Seat 1: Mike McDonald, from Waterloo, Canada – 862,000 chips
Mike McDonald is the midst of some dynamite form that has seen him cash four times in just five weeks. Still wearing braces on his teeth and only 18 years old, his fifth cash will be here in Dortmund and is already biggest of his career. The math student scored big in Australia shortly after finishing 14th at the EPT Prague last month for €20,200. Known as ‘Timex’ online Mike is not nervous about today’s final and it’s not his first TV appearance. Mike was eliminated on Day 1b of the WSOPE on the feature table by Jamie Gold. That day also happened to be Mike’s 18th birthday.
Seat 2: Diego Perez, 27, from Valencia, Spain – 744,000 chips
Perez comes from the Benimaclet neighbourhood of Valencia – the Mecca of Valenciano poker. He has been a professional poker player for just eight months but dedicates his free time to playing football, and spending time with his wife Maya and his friends. As well as poker, he also excels at the strategy games Starcraft, Warcraft and Dota. His success at EPT Dortmund follows closely on his cash at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January where he came 53rd for $16,000.
Seat 3: Thibaut Durand, 25, from Paris, France – 148,000 chips
IT engineer Durand won his seat at EPT Dortmund for just $30 online last September and has spent virtually every minute since studying hard just for this event – watching videos, analysing plays and playing live in a Paris casino. He has been playing poker for over two years, mainly online, but this is first big live event. His aim at the start of the tournament was to triple up every day which, aside from Day 3, he has managed.
Seat 4: Johannes Strassmann, 22, from Bonn, Germany – PokerStars sponsored player — 827,000
Johannes, a former Starcraft Player, became a pro in October 2006 – leaving behind his army training to concentrate on poker. He started with a $500 bankroll and has never made a deposit since. At first, he focused on 3/6 Limit Hold’em but then switched to Texas Hold’em. He prefers online cash games, short-handed or heads-up $2k NLHE. He bought in direct to EPT Prague with PokerStars. His best tournament result to date have been so far have been 9th place at EPT Prague in December for €39,200 and last season’s EPT Grand Final – 23rd place for $ 44,253.
Seat 5: Christian Harder, 20, from Maryland USA – PokerStars qualifier – 339,000 chips
Christian Harder, a student from Annapolis, Maryland, only played his first big live event in January when he made the PokerStars Caribbean final table and came 7th for over $142,000 after qualifying in a $650 multi-table satellite. He qualified on PokerStars for EPT Dortmund as well – and his now at his second final table in less than a month. After studying business last semester at Salisbury University, he decided to take this semester off to play poker. Known as “charder30” online, Harder is no stranger to tournament poker. He spends most of his time playing the biggest buy-in tournaments online.
Seat 6: Andreas Gülünay, 26, from Gütersloh, Germany – 560,000 chips
Gülünay first took up poker eight years ago but was stuck with Five Card Stud as he couldn’t find anyone who knew how to play Texas Hold’em. Gülünay has German citizenship, but is deeply proud of his Aramean roots– the Arameans being an ancient nomadic peoples from Mesopotamia whose language spread across the entire Near East from 800BC. A former brick-layer, Gülünay is now a freelance poker tournament events manager and says he rarely has time to play himself. His biggest success have come at the Black Jack tables rather than poker but says he will be “playing to win” at today’s final.
Seat 7: Torsten Haase, 42, from Siegburg (Cologne) – 369,000 chips
Haase says he’s been a gambler for20 years, but only recently took up poker. His favorite game is backgammon and he periodically takes time off work to travel around the world playing tournaments. The EPT German Open is his first major live event but, thanks to his backgammon experience, he considers his ability to read opponents one of his key strengths.
Seat 8: Claudio Rinaldi, 22, Rancate near Lugano, Switzerland – 276,000 chips
Former casino croupier Rinaldi has been playing poker for the last three years – the last two as a semi-pro. He favours live cash games but has also had some tournament success – including 18th place at the 2007 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure for $36,000 with smaller cashes in the Italian Championships. This is only his third big live tournament and he now has at least €85,500 coming his way.