So who are the final 20?
It's time for some biographies.
Alban Juen 5,265,000
Career Live Earnings $138,563
Alban is from Lyon in France. The bulk of his earnings are made up by a 61st place finish in the WSOP Main event last year. Alban was the Online chip leader coming into the live stages of the ISPT and has remained at or near the top of the chip counts since. Which led us bloggers to ponder yesterday. When was the last time in a major multi-day live comp that the chip leader at the end of Day One won it?
Alban is a quiet chap, and was undemonstrative for days and days. In the latter part of yesterday his character began to come out though as he conversed with other players, smiled and generally seemed to relax.
Nick Hicks 4,785,000
Career Live Earnings $197,737
Nick is one of the most popular of the DTD regulars, where he has been a fixture in the cash and tournaments since it opened. Not usually blessed with the best of luck deep in major tournaments one of his main strengths is a teak tough temperament at the table. Took the chip lead yesterday with Aces against Kings with 28 left and only was overtaken right near the end.
I was chatting with a senior member of DTD staff yesterday as we walked the floor. The staff member looked at who was left and said "Nick Hicks. Would love him to win it. He is complete class" That just about says it all.Pete Linton 4,515,000
Career Live Earnings $311,091
Another DTD regular, and undoubtedly a huge talent. Its fair to say I think that Pete has had his controversial moments in poker. The talent he has undoubtedly allied with some questionable decision making in certain spots. He has also had a tendency to squander that talent on only half-hearted effort in some minor competitions.
However, with his breakthrough result, 2nd in WPT National Marbella last year confirming what we all knew in terms of his ability, those instances of questionable effort have been fewer and what has been clear is that throughout this event he has been focussed as I have never seen him before. In that mood, he can be virtually unplayable.Jakub Michalak 3,475,000
Career Live Earnings $175,463
Jakub is from Sopot in Poland. Sopot is a major health-spa and tourist resort destination. It has the longest wooden pier in Europe, at 515.5 metres, stretching out into the Bay of Gdańsk. Thanks for that Jakub.
Jakub's major live results include two EPT side event final tables and a final in the IPT Main at San Remo. I am told he is known as "Olorionek" online and that will be familiar to many people.
Another quiet man, all business and efficiency.Xavier el fassy 2,770,000
Career Live Earnings $30,947
Xavier is a French extrovert. All expression, speechplay and a huge enjoyment of the game. He was wearing a superman T-Shirt yesterday. Nothing wrong with that. Over it he was wearing a Superman Hoodie. Only several occasions, as he doubled his way back via several all in flips he would exclaim "I am like a Phoenix back from the dead". I resisted the temptation to light a fire under his chair to correct his metaphor.
From what I can see, a hugely likeable man, and win or lose will enjoy every minuteGwendoline Janot 2,470,000
Career Live Earnings n/a
French lady Gwendolen is inscrutable. I tried hard to find a change in expression over three days, but tried in vain. She was short-stacked with 50-60 yesterday, won with Jacks against Tens and immediately was in no trouble exhibiting patience and a slow measured style that could well see her reach the final stages here. No signs of any mistakes whatsover that I have seenLeigh Wiltshire 2,310,000
Career Live Earnings $4,808
Well now. From 2006-2012 Leigh and I must have worked 50-60 events together as organisers and updaters at APATs. He has also updated for blonde occasionally too. Now, he's going to win a million. I'm receipting for car park tickets
Leigh is a fantastic guy that obviously I have got to know well. A self employed accountant from near Bournemouth, an ardent Manchester United fan (from Bournemouth, it figures) and Wales rugby fan and Dad to three rescue Chocolate Labradors with his partner Jen who runs the Labrador Rescue Trust.
Leigh is, as we all knew, an accomplished player but has spent far more time improving the lot of recreational poker players through organising than he has playing. Universally respected for the huge effort he has put in for many others within APAT, which has introduced inordinate amounts of players to the live game since 2006 and there would be no more popular winner and would be a fitting reward for years of selfless hard work within UK poker.Florian Hoeller 2,030,000
Career Live Earnings $7,603
Florian is from Austria, and has been in then top half of the standings from early yesterday. florian has one WSOP Cash in a $1000 event, one cash in Austrian and my task for today, find out more about Florian!
Jean Miguel Lacerda 1,735,000
Career Live Earnings n/a
Lacerda is a Portugese player who won a big flip yesterday with 50 left to go to an above average stack. He won the flip, broke into a huge smile, sat down and the smile virtually never left after that point. "I no speak English. French, Spanish or Portugese" he said to me when I went on a fact finding mission. In broken Franglais I established that he was an online qualifier through a European site, lives in France is half French. I didn't do too badly really.
David Ulliott 1,700,000
Career Live Earnings $6,017,402
One of THE iconic UK poker players, who became known to many of us through Late Night Poker in the late 1990s,a profile cemented when he won WPT Tunica a few years later and we all watched on the Mike Sexton/Vince Van Patten shows at the time.
I think its fair to say that in terms of tournament reputation Devilfish suffered a fallow period from 2010 onwards, as results and sponsorship flowed towards the talented youngsters taking all before them such as Jake Cody but just quietly Devilfish has been on the comeback trail in the last nine months.
Why would that be? Well I don't know but I have noticed a change in Devilfish. Behind the bravado and the braggadocio I think there's always been quite a shy man. Whereas two years ago you'd rock up at a festival circuit bar and here Devilfish hold court with stories of a barely legal colourful life, in between turns on the karaoke doing "love me tender" these days when you do the same Dave is far more likely to want to show you pictures of his 8 month old daughter and tell you about life at home in Hull
I postulate that such a change in mood is not unconnected with a pick up in results.Leon Louis 1,600,500
Career Live Earnings $120,824
A fixture on the London scene at the gutshot (RIP), Fox (RIP), Reigate etc, I recall that Leon is an Online Heads Up specialist and a huge winner in that format. A GUKPT winner and runner up in the 2010 World Heads Up Championship he has been below average for a day and a half and in undemonstrative fashion has hung in there to remain in the mix going into Day FiveFreddy Deeb 1,485,000
Carreer Live Earnings $8,122,100
Freddy emigrated from Lebanon to the United States at the age of 19. Deeb was attending Utah State University when civil war broke out in Lebanon in 1975. He lost contact with his parents (who had been sending him money to support his education) for two years. Deeb was unable to gain employment due to the restrictions of his student visa, so he began gambling. Deeb was forced to leave his education, just 12 credits away from graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Since then he has two WSOP bracelets and 28 cashes, two WPT titles, five finals and 12 cashes and three EPT cashes including a final.
On June 29, 2007 Deeb won the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event at the 2007 World Series of Poker winning $2,276,832. During five-handed play, Deeb was down to his last $365,000 in chips, but managed to recover and win the WSOP bracelet. Deeb said that he did not appreciate his first bracelet because he did not recognize what it meant. “But this one – it means everything to me. These are the toughest players in the world. It has the highest buy-in. Except for the $10,000 buy-in (Main Event), this is the bracelet that means the most of any of them
Familiar on our TV screens from High Stakes Poker Deeb is a well known face to many of us. In person he can be acerbic and belligerent, but is clearly a heck of a player Praz Bansi 1,065,000
Career Live Earnings $2,665,803
Another hugely popular player, Praz is a double WSOP Bracelet winner and part of The Hit Squad that took UK poker by storm from 2008 with Karl, James Akenhead and the Chatthas. Praz won the inaugural GUKPT in Bolton and subsequently a second GUKPT in London
Shy, softly spoken and understated Praz is a phenomenal talent who plays less volume on the live scene these days, and he is I believe big into sports betting these days. In this event he has been under average for most of yesterday and kept his 20-25x bb stack intact without a showdown. A different side to the chipped up laggy player his style is known for
On Saturday I was talking to a member of the media near Praz. He turned to me and said "Poker is a game we all play and one day we'll all wake up and all the monies will be in front of this little guy with the cap askew..." He thinks he's that good.Ferhad Seyadi 1,010,000
Career Live Earnings $0
I was stunned yesteday. Mr Seyadi turned to me three tables out and said "This is my first ever poker torunament". I looked surprised "No really" he said "I am a cash game player at the Palm Beach, playing my first ever torunament"
Which was a bit of a shocker, in a nice way. Easy game huh?Jerome Brion 900,000
Career Live Earnings n/a
Jerome is a twenty something Frenchamn who qualified online. Was a top three stack yesterday at times before running into chip leader Alban Juan. Quiet, unassuming and undemonstrative.Julian Gardner 800,000
Career Live Earnings $ 2,545,096
Much like Praz, Julian grouns 20-25x bb for most of yesterday. Mancunian Julian finished runner up in the WSOP Main to Robert Varkonyi in 2002, the year before Moneymaker. Two years later, and no doubt that second place finish leads to all sorts of different avenues for Julian
I said on Saturday that when Julian speaks I instantly wonder if he should have been the sixth member of Oasis, an Inspiral Carpet or dancing next to Bez in the Happy Mondays. He has been a fixture, and a survivor on the European Tournament scene since 1995-96. Obviously a superb talent, and more evidence of the abilities of established "older" pros in these large scale eventsBassam Elia 760,000
Career Live Earnings n/a
He's French. Now then how to spin absolutely no knowledge at all out over a couple of lines so that those are speed reading do not realise that I am on a multi-street bluff that I am sincerely hoping will not be called. I repeat, he's French. Next.....Giuseppe Stagno 710,000
Career Live Earnings n/a
Italian Giuseppe has been under average chips for two days now, and has sat directly out of position to a three bet shoving Praz Bansi for six levels. Not the easiest spot or easiest stack to play. Yet here he is, thanks to two successful races that kept him at 15-20x bb throughout the latter stages of yesterday.
Neil Benardout 590,000
Career Live Earnings $ 7,003
French name, french look. Talks and is very English! Neil was chip leader four levels ago, but is another to have lost out to the juggernaut that is Alban Juan yesterday. Neil is from London, and has two cashes, one at the Vic, one in UKIPT Nottingham a year ago
James Sullivan 355,000
Career Earnings $ 42,507
James I recognise from the London scene. he is a regular at Genting's Palm Beach, where he frequents their Monday night big game in which he finished second for over £10,000 in February.
Has loved every minute of this, a broad smile at all times. I followed him into the car park this morning. Drives a duck egg blue convertible BMW 7 Series, brand new. I don't. As he turned in, he stopped, gave the attendant a huge handshake, told him he'd made the final 20 and the attendant beamed at him back.