Jason Mercier is a 24-year-old Team PokerStars Pro from Hollywood, Florida. He won his first big tournament in 2008 when he took down the European Poker Tour Season 4 San Remo Main Event. Just one year later, in 2009, he won his first World Series of Poker gold bracelet in the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha event outlasting 808 players. He has continued to dominate poker tournaments across the world, more recently winning the PokerStars North American Poker Tour No-Limit Hold’em Bounty Shootout in 2010 and successfully defending his title in 2011 at Mohegan Sun.
The 2011 WSOP has been his most profitable Series to date. He has made deep runs in six events and took home another bracelet after winning the $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha - Six-Handed event. On the final hand of the night, Mercier raised to 160,000 from the button and his opponent Hans Winzeler reraised to 480,000. Mercier made the call and the flop came . Mercier bet 960,000 after his opponent checked, Winzeler raised all in, and Mercier insta-called. Winzeler held and Mercier held . The fell on the turn and the hit on the river to give Mercier the straight for the victory. He took home his second coveted WSOP gold bracelet and $619,575 in prize money with the win.
Eugene Katchalov is a 30-year-old Team PokerStars Pro from Ukraine. Katchalov scored his first major victory in 2007 when he won the World Poker Tour Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic for $2,482,605. This last January he took down the PCA $100,000 Super High Roller event for $1,500,000. Continuing on his live tournament cashes, Katchalov won his first WSOP gold bracelet this year when he outlasted a field of 357 in the $1,500 Seven-Card Stud event.
Going into heads-up play, Katchalov was at a seven-to-one chip disadvantage. After two hours of play, Katchalov’s opponent, Alessio Isaia, was down to his last few chips. Isaia moved all his chips in on third street when he had king high and Katchalov called having ace high. Katchalov ended up winning the pot when he held / / and his opponent held / / . Katchalov's first bracelet win netted him $122,909 in prize money.
Andre Akkari is a Team PokerStars Pro from San Paulo, Brazil. He has final tabled over 90 online tournaments and holds over $500,000 in online tournament winnings.
This year he won his first-ever WSOP gold bracelet when he shipped the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em event and outlasted a field of 2,857 players. When the last hand came about, Akkari had over ten million in chips and his opponent, Nachman Berlin, had around two million in chips. Berlin moved all in from the button and Akkari made the call. Berlin held and Akkari held . The board ran out and Akkari's trip kings earned him the gold and the glory. He took home $675,117 in prize money for the victory.
Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier is a 30-year-old Team PokerStars Pro from France. He has built up an impressive resume with a WPT title, an EPT title and now a WSOP title. Grospellier was known as one of the best professional gamers in the world and, for the past couple of years, has transitioned into a fierce professional poker player. His first notable cash was when he took second in the EPT Copenhagen Main Event in January 2007 for $399,953. He continued tear through live tournaments around the world and has accumulated over $8,000,000 in live winnings from 2005 to 2011.
This year, at the WSOP, Grospellier took home his first gold bracelet and earned himself poker's version of the Triple Crown when he won the $10,000 Seven-Card Stud Championship. Grospellier was heads up against Steve Landfish for the bracelet and held a huge chip advantage when the final hand was dealt. Landfish held / / and Grospellier held / / to make a full house and take home the gold. He outlasted 126 players for the bracelet and took home $331,639 for his first-place finish.
Maxim Lykov is a Team PokerStars Pro from Russia. He started playing poker while studying engineering at a university in Moscow. His poker career started taking off in 2009 when he took first place in the Red Sea Poker Cup VIP No-limit Hold’em event. Just three months later he won the EPT Kiev Main Event for $468,504. His dominance in live tournaments continued for the past few years where he has accumulated over $2,500,000 in live tournament winnings.
This year, Lykov earned his first-ever WSOP gold bracelet when he took down the last $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em event in July. He outlasted a field of 4,576 players to take home $648,880 in prize money and the bracelet. The last hand of the night started when Lykov’s opponent, Dror Michaelo, raised to 250,000 on the button and Lykov reraised to 700,000. Michaelo pushed all in and Lykov called. Lykov held and Michaelo held . The board ran out and Lykov shipped the coveted gold bracelet.