Seat 1: Albert Sapiano, United Kingdom – 1,133,000
If any player can be described as a mainstay of the UKIPT, it has to be Albert Sapiano. Hailing from Maidstone, he is a constant presence on the live tournament poker scene, and counts among his successes several outright wins for up to £50,160; his overall live tournament earnings top $340,000. Originally in the honey business, Sapiano now dedicates a large proportion of his time following the live circuit; he describes the UKIPT as “wonderful – especially with addition of the option for re-entry. It’s about bloody time!” This tournament, however, has only taken one bullet.
Seat 2: Stian Knutsen, Norway – 2,096,000
Stian Knutsen is a 30 year old professional poker player specialising in online cash games. It is only recently that Knutsen rediscovered the joys of the live game, travelling to Spain for both the live cash action and the Estrellas Main Event this year (cashing for €1,840). His start in poker came when a friend staked him 11 years ago, and this naturally progressed to an online career after just one year. His progress to the final table’s chip lead was initially rocky, but after his stack hit the 500,000 mark, he played “many more controlled pots, slowly building.” This has placed him near-tied for pole position with Adam Maxwell for tomorrow’s final, where he is guaranteed his biggest live cash.
Seat 3: Chris Da-Silva, United Kingdom – 1,411,000
Chris Da-Silva is a software architect and cites poker as his main hobby away from work. He’s been playing for 15 years and, like most people of his age, started off online before moving into the live arena more recently (after a break from the game). He sees himself as a cash game grinder and plays NLHE at medium to big stakes. Since September last year he made a decision to play more competitions and that has led to where he is now – on a UKIPT final. Da-Silva has won a few cash races at local casinos for decent results (one for £13,000) but this is his best result in an MTT proper and he hopes to outdo his previous best performance tomorrow.
Seat 4: Alex Fradlin, Israel – 1,363,000
Alex Fradlin is a 48 year old dentist who started playing about 15 years ago online on PokerStars, specialising in tournaments alone. Now, however, it is no longer legal to play online in his home country of Israel, and he’s been travelling on the live circuit a bit more this year. He recently cashed for €5,050 in the Italian Poker Open – his first live result to date – and his final table appearance now guarantees an even larger one, perhaps marking a more permanent transition to the live felt.
Seat 5: Henry Bibby, United Kingdom – 564,000
Henry Bibby has manoeuvred a short stack through the perilous waters of the final table bubble, to make his first Main Event final table, and guarantee his first UKIPT cash. Bibby has a string of prior live results in smaller-stakes tournaments around the United Kingdom, but the £5,000 he is guaranteed for making the final, lowest stacked or not, outstrips them all.
Seat 6: Adam Maxwell, United Kingdom – 2,087,000
Adam Maxwell is a 21 year old professional poker player from Watford, and has been for all of six weeks, after graduating university having studied Mathematics. His biggest win to date is $25,000 online under the moniker “adznen300”. This is Maxwell’s first ever UKIPT and he has found it to be “an amazing experience” – all the more so considering that he heads to the final nearly tied for the chip lead and that this cash (minimum £5,000) will add considerably to his results to date, which include a first place in a £300 tournament for £8,500. He looks forward to playing the upcoming PokerStars Festival Events and aspires to join the Championship Events soon.
Seat 7: Valdir Cordeiro Dos Santos, Brazil – 1,811,000
Valdir Cordeiro Dos Santos owns a building company, but makes time to play a fair bit of poker including the odd EPT (concerning which he reminisced about bubbling at EPT3 in London). This year he took down a 550-runner £150 Superstack tournament for £15,628, and has performed equally well in the similar-sized UKIPT Super Series Main Event. Dos Santos started playing 16 years ago live in Sao Paolo and has stayed loyal to the brick and mortar game ever since.
Seat 8: Dara O’Kearney, PokerStars Qualifier, Ireland – 869,000
Dara O’Kearney, 51, is a professional poker player and former ultra-running champion hailing from Dublin. One of the best-known players on the UKIPT circuit, he plays both live and online, all around the world. His largest cash to date was for $300,000 for his runner-up position in WSOP Event 54 in 2015, but he’s also garnered accolades such as the UKIPT online qualifier of the year. Partly following from that, he has played almost every single UKIPT event since Season 1, making the final two tables five times previously (including one 9th place), although this is his first actual Day 3 appearance. The UKIPT is O’Kearney’s favourite tour, and he’s sad to see it go, meanwhile adopting a “wait and see approach” with regard to the new PokerStars Festival events.