EPT Warsaw: Final table player profiles

October 24, 2009


The final table is set for the Main Event of EPT Warsaw season six, with Oleksandr Vaserfirer leading Luca Pagano at the top of the starting leaderboard.

You can see the full chip counts on the chip count page, which will be updated as play progresses on Sunday.

Play is due to resume at 1pm local time but with the clocks going back across some parts of the world tonight, I’m jiggered if I know what time that is in whatever country you’re reading this. Check back on the blog to see these eight players in action.

Seat 1: Luca Pagano, 31, Treviso, Italy – Team PokerStars PRO – 984,000 chips


Luca Pagano has broken all his own records here at EPT Warsaw, making his fifth EPT final table and his 12th EPT cash. The 31-year-old from Treviso kicked off his poker career using play money on PokerStars but soon progressed to real money and turned a modest deposit into a monster online bankroll. He has also been hugely successful in live events putting together a small fortune in winnings. He has played dozens of EPTs since the tour started in 2004 and is currently in second place on the EPT all-time Tournament Leader Board. As well as tournaments, Pagano plays at the high stakes cash tables and has had several WSOP side event cashes. His best result to date was sixth place at the season four EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo, winning €337,000.

Seat 2: Anatoly Gurtavoy, 36, St Petersburg, Russia – 332,000 chips


Anatoly Gurtavoy has played several EPT events including the last two EPT Grand Finals in Monte Carlo, EPT Barcelona and EPT Kyiv. However reaching the final table here at EPT Warsaw is by far his best result. Gurtavoy has been playing poker for around five years – fitting in his hobby around his main business as a drinks distributor. He plays both online and live and enjoys both tournaments and cash games. He has been railed throughout EPT Warsaw by his long-term girlfriend, Liubov, 26, who is studying for an MA in linguistics.

Seat 3: Oleksandr Vaserfirer, 34, Kyiv, Ukraine – 1,854,000 chips


A professional poker player from Kyiv, Oleksandr Vaserfirer is enjoying what would be described in most sport circles as a “breakout season” on the EPT. Although this is not his first year on the circuit, none have been this successful: he finished 21st in his home tournament in August (the first in Kyiv), then 16th in Barcelona a couple of weeks later. Although he missed out on a Main Event cash in London, he sneaked 14th in a side event there. And now on this, the fourth stop of the year, he is the commanding chip leader at the final table. He took huge pots on day four from Jeff Sarwer, knocking out the Canadian, and was seemingly unstoppable. His friend, the Team PokerStars Pro Alex Kravchenko, watched his every move from the rail.

Seat 4: Alexander Klimashin, 28, from St Petersburg, Russia – 266,000 chips


Alexander Klimashin has been a professional poker player for five years and usually plays cash games online. He has only played two major live events in his life – in Marrakech and Baden – before coming to EPT Warsaw. He said: “To be honest, I wanted some variety instead of always playing online cash. Also I like travelling with my friends and I’m enjoying it – tournaments are entertainment.” Alexander is a two-time European champion at the Japanese chequers-style game Renju, as well as three-time world team champion. He is in Warsaw with a group of friends while wife Nadia supports from home in St Petersburg.

Seat 5: Clayton Mozdzen, 26, from Winnipeg, Canada – PokerStars qualifier – 978,000 chips

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Clayton Mozdzen is a PokerStars qualifier who won his seat for Warsaw – the second time he has played this event – in a $20 rebuy. He is no stranger to big live events and has $75,175 in tournament winnings, including $38,759 for 276th place in the 2006 WSOP Main Event. Now 26, Mozdzen plays poker full time and last year reached SuperNova Elite status – reserved for the best and most prolific of players on PokerStars. “I’m close to reaching that this year as well,” he said. Mozdzen was the chip leader at the end of day two and currently lies in third place.

Seat 6: Ruslan Prydyk, 36, Lugansk , Ukraine – 658,000 chips


Ruslan Prydyk has been playing poker for three years but describes himself as a part-time player. He doesn’t play online at all and prefers live cash games. Usually he plays in Ukraine, but he also regularly travels to Las Vegas. He is a lawyer, has a wife who supports him from the rail, and a 11-year-old son at home. This is his fourth EPT after Deauville, Barcelona and Kyiv but he has never cashed before. His biggest poker success was winning the 2009 Gary Bowman Cup when he became the poker champion of Ukraine. Outside of poker, Prydyk enjoys watching and playing football.

Seat 7: Alfio “aLFioSn0b” Battisti, 24, near Rome, Italy – PokerStars Supernova Elite player – 552,000 chips


Alfio Battisti used to be a sports bettor but migrated to poker around three years ago and turned a year later. A Supernova Elite on PokerStars, he mainly plays the highest-stakes heads up sit and gos – usually against his friend and fellow Italian Dario Minieri. He has only played two EPTs before Warsaw: EPT Dortmund last season, and EPT Barcelona in September but he now plans to play a lot more, including both EPT Vilamoura and EPT Prague before Christmas. He also cashed at the WSOP last summer, coming 224th, winning $36,626. Luca Pagano said: “I expect Alfio to get a good result here. He is running good and playing really well. He’s definitely one of the strongest players at the final.”

Seat 8: Christophe Benzimra, 47, Nice, France – 465,000 in chips


Originally from Nice in the south of France, the self-made businessman Christophe Benzimra moved to Romania after growing dissatisfied with business in his native country. Starting with a small amount of capital in a country he knew little about, Benzimra started a Plexiglas factory that has, in time, became very successful and now employs 150 people. The 47-year-old only really got into poker three years ago but caught up quickly, seldom missing an EPT since his first event on season four. His persistence has finally been rewarded with a final table in Warsaw. He said: “I’ve been playing quite tight here, especially when we reached the last few tables because I really wanted to make the final table. But to me, poker is more about having fun than making money.” Prior to Warsaw, Benzimra cashed at the Grand Prix de Paris, the Italian Poker Tour in San Remo, and reached the final table in a EPT Budapest side event last season. However, whatever happens at the final, this is his biggest result to date.



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