They have played for five long days and they now have the chance to win the biggest poker tournament of their lives. With $1 million locked up already, the following six players now go looking for the $4 million first prize. Here are the PSPC final table players.
Seat 1. Philipe Pizzari, 37, Brazil
Hometown: Sao Paolo, living in Miami, FL
Philipe Pizzari’s poker career took off when his “other” career, in finance, took him from his native Sao Paolo, Brazil, to Miami, Florida. That was when he left the online game behind (“I wasn’t very good”) and focused more on live poker. He now plays regularly at the Seminole Hard Rock and when the WPT stops in Florida.
He has lived in Miami for seven years, still working in investment funds, and hanging out with his wife and 2-year-old son. In his spare time, he plays some sports and works out, but is focused on work and family. He still travels back to Brazil, and plays on the BSOP if dates work out. He also enjoys playing in Las Vegas, particularly the WSOP Main Event.
“Being at this final table is such a dream,” he says of the PSPC. “I already had a very nice deep run at the WSOP Main Event and I thought that, as a recreational player, it would be almost impossible to get a great deep run again. For me this is one of the most important events of the year. It’s a big dream and I’ll try to have fun.”
Seat 2. Aliaksandr Shylko, 26, Belarus
Alexander Shylko, 26, has been a professional poker player for six years. After starting out playing cash games, he turned to hold’em tournaments and now specialises exclusively in them, both live and online. From Minsk in Belarus, Shylko has racked up a string of cashes on the international circuit since 2016, including winning the €2,200 Eureka High Roller in Rozvadov last year for €75,332.
Shylko described his four-day journey to the final table as “smooth for the most part,” but the last day proved much harder. “I had some very tough spots against Sam Grafton and another English player – I made four hero folds which weren’t easy.” Without them, he admits he may not still have a shot at the PSPC 2023 title.
One hand from Day 4 that stood out “the biggest hand” for him involved his holding ace-king off vs. ace-king suited and ace-queen suited. A queen in the window looked like it would spell the end of his tournament, but when the king of diamonds appeared, he thought, of the final table – and possibly the title – “I might just get there.”
Of the PCA, which Shylko’s attending for the first time, he says, “It’s great – but crazy pricey. I had a $7 chocolate bar. In Belarus you can get a decent dinner for that!”
Seat 3. Niclas Thumm, 29, Germany (Platinum Pass winner)
For his whole PSPC run so far, 29-year-old Niclas Thumm has had the entire Twitch poker community–particularly those in Germany–rooting for him. That’s because they’re responsible for him being here in the first place.
Thumm, who works in accounting but goes by “Flushiisback” on PokerStars and Twitch, is a streamer who entered the PokerStars Dare2Stream competition at the end of 2021. He didn’t win it, but he did receive the community award after a community vote, the prize of which was a Platinum Pass.
According to Felix “xflixx” Schneiders–the man who handed Thumm his Pass at a Road to PSPC event in Liechtenstein–Thumm has done nothing but study for the past month, and it’s showing. He may only play an average buy-in of $12 online, but he’s certainly known what to do throughout this $25K.
Of his time at the PSPC, Thumm told us: “It’s overwhelming. It’s been an out-of-this-world experience. I don’t think it can get any better.”
But it can. He’s still in. And now he’s on the final table battling for more than $4 million.
4. Jose Ignacio “Nacho” Barbero, 40, Argentina
Hometown: Buenos Aires
One of the undisputed superstars of Latin American poker, and a three-time champion on the LAPT, Jose Ignacio “Nacho” Barbero will return to the top of the Argentinian money list with a fifth-place finish or better in the PSPC.
Barbero spent many years on the roster of Team PokerStars Pro, which included a sensational run in 2010 when he won back-to-back LAPT tournaments in Uruguay and Peru, sandwiching victory on the French Poker Series. Later that year, he also won an EPT High Roller, for his biggest career score. Now 40, Barbero is a pro of many years standing and has lost none of his appetite for the game.
He won his first World Series bracelet last summer in Las Vegas, and says he actually spends most of the year there these days, playing mainly cash games.
He also says he lost a huge portion of his net worth in some of the recent cryptocurrency scandals, but has returned to poker with a vengeance and is rapidly working on getting everything back.
5. Max Menzel, 37, Germany – Platinum Pass winner
Hometown: Berlin (lives in Singapore)
You can try Googling him all you want, but you won’t find much information about Germany’s Max Menzel online – apart from a recent interview with PokerStars Blog.
That’s because the 37-year-old is predominantly a live cash game player. Originally from Berlin, Menzel was essentially a poker pro throughout his college years, funding his studies through cards. But when he and his wife decided to start a family, he decided to get a corporate career instead and now works in management for a German logistics company.
Menzel and his family moved to China ten years ago for work and while there he spent a lot of time grinding the games in Macau. But since moving to Singapore a year ago, poker has taken a backseat so he can spend more time with his wife and two young children.
Still, he occasionally has to travel for work and likes to play a bit of poker while he’s away, and that’s what led to him being here in the Bahamas. Menzel binked his Platinum Pass on one such excursion, winning the Road to PSPC in Manila.
“Without wanting to sound arrogant, I think I’m probably one of the best players who are unknown on the circuit,” he told us on the first break of the Day 4, before immediately going on a surge up the chip counts.
And now he’s on the biggest final table of the year, so perhaps he’s right.
6. Pedro Marques, 30, Portugal
Pedro Marques is aiming for a double celebration at the PSPC final table. Not only does he have the chance to snag a second major title of this tournament series for Portugal (after Michel Dattani won the PCA Main Event), he also locked up his place at the final on his 30th birthday. It’s a pretty good way to ease the pain of leaving his 20s behind.
The man from Corroios has documented tournament winnings of $2.9 million so far, and outright victory would push him to the top of the Portugal money list. He has become a very well-known face on the EPT, where he reached the final table of EPT Barcelona in 2018 for what was, before today, his biggest tournament score.