Andrew did two years of biochemistry at McMaster University in Hamilton (outside Toronto) before dropping out this year to play
poker full-time. His biggest live cash to date was in November when he came 5th at the PokerStars Latin American Poker Tour event in San Jose, Costa Rica for $ 61,063. He focuses on big buy-in live tournaments that he can satellite in to. He plays both cash games and live tournaments online. His path to the final table today has been a little nervy. Twice he was all-in in a coin flip situation and both times had to wait until the river to hit one of his overcards.
The explosion in poker in Spain owes a lot to Raul Mestre, a high-stakes cash player from Valencia who recently began to share his knowledge with a team of other professionals. Raul trains, among others, the recent LAPT Punta del Este champion Jose Miguel Espinar and now finds himself at an EPT final table, the first of his career. Although he does most of his playing, and winning, around the online tables, Raul has a couple of high finishes on the WPT to his name, as well as victory in the televised Late Night Poker Ace series in 2006. Mestre is one of the short stacks going into the final, but quite literally wrote the book on poker strategy and has all the skills necessary to make a charge.
Salesman Francesco has been playing Texas Hold’em for the last three years. He plays very little online poker and considers himself mainly a live player. This is his third EPT – he also played San Remo last season and Budapest in October. He said: “I’m feeling more serene and happy than excited about the final table. This style of tournament is really suited to my game and getting this far is pay-back for all the losses I’ve suffered. I’m a solid player and only get knocked out because of bad beats.”
Massimo, who celebrated his 50th birthday on Thursday, is a medical dentist from Sant'Elia Fiumerapido near Frosinone in Lazio, central Italy. He has been playing Texas Hold’em for two years and started playing on PokerStars six months ago. This is only the second live tournament he has ever played; the first was a side event in Venice where he came in third. He said: “I feel very emotional about getting to the final table; I never thought I’d get to this point. It’s not enough to be good in a tournament like this – you also need a lot of luck to get to the final. The biggest emotion for me is telling my wife and children about it over the phone.”
Student Nasr is at the start of a big round-the world trip and has kicked off his adventure in Prague – playing in his first EPT. The rest of his trip – which includes Cairo, Malaysia, Tokyo, Shanghai and New Delhi, will also involve some “poker stops” like the Aussie Millions and APPT Manila. Nasr, 23, initially studied Islam science but is now switching to International Business. He has lived in Germany since he was five but his parents originally come from the Middle East – his father from Libya and his mother from Syria. Nasr is well-known on the live poker circuit in Germany and is looking forward to the Prague final table – his biggest success in poker so far.
Alexiou studied mathematics at university but gave up on the subject after opening his own fitness club business. He’s currently living in the Greek capital Athens with his wife and 13-year-old daughter. He took up poker as a hobby three years ago, playing cash games in Greece, and taking part in tournaments abroad. Although he’s not a full time poker player, this is his third final table in just a few weeks. He won the last two and is going into tomorrow’s final with the second largest chip stack.
Once upon a time, just a handful of Italians would set foot on EPT shores, the likes of Luca Pagano, Cristiano Blanco and Dario Minieiri making up a very small contingent flying the red, white and green. Now, deep into season five, everything has changed: Italy are the most prominent nation at the tables, and names such as Gino Alacqua, Daniele Mazzia and Dario Alioto are being etched on bloggers' notepad as 'ones to watch'.
However, one thing has always alluded our Italian friends, and that's an EPT title. They may ambush the field with an endless army of players, but they have never been able to jump that final hurdle and grasp EPT gold. With no less than three Italians on the final table, one of whom is your current chip leader, could tomorrow provide them with that epic moment?..
Salvatore Bonavena (Italy) -- 1,402,000
Alexiou Konstantinos (Greece) -- 1,382,000
Francesco Cirianni (Italy) -- 807,000
Fredrik Nygard (Finland) -- 666,000
Massimo Di Cicco (Italy) -- 429,000
[Removed:197] (Germany) -- 376,000
Raul Mestre (Spain) -- 313,000
Andrew Alan Chen (Canada) -- 309,000
Now EPT Barcelona champion Sebastian Ruthenberg has snapped up the final day bubble, this truly is anyone's game, with all nine eager to get their hands on that €774,000. To find out who does, join us tomorrow at 1pm sharp as we plow through our final table in search of the second ever EPT Prague champion.