Sointula is a familiar figure on the world poker circuit, and not just for his mane of blond hair that stretches down his back (which he has been growing since 2003), but for a tournament resume going back more than eight years, with big results from around the world.
Tallinn is a poignant venue for Sointula, whose first cash, and first tournament win, was here in 2003, the year he took up the game. Back then Sointula won the Baltic Open Championship, a title worth €3,240. Now he stands poised for a first prize of €275,000.
A little more than a year later, after playing the first ever EPT in Barcelona, Sointula made his breakthrough, winning the Monte Carlo Millions, with more results following. He finished runner-up in the 2006 WPT Paris main event and last season came second in the EPT London High Roller. To date he has nearly $1.8 million in live tournament winnings.
This is Sointula’s first EPT main event final, something he is proud to have achieved after four days of solid play. “For the first three days I didn’t lose any pots, my stack growing all the time,” said Sointula. “I made a bad all-in today against Jeff [Sarwer] but if I hit the flop, I hit it.”
Fox is a well-known poker professional in his home country and has been playing for eight years. Away from the live tournament circuit, he plays heads-up NLHE cash games and tournaments online. He says EPT Tallinn has been a real grind - with his stack always seemingly hovering between ten and twenty big blinds. He doesn’t have any specific poker goals except to earn as much money as possible and keep his bankroll at a level where he can continue to play comfortably.
Away from the tables, Fox likes to unwind by playing golf. He will be supported by his friend Billy tomorrow. Billy doesn’t play poker himself and was supposed to be flying home tomorrow but has taken Monday off work and booked a new flight so he can be here for tomorrow’s final table.
Finnish Economics student Arvi Vainionkulma is heading for the biggest live cash of his career in Tallinn - and is already up €4,250 after winning the Last Longer contest run by Skrill, the Official Payment Provider Sponsor of EPT Season 8. Prior to EPT Tallinn, Vainionkulma’s biggest win in a live event was € 8,192 for making the final table of the €2k Midnight Sun tourney in Helsinki in June. He also final-tabled a €1k side event at the Irish Open in April. He says he’s happy to have made the final but disappointed that he’s now the short-stack after losing a giant pot to Grzegorz Cichocki in the penultimate hand of the day.
Over the past five years, Sami Kelopuro has built a reputation as one of the most fearless high-stakes online cash players, featuring regularly at all the biggest games on the net. In recent months he has also been focusing on his tournament game, with startling results. Kelopuro cashed in 12th at the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo last April at the start of a huge hot streak. He won the SCOOP Main Event on PokerStars in May for more than half a million dollars, then went to Vegas and finished runner up in the $10,000 pot-limit Omaha championship event at the World Series, earning another $500,000. His six registered live cashes, including 12th at EPT San Remo on season six, are all for more than $30,000. This is his first EPT final table.
The only life that Erlend Melsom understands is the poker life. The 23-year old Norwegian, who won his seat to Tallinn via PokerStars’ Steps satellites, has been playing poker ever since he left school. He has been playing live, on and off, since he began his career but this will be his only significant live cash to date and he hasn’t played an EPT for over two years. Melsom plays most of his poker online – screen name"Sir_Winalot9" – taking part in both NLHE and PLO tournaments. One of Melsom's biggest achievements to date was snagging a SCOOP bracelet in the high-stakes version of event #11 ($2,100 PLO Heads-Up) last May. Overall, he has won over $1 million playing online and the vast majority of that cash has come from playing on PokerStars.
Kaiser started playing poker online when he was 18, focusing on Multi-Table Tournaments and PLO cash games, and doing well from the start. He built up a big bankroll and then switched his attention to live Omaha cash games. Kaiser is now considered one of the biggest Omaha cash game players in Europe and is a regular at the €100/€200 games in Austrian casinos alongside fellow Swiss pro Anton Allemann and Austrian Nikolaus Jedlicka (whose brother Stefan bust the EPT Tallinn Main Event in 22nd place). He is also close friends with German pro Benny Spindler and the two attend numerous EPTs together. Kaiser has several notable cashes at European live events including 20th place at EPT6 San Remo for € 30,000.