Estonian pro Madis Muur has done it again, and is narrowly ahead of would-be two-time EPT champion Mike McDonald for the overnight chip lead - going in to the final of the $10k PCA 2014 Main Event with 6,205,000.
All eight players in tomorrow's final are guaranteed at least $173,220, but a life-changing prize $1,820,420 first prize awaits the winner, along with the title of PCA 2014 champion, a trophy and stunning "Steel and Black" design watch worth €5,550 from SLYDE, the Official Watch Sponsor of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure 2014.
Madis Muur, Estonia, PokerStars qualifier, 6,205,000
Mike McDonald, Canada, PokerStars qualifier, 5,605,000
Pascal LeFrancois, Canada, PokerStars player, 5,595,000
Dominik Panka, Poland, PokerStars qualifier, 3,695,000
Fabian Ortiz, Argentina, 3,040,000
Isaac Baron, USA, 2,995,000
Daniel Gamez, Guatemala, PokerStars player, 1,885,000
Shayam Srinivasan, Canada, PokerStars qualifier, 1,505,000
It was a super-quick Day 5 in the Atlantis Ballroom with 20 players whittled down to eight in record time. UKIPT Dublin champion Max Silver, bubbled the final table and finished ninth for $135,400. As well as Muur and McDonald, tomorrow's final will include WSOP bracelet winner Pascal LeFrancois, online pros Isaac "westmenloAA" Baron and Shyam "g's zee" Srinivasan, plus LAPT Vina del Mar champion Fabian Ortiz.
There were 1,031 players at this year's PCA, creating a prize pool of $10,000,700. Among the 143 players who have already cashed are Team PokerStars Pros Vanessa Selbst, Angel Guillen, Liv Boeree, Marcel Luske, George Danzer, Jason Mercier, Leo Margets as well as Team Online's Marc-Andre Ladouceur and Caio Pessagno.
The players hail from 65 countries including 346 Americans who defied atrocious weather in the States to get to the Bahamas. They accounted for 34% of the field, with 143 Canadians also present (14%). See below for nationality pie chart and info graphic on how well Americans have performed at the PCA over the years!
PCA 2014 MAIN EVENT FINAL TABLE PLAYER PROFILES
Seat 1: Pascal LeFrancois, 27, Montreal – PokerStars player - 5,595,000
Canadian student Pascal LeFrancois first shot to fame in 2010 when he won the WSOP $1,500 NL Event $568,974. However it wasn't his victory that made him famous – it was the fact that he ripped off his shirt and posed bare-skinned in the traditional winner's photo shot. It was the first time any player in the history of the WSOP had gone bare-chested for the champion's portrait. He said at the time that he'd done as a joke for friends: "They were all cheering for me to take off my shirt. I was excited, so I did it." Only a month after that victory, LeFrancois then went really deep in the WSOP Main Event, finishing 11th for $ 635,011 – his biggest cash to date. His other major result was runner-up to fellow Canadian Jonathan Roy in the 2012 WPT Montreal Main Event for $470,130. His lifetime tournament winnings already total nearly $1.8 million. LeFrancois is here at the PCA for the fourth time and has been an EPT regular for the last four years as well. He is one of a large group of French-Canadian players who have started playing on the EPT circuit. You can follow Pascal via twitter: @Pass_LeFrancois
Seat 2: Dominik Panka, 22, Poland – PokerStars qualifier - 3,695,000
Panka, who hails from the tiny town of Brzesc Kujawski in Poland, is enjoying the deepest run he's ever experienced in a live event. Before this year's PCA Main Event, Panka only had $8,092 in live tournament cashes to his name, the majority of that from a 42nd place finish in the EPT 10 Barcelona Estrellas €2k High Roller. Guaranteed $173,220 for eighth making the PCA final, Panka is now set to earn at least 21 times his lifetime tournament cashes. Panka is the ninth player hailing from Poland to make an EPT final table but no Pole has ever laid claim to a title. Entering the final table fourth in chips, Panka has a solid chance to make history and become the first Polish EPT champion. He won his seat to the 2014 PCA in a $700 Mega Qualifier on PokerStars.
Seat 3: Seat: Shyam Srinivasan, 32, Toronto, Canada – PokerStars qualifier
Shyam Srinivasan isn't a well-recognized face on the live circuit, but his online handles "g's zee" (PokerStars) and "s_dot111" (Full Tilt Poker) certainly are by those in the know. Srinivasan has clocked up more than $7m in online tournament winnings and is looking to convert that success into a PCA title tomorrow. "I think I'm gonna win," Srinivasan told the PokerStars Blog. "That's it. I'm not here to do anything else. I know I'm gonna win. I told myself I'm gonna win… and anything else would be a disappointment to me because you don't know when this opportunity will come up again." Srinivasan won his seat in the PCA $700 Qualifier on PokerStars.
Seat 4: Isaac "westmenloAA" Baron, 26, Chicago, USA - 2,995,000
Originally from Menlo Park, California, Baron now calls Chicago, Illinois home. It's not the only major change for the 26-year-old online poker legend. Baron has lost a lot of weight in recent months and is hardly recognizable. This is Baron's first major final table in nearly two years. "It's been a while since I made a big final table. I've kind of been flying under the radar. I haven't been playing too many tournaments," he said." In the meantime, the man with millions in online wins and $2.6 million in live cashes has been playing live cash games and taking some college classes. He's looking forward to getting back to the big time. "I had decided to give tournaments a break for a little while, but I decided in the New Year I was going to give them another go. It's going good so far."
Seat 5: Fabian Ortiz, 44, Chaco, Argentina - 3,040,000
Fabian Ortiz, a 44-year-old businessman from Argentina, has owned several discos during his career, but recently he's been doing most of his dancing on the poker circuit. Ortiz was the first Latin American player to win a LAPT title when he made a sensational comeback from just one small blind to take down LAPT2 Viña del Mar in Chile in January 2009. But his biggest live result was last summer when he finished 17th in the WSOP Main Event for a cash of $357,655. His lifetime tournament winnings of $565,570 put him at third on the Argentina All-time money list, behind Team PokerStars Pros Nacho Barbero and Leo Fernandez.
Seat 6: Mike McDonald, 24, Waterloo, Canada - PokerStars qualifier - 5,605,000
Canadian phenom Mike McDonald is currently in second place, and looking a very strong contender in the bid to become the first-ever two-time European Poker Tour Main Event champion. The 24-year-old from Ontario, whose lifetime tournament winnings already total nearly $6 million, first shot to fame in 2008 when he became the youngest ever EPT winner, taking down the EPT Dortmund Main Event for €933,600, aged just 18. He came close to retaining his title the following year, with a fifth place finish. As well as making the final of this PCA's $100k Super High Roller, his phenomenal results also include third at EPT Deauville, bubbling the EPT Madrid final and making the final in both the EPT Barcelona Super High Rollers - in 2012 and last August. Like 426 other players, McDonald won his PCA 2014 seat on PokerStars – but he isn't just any old qualifier - he was actually the very FIRST player win a package, securing his trip in a $700 qualifier back in August last year.
Seat 7: Madis Muur, 27, Tallinn, Estonia – PokerStars qualifier – 6,205,000
Muur enters the final table as the chip leader with 6,205,000. Hailing from the Estonian capital of Tallinn, Muur is mainly an online player, focusing his attention on mid-stakes tournaments on PokerStars during the week, and the majors on Sunday. This is the Estonian's first year on the European Poker Tour, as he only plays live if he is fortunate enough to qualify. Muur has already won seats to three of the four EPT Main Events this season, playing in London and Barcelona along with PCA.
Muur finished 12th in the EPT Barcelona Main Event, earning $78,892, and has just over $100,000 in career tournament earnings. He has already doubled that number by reaching this final table, and will be looking for his first seven-figure score on Monday.
Seat 8: Daniel Gamez, 29, Guatemala City – PokerStars player - 1,885,000
Gamez is a recreational poker player who invested some $4,000 in online qualifiers and finally won his trip to the PCA in a $33 unlimited rebuy satellite. A keen golfer, Gamez works as an event coordinator for his family's radio company in Guatemala and is soon to be a dad in February. The former communications student mainly plays mid stakes multi-table tournaments online. He has been to the PCA three times but this is his first ever live cash. His biggest online cash was $17,500. He said: "My dad is my mentor and if I win the tournament I plan to help him out with the company." Gamez, whose Panamanian wife is expecting the couple's first child in February, came to the Bahamas with his friend Juan Carlos.