A field of 987 players from 57 countries competed at EPT7 San Remo, creating a prize pool of €4,786,950. The winner will take home €930,000 plus a stunning bracelet worth more than €16,000 from the EPT’s Official Bracelet Sponsor, Shamballa Jewels.
The winner will also get a seat in the EPT Grand Final, plus a seat in the Champion of Champions tournament on May 13.
Seat 1: Francesco De Vivo, 40, Turin, Italy – 1,090,000
Born in Turin, former real estate agent De Vivo began to play poker in 2005, and from 2008 it became his primary activity, scoring over $600,000 in tournament winnings. Francesco best result to date came at EPT Copenhagen in Season 6, where he finished second, earning $416,506.
De Vivo when the Italian championship of Texas Hold’em in 2008 and since then has cashed in the World Series Main Event. De Vivo plays on PokerStars as Checco.D.
Seat 2. Max Lykov, 23, Moscow, Russia – Team PokerStars Pro – 1,495,000
Russian pro Max Lykov started playing poker back in 2005 while studying engineering at university. By 2006, he’d started crushing the online game, having made only two $40 deposits. Lykov now has a huge bankroll and is one of the highest earning Russian tournament players of all time.
Lykov’s breakout year came in 2009, with a run of results at events around Europe. First came his win at the Red Sea Poker Cup, then, in Vegas, he came close to winning his first WSOP bracelet, finishing third in a $5,000 NL Shootout event for $145,062. Just a few weeks later, Lykov scored his first major title, winning the inaugural EPT Kyiv event, in Ukraine, earning $468,504.
Since then Lykov finished 13th at EPT Snowfest last season and won a $1,000 side event at the 2010 PCA for $100,000. At this year’s PCA he topped that with a third place in the $25k High Roller tournament, a finish worth $369,490. A month later, he final-tabled WPT Venice, bringing his total live tournament earnings to more than $1,400,000.
Seat 3. Rupert Elder, 24, UK – 8,005,000
Elder was an Economics student at Warwick University before turning professional several years ago. He now plays mostly a mixture of online $2-4, $3-6 and $5-10 no-limit hold’em cash games, though he switches to tournaments on Sunday nights.
Whatever happens on today’s final table this will be Elder’s biggest ever live tournament cash, his previous best coming in EPT Berlin last month where he finished 80th, earning €10,000.
Elder will be supported today by his good friend Andrew Teng, who was eliminated in 12th place yesterday, as well as former PCA finalist Ricky Fohrenbach. Elder isn’t too happy about being seated to the right of Max Heinzelmann who he rates as the most dangerous opponent at the final table.
Seat 4: Max Heinzelmann, 20, Heubach, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany – 7,885,000
Heinzelmann was runner-up at EPT Berlin a few weeks ago and could better that result, worth €500,000, in San Remo today. Prior to Berlin, the 20-year-old German was already a familiar figure on the EPT circuit, having played around 20 events. His Berlin success dwarfed his previous best live results which included min-cashes in main events as well as side event final tables.
Heinzelmann has been playing poker for around two years after a friend sent him a few dollars to deposit online. He has won both the PokerStars Sunday 500 and the $100 Daily rebuy tourney. His online winnings now total more than $450,000.
Seat 5: Xuan Liu, 25, Toronto, Canada- 1,740,000
Xuan Liu is another graduate of Waterloo University, in Canada, a school that has produced former EPT winners such as Glen Chorny, Steve Paul and Mike McDonald. During her studies they played home games arranged by Liu, who continued to play after leaving college.
Liu recently switched her focus to live tournaments, so far earning more than $80,000. She took to the live poker circuit last November, competing at the North American Poker Tour event in Los Angeles before travelling to Spain to play EPT Barcelona. Her breakthrough came soon after when she won an Italian Poker Tour San Remo, €1,000 side event in December, earning €48,000.
Liu is the first female finalist this season; the last woman to make a final was Team PokerStars Pro Liv Boeree who won EPT San Remo last year.
Seat 6. Roberto Spada, 36, Ostia, Italy, 4,775,000
This is the first major live tournament that Spada has contested, something that the man from Ostia, near Rome, says is a dream come true.
He started playing online six years ago on PokerStars and plays under the username as “Spacchennatt”. Now he plays mainly cash games and say he spends his winnings on his four kids. His family are coming to support him at the final.
Seat 7. Massimiliano Manigrasso, 35, Milan, Italy – 2,000,000
Manigrasso has been playing poker for two years, already scoring good results in local events, including tenth place in Campione d’Italia worth $17,245. While not a professional player, Manigrasso says it is his dream to win an EPT. Whatever happens at the final, his wife and daughter will come out of it well – he’s pledged to buy them some great presents.
Manigrasso plays online at PokerStars.it under the username “sofia2007175”.
Seat 8. Costantino Russo, 27, Italy – 2,565,000
Russo, from Naples, has been playing poker for the last five years, with good results, notably a final table at a tournament in Saint Vincent. Russo might not be that well-known in Europe, but says that his recent improvement makes him considered to be “someone to watch,” on the Italian circuit.
Russo recently graduated from the “Bocconi” in Milan, one of the most prestigious universities in Italy, where he read Economics. He’s now a professional player and also keen on chess and backgammon. He’s planning to use his poker winnings to increase his bankroll, and book a fantastic holiday.