By Sean Chaffin
The South Florida fight for a WPT title is on. The action kicks off on Wednesday at 2 p.m. local time with six tough players remaining. The winner not only walks away with his name on the WPT Champions Cup, but also takes home $545,070 and 1,200 points in the Hublot Player of the Year race.
The champion also earns a $15,000 seat in the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions after topping a field of 988 entries – 90 more than last season. That number built a prize pool of almost $3.2 million and featured a host of WPT champions running deep. None survived to make it to the final table and a new player will now add his name to the Cup. Check out the action on the stream at WPT.com. Here’s a look at the final six players.
Seat 1: Cesar Fuentes – 7,550,000
This South Florida rounder has secured the first WPT cash of his career and is now looking for something even bigger – the largest score of his poker career. Fuentes, 35, grew up in Venezuela and now lives in Fort Lauderdale. He’s been a regular cash game and tournament player at the Seminole Hard Rock and other area poker rooms for the last 15 years. Before that he worked as a wood flooring installer.
Even a sixth-place finish of $111,895 would more than quadruple the best cash of Fuentes’s career. His best came here at the Seminole Hard Rock in 2012 when he won a $350 event for $25,000. A year later he added another win at the property topping a $560 event for a $23,625 payday. Fuentes has several other wins and nice finishes in smaller buy-in events as well. This will be a huge stage for Fuentes, but he now has a chance to add a massive bullet point to his poker resumé.
Seat 2: Milen Stefanov – 8,925,000
This player makes his way to South Florida from Varna, Bulgaria, and has now notched his first WPT cash. The 25-year-old has just over $129,000 in live tournament winnings and plays mostly in Europe. He played solidly throughout Day 4 to move up to top spot in the chip counts.
Stefanov’s biggest tournament score came in November in Barcelona when he finished fourth for $41,044. He also has several other final table appearances in other smaller buy-in tournaments. While he may not have a huge number of major cashes, Stefanov will be looking to close out a win at the final table for a career-defining title.
Seat 3: David Novosel – 7,525,000
This already becomes the biggest cash of Novosel’s career and he’s done so in style with a WPT final table appearance. It also becomes the first WPT cash of his career. Novosel, 37, lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with his wife and two children. He has a degree in finance from Mount St. Joseph University and runs his own business.
Novosel won a massive set-over-set hand on Day 4 against Fabian Gumz at the nine-handed final table to help build his chip stack. He has more than $254,000 in live tournament winnings. His biggest came in 2008 when he won a $1,060 Deep Stack Extravaganza event at The Venetian for $69,703. In 2016 at the Horseshoe Cincinnati, Novosel finished runner-up in a $1,330 event for $68,480 and then won a $340 event at the Jack Casino in his hometown for $46,830. Can he now bring home a career-defining win on the WPT?
Seat 4: Francis Anderson – 2,175,000
This might be his first WPT cash, but Anderson may be among the more experienced players at the final table. With almost $519,000 in live tournament winnings, this player from Poughkeepsie, New York, has a few nice skins on the wall during his 10-year professional poker career. The best of those came in June at the WSOP where the 32-year-old finished fourth in the $2,620 Marathon for $149,605. He was actually at the same final table as Roman Korenev.
In 2011 and 2016 Anderson cashed in the WSOP Main Event – finishing 297th for $35,492 and 436th for $25,235, respectively. Another nice finish came in 2010 in a $1,590 event where he took sixth for $26,292. He now has a chance to reach the greatest heights of his poker career and has some chips to make some waves at this final table.
Seat 5: Roman Korenev – 8,175,000
This 31-year-old Russian player may be one of the most experienced at this final table and has found success on some of poker’s biggest stages. A major highlight came this summer at the WSOP when he won the $2,620 Marathon for $477,401. That became the biggest cash of his career, but just a few months later he now has an opportunity to even top that.
Korenev is married and has been playing poker professionally for 10 years with $2.2 million in live tournament winnings. He has several other nice five- and six-figure scores as well. In 2017, he took third in a tournament in Hong Kong for $159,188 and has more nice finishes in Asia.
On the WPT, Korenev has two previous cashes, the best coming in Season XVI when he took 18th in the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic for $51,984. With a bracelet already this year, he’ll be looking to make use of a nice chip stack and add his name to the WPT Champions Cup in the same year.
Seat 6: Fabian Gumz – 5,150,000
This marks only the second WPT cash for this player from Hamburg, Germany. He now lives in Vienna, Austria, and finished Day 3 as chip leader. He’s parlayed that into an even deeper run to the final table. After playing in the partypoker LIVE Bahamas event in November, Gumz, 25, decided the Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open would be a nice addition to his trip after suffering a bad run in the islands.
Gumz, who also enjoys playing soccer, has been playing poker full-time for almost three years. His previous tour cash came at the WPT UK earlier this season where he took 26th for $11,250. He also finished third in the Devilfish Cup at the UK event for $115,150. Beyond the WPT, Gumz has almost $500,000 in live tournament winnings. One of his best finishes came this summer at the WSOP, where he finished eighth in the $1,500 Millionaire Maker for $157,565. He’s now got a nice chance to top that and will have some chips to try and make it happen.
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and his work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.