Just six players remain, and the big money is still all up for grabs. The PokerStars Championship Prague, the first and last ever as the tour rebrands back to European Poker Tour next year, has reached its final table. Today is the day the trophy will be gifted - lifted by one of the remaining six players.
All finalists are guaranteed at least €147,000 for their efforts. The first-place payout of €775,000 awaits a winner, a spot in the history books remains vacant for now.
After an action-packed day 5 of the event, Matas Cimbolas busted in 7th place and play was suspended with 49:35 left in level 28 with blinds of 40,000/80,000 and a running ante of 10,000. The cards will be back in the air at noon local time (in 1 hours from now) and the live stream with hole cards being shown will run on a security delay of one hour. The PokerNews live updates will be published accordingly, so follow along here from 1 PM (2 hours from now).
Here's what the final table looks like:
Player profiles underneath courtesy of PokerStars:
Harry Lodge is a 23-year-old professional poker player who hails from Haywards Heath, England. Lodge has made his mark on the PokerStars Festival London earlier this year, finishing second in the £2k High Roller for £36,150. But the youngster's top performance came a few months later at the summer World Series of Poker.
Lodge picked up a giant $344,888 third-place prize in the $888 Crazy Eights event, boosting his live tournament earnings. Lodge currently sits in 150th place on England's all-time money list with over $700,000 in live cashes but he's expected to rapidly climb through the rankings, considering his eagerness.
It's no surprise that the talented rising star has a solid online background as well. Lodge plays as "Iamapoopie" on PokerStars. His best online score was $88,545 for a runner-up finish in the 2016 TCOOP-27 $215 NL Hold'em Event. Five years ago, then 19-year-old Lodge topped the PokerStars Radio: UKIPT Bristol - Freeroll for $44,781.
Lodge was on the verge of elimination several times during Day 4. He was short-stacking for the most of the day but all the key clashes went his way. Lodge's tournament life was on the verge particularly in a hand against Valery Yantsevich. Lodge was trailing with king-ten versus tens but turned a straight to stay in contention.
French player Kalidou Sow has already notched several decent results on the live felt, most of them coming in his home country. Sow's best score was €72,000 for a third place in the France Poker Series (FPS) Season 5 Main Event in Enghien-les-Bains. He's now guaranteed a bigger prize here in the Main Event.
Sow, who lives just outside of Paris, didn't look to be a favorite to getting to the final table. He came back for Day 5 with the third-shortest stack but he gained much-needed traction, knocking out Sergii Popovych in an aces-over-jacks cooler. Sow then continued crushing, scooping two large chunks off Michal Mrakes, turning up with the nuts on both occasions. Suddenly, the 37-year-old climbed through the leaderboard.
Sow won three live tournaments so far but none of them could match the difficulty and prestige of this Main Event. Sow's wins include the 2016 Belgian Poker Challenge Namur High Roller for €41,460 as well as the 2016 Barrière Poker Tour Toulouse Main Event for €32,100. He also notched a third place in the PokerStars Festival Lille €2k High Roller. Sow now seems ready to make the step to the spotlight on the world's prime poker circuit. A top-five finish would let him sneak inside the top 100 on the French all-time money list.
31-year-old professional live tournament player Michal Mrakes had a tremendous start to the PokerStars Championship Main Event. Mrakes crossed 100,000 early into the first day, extracting the maximal value from pocket aces twice in a short span. Mrakes bagged the overall chip lead for Day 2 and then capitalized on his prime field position the following days.
He reclaimed the lead during Day 4, knocking out some of the biggest stars including Jack Sinclair, Dermot Blain, and Team PokerStars Pro Fatima Moreira de Melo. Mrakes also pulled out a massive call down with ace-high to prove his toughness in front of the PokerStars TV cameras.
Mrakes used to live in Sydney, Australia where his fellow Czech friend introduced him to poker. Mrakes returned home to Prague about five years ago and started pursuing a professional poker career. He has been a well-known local hero for several years now but 2017 has been a true breakout year for the Czech grinder who has finally delivered results on the top-shelf international scene.
Mrakes is guaranteed to break $1 million in lifetime winnings after collecting his Main Event cash, with the better half of his earnings coming in the past 12 months. He set his new personal best back in June, scooping the €1,100 partypoker MILLION event in Rozvadov for a €200,000 payday. A top-four finish here would secure him an even bigger reward.
Gabriele Lepore started playing poker in 2007. His hobby turned into his profession after several years. Lepore's online forte are multi-table tournaments and sit-and-goes. He's no stranger to the live circuit either, he ranks 43rd on the Italian all-time money list with over $710,000 in live cashes.
Lepore's CV includes three EPT Main Event cashes with 22nd at EPT Snowfest standing as his deepest run. Lepore's main tournament success came in Venice. He won the La Notte Del Poker €2k Main Event in December 2012, earning €104,000. Three months later, Lepore returned to the canal city to claim another trophy and a title in the WPT National €1,650 Event, banking €92,000. Lepore's best achievements also include a runner-up finish in the EPT6 Snowfest €1k Event for a €40,000 payday.
Lepore has been doing well outside of poker as well. He was one of the first poker players who believed in BitCoin and invested in the phenomenal currency back in 2013. In September, his investments reached a 1,000-percent ROI.
Colin Robinson is a 22-year-old business marketing student from Phoenix. Robinson studies at the Arizona State University in Tempe. The youngster has been playing poker for only about two and a half years. He played home games with his friends but quickly improved his game and a few months later, he was already on his way to Monaco to experience his first big PokerStars live event.
Robinson's background can be found in video games and strategy games, which certainly helped his quick adaptation to poker theory. Robinson is a basketball fan, who loves both hooping and watching the games. This is Robinson's second trip to Prague, he cashed in last year's Eureka High Roller here in the Czech capital.
He's guaranteed to more than double his live tournament earnings. So far, he's racked up just over $70,000 in cashes. His previous best result was $34,800 for a first place in a 2016 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open side event.
Jason Wheeler is a poker veteran who has been around for over a decade. The 40-year-old has racked up nearly $8 million in online tournament winnings and over $3 million in live cashes. Originally rom Chicago, Illinois, the 40-year-old American pro has been a familiar face on the European live poker circuit for almost a decade. Wheeler relocated to Amsterdam years ago, and he's no stranger to Prague either; his girlfriend comes from the Czech capital.
Wheeler's career-best result dates back to 2009 when he fell just shy of winning a WSOP bracelet, finishing second in the $1,500 NL Hold'em event for a sweet $418,122. This is his debut on a PokerStars main tour Main Event final table, with the previous closest attempt coming at the EPT8 Grand Final (18th for €40,000).
Wheeler envisioned his success here in the Main Event as he described at the end of Day 4: "I feel amazing. Last week, I had a dream. I was at the final table of this tournament. This is unusual, I've never dreamt about poker before. I told my dream to my friend Ludovic Geilich and he reached two final tables this week. Now I start thinking that the dream could become true for me."
Prolific on both live and online felt, Wheeler's main forte has been the PokerStars $1,050 Super Tuesday. He conquered the prestigious weekly event four times in his career, using his famous moniker "jdtjpoker". His other accolades from the virtual realm include a WCOOP bracelet as well as a final table in the SCOOP $25k High Roller.