Welcome back to Baden, where we’re all set for the final table of today’s European Poker Tour (EPT) event. There were 282 players when we began on Sunday afternoon and now there are just eight homes in seven different countries to which the big money will be finding its way.
We have two Americans, a Russian, an Englishman, a Hungarian, a Swiss and a Dutchman currently seated around the trademark sandy baize of the EPT final table. They are, in seat order:
Seat 1: Thierry van den Berg, 35, Holland – 227,000 in chips PokerStars qualifier
Thierry, a former chef from Almere, is a regular PokerStars qualifier and won four EPT seats last year on PokerStars, as well as four World Series seats. He also qualified on PokerStars for EPT Dublin at the end of October. Thierry, who has a 6-year-old daughter, turned pro a year ago. He made the final table of the $5,000 NLHE Six Handed tournament at last summer’s World Series but has never cashed before in an EPT. He said: “I can play my own game today as I’ve finally got a good stack.”
Seat 2: Manfred Hammer, 55, Germany – 369,000
Manfred Hammer, 55, was born in Dinkelsbuehl, Germany but now lives in Bregenz in Austria. Married with three children and two grandchildren, he is the co-owner of a construction company. He says his business means he rarely has time to play poker and this is by far his biggest success. Prior to EPT Baden, his biggest tournament win was second place in an Austrian tournament last July.
Seat 3: Julian Thew, 39, England – 610,000
Father-of-two Julian has been a professional player for two years and is very popular on the European poker circuit. The former draughtsman from Nottingham is having a great year, having just won the Plymouth leg of the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour. He said “I promised myself I’d pay off our mortgage before I turned 40 and that’s in two weeks time – I’m only $20,000 short at the moment. ” This is Julian’s third EPT final table and seventh EPT cash. His biggest EPT win to date was fourth in Copenhagen during season one for $30k.
Seat 4: Vladimir Poleshchuk, 42, Russia – 624,000
Vladimir, a 42-year-old father-of-two from Moscow, has been playing Texas hold’em for six years and turned pro after just a year. Vladimir says his biggest win in poker so far was winning a $1,000 tournament in Korona, Russia, for $40,000. He bought in to last year’s EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo but failed to cash. The former army officer said: “I feel pretty comfortable about my game, and confident about today’s final table. I’ve been playing well against some pretty strong players. And I’ve enjoyed being in Baden; it’s a beautiful town.” Vladimir is being supported here by his wife Elena.
Seat 5: Ted Lawson, 49, South Florida/Las Vegas, USA – 81,000
Despite Baden hosting his EPT debut, Ted Lawson, from South Florida, is well known on the international poker scene. The married father-of-three has ten World Series cashes including three final tables and a bracelet. He now features prominently in both the Cardplayer and Bluff magazine rankings and has made 12 final tables this year. Describing himself as a poker professional, Lawson runs 21st Century Holding, the NASDAQ-listed company he founded with his wife in 1983.
Seat 6: Thomas Fuller, 24, Boulder, Colorado, USA – 190,000
Former psychology student Thomas took up poker after watching the film Rounders and has been a professional player for over two years. He also played in EPT Barcelona last month but had a “bad beat”. He said: “Actually that’s been true of all my big tournaments– I’ve either played badly or taken brutal beats – apart from this one!
Seat 7: Denes Kalo, 31, Hungary : 468,000
Dénes Kaló was born and lives in Budapest, Hungary. He works as the sales manager of a broker company and has been playing poker for 3 years. His best poker result to date was coming second in the 2006 EPM Vienna. Outside of poker, Denes is a sailing enthusiast.
Seat 8: Anton Allemann, 24, Switzerland : 254,000
Anton is one of two psychology students sitting at today’s final table (the other is American Thomas Fuller). He took up poker 18 months ago after a mere glimpse of the payout structure at an EPT event showed how much money could be won. He started playing online but now likes both online and live events. He said: “My previous biggest win was a cash game in Vegas during the World Series – I made $40,000 in one night. I think I’m an aggressive player, but I can also be flexible and adapt to the table conditions”