Welcome to the final table of the European Poker Tour (EPT) Loutraki. The Club Hotel Loutraki have been fabulous hosts and our final table awaits our eight remaining titans.
Leading the pack on the sixth day of play is Sri-Lankan born Zimnan Ziyard with 2,771,000 chips, a clear one million chips more than his nearest competitor. The planned kick off time is 12.00 (CET) but we are expecting play to start a little bit longer than that, so keep your eyes peeled on this site for all of the action. In the meantime why not meet the players.
Like many players, John Taramas kicked off his career in mind sports as a blackjack player. He has already written two books about blackjack theory and strategy, and is also highly rated as a teacher. He made the transition to poker in 2006-2007 after hearing from other blackjack pros that poker is a game of skill. He now claims to have read about a hundred books about poker and turned pro a year ago, basing himself in Loutraki. It’s said that he has a prodigious ability to memorize cards. The 50-year-old father-of-four prefers playing live to online and only plays deep-stack events. His biggest live cash was at a 2008 Greek Poker Tour tourney in Austria for €28,000.
Kapernopoulos is a full-time doctor working in a hospital in Athens, Greece. He got into the game about ten years ago and hasn’t stopped playing since – although he says his first priority in life is, of course “my family, my beautiful wife and our two kids.”
In poker, he considers himself a part-timer who plays both live and online. His biggest cash in poker came a year ago on Pokerstars when he finished fifth in the Sunday Warm Up, winning more than $38,000. Now he has the chance to break that record winning the first ever EPT in Greece and €347,000.
PokerStars qualifier Mothes won his seat to EPT Loutraki via PokerStars Steps satellites. He’s a manager for a wholesale company but has been playing poker for seven years. He first started by playing home games with friends but then opened an online account on PokerStars. He only plays tournament poker and this is his second EPT main event – he also qualified for Vilamoura last season but busted close to the money. In 2008, he had a nice run during a live tournament week in Dortmund and won three tournaments in four days, including the €750 main event for €9,410. Online, his best result was winning The Bigger $33 on PokerStars for $8,000 in October.
Heseding is a part-time poker player who is currently on a year's national service in the army. Heseding mainly plays multi-table tournaments in his spare time and only last month chopped the Sunday Million on PokerStars. He won his seat to Loutraki in unusual circumstances. He had already won a €27 rebuy to the €500 super satellite for Loutraki but had been planning to use the ticket for other tournaments. However as the EPT satellite had already started, he was forced to play it – and duly won his seat to this, his first ever EPT.
Heseding has been playing poker for around five years but has only gotten serious about it in the last 18 months. He doesn't see himself playing poker professionally in the future; instead he intends to go to university, keeping poker as a recreational hobby.
Schelps has been playing for around six years and first got into it when he visited a casino with friends. At the beginning, he played just for fun and his first online endeavors didn't go so well. That was the time he started studying the game and now plays both live and online. Schleps originally planned to work in banking but is now playing poker full-time. Even though he has decent results at Omaha tournaments, Schelps says he usually prefers to play Pot Limit Omaha for cash and No Limit Hold’em for tournaments. He is good friends with a number of well-known Austrian players including the Jedlicka brothers, Nikolaus and Stefan. He enjoys both live and online poker equally and his biggest live score to date was taking down the 2008 Austrian Classics event in Vienna for €38,360.
Economics student Puccini has been playing poker since 2007. He’s well known in the German poker community for winning nearly a hundred tournaments on PokerStars in the last four years, including the Super Tuesday in 2009 for over $60,000. His last major win was taking down the PokerStars $55 rebuy for $12,500 a few weeks ago. This is his third EPT main event cash; his best result so far was 32nd place at EPT6 Sanremo for €26,000. He’s also had three final tables in EPT side events – his best being third place in the EPT5 Dortmund €2k event for €42,000.
Hungarian Andras Kovacs has been playing EPTs for a relatively long time – since EPT Season 4 – but his best live result to date actually came on the PokerStars Italian Poker Tour in Venice in January last year. Team PokerStars Pro Salvatore Bonavena won the event but Kovacs took €60,000 for third place. Only six months later, he made another IPT Venice final, this time finishing sixth for €35,000. In September this year he had another big hit, finishing 12th at WPT Paris for €44,445. He only has one EPT Main Event cash to his name – a deep run at EPT Barcelona in August where he finished 19th for €20,000 – but he has made the final of numerous side events and was runner-up in the EPT7 Barcelona Heads-Up tourney. His total live tournament winnings already total $431,188.
Andras started playing poker when he was 20 years old in 2005. He is also a successful online player and has earned close to $700,000 including a runner-up finish which earned him more than $200,000. On PokerStars, he finished 3rd in a $215 Sunday Warm-Up for $80,256. Andras is being supported in Greece by his girlfriend Krisztina as well as Team PokerStars Pro Richard Toth.
When Zimnan Ziyard claimed the chip lead by knocking out EPT San Remo champion Rupert Elder in 13th, you would have expected the Sri Lankan-born pro player to have been ecstatic, but he wasn’t. Ziyard called a large four-bet shove with his pocket queens and managed to hold up against the king-jack suited of Elder, the last remaining former winner in the field.
“I definitely had mixed feelings about the hand as I would have preferred to knock him out heads up,” said Ziyard who has been on friendly terms with Elder since they studied together at Imperial College London.
Elder has had his moment in the spotlight already and Ziyard, who has had a number of deep runs including a 20th place finish at EPT Deauville and a third place finish in $3,000 pot-limit Omaha WSOP event, would be excused for claiming it was his turn instead, “I’ve been so long in the game that I feel it’s about time that I have a six-figure score. It would be amazing to win.” The online qualifier is certainly among the favourites to do so.