Cates’s live tournament winnings currently total more than $1.2 million but it’s online where he has really made his name, winning – and losing – many millions in the biggest games in the world. He began playing poker when he was 17 and has previously said that he was such a big loser at first that he even took a job at McDonald's to refuel his bankroll. He studied Economics at the University of Maryland before dropping out of college to make poker a full-time career. According to the online poker community “pocketfives”, Cates had a great start to 2014, making almost $200,000 in the first week of the year and by March was up about $1.75 million. He said just now: “I am probably down a little bit in April ... I don’t keep track but I’m up a six-figure sum for the year, maybe a seven-figure sum.”
Businessman Richard Yong already has live tournament winnings of more than $3.6 million. He was born and raised in Malaysia, then moved to Hong Kong 25 years ago and discovered poker in Macau with his longtime friend Paul Phua who has also made the final. Yong has numerous businesses worldwide, his main ones being mining and IT-related. His best live cash to date was eighth in last summer’s $1m One for One Drop tourney at the World Series for $1,237,333 and said at the time: “I’ve always loved poker, playing with different players from all parts of the world”. Yong has competed at several EPTs and is one of the better-known members of the high stakes Macau poker contingent who came en masse to this year’s PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino EPT Grand Final.
EPT Campione runner-up Busquet first started playing poker in home games while working as a Wall Street trader, then migrated to online poker where he steadily moved up the limits to the $25-$50 games. On one site, Busquet became the first ever player to win seven-figures playing heads-up SNGs and in 2009 he started playing live. He hit the headlines that September when he won WPT Borgata for $925,514. A few months later, Busquet was runner-up in the EPT6 Grand Final High Roller for €597,000 and has since has cashed at the PCA, EPT Deauville and NAPT Mohegan Sun as well as fourth in the EPT London High Roller event in 2011, runner-up at the EPT Prague High Roller this season for €257,850 and runner-up at EPT8 Campione for €430,000.
Widely regarded as one of the best heads-up sit-n-go players in the world, Busquet has made a highly successful move to live poker and has already earned over $4.2 million.
PokerNews caught up with Busquet at the end of play on Day 2:
Little is known of Lo, one of several players who have flown in to Monaco specifically to play the €100k Super High Roller. Lo is 51, and has been playing poker for roughly four years. In that time he has become perhaps the biggest cash game player in Macau, if not the world. Born in Hong Kong, he now lives in Macau and describes himself as a business tycoon. “Rono” as he is known, plays mainly live poker. His best tournament cash to date came at the WSOP in Australia a year ago, where he finished four in the A$50,000 High Roller event, collecting A$225,000.
WCOOP Heads-Up champion Daniel "mrgr33n13" Colman is about to get his best live result to date. His previous best cash was $194,000 in a TV tourney but he’s now guaranteed at least €241,000 for making the Super High Roller final.
Colman is considered one of the world’s best online tournament players, his speciality being Heads-Up Sit & Go’s; last September he won the WCOOP Heads-Up High Roller for $172,500.
Like many American online pros, Colman has had to relocated to continue playing online and now lives in Rio, Brazil. He has played around 25 EPTs and he’s never managed to get past Day 2 before now. This is his second huge buy-in event – he also played the WSOP One Drop $100,000 High Roller last summer. His total live winnings to date total $563,999.
Since 2009, Igor Kurganov has competed at nearly every EPT and is a well-known face on the tour - not only in the Main Events but also in all of the higher buy-in tournaments like the High Roller and the Super High Roller. Kurganov has more thn $6m in live tournament winnings and he won the €25k High Roller here in Monaco two years ago. At EPT8 London, Kurganov was beaten heads-up in the £20k High Roller by Philipp Gruissem, one of his best friends. Like Gruissem, Kurganov has pledged to give 10% all his tournament winnings to charity. Right now they are working with a organisation called Effective Altruism which focuses on making the most out of every dollar donated – the passion with which Kurganov describes the initiative reveals how important project has become to his life.
When Ole Schemion won the EPT Sanremo €10k High Roller last week for €265,000, it was his tenth live event win, and 28th final table. It also gave the 21-year-old a virtually unassailable lead in the EPT Player of the Year race, now cemented by making the final table. Schemion, already #7 on the Germany all time money list with $4.7m in live tournament winnings, first hit the spotlight at last season’s Grand Final when he won three major side events. His first live cash took place only three years ago when he took down a €1k EPT Berlin side event for €54,200 in Season 7, six months after his 18th birthday. The 1,086 POY points he has accrued in Season 10 come from ten major cashes including 7th in both the PCA High Roller and Super High Roller (and a cash in the Main), fifth at EPT Prague, and sixth in both the Barcelona High Roller and Super High Rollers (plus, of course, a cash in the Main).
Schemion no slouch online either and started his career on PokerStars by winning the MTT leaderboard in 2011. He’s made final tables in the Sunday Million, WCOOP, SCOOP and Sunday 500, and took down the Super Tuesday in 2012 for $73,027. Ole finished 7th in the PokerStars Super Tuesday just a couple of days ago for $18,947.50.
Phua is a 49-year-old businessman from Asia who currently resides in Malaysia. Phua travels around the world competing in some of the highest buy-in tournaments and cash games and was part of the Million Dollar Cash game in Melbourne. His live tournament winnings total $2.3 million but derive from just three events on his Hendon Mob page: winning the Aspers 100K High Roller in London, third in the WSOP APAC in Melbourne last year and fourth in the APT Manila event. He regularly plays the biggest poker games in Macau.