished in fourth place in GuangDong's event last year and will be looking to improve on that result today when he returns with the second largest chip stack.

Final table payouts:

1 - $34,600,000 HKD ($4,464,516 USD)
2 - $24,500,000 ($3,161,290)
3 - $16,100,000 ($2,077,419)
4 - $12,525,000 ($1,616,129)
5 - $10,200,000 ($1,316,129)
6 - $8,300,000 ($1,070,968)
7 - $7,150,000 ($922,581)
8 - $6,000,000 ($774,194)


Final table players at GDAM: Back row (l-r): Zheng Tang, Pratyush Buddiga, Igor Kurganov. Front row (l-r): Jeff Rossiter, Anson Tsang, Sorel Mizzi, Niklas Heinecker, Isaac Haxton.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in PokerStars Macau