UKIPT5 Bristol: Final table player profiles
Seat 1: Chris Brice, United Kingdom, PokerStars Qualifier, 1,813,000
Although he says his poker is mainly played "socially," Chris Brice, 37, has been playing the game for 15 years and has been a regular attendee at the WSOP and the UK circuit, finalling UKIPT Coventry in 2010 for £6,600. His biggest live win to date came here in Bristol (£16,500 for a 3rd place finish in a £500 event) but this final table represents a shot at more than double that. Brice manages to fit in a lot of NL tourneys considering he has two children and a full time job as a radiology manager, and simply says, "I like to play poker!" His games of choice are no limit hold'em tournaments and Pot Limit Omaha, and he qualified for UKIPT Bristol online on PokerStars.
Seat 2: Chi Zhang, United Kingdom, PokerStars Qualifier,1,775,000
Chi Zhang is the youngest finalist, who, at 20 is honing his online poker skills at the same time as studying maths in Birmingham. Hailing from Nottingham, Zhang has known how to play poker for around four years, but has recently been building experience and improving due to "lots of volume." Keen on the UKIPT, Zhang intends to put in future appearances (he's already built up over $50,000 in live cashes in the last year alone) and is aiming to top his previous live record (£6,250 in a six-max event at Dusk Till Dawn) here in Bristol.
Seat 3: Joseph Lalor, Ireland, PokerStars Qualifier, 1,390,000
Joseph Lalor is a 55-year-old computer software writer who lives in Dublin. He got into poker at school although back then it was draw and stud poker. However, he started playing online intermittently about ten years ago and began taking it more seriously about five years later. Since then he's had much success (his largest online score is $130,000) and he's made the final table of the Sunday Million twice - once when it was a WCOOP event. He's in Bristol with his wife visiting the in-laws and when not playing poker he enjoys hiking and doing cryptic crosswords. Should he win the £58,500 first prize he says his wife will get half to do whatever she wants with and the rest will be spent frivolously!
Seat 4: Les Packer, United Kingdom, 575,000
Cardiff resident Les Packer, 43, has been playing poker for four years, starting out in his local club and progressing to playing online. On the virtual felt he's amassed over $186,000 in winnings including a $62,573.50 cash in the Sunday 500 on PokerStars last year. He is in business in renewable energy, but finds time to play on the UKIPT and picked up a cash in the UKIPT Nottingham Main Event back in April worth £1,760. Although one of the shorter stacks on the final table, his online experience will be of benefit as he tries to best his top result.
Seat 5: Otto Richard, France, 594,000
Otto Richard, 31, moved to Brighton four years ago from Paris when all of the casinos in his hometown shut, forcing him to look further afield to play live poker (at which he was doing well - he won a €1,000 side event for €48,280 back in 2007). His regular occupation, however, is the online variety and after ten years of playing has found his favourite game to be limit heads up hold'em. Another of the shorter stacks coming to the final, the intently-focused Richard has been jotting notes throughout the tournament, reminiscent of Gus Hansen with his Dictaphone a few years ago.
Seat 6: Lee Mulligan, United Kingdom, 283,000
Lee Mulligan, 39, hails from Cirencester and considers the Rainbow Casino here in Bristol as his local where he specialises in live cash games and MTTs. He's played poker in one form or another for a long time, but picked up online in 2005 and considers that a starting point of sorts, for taking the game more seriously. Mulligan, who plays regularly on the UK circuit (up to as far north as Dusk Till Dawn) has a string of live cashes to his name but this final table represents his biggest score. "I love the UKIPT," he said, "as the structure is so good. With a one hour clock I have the opportunity to recover from my mistakes!"
Seat 7: Pierrick Tallon, Belgium, PokerStars Qualifier, 2,707,000
Pierrick Tallon came to Bristol for a holiday (more poker-themed than his friend who accompanied him would have liked) after winning a non-transferable package online, but has enjoyed his time in the UK and put his satellite win to good use - he comes to the final table as chip leader. The 23 year old left his college course in September and has been focusing more on online poker, spicing up the MTT grind with 5-card Omaha. Win or lose (he intends to see how the flow of the final goes before adapting his play), after the Main Event he will be off to see the sights here before heading back to Belgium (his friend, uninterested in the final, is already out seeing them today!).
Seat 8: Ben Winsor, United Kingdom, 1,953,000
Professional online sports betting trader Ben Winsor at 27 has already been playing poker for nigh on a decade. The last four years have seen him rack up an impressive $234,638 in live cashes and his progress to the final here in Bristol has appeared smooth (no limit hold'em being his favourite game). Hailing from Broadstairs in Kent, Winsor has bagged himself a package to UKIPT Edinburgh by ending up the last man standing in the UKIPT Hotels Last-Longer, and is also guaranteed at least £6,900 for his final table appearance.