Learn a little bit more about the six players who have made it to the EPT Monte Carlo final table. Profiles compiled by Jan Kores and Florence Mazet, EPT Media Coordinators.
Seat 1: Marcelo Simoes, 55, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 6,890,000
Marcelo Simoes called poker his “second job”. The 55-year-old entrepreneur from Rio de Janeiro enjoys playing poker so much that he barely considers naming other hobbies. Football? A little bit. But it’s really all about poker when it comes to Simoes, a seasoned live player. His previous results have come almost exclusively from venues on the other side of the Atlantic, except for two side event scores at EPT Barcelona in 2019. This is only Simoes’ second trip to Europe, but he’s already talking about coming back to Barcelona for the next EPT. Simoes enjoys deep stacks and slow structure, which allows him to utilise “all of my arsenals.” He also added that he doesn’t feel nervous playing in big fields, and his track record confirms that. Simoes is currently second in the PokerStars-sponsored BSOP Player of the Year rankings. While this deep run won’t count towards the leader board, Simeos will surely not be disappointed. He’s already locked up the biggest score of his career, besting the $109,350 top prize from the BSOP Punta del Este 2017 Main Event.
Marcelo Simoes’ Main Event run:
Day 2 – 61,000 217th / 332
Day 3 – 664,000 11th / 85
Day 4 – 1,845,000 8th / 16
Day 5 – 6,890,000 2nd / 6
Seat 2: Morten Hvam, 32, Silkeborg, Denmark – 7,350,000
Denmark’s Morten Hvam rarely appears on the live poker circuit. PokerStars TV viewers might remember him from EPT Prague 2019, where he fell short of the final table, finishing in 13th place for €55,690. Other than that, the 32-year-old had only one other reported live cash before coming to Monaco. Hvam has a part-time job in the banking industry, and when he plays cards, it’s almost exclusively online. It remains to be seen whether that changes now, especially as Hvam and his wife like to travel. They have an eight-month-old boy, and Hvam would like to bring his family to Monaco sometime soon as he’s enjoyed his poker vacation. He has had a fantastic run in the Main Event so far, claiming the overall chip lead after Day 1. He has remained near the top ever since, and is now a favourite to end a Danish title drought. It’s been 10 years since the EPT crowned the last champion from Denmark — Jannick Wrang at EPT8 Campione.
Morten Hvam’s Main Event run:
Day 2 327,500 1st / 332
Day 3 465,000 27th / 85
Day 4 3,895,000 1st / 16
Day 5 7,350,000 1st / 6
Seat 3: Jaime Cervantes, 27, Vancouver/WA, USA – 4,735,000
American player Jaime Cervantes, who is also a keen golfer, is on his first ever trip to Europe. He stopped at EPT Monte Carlo before heading on a holiday to Greece. By that point, he will be six figures richer. The 27-year-old turned pro in the fall of 2020, with typical poker beginnings leading up to the career move. Cervantes had started playing with friends while at high school, then competed in smaller buy-in events. A year-and-a-half ago, high-stakes pro Ali Imsirovic started mentoring Cervantes and offered him a chance to play higher. Cervantes‘ breakout result came last summer at The Wynn Classic in Las Vegas where he final-tabled a $10,000 major to pick up the $289,361 seventh-place prize. Cervantes has a shot at topping that payday here in Monaco; a top-four finish would set his new career-high score. “I’m taking it one step at a time,” Cervantes said.
Jaime Cervantes’ Main Event run:
Day 2 91,000 158th / 332
Day 3 204,000 61st / 85
Day 4 1,500,000 11th / 16
Day 5 4,735,000 5th / 6
Seat 4: Erkan Soenmez, 37, Hannover, Germany, PokerStars qualifier – 4,850,000
An online qualification propelled Erkan Soenmez to travel to Monaco. He won an EPT Main Event package for €530; otherwise, he wouldn’t be here. Still, the 37-year-old salesman from Hannover is quite experienced at the felt. Soenmez plays poker a decent amount of time. Online, he will once in a while play a full Sunday schedule, as well as playing live event satellites. Soenmez said he usually makes three or four poker trips each year, with Barcelona and Prague being his regular spots. Most of his buy-ins fall into the mid-stakes category, and he has picked up several five-figure scores. Coming into this tournament, Soenmez had a fairly modest objective: “My aim was to cash,” he said. Reaching a final table on the big stage is an entirely new experience for the father of four. “My kids are too young to know that I play poker, so they think I’m on a business trip,” he revealed. Now Soenmez is guaranteed to return home with the biggest prize of his poker career.
Erkan Soenmez’ Main Event run:
Day 2 71,000 200th / 332
Day 3 446,000 30th / 85
Day 4 2,075,000 7th / 16
Day 5 4,850,000 4th / 6
Seat 5: Hugo Pingray, 30, from France (lives in Dubai) – 5,525,000
In 2014, the then 22-year-old Hugo Pingray won one of the largest tournaments ever held: the 7,862- entry Monster Stack at World Series of Poker. That victory was worth $1,327,083. Eight years later, Pingray’s Hendon Mob profile is only $180,000 richer. But make no mistake, Pingray used the life-changing cash very well. Now an entrepreneur and fund manager, Pingray doesn’t have to focus on poker as much. He moved to Dubai, where he handles his investments. The Frenchman still likes the game, but it’s not his priority anymore. Pingray became a father nine months ago, so his options to play are now even more limited. Still, he found time to arrive at EPT Monte Carlo and proved that he’s still capable of making deep runs.
Hugo Pingray’s Main Event run:
Day 2 215,000 15th / 332
Day 3 540,000 18th / 85
Day 4 3,360,000 3rd / 16
Day 5 5,525,000 3rd / 6
Seat 6: Dragos Trofimov, 28, Moldova, Moldova – 3,085,000
Last year, Dragos Trofimov won a Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) event, banking $47,660. The 28-year-old from Moldova plays as “Fenryr03” online at PokerStars, but he’s also a very recognizable face at live events. With $535,680 in career earnings, Trofimov is third on his nation’s all-time leader board, trailing only Pavel Plesuv and Vyacheslav Stoyanov. Trofimov already has a coveted trophy at home: he topped the £2,200 High Roller at PokerStars Festival London in 2018 for £73,990. It had been his career-best result until he reached the final table here in Monaco. Guaranteed to pick up a six-figure payout, it will also be his third EPT Main Event cash. Trofimov can become Moldova’s first-ever EPT champion, but he has the work cut out for him as he’s bringing the shortest stack to the final day.
Dragos Trofimov’s Main Event run:
Day 2 144,000 70th / 332
Day 3 658,000 12th / 85
Day 4 1,495,000 12th / 16
Day 5 3,085,000 6th / 6