Learn a bit more about the last eight at the PokerStars Championship Main Event. (All information provided by Jan Kores, PokerStars Media Coordinator.)
Seat 1: Aymon Hata, 33, born in Germany, lives in London/UK
Aymon Hata may not have a particularly long live tournament résumé just yet but he’ll certainly be a tough force on the final table. The 33-year-old was born in Germany but has a Scottish mother and lives in London, so he elected to represent the United Kingdom. “Call me British, not English, my mother would give me hard time,” he said. Hata is an accomplished poker professional, mainly focusing on the online scene. He has been travelling around the PokerStars LIVE circuit for some time, but usually plays only the Main Events and High Rollers. He will collect his biggest live cash here at PokerStars Championship Macau. Hata’s Day 4 was a true roller-coaster. He was down to the last 15 big blinds, and avoided elimination when his ace-three topped Dzmitry Rabotkin’s pair of tens. Hata eventually finished the day on top of the chip counts.
Seat 2: Xuan Tan, 30, from Wuhan, lives in Shenzen/China
Xuan Tan first landed in the spotlight in this tournament at the end of Day 3 when he vaulted into pole position. Tan was struggling on the following day, however, and bagged the second-shortest stack in the room. The 30-year-old businessman eventually bounced back and navigated his way to the final table. Tan was told by friend about the PokerStars Championship coming to Macau, and he couldn’t miss the opportunity to play here. “It’s a great event. I enjoy it very much,” he said. Tan is a recreational player but has been fearlessly battling the tough competition in the Main Event. “I’m just enjoying myself,” he said. So far, that strategy has been working for Tan, who already has a big score to his name. He scooped the CPG China Championships two years ago, earning more than $280,000.
Seat 3: Terry Tang, 29, from Nanning, lives in Zhuhai/China
Terry Tang, also known as Tianyuan Tang, discovered poker about seven years ago when he saw it here in Macau. Tang immediately started watching a lot of TV coverage from the biggest tournaments in the world. Although he didn’t have much time to play himself back then, he eventually turned pro in 2015. He won the 2016 Changsha Millions last April, which he believes is his lucky month. Fortunately for Tang, the PokerStars Championship Macau Main Event takes place in April, and Tang has made it to the final table. “I am so excited that I can play against the world’s best poker players in this tournament,” he said. “I haven’t played at any international events overseas, so I’m really enjoying this opportunity. I’ve played almost every PokerStars event here in Macau, and the PokerStars Championship Macau is on the highest level of them.” Tang’s experience has been enhanced by his great performance during the Championship. He entered three tournaments, and cashed in all of them: he was 120th in the HK$8,800 PokerStars National Championship and 86th in the HK$5,500 PokerStars Asia Open but his Main Event prize money is set to be his largest reward.
Seat 4: Avraham Oziel, 40, born in Israel, lives in Montreal/Canada
Avraham Oziel is one of more than 60 players who won their package for PokerStars Championship Macau in a $10 Spin & Go qualifier. And the 40-year-old has already turned his tiny investment into a large profit, making it all the way to the final table. He’s guaranteed at least HK$386,000 (nearly $50,000). Oziel was born in Nahariya, Israel but has lived in Canada for most of his time. He also spent part of his life in Florida, where he was grinding cash games in Daytona Beach. Oziel now calls Montreal his home, and mostly plays daily tournaments in a local casino. He’s been playing poker for 15 years but his cash from the PokerStars Championship Macau Main Event will be his first major result.
Seat 5: Yan Li, 34, Beijing/China, PokerStars player
Yan Li has a long history of cashes from various countries: Her Hendon Mob profile includes flags from China, Spain, the Czech Republic, the Philippines, South Korea and Monaco. The 34-year-old from Beijing has racked up more than $250,000 in live tournament winnings. Li earned the biggest prize of her career last August when she took down the APPT10 Manila High Roller for nearly $75,000. While steam-rolling through the Main Event field, finishing every day within the top ten, Li is a lucky charm for others, too. Steve O’Dwyer received a mango fruit from Li before entering the Super High Roller here at PokerStars Championship Macau. O’Dwyer kept the mango on the table for the whole tournament, and eventually scooped the title. Now it’s Li’s turn.
Seat 6: Pete Chen, 28, Taipei/Taiwan
Pete Chen is one of the most accomplished Taiwanese players. He’s accumulated more than $620,000 in live tournaments, good for sixth place on Taiwan’s all-time money list. Chen will move to at least fourth place after picking up his cash from the PokerStars Championship Macau Main Event. Chen has been prolific on the live scene. Over the past four years, Chen has added more than 100 cashes to his Hendon Mob profile, with the biggest part of them coming here in Macau. His largest payday was HK$575,000 (around $74k) for fifth place in the 2014 APPT Macau Main Event. Chen’s other accolades include fourth place in the 2014 Macau Poker Cup Red Dragon Event and sixth place in the Macau Poker Cup 26 HK$100k High Roller.
Seat 7: Elliot Smith, 29, Richmond, British Columbia/Canada
Elliot Smith is a 29-year-old player from Richmond, British Columbia, who has amassed over $1.7 million in live tournament cashes. He’s currently ranked 52nd in the stacked Canadian all-time money list and would ladder ten positions higher with a first-place prize from the PokerStars Championship Macau Main Event. Smith has already experienced play on tough final tables. His biggest cash was A$700,000 for third place in the 2009 Aussie Millions Main Event. Smith was also fourth in the 2013 WPT Paris Main Event, banking €109,615. He is no stranger to the PokerStars sponsored live tours either. He has six EPT Main Event cashes to his name, with half of them earned in the Bahamas, two in Barcelona and one in Berlin.
Seat 8: Daniel Laidlaw, 34, Adelaide/Australia
Daniel Laidlaw is one of the more experienced players on the final table. The 34- year-old from Adelaide has accumulated just over $785,000 in live tournaments. He sits in 48th place on his nation’s all-time money list. Laidlaw’s top three cashes all came four years ago. He won the 2013 Sydney Poker Championships for a career-best A$165,000 payday. Earlier that year, Laidlaw came close to reaching the Aussie Millions Main Event final table, falling in 12th place worth A$95,000. Laidlaw also notched up second place in the 2013 APPT/ANZPT Queenstown Snowfest Main Event, earning nearly $50k. Macau is not a new destination for him either, his résumé includes dozen results from here. Laidlaw’s latest addition was HK$157,000 for tenth place in the PokerStars Championship Macau HK$82k Single Re-Entry. Laidlaw had a strong start to the Main Event, bagging up the second-biggest stack on Day 1.