The 2011 PokerStars.net APPT Queenstown Snowfest produced a field of 127 entrants for the Main Event. After three days of play in the felt of the SKYCITY Queenstown Casino, we have reached our official final table of nine players.
Here’s a little more about the background of our final table participants…
Seat 1: Hugh Cohen (Melbourne, Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier), 146,500 in chips
Hugh Cohen is a 24-year old from Melbourne who is looking to break through for his first major live tournament triumph to follow in the footsteps of his brother Julian who won the ANZPT Queenstown title last year. Of course, Hugh is no stranger to poker success, having built a feared reputation online under the moniker “Jackovich” including a win in the PokerStars Sunday 500 for $47,200 and 2nd place in a PokerStars SCOOP event for $97,955. With a WPT final table and two other deep ANZPT results to his credit, Cohen is a genuine threat despite entering this final table as the second shortest chip stack.
Seat 2: Marcel Schreiner (Berlin, Germany), 591,500 in chips
Marcel Schreiner may claim that his first big win online may have been when he had “no real clue about the game” but the 22-year old student from Berlin, Germany has made poker his career – and it’s been paying off, having picked up five-figure sums in the last two PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Events. When he’s not crushing souls on the felt, Schreiner is usually found grinding online in high-stakes cash games and multi-table tournaments. Schreiner comes back tomorrow in prime position to take down his first major live tournament victory, taking in 591,500 in chips.
Seat 3: Daniel Laidlaw (Adelaide, Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier), 193,000 in chips
Daniel Laidlaw may dominate the 5/10 No Limit Holdem cash games, but this self-taught poker phenom has multiple strings to his bow as a regular on the Australasian tournament circuit. With several deep runs on the ANZPT and at the Aussie Millions, he will be looking to secure his first major title here in Queenstown as he enters the final table in the middle of the pack.
Seat 4: Jonathan Karamalikis (Adelaide, Australia) (PokerStars Qualifier), 174,000 in chips
Jonathan Karamalikis is quickly developing a poker resume that is as good as we’ve ever seen in Australia. With millions of dollars in online winnings, “xMONSTERxDONGx” has now accumulated nearly $1.2 million in live winnings to put him in the all-time top ten Australian tournament earners. Of course, his highlight was winning the APPT Sydney title last December as he strives to become the first player to win two APPT titles.
Seat 5: Carl Knox (Mount Mauganui, New Zealand), 180,500 in chips
Hailing from Mount Mauganui, New Zealand, Carl Knox is as passionate for poker as he is about rugby, his wife and two children. For the last four years, the 29-yearold doctor has been honing online and has since been able to make a successful transition into the live format of the game, winning a NZD$550 Turbo No Limit Hold’em side event during the ANZPT Queenstown event in 2010 before final-tabling the APPT Queenstown Main Event this year. During his stay here, Knox has been rooming with fellow Kiwis Sam Williams and Ben Paurini, who’ll be cheering him on tomorrow as he returns with 180,500 in chips.
Seat 6: Tom Grigg (Melbourne, Australia), 296,000 in chips
One of the most decorated players on the APPT, Tom “tollgate” Grigg is a 26-year old from Melbourne who has reached the third APPT final table of his career. The defining moment of his tournament was not getting owned by Koray Turker in a key hand on day two, but he also credits the “You can’t teach that!” crew for his success – we suspect it’s the same crew who have been “shredding freshies” this week on the ski slopes of Queenstown. Grigg has been in rare form with a recent runner-up finish in the PokerStars Sunday Million worth $153,837 to go with his live successes and he’ll be hard to beat as the third largest stack on the final table.
Seat 7: Matty Yates (Arrowtown, New Zealand), 523,500 in chips
No matter what happens to Matty Yates, his family and friends will be already preparing for a hero’s welcome at his bar in Arrowtown, just a stone’s throw away from Queenstown. The 34-year-old Kiwi has been playing poker for six years, starting in home games before turning a profit online in tournaments and sit and go’s. Yates has been pleased with his form leading up to this final table, but there’s no question that he’ll be determined to surpass his fifth-place finish in a NZD $500 No Limit Hold’em side event at the 2007 New Zealand Poker Championships, as he returns second in chips overall with 523,500.
Seat 8: John Waterman (Nelson, New Zealand) (PokerStars Qualifier), 153,500 in chips
His mates may call him “The Salmon,” but New Zealand’s John Waterman is no fish, having held his own over the last few days to make the final table of the APPT Queenstown Main Event after qualifying in a freeroll event on PokerStars. Although Waterman was dragged along to his first pub poker game by his mates four years ago, the 40-year-old accounts clerk has been hooked ever since. If Waterman takes down the title, he may have to buy himself a new mountain bike or V8 Holden, but he’ll have some work to do as he comes back tomorrow with 153,500 in chips.
Seat 9: Xiao Dong Xia (Dolian, China), 107,500 in chips
Having watched Xiao Dong Xia on the tables during the 2011 PokerStars.net APPT Queenstown Main Event, it’s hard to believe that this is the 30-year-old’s first ever live event, and even more surprising that he’s only been playing the game for six months! Still, Xia is not afraid to put his chips on the line and has been making the most of his opportunity here in New Zealand. Xia aspires to become a professional poker player like so many of his new-found friends here in Queenstown, but he’ll be tested tomorrow, starting this final table as the short stack with 107,500 in chips.