Meet the Final Table of the EPT Cyprus Main Event

Seven players remain in the hunt for the inaugural EPT Cyprus Main Event title. Gilles Simon of the Netherlands has the chip lead, with WPT Champions Club member Andrea Dato also in the mix.

Tim Fiorvanti
Oct 21, 2023
PokerStars EPT Cyprus (photo courtesy: PokerStars/Danny Maxwell)

The inaugural EPT Cyprus Main Event played deep into the night, and while they ultimately didn’t reach their target of six players, the competition for the title and $1,042,000 among the final seven is tight.

Gilles Simon of the Netherlands bagged the chip lead by the thinnest of margins, thanks in large part to a massive clash he wasn’t involved in on the penultimate hand of the evening. Jose Gonzalez Sanchez turned Diamond A Club J into trip jacks on the river to beat Halil Tasyurek’s pocket queens and double up.

After a long Day 5, action is likely to be fast and furious when cards go back into the air on Sunday. Simon, Tasyurek and online poker standout Nikita Kuznetsov, the top three stacks, will have 40, 39, and 37 big blinds, respectively.

Among the chasing pack is Italy’s Andrea Dato, a WPT Champions Club member who has made a number of major final tables over the course of his career. Of the final seven players, he’s the only one who has a previous EPT Main Event final table appearance to his credit.

Cards-up coverage of the final table kicks off at 1 p.m. local time (6 a.m. ET) Sunday on PokerStars’ live streaming channels.

Let’s get to know the seven players still in contention to become the first-ever EPT Cyprus champion.

Halil Tasyurek (Photo credit: Danny Maxwell/PokerStars)

Seat 1: Halil Tasyurek | 7,825,000 (39 big blinds, 2/7)

Age: 42
Currently Resides: Ankara, Turkey
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings:
Biggest Live Cash: $77,700, 6th, 2022 Merit Poker Vintage Series Main Event

Of the final seven players in this EPT Cyprus Main Event field, few players saw swings as dramatic as Halil Tasyurek towards the end of the night. He managed a miracle river eight to take pocket eights past the pocket kings of Yannick Schumacher, and then, on one of the last hands of the evening, saw his pocket queens cracked by Gonzalez’s Diamond A Club J in a pre-flop all in.

Still, Tasyurek is in prime position to chase the win on Sunday. The 42-year-old from Turkey, who has pursued live poker professionally over the last two years, has already locked up a career-best result regardless of his finish in Cyprus and has eyes on over $1 million in the first major final table of his career.

End of Day 1 chip count: 167,000 (44/408)
End of Day 2 chip count: 397,000 (32/155)
End of Day 3 chip count: 465,000 (32/53)
End of Day 4 chip count: 2,580,000 (6/16)

Yannick Schumacher (Photo credit: Danny Maxwell/PokerStars)

Seat 2: Yannick Schumacher | 6,050,000 (30 big blinds, 4/7)

Age: 26
Currently Resides: Vienna, Austria
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings:
Biggest Live Cash: $70,700, 53rd, 2023 $25,000 PokerStars Players Championship Main Event

Yannick Schumacher is one of a few players with lower profiles among this final seven who stand to make it a breakout moment with a win at EPT Cyprus. The 26-year-old from Germany, who now calls Austria home, is primarily an online poker player and enjoyed his best live result to date back in January in the PSPC Main Event.

He’s already locked up more than double that payout no matter his result on Sunday. He proved his mettle and his confidence in one of the most memorable hands of Day 5, when he bluffed the river with Heart 2 Heart 3 on a board with five clubs including the Club A and Club J. The bet drove out a player with the Club 10, and earned Schumacher a pot that has him in position for serious contention for this title.

End of Day 1 chip count: 217,500 (18/408)
End of Day 2 chip count: 301,000 (58/155)
End of Day 3 chip count: 995,000 (11/53)
End of Day 4 chip count: 1,390,000 (13/16)

Bjorn Kozenkai (Photo credit: Danny Maxwell/PokerStars)

Seat 3: Bjorn Kozenkai | 2,575,000 (12 big blinds, 7/7)

Age: 25
Currently Resides: Budapest, Hungary
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings:
Biggest Live Cash: $10,266, 282nd, 2022 EPT Barcelona Main Event

Bjorn Kozenkai plies his trade as a poker pro primarily in online Spin & Go tournaments, but he’s shown off live poker chops over five days of play in Cyprus. With this final table appearance, even as the shortest stack of the final seven, Kozenkai will earn at least double his lifetime live earnings regardless of his finish.

Kozenkai has shown off tremendous patience throughout, landing somewhere around the middle of the pack at the end of each day of this tournament until grinding out a tumultuous Saturday to give himself at least a shot at a comeback on Day 6.

End of Day 1 chip count: 58,000 (275/408)
End of Day 2 chip count: 138,000 (115/155)
End of Day 3 chip count: 865,000 (17/53)
End of Day 4 chip count: 2,290,000 (9/16)

Nikita Kuznetsov (Photo credit: Danny Maxwell/PokerStars)

Seat 4: Nikita Kuznetsov | 7,475,000 (37 big blinds, 3/7)

Age: 28
Currently Resides: Montenegro
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings:
Biggest Live Cash: $445,892, 2nd, 2021 WSOP $10,000 6-Handed Championship
Other Notable Results: 3rd, 2021 WSOP Online $5,000 Main Event for $1,430,074

Nikita Kuznetsov is one of two players at this final table with over $1 million in lifetime live earnings. He’s still in search of his first major live title, with a runner-up finish in the prestigious WSOP $10,000 6-Handed Championship standing as his best result.

Kuzentsov has reached the winner’s circle in several major online events, with both SCOOP and WCOOP titles to his name on PokerStars. He also posted a career-best $1,430,074 cash in the 2021 WSOP Online Main Event.

End of Day 1 chip count: 90,500 (185/408)
End of Day 2 chip count: 214,000 (83/155)
End of Day 3 chip count: 1,030,000 (10/53)
End of Day 4 chip count: 1,455,000 (12/16)

Gilles Simon (Photo credit: Danny Maxwell/PokerStars)

Seat 5: Gilles Simon |  8,075,000 (40 big blinds, 1/7)

Age: 24
Currently Resides: Valkenburg, Netherlands
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings:
Biggest Live Cash: $89,437, 4th, 2022 Master Classics of Poker Main Event

As of late 2019, Gilles Simon was a low-stakes online tournament grinder, streaming his action on Twitch. Then he won the first ever ‘Dare to Stream’ competition, earning him a Platinum Pass to the $25K PSPC. Over the last few years, ‘Ghilley’ has drifted away from live streaming, and the results of that decision seem to speak for themselves.

Simon has won multiple major online scores in 2023 worth over $375,000, including a WCOOP title earlier this month. Now, as the overnight chip leader heading into the EPT Cyprus main event final table, he stands to make this year a definitive breakout moment in his career.

End of Day 1 chip count: 118,000 (116/408)
End of Day 2 chip count: 388,000 (34/155)
End of Day 3 chip count: 1,455,000 (4/53)
End of Day 4 chip count: 4,430,000 (2/16)

Jose Gonzalez Sanchez (Photo Credit: Danny Maxwell/PokerStars)

Seat 6: Jose Gonzalez Sanchez | 4,700,000 (23 big blinds, 5/7)

Age: 36
Currently Resides: Adego, Spain
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings:
Biggest Live Cash: $377,842, 1st, 2022 EPT Prague Eureka High Roller
Other Notable Results: 1st, 2023 Estrellas Poker Tour Malaga Main Event for $98,278

Jose Gonzalez Sanchez has the most recent live win of any of the final seven players at EPT Cyprus, having taken down an Estrellas Poker Tour title for just shy of $100,000 a month ago. The 36-year-old from Spain has experienced many highs and lows during his run in Cyprus, from one of the top stacks on Day 3 to the bottom of the counts on Day 4.

His big double-up as an underdog on the penultimate hand of Day 5 has taken him from the shortest stack to the middle of the pack. Gonzalez acknowledged his good fortune as he scooped up the chips, exclaiming, “I’m a lucky bastard.” With several live successes to his credit, Gonzalez hopes to channel his luck and his experience into becoming an EPT champion.

End of Day 1 chip count: 41,500 (325/408)
End of Day 2 chip count: 409,000 (27/155)
End of Day 3 chip count: 2,665,000 (2/53)
End of Day 4 chip count: 1,155,000 (14/16)

Andrea Dato (Photo credit: Danny Maxwell/PokerStars

Seat 7: Andrea Dato | 2,875,000 (14 big blinds, 6/7)

Age: 44
Currently Resides: Rome, Italy
Lifetime Live Tournament Earnings:
Biggest Live Cash: $481,299, 4th, 2014 EPT Barcelona Main Event
Other Notable Results: 1st, 2014 WPT Venice Main Event for $145,439; 3rd, 2011 WSOP $1,500 No Limit Hold’em Triple Chance for $138,044; 3rd, 2012 WPT Venice Main Event for $94,964; 4th, 2011 WPT Venice Main Event for $57,872

Andrea Dato is the elder statesman of the EPT Cyprus final table, both in terms of age and length of his poker resume. His live results reach back to 2006, a point in time at which some of his competition at this final table hadn’t yet reached the age of 10.

Dato’s greatest career claim to fame came in his home country of Italy. Over the course of four years starting in 2011, Dato finished fourth and third at WPT Venice in back-to-back years, missed out in 2013, and then came back in 2014 to win that tournament and engrave his name on the WPT Champions Cup. Add in WSOP and EPT final tables, and Dato, despite being one of two short stacks, will be dangerous on Sunday if he can put together some chips early.

End of Day 1 chip count: 121,000 (107/408)
End of Day 2 chip count: 418,000 (24/155)
End of Day 3 chip count: 360,000 (38/53)
End of Day 4 chip count: 6,155,000 (1/16)